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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%).

Essence of Harris – Huisinis and Losgaintir Glass Candles

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One of our favourite things about the summertime at The Amazing Blog is being able to chill out under an umbrella at the coast. We love hearing the waves crash against the shore and feeling the sand between our toes. It can all feel so cosy and vibrant at the same time. Unfortunately, jetting off to our dessert island paradise for now will have to remain a bit of a dream; but, we can make our homes smell like one as Essence of Harris ’s candles offers us the perfect evocative aroma.

Essence of Harris was co-founded in 2015 by Deenie MacLeod, who was born and raised on the Isle of Harris located in the Scottish Outer Hebrides. The rugged landscape, golden beaches, and clear blue waters inspired MacLeod to partner with Jamie McGowan, a Glasgow native, to design candles and home fragrances. Their mission with Essence of Harris is so ‘everyone who visits the island can take away a small piece to cherish’.

We tried two of the five candles from the company’s Classic Collection inspired by the Isle’s beaches. The first was the Huisinis Glass Candle, which has a very evident sweet and citrusy scent. It’s bubbly, taking after notes of champagne, and has grapefruit, Brazilian orange, and pink pomelo. It also has hints of rhubarb adding to its tartness and watermelon packing freshness. We found this candle was perfect to light during the late morning and afternoon for an uplifting smell. The second one we tested was the Losgaintir Glass Candle. It has an exotic mix of fresh bergamot (green citrus fruit), orange, and amber, which give the candle tangy top notes that jump out at you. However, the scent has warmth due to its coconut, vanilla, and almond base notes. We recommend using this one in the late afternoon or during sunset to create a snug atmosphere before eating dinner.

The candles are hand poured on the island and made of 100 per cent ethically sourced soy wax and natural ingredients. While MacLeod’s hometown has enormously helped and influenced her, Essence of Harris is committed to supporting a sustainable community on the Isle. The brand is ‘consciously considering the environment, investing in the local community, and creating a prosperous local economy’. Each candle comes in a simple and sturdy yet elegant glass jar and should burn for approximately 30 hours.

When we typically think of island getaways, Scottish beaches are not at the top of our lists, but after smelling these candles, we’re ready to book a ticket on the next flight. You can bring the aroma to your own home by purchasing the Huisinis and Losgaintir Glass Candles (20cl) here, each for £12.95.

Together Health – Complexes and Boosts Food Supplements

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While we at The Amazing Blog try to maintain healthy and balanced diets, London has delicious food on practically every corner. So, to fill the gaps in our diets, we often take vitamins, but many vitamins are hard to travel with and contain harsh preservatives. That’s where Together Health ’s all-natural food supplements, packaged in portable sachets, come in. 

The brand was launched in the UK by two brothers, Lee and Daniel Robertshaw, who found it difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle amidst busy schedules and unhealthy yet conveniently located food. They partnered with health and nutrition experts to develop food supplements that ‘support as many people on their own journey to find a path to health that works for, and not against, them’. The company is 100 per cent transparent about the supplements’ ingredients that are naturally derived from the ocean and plants and contain no artificial additives or processing aids. We tried eight of the different supplements Together Health offers, four from the Boosts collection and four from the Complexes collection .

The Boost supplements are designed to give you extra vitamins and antioxidants in your diet. The four we tried were Curcumin & Turmeric Complex (helps reduce inflammation), Marine Magnesium contains five natural forms of magnesium minerals), Plant Based Coenzyme Q10 (generates energy in cells), and Vegan Vitamin D3 (helps absorption of calcium and phosphorous from food). One of our favourites from this collection was the Curcumin & Turmeric Complex, which contains organic turmeric root and 95 per cent curcumin extract. These two ingredients have been used for centuries for their natural healing properties as they are antioxidant-rich, neutralise harmful free radicals, and have anti-inflammatory properties

The Complex supplements target specific needs for you to live a healthier life. We tested the Joint Aid Herbal Complex (helps reduce inflammation in joints), Multibiotic Fermented Food (improves digestive and general health), Night Time Complex aids sleep onset and duration), and Stress Aid Complex (reduces stress with food-based vitamins and ocean minerals). Our favourite of this collection was the Night Time Complex. It contains five forms of ocean-sourced magnesium: oxide, hydroxide, sulfate, carbonate, and chloride. Since the magnesium is naturally derived rather than synthetically made, it allows your body to absorb it faster. The supplement also has 5-HTP from Griffonia extract to synthesise serotonin and hops extract to regulate inconsistent sleep patterns or inability to fall asleep. We found that taking two capsules 30 minutes before bed had us sleeping better throughout the night and waking up well-rested. 

