TGIF

Friday Favourites - Summer Alcohol

Are you ready to try a new summer tipple? Then read on as at The Amazing Blog we’d like to give you a global tour of some very special alcohol brands stretching all the way from Japan to Switzerland, Iceland and then returning back to the UK. We guarantee it’ll liven up the tastebuds and add something extra to your regular sun-downer drinking. It’s always fun to experiment with new and different alcohols and today we’re happy to move on from our ubiquitous G & T.  While gin in known as the archetypal British go-to drink; whisky and vodka keep a steady visibility and are currently climbing in popularity. We hope these featured whiskies and vodkas will encourage you to explore new textures, experiences and flavours.

Unknown.jpeg

So, let our journey begin. First stop is Japan, specifically in the temples of Nara, which is considered to be ancient land and one of the epicentres of spiritual belief, with temples that date back to the 8th century, and was once the capital of the country. Omiwa Shrine lies at the bottom of the Mount Miwa in Nara and is the centre of the Japanese alcohol producers, giving life to this Kamiki Whisky.  This whisky is one of the alcohols often served as a blessing at the Shinto temples. Kamiki Whisky is a remembrance of Japanese culture and tradition as well as nature and artisanship, and its name derives from the mount; ‘Kami’ meaning ‘God’ and ‘Iki’ meaning ‘Breath’.

Kamiki Whisky combines the west and eastern cultures. Using the purest spring water from Japan and the Yoshino Sugi – aka Japanese cedar – the whisky’s aroma and smooth texture that introduces us to mindfulness, giving peace to both mind and body. Kamiki is the world’s first whisky to finish its maturation with Japanese cedar cask. Kamiki whisky is also blended with the finest malt whiskies from around the globe, making it a unique and flavourful drink. Kamiki is mainly composed by heather honey, sweet caramel, Japanese plum, oak, peat and toffee with a touch of sandalwood and green tea. All these ingredients are carefully selected and blended incorporating the perfect percentage to achieve the finest flavour. This whisky is non chill-filtered at 48% volume in order to maintain balance and maximum taste. It also ensures that the oils do not become viscous at colder ambient temperatures or become cloudy in the bottle. You can purchase the 50cl of Kamiki Whisky at the Masters of Malt for £59.99.

langatun+other.jpg

Next stop is Switzerland for a taste of the three Gold Winner of the Wizards of World Whisky Awards, for their Classic Langatun Whisky. Originating from a family owned brewery in 1860 created by Jakob Baumberger, which progressed into a distillery in 1907 by son Hans Baumberger the 1st. Handed down through the next generation and in 2007 they continued their grandfathers vision creating this hand-crafted Swiss Whisky "Langatun“ single malt. So, what is so special about Langatun? Let’s talk about its timing and barrel composition: Malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, cut, maturation and bottling. The fermentation is much longer compared to other whiskies and during the first distillation, the alcohol is given a cut at 26% and in the second distillation that it is upped to over 80% where it really packs a punch. The whole production process is carefully monitored to ensure optimum results.

We tried the Langatun Old Bear Cask Proof Smoky Whisky which is from the range of their five Classic whiskies . This single malt is matured in oak barrels using Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine casks and bottled at cask strength. It a peated malt that is laborious and painstaking made by a double distillation process with roasted malted barley added, hence the epithet ‘smoky’. The peating process goes through a smoking process similar to that for meat or fish. The distillation date on the bottle is October 2012, the bottling is March 2017 and it even has a lot number on the bottle! Master whisky drinkers say that it has a smoky fresh nose with a hint of red fruits and orange while the flavour is said to be of juicy grapes, toffee and wood smoke, leaving a long dark chocolaty finish. The distillery is open to the public for in-house events, such as brunch, a tour or whisky and dinner gatherings.

