Summer is officially in full swing. Festivals, BBQs, beach, lazy days burying your head into a book… we LOVE it! And what makes Summer even more enjoyable is a delicious cocktail or two using a premium tipple. This here is our essential Summer round up of the finest booze on the market right now. There are some fantastic new tipples to enjoy. Have a great summer.
Mermaid Spiced Rum 40% ABV
Mermaid just can’t put a foot wrong! They’ve perfected vodka, a range of gins, and now this, possibly my fave yet, Mermaid Spiced Rum.
Combining Caribbean rums from Trinidad and the Dominican Republic with local fruits and spices from the Isle of Wight, the home of Mermaid and the Isle of Wight Distillery, this is an absolute Summer 23 must have.
The local fruits and spices is what stands out for me, the combination being their signature botanical rock samphire, fresh white cherries, apricots, honey from their beehives and black salt from the Island’s coastal flood tides. The rum is gently spiced with local holy grass, cassia and vanilla resulting in a smooth yet complex rum with a hint of sea air, delicate caramel notes and vibrant fruity spice.
The rums are combined and distilled in column stills and aged between 2-5 years in oak bourbon whiskey barrels.
We can’t not mention the iconic Mermaid bottle, which is mirrored right across the range, and is crafted out of recyclable glass and features a sustainably sourced natural cork stopper and tamper-proof seal made from corn and potato starch, which composts in food waste recycling within 6-12 weeks. The label on the neck of the bottle is crafted from recyclable, biodegradable paper whilst the bottle is also re-usable and recyclable.
Nose: Soft vanilla with gentle spice and a hint of sea air
Taste: Honeyed caramel notes, vibrant cherry and sea salt finish
Finish: Long, warm and complex
To sum up, this is the spiced rum drinker’s quintessential choice every time. It’s smooth, rich and sophisticated and tastes magic when teamed with Fentimans Fiery Ginger Ale.
Burnt Faith English Brandy 40%
March 2023 saw the launch of brand new dedicated brandy distillery, Burnt Faith, which is located in Walthamstow, northeast London, and houses the only Charentais pot still to have been imported into the UK.
Batch 001 is made using a combination of Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat Blanc grapes. These are then distilled and aged in a combination of four types of cask: Bourbon, Cognac, Cherry Liqueur and Pineau des Charentes. The result is a brandy with aromas of oranges and strawberries, and a palate filled with caramel and marmalade.
Nose: Vanilla fudge, caramel, with oaty biscuit
Taste: Buttery caramel, bitter toffee, sweet jam with cinnamon and peppery spice
Finish: Smooth caramel blended with milk chocolate, with a delicious but faint cherry fruitiness.
I love this, and it’s super encouraging to see the UK showing it can innovate in the brandy space.
Quick note about the bottle, which was inspired by the old Pentecostal church that used to stand on the distillery’s location. The church also inspired the brand name, Burnt Faith. The term ‘brandy’ derives from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’, meaning ‘burnt wine’. So there you go!
The Whisky Exchange £39.95
Fettercairn Warehouse 14 ABV 51.2%
I make no secret about Fettercairn being my favourite go-to whisky these days. It just resonates perfectly with my palate. So when I heard about their Warehouse 14 launch, I knew it had to make its way onto our Summer faves.
No. 14 completes Fettercairn’s Warehouse Collection of drams as their fifth instalment, crafted from casks within their Warehouse 14 for the first time in the series. Pioneering Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass has used ex-bourbon casks here, featuring an unusual finish in three types of local ex-beer barrels: stout, dark ale, and pale ale, which enhances their signature tropical house style.
Nose: That same delicious vanilla, honey and floral charm Fettercairn is known for.
Taste: Toasted malt, tropical fruits, crème caramel, apricot and cacao
Finish: Soft wood spice and a warm nuttiness
Yep, it’s another fine corker, keep doing what you do Fettercairn!