Each supplement comes in a ‘vegecap’ made from Pinus Elliottii tree plant cellulose, and you can take it apart to mix into food or drink if you don’t like taking pills. There are approximately 30-60 vegecaps packed in each resealable sachet that can last for two months and is travel-friendly. Together Health has a helpful product recommender here if you aren’t sure what kind of supplement would be best for you. You can buy the supplements here starting from £6.99

Flux ‘n’ Flame Jewellery Course

With summer in full force now, we’ve been looking for new ways to relax and rewind for our weekends at The Amazing Blog, which had us stumbling upon the Flux ‘n’ Flame Jewellery School. While we love our makeup, skincare, and wellness products; but we also like sourcing and designing gorgeous jewellery. So, we were excited to learn about the many jewellery-making classes that this school offers. Located in Dorset, just 20 miles off the coast, Flux ‘n’ Flame provides the ideal countryside escape for the weekend or a day to relax, put aside your phone, and bring home a piece of one-of-a-kind jewellery at the end.

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Since its founding in 2003, Flux ‘n’ Flame has grown to become one of the top independent jewellery schools in the UK. Jesa and Al Dickson joined their combined 45 years of experience as professional jewellery designers and makers to create an experience like no other. Classes are kept at a maximum of eight people to ensure an intimate, friendly, and comfortable atmosphere in Flux ‘n’ Flame’s professional and fully equipped workshop.

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In the class, you learn the many practical skills of jewellery making such as soldering, sawing, and filing. You also learn different techniques from the best while being given the freedom to work on your own project at your own pace. No matter your skill level, a complete beginner like us or an expert, the teacher provides support and guidance during throughout the process. For more advanced jewellery makers, you can perfect your existing skills and learn new ones. Endless tea, coffee, and biscuits are also provided to stimulate the creative process. Let’s not forget at the end of the course you get to take home a piece of jewellery (necklace, rings, bracelets, and more) that you’ve worked hard to make and will have your friends asking where you bought it.

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Whether you want to do anything to escape our bustling city, learn a new skill, or build up an existing talent, Flux ‘n’ Flame offers the perfect class for you. Each class is seven hours long and prices vary depending on how many days of classes you would like. A one-day course is £115 per person, a two-day course is £225 per person, and a three-day course is £315 per person. You can find the class calendar here and book a class hereWe can’t wait to book in and show off our new designs!

Desavery – STELLAR Daily Serum

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At The Amazing Blog, we love when our skin care products have a great scent. It makes us feel better and more ready to conquer the day. What if your skincare products had ingredients that were scientifically proven to boost your mood and improve your focus? The STELLAR Daily Serum from Desavery does just that while leaving your skin looking brighter than before.

Andrea Dinnick founded Desavery in 2017 on four principles: feel good, look good, be good, and do good.These principles encapsulate Dinnick’s mission of creating ‘fantastic skin care that’s as good for your skin as well as your mood and mind’. Desavery uses ingredients that are effective in improving your skin, but also positively affect your biochemistry. Of these ingredients, many are sustainable such as the brand’s staple prickly pear and vetiver, and five per cent of the company’s profits go to supporting the women who pick and process the prized prickly pear.

This serum is part of the Desavery STELLAR collection, which is intended to give you a ‘rise and sparkle’ feeling and after trying it, we can see why. The formula is packed with antioxidants that stimulate collagen production and cell renewal for smoother skin. Prickly pear, rosehip, and camellia oils further brighten and improve skin plumpness. The ingredients are all certified-organic, but the ones that stood out to us were the mood liftersclary sage and bergamot. Clary sage, a plant used commonly for its medicinal properties, has been found to have anti-depressant effects and balance hormones. Bergamot is a citrus fruit known to improve alertness, cognition, and lower cortisol levels to make you feel calmer. We have to say that some of us here who tried this serum in the morning reportedly felt most clear-headed and uplifted. We found that it absorbs quickly and is best when used on slightly damp skin.

The product is very aromatic, and you are intended to take deep breathes to capture the beneficial elements of the plants while you perform your skin routine. It also comes in a modern reflective dropper bottle, so it’s stylish enough to leave next to your mirror and reach for every day. You can purchase the STELLAR Daily Serum (20ml) here for £65. A little does go a long way.