We have had a taste (of course, who could resist!) and found it remarkable toasty and smooth with a deliciously rich aromatic flavour. This is a perfect for rounding off the evening as a night cap. Get your Langatun Old Bear Cask Proof Smoky Whisky 50cl (62.4%) at the Gauntleys of Nottingham  for £64.78 or at Master of Malt, Nickolls and Perks, Shop4Whisky or The Whisky Exchange.

11.jpg

Next, we travel all the way to Iceland where we meet the Icelandic Mountain Spirit. Based in Reykjavik in 2016, the founders created a range of four alcoholic formulations; Eagle Spirit, made with Gin; Mountain Spirit, based on Vodka; Dragon Spirit, made for shots; and Taurus Spirit, made with Rum. FUN FACT ALERT! The Mountain Spirit might be familiar to you if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, if not let us explain: ‘The Mountain’ is Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, (actor in Game of Thrones) he is also The World’s Strongest Man and one of the founders of this Icelandic Mountain Spirit.

What makes this vodka stand out (besides the Game of Thrones fact) is that is it made with Icelandic water, known as the purest water in the world. This vodka, gluten-free and is distilled seven times which makes it incredibly smooth, soft, and quaffable! They recommend drinking it on its own but for those who are not so keen on shots, combining it with a simple tonic seemed the way to go for us. Each Mountain Vodka bottle is printed with ‘The Mountain’ on the reverse of the bottle, making it an ideal gift for all those GoT fans. It is 40% ABV and more importantly, was a Gold Medal Award Winner at Tastings.com; proving its quality, sourcing of ingredients and time spent perfecting this vodka. Based on the Tastings jury review: “…Creamy, with confected aromas and flavours of spumoni, peach jam, and pistachio paste and a lychee and mint cream finish” this clearly makes it a winner. We love the heritage (as G of T fans) and because of its smooth and creamy qualities we also enjoyed it in a chilled Kamikaze cocktail: 1 part vodka, 1 part triple sec, 1 part fresh lime juice; which is a bit of twist on the popular Margarita.

To get your very own star-studded vodka, go to Icelandic Mountain Spirits website here for £25 including delivery (any mainland UK address). Although the spirits are distilled in Iceland, they are shipped directly to Northumberland for distribution.

18055829_639240906275618_8372870860587121815_o.jpg

Last stop, we’re coming home. UK based vodka RK Vodka is considered to be an ultra-premium brand and is only available in selected stores. Featured in GQ and Tatler, RK Vodka aims to combine old with new, past with future, traditional with modern. RK Vodka combines the high-quality, authentic, hereditary vodka with forward-thinking and modern techniques.

RK Vodka is different, it is bold. Distilled only once and being non-filtered, the drink is full of character. Making it enjoyable on its own as well as mixed (we suggest a zesty mixer). RK Vodka contains English sugar beet which adds a sweetness, replicating the flavour of vanilla. Going back to the production process, traditionally it is suggested that multiple filtering makes for a higher quality and smoother vodka. However, RK Vodka defies that. The founders say that the more you filter it; the more the natural flavours and power of the drink will disappear. This is why RK Vodka is not filtered to preserve its characteristics and minerals, rather than just water and alcohol. This vodka is only distilled once which all takes place in a copper pot to reduce the tannin (what makes vodka poor and rough) and also gives it the smooth finish, whilst being both gluten and sulphate free. Apart from its stylish and elegant black and white bottle, these alternative production methods are what make RK Vodka stand out. They have managed to create a high-quality and a dedicated drink for a modern and cosmopolitan market. We added only lemon zest to the very chilled RK Vodka and loved it! Get your RK Vodka here for £38.00 (70cl, 40%).

Friday Favourites – Sheet Masks

Since the 10-step Korean skin care method and its corresponding products have become a full-on trend, you cannot walk into a beauty department without seeing a plethora of sheet masks and The Amazing Blog can see why. Sheet masks are so easy to travel with, just throw one into your bag and you’re good to go! They leave your skin looking ten times brighter in just 15-30 minutes. However, with hundreds of options, it’s so hard to choose the right one. For this month’s Friday Favourites, we have four #amazingfinds face masks, something for everyone. These will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated while you sit back, relax with a cup of tea and watch the telly.

