A new whisky made in the West Country is now available to buy. Dartmoor Whisky is distilled and aged in the West Country’s first whisky distillery, within Bovey Tracey’s former Town Hall, using barley grown and harvested at Preston Farm on Dartmoor. The barley is malted at Britain’s oldest working maltings, Warminster Maltings, one of only a handful of traditional malting houses left in England, with distillation occurring in a refurbished Alembic cognac still. Four expressions are available: a first release sherry cask (£159.50); a first release Bordeaux cask (£139.50); a first release bourbon cask (£139.50) and the entry level ex American oak bourbon cask (£59.50).
Ming River baijiu
Baijiu brand Ming River is looking to make a mark in the UK. Produced in what is said to be China’s oldest operation distillery, Luzhou Laojiao, Ming River is made using sorghum grain that’s fermented with wild yeast in earthen pits. The mash is then batch distilled in traditional Chinese pot-stills and rested for two to three years before blending. Baijiu (pronounced bye-j-yo) is the world’s most popular category of spirit, and Ming River is described as having tropical fruit and earthy, umami notes with a flavour profile that’s heavy on pineapple, spicy pink peppercorn and an aroma of green apple peel and tropical fruits including papaya and guava. The 45% abv spirit (£32) is distributed by Hi-Spirits and can be used in Tiki-style cocktails including Mai Tais, Piña Coladas and Daiquiris.
Salcombe Distilling NLL
Salcombe Distilling Co has unveiled a stylish non-alcoholic spirit (main image) that it claims will set a new standard in taste for low and no alcohol drinks. Inspired by the quality benchmark set by London Dry gin, its New London Light (NLL) ‘spirit’ is made by first distilling botanicals Macedonian juniper berries, ginger and habanero capsicum before 15 additional botanicals are blended into the base liquid to add hints of citrus orange and sage. Mark Hix, a chef known for liking a tipple, is a fan. “I rarely go for a non-alcoholic option when having drinks with friends, but NLL has effortlessly raised the bar in this space with a great clarity of flavour that really shines and makes you feel that you aren’t missing out,” he says. “After a few dirty NLL martinis we were hooked for the afternoon. It has made such an impression that we are adding it into our mocktail menu straight away.” NLL is priced at £27.50 for a 70cl bottle.
Courvoisier De Luxe
Courvoisier has added a limited-edition expression to its cognac portfolio. De Luxe is first matured in French Limousin oak barrels before finishing its maturation in a selection of new casks made with fine grain oak trees. This second maturation contributes to a woodier product, which the cognac house says adds an extra layer of character, depth and intensity to the resulting spirit. De Luxe is described is having complex notes of vanilla, dried fruits, sandalwood, and leather and carries a price tag of £40 for a 70cl bottle.
Tobermory 23 Year Old Oroloso Cask Finish
Tobermory Distillery has added a sherried single malt to its core range of whiskies. Tobermory 23 Year Old Oroloso Cask Finish is a rose-gold whisky described as having notes of vanilla, ripe oranges, toasted barley and fruitcake on the nose and an obvious sherry influence on the palate, accompanied by flavours of salted toffee, candied citrus and floral honey. The single malt packs a punchy abv of 46.3% and is available at £320 a bottle.
East London Liquor Co hard seltzers
East London Liquor Co is the latest to toss its hat into the UK’s nascent hard seltzer category with the launch of two drinks. The canned drinks both have an abv of 4% and come in pomegranate and vodka; and lime and vodka flavours. The drinks are being pitched as more sophisticated than other hard seltzers on the market, according to the company. “We love dry drinks – a martini with just a spritz of vermouth is one of our favourites, so when we heard about the hard seltzer craze in the US it piqued our interest,” says director of brand and development James Law. “The seltzer scene is chock-a-block with drinks that are stripped of flavour and character. We wanted to stand by our principles and launch a range that are juicy, moreish, and maybe just a little bit more sophisticated.”
