Alcohol

Smith & Sinclair - Lick Your Sent

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Anyone else has a bathroom drawer full of half used perfumes? At The Amazing Blog, we all came to the conclusion that it can take years of accumulating different scents (even layering them) before you find your true signature fragrance. However, we tracked down Smith & Sinclair who have given us the most fun fragrance of the season! Regular readers may remember that we featured the Smith & Sinclair Cocktail Pastilles, It would seem that Smith & Sinclair have endless creative ideas, bringing us the craziest innovations. This time is edible fragrance. Yes, you read it right; their line of products Lick Your Scent which certainly made our heads turn in the office.

Smith & Sinclair describe themselves as, “alcohol and confectionery innovators, or the Willy Wonka for grown-ups,” and we think they couldn’t have phrased it better. It all started with Mel and Emile, the founders of Smith & Sinclair. A while back, they hosted a series of single events and they noticed that instead of falling in love with each other, people were falling in love with the alcoholic confectionery they were offering. Bingo! Out of trying to bring people together for love, they created Smith & Sinclair, to bring people together through new ways of sharing.

Featured in the Sunday Times, You Magazine, and Cosmopolitan, among other outlets, Smith & Sinclair are revolutionising the beauty and beverage industry. Their edible fragrances are crafted to up your “cocktail” game. “Cocktail” in quotation marks because the Lick Your Scent range is not only designed to liven up your fragrance but tantalise the taste buds, as they are also lickable! Different, you might say…. You can pick from a range of flavours: Pear & VanillaCherry Blossom & Mandarin, or Watermelon & Citrus.

We chose the Pear & Vanilla scent because it works perfectly for autumn. Fear not, even though it is edible, it’s not sticky, the formula is created to be suitable to spray it on your skin as well as flavouring your drinks. The main ingredients are: Vodka (30%), calvados (30%) - this means it is an adult’s fragrance, it can only be purchased if you are over the age of 18 - citric acid, glycerine and pear and vanilla natural flavouring, making it 100% vegan. The question is do you store it in the bathroom or the kitchen? With the fruity and flowery scent/taste and bright packaging, your bathroom drawer will certainly now have a new addition with a difference. Set the trend this autumn and purchase your 50ml edible fragrance here for only £10. Warning: Please lick responsibly.

Holly Golightly Cider from Celtic Marches

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Today we unashamedly revisit our friends over in Herefordshire at Celtic Marches in fact The Amazing Blog previously featured their delicious Thundering Molly Cider way back in 2014! Today they have now come up with another hugely tempting bottle, only this time with one of the most iconic images of cinematic history: Holly Golightly

Any fans of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, brace yourselves for something very special indeed, today we are focusing on the heroine of that movie herself - the fabulously complicated and utterly beguiling Holly Golightly. The image is unmistakeable - perfect undo coiffed to perfection, the long black gloves, little black dress and the Audrey Hepburn pout jumps out at you from the label, making a beeline for our shopping basket. 

Standing alongside such diverse characters as Loubi Lou, and Nell Gwynne, Holly Golightly is no doubt going to make her mark in the drinks cabinet, just as she did on screen, but at just 0.5%ABV, her low alcohol content comes out as far more virtuous! Having said that, this is no wishy-washy concoction, but rather a full-flavoured medium cider, as you would expect from 100% pressed cider applessuitable for vegans and no gluten makes this a sure fire winner across the board. Available in bottles, and cans, cases of 12 can be purchased for just £22.99 here, where the complete range and all the other characters that Celtic Marches have created, are just waiting to be discovered. Now all we need is our wrought iron fire escape, ‘Cat’ to brush past us and ‘Moon River’ playing in the background, and we can have ourselves an evening of unadulterated movie nostalgia … relax and enjoy!

Friday Favourites: South West Wine School

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Wine fascinates us with all the varieties, colours and flavours which are infinite; and being able to identify a specific wine is pretty much in everyone’s wish list. At The Amazing Blog we always enjoy learning more about the origin of the wines, how it affects the characteristics with the difference in taste or texture and so on. This is why we were intrigued to find out more about the South West Wine School with their Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses.

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The South West Wine School, was co-founded by Jonathan and Hayley Reynolds with the aim of providing first class wine education across the country. Both with numerous years of expertise, Hayley holds the DipWSET diploma, while Jonathan is WSET Level 3 certified and said “I have recently taken and passed my WSET Level 3. It provides such a comprehensive education on everything related to wine, from growing vines, winemaking and the different grape varieties to serving recommendations and food and wine pairings.” This year, they are holding WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) courses to give you the chance to get your diploma, just like Jonathan and Hayley. Sponsored by the likes of Salcombe Gin, Eversfield Organic, Enotria & Coe, Vineyard Productions, The Eco Laundry, Kingston Estate and Deer Park Country House, this event couldn’t look more promising. They offer comprehensive education from growing wines, learning about the different grape varieties, to winemaking and serving recommendations. They are also members of associations like Food & Drink Devon and Taste of the West.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was established in 1969 for the UK wine trade. It provides optimal education courses and certifications recognised globally as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge for both wine enthusiasts and professionals. The courses will take place at the South West Wine School’s headquarters in Wakeham Farm, in South Devon and will be primarily taught by Hayley Reynolds and Rebecca Mitchell (also DipWSET certified). The next available courses begin in September and go along until the end of November.

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Please see the following dates:

WSET Level 1 is on Thursday 5th September, Wednesday 9th October and Wednesday 6th November. Sign up to obtain the WSET Level 1 diploma. This course is ideal for those who are new to the wine industry. You will learn about the world of wine, explore the types and style through sight, smell and taste and gain skills to describe wines accurately to know what the best food is for pairing. Sign up for a 7 hour day course beginning at 10am for £155.

To achieve the WSET 2, they are doing 3 day courses, a total of 21 hours, for £395. This qualification is suitable for those seeking a deeper understanding of wines. From wine regions, grape varieties and styles, to classifications and labelling terminology, this course is excellent to be taken to the core of the wine industry for those aiming to achieve an intermediate level of knowledge. Moreover, you will also receive an overview of the key categories of liqueurs and spirits. WSET Level 2 – 3 day courses: Wednesday 11th, 18th, and 25th of September. Or Tuesday 12th, 19th, and 26th of November.

WSET Level 3 – 6 day course: Tuesday 10th, 17th, 24th September continuing Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th October. In order to take the WSET Level 3 course, you will need to have passed the Level 2. This level is for those wanting to become professionals and work in the wine industry. This is a much more in-depth course, touching up on grape growing and the mastering of wine making. Once completed, you will be able to confidently assess wines accurately, delving deeper onto style and quality. The course is 6 days long and has a price of £695.

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They welcome the professional, enthusiast or beginner to these courses. You can sign up here and embark on this journey to become wine expert obtaining an international qualification. Perfect for ticking off on your wish list!

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!