Mitomo.jpg

The first set of masks we have for you is by Mitomo, a Japanese company that specialises in creating high-quality beauty and wellbeing products, particularly face masks. We’ve already tried their Anti-Wrinkle Eye Mask with Gold and Bee Venom and Eye & Nasolabial Mask with Snail Extract and EGF in January, and recently their Collagen + Lithosperium, Hyaluronic + Lithospermum and Q10 + Lithospermum Essence masks. So we were even more excited to try their latest launch of Facial Essence Masks which targets, moisturises and heals sensitive skin.

The Facial Essence Masks come in six different types: Camellia (nourishing), Green Tea (purifying), Rice Leaven (protecting), Sake (moisturising and heat retaining), Soy Bean (irritation reducing and skin improving), and Tea Tree (soothing). Each includes a combination of antioxidants, vitamins, omegas, and organic acids depending on your changing skin needs. It is ideal to use these masks at night so your skin can soak up the ingredients while you sleep. You should use the mask after you’ve cleansed and toned your face (you can also throw in an exfoliating scrub and serum too). After 20-30 minutes, you can gently remove it and rub in the excess essence before following with a moisturiser.

Our two personal favourite masks were the camellia and soy bean. Camellia contains more natural antioxidants than practically any other botanical oil and the results are noticeable. The vitamins and omegas of the mask quickly absorb and instantly reveal more nourished and moisturised skin. While a soybean mask doesn’t sound as lavish as some of the other types Mitomo has to offer, it greatly reduces skin irritation, evens rough spots and texture, and fights any sun damage. After using this mask, your face instantly feels calmer and smoother. These were our favourites, but the line of masks offers a huge variety and each was made with a high quality that you can see and feel.

 You purchase a single sheet mask here for £3.49 and you can also purchase each in a pack of four for £12.50.

 

Natura Sheet Masks Final.jpg

The next line of face masks we tried were also from a beauty and skin care brand that we’ve tried, BeautyPro. Previously we’ve tested their Rejuvenating and Brightening Collagen Masks, both of which are for anti-ageing like all of BeautyPro’s sheet masks. Their masks are intended for use by both women and men and are cruelty-free and dermatologically tested in South Korea, the heart of the Korean skin care movement.

Unlike the above Mitomo masks, these BeautyPro’s Natura Sheet Masks are targeted speficially for anti-ageing. They have a range of six naturally infused types for your various skin needs. They each have a unique combination of marine collagen to nourish skin with key vitamins and herbs and botanicals to even skin complexion. The types include Avocado (hydrating and repairing), Rose (soothing and redness reducing), Turmeric (protecting), Multi-Grain (complexion boosting and firming), and Herb (pore minimising and rebalancing). The line of sheet masks also has a Potato & Parsley Under Eye Mask.

While each sheet mask created fast-acting results, the Natura mask that stood out the most to us was the Eye Mask. We don’t often think of ordinary potatoes offering such nice skin effects, but we are sold now. The potato brightened our under eye area, making us look more awake and alive on Monday mornings, while the parsley reduced the puffiness and dark colour of our eye bags. The masks worked so well that we received compliments from our family members on our more ‘awake appearance’.

The sheet masks are available here for £4.95 and a set of three Potato & Parsley Under Eye Masks here for £5.95.

Milu Mud Mask.jpg

 

The next sheet mask we have for you is MILU’s Mud Sheet Mask. While the thought of slathering mud onto your face does not sound very enticing, we can assure you that this is a luxe product that isn’t messy and leaves your skin feeling nourished, purified, and soft.