Master of Malt £70
Bathtub Gin Persian Lime and Orange Blossom ABV 40.3%
It’s so good to see Bathtub introducing new flavours. The brand has been massively successful with it’s original ‘Bathtub Gin’, and there is absolutely every chance this will do just as well, if not better. It is a Summer classic from now on!
Originating from the South East, this cleverly created gin is vibrant and versatile with its extremely lime-y taste and incredibly powerful aroma you can enjoy this as a straight G&T, mixed with bitter lemon or as a creative cocktail! The gin starts off as a London dry gin and is then infused with orange peel and five other fresh botanicals over seven days, leading to the distinctive flavour that gives Bathtub its unique taste.
Nose: Massively fragrant with piles of piney, resinous juniper berries doused in floral citrus oils. A smidge of green Fruit Pastille and dried lime peels come through in time.
Palate: All the character of the classic Bathtub, bolstered by heady citrus blossom and zingy peels. Notes reminiscent of a zesty, floral Earl Grey tea, delicately herbaceous, with lime boiled sweeties in tow.
Finish: Elegant spices finish things off with cardamom and clove, perfumed notes of baklava, lingering essential oils, and fragrant, dried pithy peels.
I was intrigued by their own cocktail creation Honeyed-Lime Martini… and I was not disappointed!
Master of Malt £33
Camus Borderies Cognac ABV 40%
If you know your brandy, you’ll know that Camus is the last remaining major family-owned Cognac Houses in the world. Founded in 1863, we’re now into the 5th family generation, who continue to perfect a number of different expressions and ages that are famous throughout the world.
This is the delightfully copper coloured Camus Borderies Cognac, which benefits from the same patented distillation process as the family’s other Cognacs, making it an aromatic yet intense dream of a spirit.
There’s a hint of an Armagnac over a Cognac here, but that’s what makes it so refreshingly different.
Nose: Fruity, nutty, and spicy, this has lots of complex layers.
Taste: Sweet fruit, nutty allspice, with a satin like mouthfeel. Light woodiness to it.
Finish: Fresh, long and balanced. Loving this!
At this price point, it is a justifiable cocktail mixer as well as something to enjoy solo. I recommend a French 75 (Champagne, lemon juice and sugar syrup) or Brandy Sour (lemon juice and egg white).
Master of Malt £57
Sansho Japanese Spiced Rum ABV 42%
A first for me, Japanese spiced rum from the Wasabi Company (Hampshire, England), this is a created from Sansho Berries, and bursting with peppery citrus.
The rum’s base is made with 100% sugar cane molasses, with a further 6 Japanese botanicals then added to make a gloriously rich and layered taste: Sansho Berries, Okinawan Sugar, Togarashi Shichimi, Umeboshi, Smoked Soy Sauce and White Sesame.
According to the distiller, Sansho berries have been used as a natural flavour enhancer for centuries in Japan, they stimulate the taste receptors in the brain, increasing the flavour and aromas of foods in general. Let’s put this to the test!
Nose: Smokey soy blended with a woodiness.
Taste: Peppery citrus with and intense treacly sweetness thanks to the Okinawa sugar.
Finish: Lingering, tingling rich spices.
A whole new take on rum for me, it’s a grower and is as nice in a Spiced Pineapple Rum Punch as it is on the rocks. Being Japanese in origin also makes this a standout in the drinks cabinet, for all the right reasons.
Tácnbora Batch 01 Blended Whisky ABV 42%
Here we have the Ad Gefrin distillery’s delicious Tácnbora blended whisky which blends together Scottish and Irish whiskies that have been aged in a Bourbon, virgin American oak, and Oloroso sherry casks. The blend’s name means ‘Standard Bearer’ in Old English, hinting at the fascinating Northumbrian, Anglo-Saxons history, which you can immerse yourself in at the museum/distillery.
Warning: this is a very easy drinker. One of those incredibly delicious drams you’ll struggle to put down. Next thing you know… where’s all my lovely whisky gone!
