Friday Favourites

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 – 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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

Friday Favourites – Cleansers

As we all know the key essential to any good skin care routine is to use a gentle and effective cleanser, not only to remove the daily grime but the residue of our makeup. However, during our research for this feature, we at The Amazing Blog found that there were quite a few readily available high street brands, but they were mainly water-based with chemicals. This combination strips your skin of its natural oils, leaving your face feeling tight and dry rather than supple and refreshed. That is why we wanted to share some of our Friday Favourites which are the latest #amazingfinds for oil-based cleansers and cleansing balms. We know what you’re probably thinking: ‘Oil? Won’t that clog up my skin?’ Rest assured we’ve tried and tested our choices. We all have very different skin types here at The Amazing Blog ranging from very dry to extremely oily and none of these cleansers clogged our pores.

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The first #amazingfind, we found was the Jane Apothecary Soothing Cleansing Balm. This Spanish-based company was founded by Elena Padilla, a biologist and cosmetics expert, after she began breaking out when she turned 30 years old. Jane Apothecary is an award winning brand (see 2019 Beauty Shortlist here) that we have fallen in love with, and recently wrote about their Restoring Eye &  Lip Serum . Elena soon discovered the benefits of vegetable oils and plants to soothe skin as well as other women who were in a similar situation as herself. This led her to create all-natural products that ‘care for and calm the skin of women over 30 years’ while providing hydration and preventing ageing.

The Cleansing Balm’s oil and vegetable wax base gives the product a thick texture and melts in your hands to create a cleansing oil. It has marigold extract, chamomile, and aloe vera to soothe and soften your skin along with bio shea butter to help protect your skin’s natural oils. After using this product, your skin won’t feel greasy, but perfectly moisturised and clean. What made this cleansing balm worthy of a lot of love at the Beauty Shortlist Awards is that it has been specially formulated for sensitive skin as well as redness- and rosacea-prone skin while smelling fresh. Many products that treat skin conditions often smell like a hospital or have no scent. Jane Apothecary uses a mix of lemongrass, orange, and lavender essential oils to give the balm a signature strong lemongrass scent that has aromatherapeutic properties to help you relax while cleansing your face.

If you want extra soft skin, you can leave a small layer of the cleansing balm on for 20 minutes before removing it with warm water and the organic cotton wipe provided. Only a small dollop of this product is needed each time you cleanse your face, so we can safely say the price is worth what you get. You can purchase the Soothing Cleansing Balm (60ml) here for 35.54€


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The next cleansing balm we have for you is the Nourish Cleanse Melt: Rose & Camellia. This product may look or sound familiar because we reviewed the Botanicals Nourishing Face Balm in the same beautiful scent. We’ve found and fallen in love with many products from Botanicals (check out our brand directory here) and the Nourishing Face Balm falls into the same pattern.

The company is rooted in the ‘fundamental belief that nature knows best’ and this cleansing balm has 100 per cent natural ingredients. It is also cruelty-free, vegan, and certified organic. The cleanser contains absolutely no water and is oil-based, which helps retain and maintain your skin’s natural oils rather than dry out your face. It can be used on all skin types, but the natural oils are especially useful for hydrating and healing normal-to-dry mature skin. The formula combines the oils with shea butter and green tea extract to dissolve even stubborn waterproof mascara after a long day and leave your skin feeling soft like a baby’s the next morning. What makes this balm different is that Botanicals’ cleansing balms work deep into your pores to remove any impurities, which balance and brighten your skin. While many oil-based products scare people away, this cleansing balm leaves you feeling moisturised but not greasy.

See for yourself why this cleansing balm won for Best Organic Facial Skincare at the Natural and Organic Awards. You can purchase it here (60g) for £26.  

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The final product we have for you this Friday is the Joji Natural Frankincense and Sandalwood Oil Cleanser. We discovered this indie beauty brands earlier this year at a trade beauty show. The motto of Joji Natural is ‘Natural without compromise’. The company was founded in 2010 and is dedicated to creating handmade organic products that are effective, sustainable, cruelty-free, and fair trade.