What draws us to this brand’s ethos is the fact that MILU is like a friend who wants to help you with all your beauty and skin care woes—and better yet provides solutions to enhance your natural features. The radiant and glowing skin of Korean women inspired the company to create products that are additions, rather than replacements, to your daily skin care routine and contain ‘skin loving ingredients’.

Of these skin-loving ingredients that are found in the Mud Sheet Mask, a few jump out at us namely the two types of clay used. Bentonite clay extracts impurities from pores and reduces skin blemishes while kaolin clay minimises and deeply purifies pores. With these benefits, it’s no surprise why these clays are the main or key ingredients in many face masks currently on the market. However, many of these masks only use one of these clays in their formulas, not both like this sheet mask. Together they create a dynamic combination that softens, tightens, and evens your skin. The mask also has soybean to soothe your skin and rose flower to reduce pollution effects, and it has been dermatologically tested for sensitive skin.

For smaller and smoother looking pores, put the mask on for 30-40 minutes until it dries then peel it off. Remove excess mud with warm water. You can purchase the Mud Sheet Mask here for £9.

Oh K!.jpg

Finally, to complete our Friday Favourites, we have the Oh K! Mix Your Own Gold Dust Peel Off Mask. After testing their Cooling Eye Pads and Coconut Water Face Masks, we couldn’t wait to see what else the Korean mask brand had to offer.

Using the expertise, skills, and passion of Korean dermatologists, Oh K! creates high-performance skin care essentials for every type of skin. Did we mention their products and masks also come in cute packaging? The Cooling Eye Pads came in panda-shaped packets and the Gold Dust Peel Off Mask came in a vibrant yellow box with bubbly letters and gold powder on the front.

The mask is designed to give you a natural and radiant glow. The box comes with two gold dust sachets, two gold liquid formula sachets, a spoon, and a container. The gold powder is enriched with hyaluronic acid, allantoin, gold, purslane extract, gotu kola extract, and peppermint oil while the gold liquid is infused with collagen, gold, hyaluronic acid, and pearl extract. These luxurious and precious ingredients give the mask its nourishing, replenishing, and glowing properties. Hyaluronic acid, gold extracts, and collagen provide deep moisture, rejuvenate skin, and promote a supple, younger-looking complexion.

This mask offers the ultimate at-home pampering experience. In just 15-20 minutes, you peel off the mask and your skin has been transformed. After application, our skin looked immediately more luminous, radiant, and refreshed. It’s the perfect mask for anyone looking for a brightening boost. Just mix the gold dust and gold liquid in the mixing pot, apply it to your face, and enjoy having a golden goddess glow. The Mix Your Own Gold Dust Peel Mask is available here for £12.50.

Whether you want to perk up your skin, have some ‘me time’, or both, we hope we’ve helped you navigate the complicated yet exciting world of sheet masks. So, relax and let the sheet mask do all the work!

Good Gym

about_banner-8c3d4afbf86cf9294ef8b29ae38054ee1ac0ec803b0026fd94f07f04d7a2a4a6.jpg

Do good, get fit. This is the mantra of GoodGym, an organisation with the goal of combining fitness and community activities, with encouraging runners to spend time helping others. As we sometimes struggle with the motivation to exercise at The Amazing Blog, we think this is an excellent solution.

In a nutshell, GoodGym’s concept is to make the most out of the time spent running. This is in the form of running to and from activities, whether that be to help an elderly person who need’s a lightbulb changing, or running to a group gardening activity at a community centre. The motto of Good Gym? Why waste your energy at the gym when you could use it to improve other people’s lives?

group-run@2x-61baee1bffb11cc2b560a27950275f85f7d334e7e5faa244b83f38a877c603d9.jpg

Winning first prize in 2008 at the Social Innovation Camp, GoodGym was formed as a non-profit organisation in 2009. The company itself is commissioned by local authorities and the NHS, testamant to the benefits of getting involved. Over 1 million people aged 65 and over admit to always, or often feeling lonely, and recruiting volunteers has become increasingly difficult as a result of busy work and private lives. This is where GoodGym noticed a niche, focusing on creating an easy method of committing to a long-term project.

