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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%).

SLIXIR - Hand & Polish Cream

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We love treating ourselves to an hour of timeout at the nail bar or just putting on the radio and doing a quick home mani pedi. At The Amazing Blog our biggest gripe with regular nail polish is that it always seems to chip after only a few days of wear. That’s why we were thrilled to try the Hand & Polish Cream from SLIXIR that we heard makes nail polish last longer, nourishes cuticles, and acts as an anti-ageing hand cream.

Helen Gilmore founded the British brand after having worked in the nail industry since 2002. She was previously the UK and ROI Head of Marketing for CND (Creative Nail Design, Inc), the company that made the popular gel manicure CND Shellac. Having had experience with consumers all over the world in nails and nail care, Gilmore found that the general feedback and biggest moan was about wanting a long-lasting nail polish. Having seen a niche in the market, she began her journey in creating a unique hand and nail product, Helen commented:  “Each day I focus on creating effective and luxurious ways to make this happen; solutions that fit easily into women’s lives and make great hands and nails a readily understood science.”

What stood out to us about SLIXIR is that it eliminates the need for both a hand cream and a cuticle oil with its unique blend of natural plant oils while improving the appearance of your nails and nail polish. We love multi-taskers! It doesn’t make your hands feel greasy and leaves them feeling heavenly soft. Honestly? Our hands felt smooth and hydrated, almost as though we ‘d put a primer on. For this kind of hydration, the formula includes avocado oil and jojoba oil as well as copper active, which specifically soothes and targets the nail beds. Colloidal oats further protects your hands from dryness and environmental stresses.

We cannot emphasise enough about the importance of giving your hands extra care. This is because the dermal layers are thinner, more exposed to the elements, which in turn reveals ageing faster than the face. SLIXIR is one step ahead and equipped with anti-ageing ingredients. This cream is packed full of  antioxidants and multivitamins which neutralise free radicals, helping to hold back visible age-related changes on your hands such as wrinkles and lack of elasticity. We also like that this cream doesn’t have any parabens, mineral oils, or animal cruelty. You can use it on all skin types and nail polishes and they recommend applying it twice a day, paying careful attention to nails. SLIXIR Hand & Polish Cream (75ml) is available here for £21.95 and offers free shipping within the UK. This all-in-one cream now has pride of place by our desks!

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!

Mon Dessert - Macaron Masterclass

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Regular readers will know that at The Amazing Blog we love trying new foods from superfoods to protein-filled snacks. But what we especially love are desserts because life is about balance, right? Since it’s a Friday, we decided to treat ourselves to the highly anticipated Mon Dessert Macaron Masterclass. Being surrounded by the aroma of dessert and freshly made macarons is honestly the ideal way to spend two hours of a Friday night in the heart of London’s food network: Borough Market.

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During the Masterclass, which has a different seasonal theme each month, you learn how to make macarons from scratch following a recipe straight out of Paris. You also gain first-hand knowledge of tips and tricks that you can bring to your own kitchen if you’re brave enough to try making them on your own. The class has a wide variety of flavours and colours for you to create a box of personalized macarons that will impress your family and friends when you leave. Overall and most importantly, the class has a fun, light, and uplifting atmosphere that radiates from the delicious desserts to everyone baking in the kitchen.

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Mon Dessert is a luxury at-home dessert company that holds classes like the Macaron Masterclass and sells kits to make your own desserts at home. Macarons kits allow you to take your skills from the class into your own flat and provides the necessary ingredients, recipe, equipment, and fashionable storage tin for you to be successful every time. The company also offers a delicious-looking speciality dessert kits, which help you make a professional-looking and tasting éclair, cannoli, and crème brûlée with ease. Vegan-friendly recipes, kitchen appliances, and many flavours from caramel to rose are available.

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If you’re an avid foodie or someone who doesn’t shy away from desserts, the Macaron Masterclass is a must for you. It runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Le Pain Quotidien every second Friday of the month and is £50 per person. You can sign up for a spot in the class here.

Virginia Stone – ‘Eyes’ for Kavesi


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When you’re searching out skincare items, often the three categories you’ll see are ‘dry’, ‘normal’, and ‘oily’. They’re appear all encapsulating, or so it seems. Some of us with ‘combination’ skin at The Amazing Blog and frequently struggle to find the right cleanser or moisturiser that won’t make our skin greasy or dry. The latest product we tried is from Virginia Stone it brings about the idea that finding the right products for your skin may be based on your skin tone rather than these three general categories.

Virginia Stone built her brand on the foundation of ‘passion, purpose, and an unyielding desire to innovate and inspire’. She set out to revolutionise the skincare industry by creating a sustainable luxury brand and adhering to three core values of people, planet, and passion. Virginia Stone, as a company, dedicates itself to global social and environmental sustainability and all of its products are fair-trade, eco-friendly, and vegan. What drew us to this brand was its ethos. It felt simple categories like ‘dry’, ‘normal’, and ‘oily’ do not account for certain skin-tone-specific characteristics such as skin density and sensitivity, SPF requirements, and potency tolerance levels. So, Virginia Stone created three collections: Kavesi for fair skin tones, Jasari for medium skin tones, and Odaja for dark skin tones. We felt these groupings were less arbitrary and more encapsulating, especially if you have ‘normal’ or ‘combination’ skin. 

We tried their ‘Eyes’ for Kavesi in Sand , a 3-in-1 superfood cream with five layers (Butter, Nectar, Tea Syrup, Corrective Complex, Elixir) of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. The formula is also pH balanced and oxygenated to protect your skin from UV rays and pollution, improving your skin’s elasticity and lightening dark shadows. It is designed to stimulate cell renewal, increase blood flow, and improve circulation specifically for fair skin, which is highly sensitive and allergy prone. When we used it, we saw diminished fine lines as well as less puffy and brighter skin like we had used a jade roller. But what stood out to us was the cream’s texture. It’s solid, and you can’t dip your finger into it, but the warmth of your finger picks up the right amount of the product that feels smoother than butter and leaves your skin feeling the same way. The cream is oilier than typical moisturisers, yet it doesn’t feel sticky and spreads well. It leaves your skin feeling smooth and matte, which makes the cream perfect to use as a primer during the day, and nourishes for night time use. 

Finally, we cannot go through this post without mentioning the intricate packaging. The cream comes in a cube that Virginia Stone calls ‘The Luxador’. It’s 100 per cent recyclable concrete stone and has thermal insulating properties to protect the cream’s active ingredients and maintain its longevity. The Luxador is engraved with the company’s simple logo and pattern and has a magnetic stone lid. It’s quite solid and heavy, so be careful if you travel with it or keep it on your bathroom counter for décor and safekeeping.

You can buy ‘Eyes’ for Kavesi (15ml) here for $185. The price is quite high, but you don’t need very much and could spot treat certain areas rather than put it all over your face.