 The oil cleanser is made of 100 per cent plant-based materials and is marketed as ‘a meditation in a bottle’. After using it, we can see why. As the name says, the product has frankincense and sandalwood. These are both natural oils that have immense therapeutic effects, leaving you less stressed and creating positive well-being. The formula also has a unique mix of jojoba, sweet almond, and apricot kernel oils, which soothe and moisturise skin without clogging your pores. This oil cleanser is essential in scrubbing away makeup and pollutants from the day, unlike regular cleansers. Many of the ingredients also have natural properties to fight bacteria, leaving your skin extra clean.

You can remove all of the cleanser with a warm cloth or leave some excess for your skin to soak up the all-natural oils, as recommended by Joji Natural. You can purchase the Frankincense and Sandalwood Oil Cleanser (50ml) here for £16.

Whether or not you have already made the switch to oil cleansers, please keep these products in mind not just for the summer but all year round. As mentioned earlier, they will not clog your pores or leave your skin feeling dry. However, what we like is that they all leave a nice layer of moisture giving you a glowy and goddess-like skin. Go try!

Friday Favourites - Manicure and Pedicure Products

While Film and TV shows often depict women having a standing nail appointment at a downtown salon, we are sad to say that is not the reality at The Amazing Blog. While we love pampering ourselves at the spa every once and a while, we often don’t have the time or money to spend on full manicures and pedicures each week. Thankfully for us, there is a vast market for at-home nail treatments, and you can enjoy some of the luxuries from your flat. We have four #amazingfinds for you this week that will leave your hands and nails looking gorgeous while still feeling like you’ve had a day at the salon.

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The first product we have will leave your hands looking brighter and more youthful before you put on your nail polish. We had the chance to try another product from one of our tried-and-trusted brands, Beauty Kitchen. Since we tested their Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask and The Beauty Boosting BB Cream, the company revamped the collection into Seahorse Plankton+, which includes the 60 Second Manicure.

The 60 Second Manicure is a quick and easy scrub that uses Himalayan sea salt to exfoliate dead skin cells from your hands and nail beds. The fine texture of the sea salt works quickly and effectively, revealing smoother and healthier-looking skin, and is especially useful for dry patches of skin. What makes this scrub standout from others is that all of the products in the Seahorse Plankton+ collection contain microalgae and blue chamomile. Microalgae is a unique skin care ingredient that can survive in the cold and harsh environment of the North Sea and increases collagen production, which brightens skin. It also contains proteins and antioxidants that nourish skin and reduce redness as well as fine lines. Blue chamomile gives the scrub the relaxing aroma of a spa and renews skin.

Sustainability is a crucial pillar of the brand, so Seahorse Plankton+ products are made with recyclable materials (glass and aluminium) and sustainably grown microalgae. Despite the name, seahorses are not used to make the scrub, and it is vegan certified. You can purchase the scrub (80g) here for £19.50.



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This next product from BalbCare -  Luxury Waterless Manicure/Pedicure Starter Kit provides the perfect layer of moisture once you’ve smoothed your hands with the 60 Second Manicure. BalBCare is a Brazilian-based company that wanted to create a ‘manicure and pedicure service that doesn’t require water: saving both time and resources’. By using their Manicure / Pedicure Starter Kit containing a pack of 20 together with free plier toe nail cutters. Did you know that you can save two to four litres of water with each use and have beautiful-looking hands and feet this summer.

The Manicure and Pedicure Kits come with gloves and socks, plus emollient cream, a nail file and a wooden cuticle pusher. The packets are for single-use only, making them very sanitary – something that is vital when removing your cuticles. They are also flat and portable. The emollient cream in each kit moisturises hands and feet using natural ingredients like witch-hazel extract and allantoin (reduces skin inflammation), tea tree oil (sanitises hands naturally), and calcium pantothenate (nourishes nails). After putting the gloves or socks on, you must break the ends of the glove or sock to push back and remove your cuticles. Like a sheet mask, remember to rub in the excess emollient cream once you’ve removed the gloves and socks. To purchase this Starter kit it will be approximate £40 from here.