mission-run@2x-ee9a6f16c2eb7fcd3508bc8e8b8ce01eda4ea49c467be7be8c8e989f516e1d0d.jpg

GoodGym provides three different types of runs. On Mission Runs, you run to help older people with every-day tasks, such as gardening, or changing a lightbulb. It gives you the chance to run different routes each week, while having a significant effect on someone’s life. On Coach Runs, you see an isolated person on a regular basis. This only claims about 20 minutes of your week, and besides giving someone something to look forward to, having a commitment can also increase your likelihood of completing exercise. On Group Runs, you get the chance to run with other people from your community, completing tasks such as planting trees for your local park, running back together to stretch with a qualified trainer. All this is completed within 90 minutes, fitting easily into your daily routine.

In terms of commitment, there is no specific pressure, GoodGym aims to achieve your fitness goals, while helping the community. How often, and where you do this is, is up to you, but if you sign up to visit an older person, then it is understandable that this commits you to at least one run per week. Mission and group runs are more flexible, and can be attended whenever you like. There really is a solution for everyone here, with support available from qualified trainers at all times. Signing up is easily achieved online, and although membership is free, there is a voluntary donation of £9.95 per month if you so wish. Visit the GoodGym website for frequently asked questions, here.

Currently operating in 47 areas, with a futher 73 in proposal, you’ll be sure to find a local group (especially in London). Check out the availability in your area on the GoodGym website here.

Friday Favourites – Indie and craft London Dry Gins

Doing a quick poll around the office, we found that the most popular summer alcoholic refreshment here is the classic ice cold and zest gin and tonic. An ideal accompaniment to sitting out on the terrace on a warm and balmy evening. This week at The Amazing Blog we would like to share with you three of our exception #amazingfinds all centred around international indie and craft London Dry Gin brands. The first thing to note is that a London Dry Gin doesn’t have to be made in England. Instead, London Dry (also known as London Gin) refers to that which is made under a series of mind-bogglingly complex EU regulations that were put in place in February 2008. (definition quoted from Ginfoundry.com  )

Something else that you might not know, is that although gin has become somewhat of a British staple, its origins are actually from 17th century Holland, where it was originally used for medicinal purposes. During this period, British soldiers fought alongside the Dutch in the Thirty Year’s War, where they would imbibe in a glass or three of gin before battle, to help them acquire ‘Dutch courage’ - a popular phrase that stills carries through today.

Dry Island Gin.jpg

We’re going to start by going ‘down under’ to the wine region of the Yara Valley, with the Australian brand Four Pillars and their collaboration with Swedish brand Hernö creating their Dry Island Gin . This all started in October 2017 when Swedish Hernö ‘s founder Jon Hilgren visited founder Cam Mackenzie at his Four Pillars distillery. Hernö came to market first in 2012, exactly one year before Four Pillars, and by 2014, they were both appearing on global lists of the ‘new gins to watch’.  The collaboration began by both of them tasting each other’s range of gins, gaining inspiration and then together creating this rather special 42.8% vol Dry Island Gin.

This Aussie x Swedish collaboration includes particular botanicals given to native Australia such as river mint, roasted wattle seed, strawberry gum, lemon myrtle, and meadowsweet. Although the base is made up European juniper (of course), coriander and fresh lemons. This international gin fusion is definitely one not to be missed.  We think best enjoyed as a dry martini with a lemon twist and a sprig of thyme to bring out all these beautiful citrus notes and a lovely floral cut-grass character.  Or as per their suggestion as a Dry (Island) Martini which consists of 60ml Dry Island Gin, 20ml Cocchi Americano (a quinine-laced aperitif wine) and a dash Angostura Orange Bitters. Stir the ingredients over plenty of ice until appropriately diluted (about 15 seconds of stirring). Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel, twisted to express the oils. Delicious! But be warned as we found that this cocktail really packed a potent punch!  You can purchase the 70cl of Dry Island Gin for £37.75 here .

