A gin inspired by perfume
Four years in the making, Seventy One gin is a collaboration between artist Mert Alas and former president of Diageo’s Reserve Brands Steve Wilson. Trialled at celebrity hangout Chiltern Firehouse, the extremely premium drink has been conceived to ‘refute the traditional expectation of gin as a downer’ and is made using a method inspired by the perfume industry. The pair have ‘turned the gin making process on its head’ by making a traditional gin before layering in flavour through the addition of 'single distilled botanical absolutes' (a process similar to fragrance creation). The resulting liquid is matured for 71 days (hence the name) in a mix of former wine barrels. The final touch is extract of Queen of the Night, a cactus which flowers at night in the dessert just one night in the year.
Frapin’s 30 year-old Cognac
Cognac Frapin has released a 30-year old cognac that it says was born in a year of favourable weather conditions and a bountiful summer. Frapin Millésime 1989 is described as a rare cognac and required no blending but was monitored closely during its period of maturation. For the first time, Frapin aged the cognac in its humid subterranean cellars where the humidity comes from the soil and more alcohol than water is lost, creating a softer and more rounded cognac with a lot of flavour. All previous Frapin vintage cognacs have been aged in the dry cellars, upstairs. Millésime 1989 joins the Trésors du Chateau collection of rare Frapin vintages in a release of just 1,200 bottles.
VIDA Wines & Spirits makes UK debut
Central European specialist VIDA Wines & Spirits has launched a UK hub. As well as stocking a large range of wines and spirits from countries including Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic VIDA makes a number of own-label wines under its VIDA Exclusives brand. The vineyard is located near the village of Gradets in Northwest Bulgaria, close to the fortress of Baba Vida which inspired the VIDA name. “It is a very exciting time for us. We are looking forward to introducing new wines & spirits to the UK consumer through VIDA especially highlighting the quality of particularly Central & Eastern European wines which are otherwise harder to get hold of in the United Kingdom,” says global CEO Tzvetan Neychev.
Sustainably-minded drinks company Discarded has launched a vodka made with grape skins, stems and seeds (pomace). Made with waste product from Spanish Chardonnay vineyards Discarded Grape Skin Vodka is made by blending spirit made with pomace with ‘wine alcohol’, which is a byproduct of the dealcoholisation process employed to make alcohol-free wine. Discarded says it chose Chardonnay for its character and tropical notes. The result is clean and fruity with notes of green apple, pear and some bready notes. The new product joins Discarded Banana Peel Rum and Discarded Cascara Vermouth, which is made with the dried skins of coffee cherries.
Cotswolds Distillery creates a brace of new whiskies
Cotswolds Distillery has added to its collection of single malt whiskies with the launch of a Bourbon Cask Single Malt Whisky and a Reserve Single Malt Whisky. Cotswolds Bourbon Cask Single Malt Whisky is made from select first-fill ex-bourbon casks that impart classic notes of vanilla and honey while its Reserve Single Malt Whisky is made from spirit aged in specially selected first-fill ex-bourbon and STR (shaved, toasted and recharred) American red wine casks at a ratio of 80:20. This expression showcases the influence of the first-fill ex-Bourbon casks that provide classic notes of vanilla, honey, butterscotch and a hint of coconut, resulting in a smooth, elegant and well-balanced dram, it says. The former has an abv of 59.1% with the single malt coming in at a slightly lower but still punchy 50% abv.
Fourpure’s hazy vision
South East London craft brewery Fourpure says it used the lockdown period to develop a hazy beer to add to its core range. Its Hazy Pale Ale is a 4.7% abv beer comes in 33om cans and is described as being juicy, soft and tropical. It is the first beer to launch from Fourpure since its rebrand earlier this year – aimed to make its beers easier to navigate.“Hazy IPAs started really gaining popularity in 2020 with craft drinkers who were after a less bitter, fruitier number than a classic IPA. It’s an easy drinking, soft and juicy beer that’s also super approachable for new craft drinkers and as part of our ‘Fourpure and Simple’ ethos, we knew a hazy beer had a place in our core range line up,” says brewmaster John Driebergen.
Time at the bar with new tequila brand
Small batch of premium tequila brand Tiempo Tequila has debuted it Reposado Cristalino tequila in the UK. The spirit is made from 100% mature blue weber agave, which is grown and harvested in the Altos and Valley regions of Jalisco in Mexico, and is slow-cooked for 48 hours before being fermented using natural yeast for a further 60 hours. It is then twice distilled before spending up to one year ageing in American oak whiskey casks. The company says it is working towards ensuring its practices are sustainable by providing living wages for its growing and production team, focusing on sustainable agave farming in the fields, cutting CO2 emissions, reusing agave waste and packaging with recycled glass and materials wherever possible.
Hacien’s trio of tequilas
Leeds-based drinks start-up Hacien says it is challenging perceptions of tequila by launching a trio of premium tequilas for sipping, mixing and cocktails. The range of tequilas, all made using 100% blue agave and all at 38% abv, comprises blanco; a pineapple blanco; and Añejo Cristalino tequilas, the latter being a barrel-aged tequila that charcoal filtered for clarity. The company recently raised £500,000 to help its launch with Doug Bouton, co-founder of lower-calorie ice cream bran Halo Top, an investor in the company. The brand is being introduced to the on and off trades with blanco and pineapple blanco priced at around £35 for a 70cl bottle and the Añejo Cristalino at around £75.
