Alcohol

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – 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.

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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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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.

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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



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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.


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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.

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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!

Kill The Cat Tasting Sessions

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The first of March is here, and (thankfully), so is Friday! We're not crazy drinkers at The Amazing Blog, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit to enjoying a tipple or two at the weekend. We were therefore excited to be introduced to Kill The Cat...a craft beer bottle shop with a difference! Based on the famous Brick Lane, they have over 150 specially curated beers, not only providing standard beers but a vast array of unique and innovative flavours. Whether you're a connoisseur, or more amateur (we're certainly in the latter category), Kill The Cat are committed to providing their customers with a newfound favourite. Even better still, you can choose from three tasting tours - with expert advice to help you along your way to finding something a little different from your 'usual.'

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Having discovered this brand, we were keen to delve further into the way in which they operate. Those with a penchant for beer may recognise that many companies group their beers by brewery or geography, and while this may be no bad thing, we were intrigued by the unique categorisation of Kill The Cat's offerings. Taking inspiration directly from the brand name (and with a little pun inspiration), you'll find that Cat 1 beers cover the familiar, whereas Cat 2 will provide a slightly rarer and unusual range. For the adventurous, Cat 3 is ideal, acclaimed to include beers that will ‘blow your mind.’ Now if you're feeling a little lost, then never fret, the beers are also arranged by their colour (light to dark), and expert advice is on hand, with top picks each month to provide a ittle inspiration.

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If you’re still not sure where to start, then a beer tasting is the answer, with three different options: The Beer Curious, The One Track Mind (IPA's) and The Killers. As the name suggests, The Beer Curious is an introduction to the world of beer, with a guided tasting of six beers, ranging from easy drinkers to more full-on brews. If you're a more seasoned pro or prefer IPA's, then The One Track Mind will float your boat, again with six drinks to try. Finally, for those looking to find innovative beers above the rest, then The Killers tour will be for you! This includes the tasting of nine different beers, picked acutely because of their uniqueness and rarity. Whichever tour you choose, you'll be enticed by the contemporary and fresh interior. Each tour lasts for around an hour, and you'll be treated to complimentary snacks - what's not to love?

Price wise, these tastings are reasonable, ranging from £22.50-£45 per person. These rates depend on the number of people in your tasting group, and the tour you decide on. To see the full price list, then visit the Kill The Cat website here where you can view their availability and browse the online shop. We think this would make an excellent gift for a beer lover, or an equally nice way to whittle away an hour or so with friends. Be sure to let us know how you get on, and we hope you have a wonderful beer-curious weekend!

Christmas Spirits

It’s just four days until the big day - our trees are up, the food is ordered, and both children and adults are suitably excited. However, if you’re like us at The Amazing Blog, then you may still be on the hunt for some last minute presents, or a few Christmas tipples to add to your festive drinks cabinet. For our final blog post of 2018, we bring you our top Christmas spirits, helping you to become a stellar host, whether that be for Christmas Day itself, or perhaps even for the New Year.

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Firstly, we came across Pedrino, the brand bringing Mediterranean flavours to the aperitif market. Taking inspiration from Spain, Portugal and Italy, Pedrino’s three tonics are the ideal gift for an aperitivo lover or a great addition to your dinner party drink’s cabinet. We tried all three - Sherry & Tonic, Ruby & Tonic and Vermouth & Tonic, and were pleasantly surprised by their light and refreshing nature. Thanks to their low alcohol content, at 5.5%abv, these drinks are perfect as a pre-dinner tipple; only strengthened by the use of all-natural and carefully proportioned ingredients.

While they are delicious when consumed on a hot summer’s afternoon, we found these tonics particularly apt for the Christmas period too. Given that sherry and port are often consumed in the colder and darker months, we were pleased to find a lighter alternative. All three are handmade with citrus botanicals, giving freshness and depth. Equally, only the best and award-winning fortified wines are used, alongside good quality tonic to ensure that your guests (and yourself) will not merely be given a watered down spirit. Our favourite? As port lovers, we loved the Ruby & Tonic, especially when drunk over ice and served with a garnish of lime. That said, it was hard to choose, and the other two closely follow. The bonus though, is that they need only to be served over ice (with a garnish if you’re feeling fancy). If this sounds just the tipple, then you can purchase these aperitifs from Waitrose at just £1.95 per bottle. Click here to see for yourself.