Good Karma Beer Culture Shock
London-based Good Karma Beer Co has created an alcohol-free beer in collaboration with Rock Leopard Brewing. Called Culture Shock, its lemon radler is the first in a planned range of 0.5% abv beers and sodas by the brewery and is inspired by the Bavarian classic style of beers. It is made with water and organic malted wheat, malted barley, hops and lemons and is available to buy in cases of four, six, 12 and 24 330ml cans.
Non-alcoholic drinks brand Jukes has launched what it says is a booze-free interpretation of an Autumnal red wine. The limited-edition Jukes 2 blends cranberries, sour cherries, blueberries, pomegranates, red apples and raspberries with earthy vegetables, fragrant herbs and warming spices and has a smokiness that the company says ‘draws one’s flavour memory to tasting wine in Burgundy, after harvest in September and October’. Jukes 2 can be added to still, sparkling or tonic water to create a wine-like drink.
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
A concentrate that replaces the espresso typically used in an espresso martini has been developed by the founders of SOLO Coffee. Described as a UK first, the Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate has been designed to offer the mouthfeel of espresso without the need for a bartender to brew a coffee and cool it down in a shaker when making the cocktail. It is said to have the smooth and foamy finish crucial for an espresso martini but without any artificial thickeners to create the crema. Available from the start of this month, the long-life ambient concentrate comes packaged in a one-litre carton containing 20 servings priced £9.95. For the duration of November, SOLO will be donating 10% of the profits from the new product to charity Drinks Trust.
Bullards Spirits has launched a gin inspired by the Norfolk coastline. Its Coastal Gin is made using hand-foraged sea purslane, marsh samphire, sea aster and f Douglas Fir and is described by its maker as being delicate and salty on the palate, with a bright citrus flavour. The gin has a ‘pearlescent mist’ when ice and tonic is added and is best served with a handful of blackberries and some fresh lime peel, says Bullards. It comes in glass 70cl bottles (£40) with the option to purchase thereafter an eco-friendly refill pouch (£35).
Double Dutch Cocktail Sodas
Premium tonic and mixer brand Double Dutch is targeting the cocktail market with latest drinks development. The company has launched a Cocktail Soda range, with the first two variants being a Bloody Mary Soda and a Cucumber Margarita Soda with chilli. The company says it has taken the ingredients from classic cocktails to develop the range, which can be added to spirits to create quick cocktails, or be drank solo as a non-alcoholic alternative. Bloody Mary Soda has the tomato taste of the classic cocktail with basil, cucumber, pepper and chilli, while Cucumber Margarita Soda blends cucumber and Persian lime as well as bell pepper and is best combined with tequila.
Oastbrook Pinot Gris 2019
Oastbrook Estate in Sussex has released its second vintage pinot gris 2019. Made from an Alsatian grape varietal, the fruit for Oastbrook Pinot Gris 2019 was pressed in September 2019 and bottled in May 2020. After low temperature fermentation, the wine was left in tank over winter but not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, to preserve the fresh acidity. The new wine has a price of £19 and joins Oastbrook’s pinot gris 2018, sparkling rosé 2014 and sparkling rosé 2015.
135° East gin
A new style of gin - called ‘hydro dry gin’ - has hit the market courtesy of drinks producer and distributor Marussia Beverages. Created by master distiller and blender Kimio Yonezawa and called 135° East, after the 135th meridian east, a line of longitude chosen in 1888 to mark Japan’s official standard time, the Japanese gin is made by blending classic London Dry Gin ingredients with Japanese botanicals. It is then finished with some distilled Junmai sake which, once distilled, has a typical soft sweetness that complements the Japanese botanicals, says Yonezawa. The gin has an abv of 43% and retails at £35 for a 70cl bottle.
River Cottage kombucha
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has joined forces with drink brand Equinox to create a four-strong range of organic kombucha. Available in 275ml glass bottles at the drinks come in Garden, Hedge, Meadow, and Orchard variants. Garden has a camomile tea base with rhubarb and a touch of lovage; Hedge is green tea based and contains rosehip, sloe and juniper; Meadow is a brew of green tea-based Kombucha fermented with dandelion and nettle with a hint of meadowsweet; and Orchard combines green tea-based Kombucha with plum, apple and quince.