The Macallan finds its sweet spot
Scottish distiller The Macallan has released a limited edition whisky made in collaboration between its whisky maker Polly Logan and Jordi Roca, the world-renowned pastry chef and youngest of the acclaimed Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca restaurant in Spain. With chocolate as its inspiration, The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao is made from a combination of European and American oak casks, which The Macallan says has resulted is an exceptionally rich single malt whisky characterised by a deep, dark chocolate profile. The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao has an abv of 44% and is priced at £115.
Classic cocktails in a bottle
Drinks expert and former Zetter Town House bartender Keivan Nemati has set up a company producing pre-made classic cocktails. His The Bottled Cocktail Company kicks off with a six-strong range of mixed drinks inspired by cocktails that have become classics in the world of bartending - Silver Fir Negroni, El Presidente, Dry Gin Martini, Old Fashioned, Elderflower High Ball, and Passionfruit Spritz. All are bottled at sipping strength, and designed to be drunk either straight up, served from the freezer, or stirred over ice. The company will add to its cocktail range in the coming months.
Bolney releases first Winemaker’s Edition wine
Bolney Wine Estate has released its first wine within its new Winemaker’s Edition range, which exists outside the West Sussex producer’s core portfolio and is designed to ‘show off the very best of English winemaking’. The first incarnation of the Winemaker’s Edition is a ‘well-balanced’, medium-bodied red wine made with 82% Rondo and 18% Pinot Noir with smoky aromas, black pepper, and dark cherry. The palate shows earthy notes complemented by blackberry and dark chocolate, offering a good tannic structure making it ‘an ideal wine for ageing’.
Bottled cocktails and spirits from Italy
A new collection of Italian-made bottled cocktails and spirits has launched in the UK aiming to ‘bridge the mixology gap between bars and restaurants’. Meaning The Magician’s Drinks, DelMago Drinks was founded by Italian Michelin-starred chef Marcello “Il Mago” Trentini, known for the creative and whimsical cuisine at his Michelin-starred Magorabin restaurant in Turin, and his UK business partner Gaia Enria of Shoreditch pasta restaurant Burro e Salvia. Distributed by Sager+Wine in the UK, the range encompasses eight products in total: four ‘spirits’ and four bottled cocktails. The former category includes a gin, a red vermouth, a white bianco chinato and a bitter.
Coravin creates preservation system for sparkling wines
Wine preservation specialist Coravin has launched a new product that can preserve sparkling wines for around two weeks after the first glass has been served. Eight years in development, the Coravin Sparkling System is billed as the first universal fit solution to preserve the effervescence and flavours of sparkling wine after single-glass service. Its Sparkling Stopper locks securely on any half-bottle, 750ml bottle or magnum, while the Sparkling Charger injects carbon dioxide into the bottle after the wine is served, to prevent the bubbles from dissipating. “The Coravin Sparkling System is able to wonderfully preserve the flavors and mouthfeel of our Champagne for two weeks. It is the first product of its kind to perform at this level,” says Veuve Clicquot cellar master Didier Mariotti.
Premium entry to rosé prosecco category
Treviso-based prosecco producer FIOL has made its first foray into the recently created rosé prosecco category. FIOL Rosé is made with the Glera (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%) grapes and has a delicate pale coral colour with fruity aromas of raspberry and wild strawberry, with just a hint of citrus lemon fruits and white flowers. “During the winemaking process, our team uses the best raw materials with the right dosage of Pinot Noir in the assembly phase to ensure the perfect balance between acidity and sugars,” says winemaker Marzio Pol. A flood of Rosé Prosecco hit the UK market last year following the relaxing of Prosecco DOC’s rules, which previously prohibited the addition of red grapes to the hugely popular sparkling wine.
New Irish whiskey brand launched
Created with a nod to the Irish neighbourhood communities which established across Boston and East Coast America during the last century, The Boston Bakers is a blend of three single malted Irish whiskies from three cask finishes. Launched at a time of significant growth for the Irish whiskey category, the product is non-chill filtered with no caramel added. The barrels used are ex-stout, sherry and bourbon. The brand’s signature serve is The Boston Orchard, made with cloudy apple juice, a slice of apple and a cinnamon stick.
Liberty Wines goes ‘carbon neutral plus’
Liberty Wines has become the UK’s first ‘carbon neutral plus’ UK wine supplier, meaning that is offsets more emissions than the business generates to achieve a positive environmental impact. A recent assessment found the company reduced carbon emissions for the third year running in 2020, achieving a reduction of 34% since 2017. Through Carbon Footprint’s offsetting programme, Liberty Wines helps fund several global projects such as planting trees to protect forests and biodiversity in Kenya, reducing deforestation in the Amazonian rain forest and installing and maintaining wind turbines in Maharashtra, India. In December 2019, the company’s Clapham headquarters switched to 100% renewable energy. Despite the business remaining open and fully functional throughout 2020, site emissions fell by more than 95% vs 2019 and 38% vs the baseline year. Outsourced freight continues to be the largest contributor to Liberty Wines’ carbon emissions, accounting for over 80% of the carbon footprint. This was reduced by 15% year-on-year and 25% vs the baseline year through ongoing consolidation of orders and moving to lower-emission rail or sea shipments where possible. Emissions from owned-vehicle transport have decreased by more than 50% since 2017, despite substantial business growth. New route-planning software to increase van fill-rates and improve delivery efficiency was key to this result. The first electric vehicle is currently being introduced for London deliveries.