IMG_2862.jpg

Next, we go to the emerald isle, for an Irish craft gin, Dublin City Gin.  Launched in 2016 by the couple Jim O'Connor and Sheila Cooney, two gin enthusiast who came up with the idea that Dublin needed a hometown gin, hence Dublin City Gin was born. Their efforts have certainly paid off with awards such as Gold ‘Super Premium’ at Global & World Gin Masters and a Gold medal as the overall Best European Craft Gin 2018 at ICSEA in Netherlands – great accolades for such a new contender.

What we love about this gin, is that it is Irish to the core, with their Irish milk spirit as the base, which helps to give it their smooth and silky finish, and the organic rhubarb grown along the Grand Canal in Dublin.  All loving prepared by hand in small batches of 600 with only a total of seven different botanicals. As they say this is their “Irish gin with a Dublin accent” In summary, they suggest pouring their gin over ice, with tonic “…all with a soft citrus ruby-red grapefruit, orange or slice of fresh ginger to make it sing!”  So popular is Dublin City Gin, that the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin has even created three signature cocktails exclusive to them. Given the botanicals we decided to try this gin in a Negroni, 30ml Dublin City Gin, 30ml Campari and 30ml Vermouth Rosso. Add all ingredients together, shake well with cracked ice, strain into glass over cubed ice and garnish with a twist of orange peel. Very moreish, so much so we all just had to have another! To buy your 70cl bottle of 42 % volume Dublin City Gin for £37.95, see here .

Fatty's Organic Gin Perfect Serve.jpg

Back to the UK with Fatty’s Organic Gin , this is amongst only a handful of certified organic gins that are now available here in the UK. The brain child of former sports agent Phillipa ‘Fatty’ Gee, who self-funded her start-up: “I knew if I was struggling to find a certified organic gin that was uncompromising on taste, others would to.” Cleverly she saw a gap in the market and took her inspiration for her key ingredient from her native Dulwich, which means ‘meadow where dill grows.’  Organic Soil Association approved, they also believe in Fair Trade Produce for sourcing all their 100% organic ingredients. Even their bottles are sprayed with organic ink and screen printed at low temperatures in order to be kinder to the environment. It is also an award-winning gin, achieving a Gold at the Global Gin Masters 2018, and the only organic gin to achieve this.

 

Apart from the dill it also has the finest organic grain and botanicals all carefully selected from around the world. A combination that creates a full flavour and a crisp refreshing finish and noted for its herbaceousness with the dill and citrus. We found it to be the lightest of all three featured London Dry Gins on the palate. We also think that it lends itself perfectly to slightly more subtle flavoured cocktail. So, we tried their recommended Cucumber & Dill Gin Mojito: 50ml of Fatty’s Organic Gin, four lime wedges, two slices of cucumber, two springs of fresh dill and one teaspoons of sugar.  Add the Fatty’s Gin, sugar, dill and lime wedges in to glass and muddle. Dice one slice of cucumber, half fill the glass with crushed ice and diced cucumber. Stir well and top up with soda. It was bottoms up all round and we’re ashamed to say that it didn’t touch the sides! Get your 40% Volume 70cl bottle of Fatty’s Organic Gin for £45 here .

The-gin-dictionary.jpg

Finally, we’d like to round off by introducing you to The Gin Dictionary. This 256 page A-Z compendium of gins is an indispensable guide for all gin drinkers. With more than 200 of entries covering everything from history, ingredients and distilling techniques to flavour notes, cocktails and the many popular varieties of gin from all around the world. All researched and penned by the award-wining gin expert David T Smith. Covering the explanation of ABV to the history and instruction of making a Zanzibar cocktail; we found it comprehensive without being overdone or pedantic. Published by Octopus books and available for £15 here .