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If you’re more of a rum lover, then let us introduce The Duppy Share. Founded by George Frost, the brand brings the essence of the Caribbean back to London, with a focus not just on the Jerk seasoned food and reggae music, but on the nation’s love for rum. Made from a unique blend of fiery Jamaican rum and smooth Barbadian rum, this spirit is both bold and tropical. For those less inclined to go for rum, rest assured that this was a hit across the office, so much so that we were flipping coins for who could take the remainder of the bottle home! We’re also not the only lovers of this brand, as The Duppy Share was the official sponsor of the infamous Notting Hill Carnival in the summer, testament to the brand’s ethos and high-quality product.

The use of a traditional copper pot still gives the Jamaican rum its poignancy, aged in old white oak bourbon barrels and utilising the perfect weather conditions to increase the rate of ageing. On the other hand, the Barbadian method of continuous and pot still distillation gives notes of caramel - which when combined, gives this dark rum a deep, yet refreshing flavour. We like to drink this 3-year-old rum with the classic lime and soda, allowing the rich flavours to take over. However, for a more fiery approach, we also enjoyed it with a high-quality ginger beer and wedge of fresh lime. To bring the Caribbean to your Christmas, then visit The Duppy Share website here where you will find a 70cl bottle for £27.50. Alternatively, you will find this product in many good supermarkets, well worth the crowded rush!

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For many of us, the festive season means it's time for bubbles, so we were thrilled to discover Sparkle Drops. This brand brings a vast range of fruity flavourings to your alcoholic beverages - particularly effective when added to something bubbly. Adding a lovely shimmer to your drinks, these drops are equally effective when mixed with gin and vodka, also giving cocktails a little extra pizzaz.

We were fortunate to try two of their sets, the Unicorn Collection and the Gin Collection. The Unicorn Collection contains three 10ml bottles, with Golden Passionfruit, Blue Raspberry and Pink Cherry flavourings. Our favourite was the Golden Passionfruit, which is pleasantly fruity, and thanks to the gorgeous shimmer, will not look out of place on your festive dining table. That said, the other flavours were close contenders, the Blue Raspberry is particularly striking, and the Pink Cherry adds a pop of sweetness to drier proseccos.

Equally, as gin lovers, we were thrilled to try the Gin Collection. This consists of a further three flavours: Silver Elderflower, Green Lime and Rose Gold Rhubarb. It's difficult to choose a favourite here, but as the Rose Gold Rhubarb transported us back to our rhubarb and custard days at the local sweet shop, this perhaps edges above the others. That said, the Silver Elderflower adds a classic flavour to our standard G&T and the Green Lime brings a much needed citrusy zing to combat rich Christmas foods. To use either collection, add a couple of pipette-fulls to your glass, and top with something bubbly. Each bottle will make 6-8 125ml glasses sparkle, and they need not only be mixed with alcohol, as we found the Silver Elderflower worked particularly well with sparkling water. To add a bit of shimmer to your festivities, then visit the Sparkle Drops website here, where each collection is available for £10.

Finally, we discovered the perfect after-dinner tipple from La Mere Wine Estate. Based in Jersey, and established in 1972, La Mere provides heritage products with the use of local ingredients. The company is also established as a Green Tourism Gold standard attraction, in line with adhering to 20 specific actions, designed to promote sustainable tourism. These include controlling energy consumption and water usage, so we were intrigued to try their Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur.

Blended with the use of Jersey dairy cream from local island herds, the Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur also consists of locally distilled Jersey Apple Brandy - creating a deliciously creamy and rich combination. Thanks to the use of aged brandy, the flavour is warm and uplifting, ideal for the festive period. Equally, with the use of dairy cream, the texture is smooth and velvety, adding depth and thickness to this tipple. We found this is best enjoyed over ice, however, we’ve become quite partial to this liqueur when drizzled over a vanilla ice cream - perhaps it may even work well with Christmas pudding! To try the 17% ABV Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur for yourself, then click here, where you’ll find this tipple for £17.50.

So there you have it, four new brands to try this Christmas or New Year. Whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner aperitif, a warming rum, or an after dinner night cap, we’re sure you’ll find something to encourage a little extra festive spirit. As our last blog post of 2018, there is nothing left to do but put our out of office on, wish you all a Merry Christmas and grab a glass (or two) of something nice!