For extra soft feet, because we usually don’t put cream on our feet every day like our hands, we suggest using Foot File. We recommend finding a file that is made with 100 per cent surgical quality stainless steel, making it longer-lasting and more effective than a typical sandpaper file that runs down after a few uses. The material also makes the foot file extremely lightweight and has a coarse side and fine side. You can use it with or without water and creams, but we prefer to remain water-less and use the emollient cream

We must quickly add that this is in fact a popular salon-based ‘express service’ treatment that is offered in select nail bars and beauty salons UK wide. To have the full experience of mani pedi performed by trained individuals, this treatment will be around £20 (depending on each salons menus).

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The next product we have is another alternative to going to the nail salon or even having to use nail polish, and it will have even your closest friends fooled. Bows & Toes offers a unique solution for people who struggle at painting their nails – especially their non-dominant hands, makeup artists who quickly need to paint nails left and right backstage, or someone who doesn’t want to leave home. It also offers a luxurious twist to stick-on nails, which many people still believe are only age-appropriate for children to use.  

The UK-based online boutique was founded by two sisters who have backgrounds in the nail business, art, and design. They combined their experiences to create high-quality and detailed designs for the hand-painted nails. Bows & Toes allows you to express yourself and style through your nails whichever way you like with a wide variety of styles. The nails come in classic round and square shapes, but also trendy stiletto shapes that are difficult to create without going to the nail salon. Patterns vary from glitter and jewels to marble and solid colours, which come in both shiny and matte finishes. The 20-piece nail sets are not all uniform and have different hues as well as patterns that coordinate with another.

Each nail set includes the stick-on nails, gel tabs to keep the nails on, alcohol wipes, and a cuticle stick. All nails can be removed with just warm water and are reusable if taken care of properly. You can purchase the Bow Ladies nail sets here for prices of £14.99-£18.99, depending on the design.

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Finally, we have two products for you from HandMade Beauty to complete your nails. The Moisturising Base Coat with Aloe Vera and Top Coat Sun Dry both got a lot of love at this year’s Beauty Shortlist Awards, and we can see why. Diana Burillo’s brand provides organic, handmade, and cruelty-free alternatives to traditional nail polishes that often have harsh chemicals and damage nails. The products are also fair trade and produced with as few ingredients as possible to uphold the company’s mission of ‘creating 100% organic spaces for body and mind care’.

The first item we tried was the Moisturising Base Coat. Our nails truly felt the difference with this base coat due to the formula’s mixture of aloe vera, bamboo extract, and vitamin E. These ingredients add moisture, but also repair existing nail damage and prevent future damage. It’s perfect if your nails are feeling drier with the rising temperatures. On top of feeling more moisturised nails, the base coat left a nice natural shine that could be worn on its own. After the base coat and nail polish of your choice, HandMade Beauty’s Top Coat Sun Dry will give you shiny and glossy nails that look like you got a gel manicure. The catch is that you don’t have to put your hands under a UV lamp or UV light. The top coat creates a hard shell in just three minutes under natural sunlight and protects your nails from getting chipped, resulting in a longer-lasting manicure. The product additionally has a rounded application brush that makes it easier to distribute the top coat onto your nails.

Both products come in simple glass bottles (a clear one for the base coat and a matte black one for the top coat) with wooden caps that would look nice on any counter. You can purchase the Top Coat Sun Dry (11ml) here for €18 and the Moisturising Base Coat (10ml) here for €14. If you buy both together, online orders over €30 qualify for free shipping.

With these four unique at-home nail treatments in mind, we hope you find some time to treat yourself during the weekend. Put on a soft robe, rest your feet, and relax in front of the telly while doing one or all of these treatments because you and your nails deserve to feel like you’ve had a weekend spa holiday.

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!