With the current ‘gin revolution’ sweeping the world, there has never been a better time to explore craft gins and their new botanicals. We hope that these featured three London Dry Gins will give inspiration be a great starting point for you. Bottoms up!

Friday Favourites – Spring Alcoholic Drinks

As regular readers will know we like to champion indie beauty and food brands which are our passion at The Amazing Blog, So for this week’s Friday Favourites we’re publishing one in a series of three features showcasing indie alcohol brands that we’ve recently discovered (and enjoying!) this spring. And as the weather warms up, what better way to keep friends and loved ones entertained with some our glorious and experimental tipples! The UK alcohol market is a competitive one and hard to navigate when there are so many options. However, hopefully we’ll make it easy for you with these first four spring #amazingfinds. They’re all newly launch alcohols, taste delicious on their own, on the rocks, or as an inventive cocktail with mixers.

Noveltea.jpg

The first new launch alcohol we have will surely raise some eyebrows: It’s a line of tea-infused alcohol from NOVELTEA. Before you write it off, we can assure you that it tastes good and adds an extra kick to our beloved cup of tea. We also note that this would have been perfect for National Tea Day which was on the 21st of April (Easter) last weekend. The company was founded two years ago by German artisan mixologists Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia, who had a passion for disrupting the current market and inventing an entirely new category of alcohol. They achieved both by harnessing Britons’ love for both tea and alcohol with three distinct flavours in a ready-to-drink format. The alcohol is made by cold brewing real tea extract for 10 hours to draw out each tea’s distinct taste and natural sweetness.

We tried all of the flavours (The Tale of Earl Grey, The Tale of Tangier, and The Tale of Oolong), which were inspired by the country where each tea originated. NOVELTEA most recently launched The Tale of Oolong in February of this year, and it was our personal favourite. It’s a Scottish whisky that is infused with Chinese oolong tea, red rose petals, papaya, and mango flakes—giving it a sweet after taste. The Tale of Tangier is a Moroccan green mint tea and Caribbean white rum while The Tale of Earl Grey is a black earl grey tea and British gin. Each flavour has a smooth and rich taste that will suit any tea and alcohol preference.

The blend is roughly 1/3 spirit and 2/3 tea (11% ABV), so it is quite delicious to drink on its own. We particularly liked that it can be consumed hot like tea, cold like whisky (or whiskey!) Or with other alcohols such as prosecco and rum. If you’re in the mood to try a new category of alcohol or tea, NOVELTEA is for you. It comes in elegant glass bottles and two sizes (25cl for £9.95 and 70cl for £24.95). The brand is available in over 150 stores across the UK and exports to China, Hong Kong, and Germany and online here



Spytail Rum.jpg

Next up is Spytail Ginger Rum, which brings a 19th-century French recipe of using ginger and cognac barrels to the modern day. The Caribbean dark rum is bottled a small distillery in France’s Cognac region that is famous for its spirits craftsmanship. Inspired by sea exploration, Spytail gets its name from an early engineering drawing of a submarine housed in the Cognac maritime archive. The rum is owned by Biggar and Leith, a New York-based company that specialises in importing fine spirits from distilleries dedicated to innovative ideas and high-quality products. Thomas Gladstone founded the company in the late 18th century after he moved to the port city of Leith, in Scotland.

To create the rum’s spicy taste, it is aged for 3-6 months in cognac casks for depth and flavour. It is then mixed with ginger and spices to give the rum an extra kick that appears after its initial smoothness. The ginger infusion is not overpowering and adds a nice touch to the delicious rum. You can drink it perfectly well on the rocks, in a cocktail, or with Coca Cola. However, if you want a stronger ginger flavour, you can add fresh ginger or spicy ginger beer. We loved it with the latter on a sunny day, making us feel like we were French explorers on the sea.

The ginger rum also comes in an ornate round bottle with a submarine port-hole and coordinates of French novelists Jules Verne’s grave on the front. It looks just intriguing enough to display on your bar during parties rather than hidden in your cupboard. Spytail Ginger Rum (70cl) is available at multiple online retailers like Amazon and The Whisky Exchange. We have chosen Master of Malt see here for a bottle starting at £24.97 and containing 40% ABV.


Tiger Gin Final Blog.jpg

There are no tiger by-products in Shropshire Spirits Company ’s Tiger Gin nor are there even tigers on the logo, but the name is something the company fought hard for in its early beginnings. Founder JJ Lawrence, a self-professed ‘Shropshire Lad’ and gin enthusiast, set out to make and produce his own gin in 2016. Eventually partnering with family-owned distiller Alcohol Limited, Lawrence entered a trademark war with Heineken Asia Pacific PTE’s Tiger Beer. The high courts sided with Lawrence, and the company proved the tiger within itself. We applaud!

Besides its dramatic backstory, Shropshire Spirits has made a top-quality tipple. Tiger has been recognised as being one of the best gins in the world by gaining no fewer than 16 world awards! It has a juniper berry base, which gin lovers will know is the basis of any good gin, but it is the other botanicals and how they fuse that make Tiger Gin stand out. Liquorice root powder adds immediate sweetness followed by warmth from cinnamon and cassia bark. However, you get a citrus aftertaste from dried sweet lemon and orange peels. The entire production process takes around nine hours with the ingredients mixed into a neutral grain spirit overnight then blended with another neutral spirit for a 40% ABV.

The gin’s citrus flavour pairs well with an orange slice or lime if you want to make a classic gin and tonic. It also makes a marvellous base for a martini. While we love a good G&T, Lawrence intended Tiger Gin to be consumable over ice, and he’s done just that because it’s so got a slightly sweet and smooth taste. It’s ideal if you’ve just run out of mixers and don’t want to dash out for more or for your friend who can’t get enough of gin on the rocks. See the list of stockists here to buy Tiger Gin (70cl). Prices start at £37.

WM Vodka.jpg

While clean products have been immensely popular in the beauty and skin care industry, it appears the trend has also moved into vodka and spirits with WM Spirits PURE Vodka. This vodka indeed goes back to the basics with no added colours, flavours, sugars, preservatives, or chemicals.

The inception for WM Spirits came during a time of prosperity for the UK in 2016, as Andy Murray won Wimbledon and Queen Elizabeth turned 90 years old. However, as a group of individuals they felt that the vodkas on the market were littered with impurities and unspellable ingredients. They decided to change that and the market by committing to ‘create drinks that taste great, are clean, and a brand that people can trust’. The independently owned brand is also dedicated to sustainability with the goal of being carbon neutral and staying ethically conscious.

PURE Vodka is the company’s flagship product and takes after the brand’s inspiration figure, 1920s American prohibition smuggler William ‘Bill’ McCoy. While he was a bootlegger, he was a fair dealer and didn’t dilute his imported spirits. The phrase ‘the real McCoy’ has made him synonymous with authenticity, reliability, and quality—exactly what guides this product. PURE Vodka is hand-distilled in small batches and uses an innovative technique that purifies the vodka to an equivalent of 100 times while competitors like Grey Goose and Cîroc are only distilled around five times for purification. This process results in a poignant vodka (40% ABV) that goes down easily, without a piercing after taste. It is also organic, vegan, gluten-free, low calorie, and made in the UK with 100 per cent natural ingredients.

The vodka tastes so clean it seems a shame to mix into a cocktail! If drinking shots or vodka straight is not your thing then WM Spirits offers a convenient guide of different drink recipes here, and you can purchase PURE Vodka (70cl) here for £33.

Whether you want to support up-and-coming spirits brands, have a desire to try something new, or need a gift, these versatile brands offer something for everyone. Chin-chin!