With its beautifully wax sealed bottle, this just looks and feels very different, and offers a bit of something rather different to the drinks cabinet. It’s proudly English too!
Nose: Vanilla, sweet caramel and light apples.
Taste: Oak, toast, barley, citrus peel, oaty biscuits… and sweetness.
Finish: Lovely oatyness, with milk chocolate and honey fruit.
Yep, this is an absolute belter of a blended whisky, delicious!
Master of Malt £45
Eden Mill Strawberry & Raspberry Wildcard Gin 40% ABV
Tis the season for a refreshing Gn’T, and you won’t go too far wrong with Eden Mill’s Strawberry & Raspberry Wildcard Gin.
This is a beautifully balanced gin that infuses local Scottish strawberries and raspberries, along with mint, cucumber, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple & passionfruit. A fruity masterpiece you could say.
Nose: Rich juniper with sweet strawberries and summer pine.
Palate: As you’d imagine, this is really Summer fruity, lots or richness, with orange citrus and floral notes coming to the fore.
Finish: It’s a lingerer alright! That sweetness hangs about for an eternity, culminating into a delicious floral high with a hint of aromatic spice.
For me, this is the sort of drink that completes a perfect day in the sun. Clear the diary, pull yourself up a chair, serve with a light, uncomplicated tonic, and garnish with a strawberry. Perfection.
Eden Mill £35
Forte’s Espresso Vodka ABV 40%
Another small batch beauty from Ellers Farm Distillery in North Yorkshire, this has now become an essential party favourite of mine.
Open it up and just float on the delicious roasted coffee and vanilla notes. Then add it to your favourite Espresso Martini recipe and watch the compliments fly in. So good.
Nose: Sweet fresh coffee beans
Palate: YUM!!! almonds, bitter sweet cacao, dark jammy fruit and silky smooth coffee.
Finish: Bitter sweet and lingering.
Good enough to have straight, this is also delicious straight out of the freezer.
Neurita Citrus with Tequila ABV 35%
Whatever your previous experience with tequila to date, push that out of your mind. Neurita just ripped up the rule book with its Citrus with Tequila. This is a full on, fresh zingy zest masterpiece that is getting a lot of love right now.
The tequila is sourced from Jalisco, Mexico, and then it’s infused with Sicilian orange and tangerine fruit extracts, which makes this something rather lovely.
This was built for Margaritas and Spritz, and will make you look and feel like you’ve had years of cocktail making training.
It’s balanced, sweet, sour, zingy… just WOW!
A Summer essential.
Master of Malt £28
Copperworks Batch 2 ABV 62.7%
This right here is a 3-year-old single malt, all the way from the Copperworks Distillery in Seattle, USA. Now the first thing that struck me was the ABV – a whopping 62.7%, which makes this rather pokey, not in a bad way!
If you’ve not heard of That Boutique-y Whisky Company, here’s a quick run down, they are an award-winning independent whisky bottler of distilleries from around the world, and maker of blends. Simply put, they bottle distilleries’ whisky and slap some rather funky labels on the bottle. They have a really unique take on whisky, and that comes through in their releases.
Right back to the mighty Copperworks. This is theirsecond batch of three-year-old American single malt whiskey from Seattle’s Copperworks distillery, where the owners focus on malt, which is well suited to the climate and maturation conditions in Seattle and Washington compared to places like Kentucky and Tennessee.
The wash undergoes an incredibly long fermentation – seven days at 21°C, followed by a further two weeks at 2°C! Aging takes place in new charred American oak cask providing the rich flavours. Batch 2 is a release of just 275 bottles, making this ideal for the avid collectors out there.
I’m liking this as a little night cap right now. Never slept so well!
Nose: Huge layers of roasted barley and buttered malt loaf, backed by leathery oak and cigar box spice.
Palate: Hearty helpings of chewy malt, toasted granary bread, and oaken spice are joined by candied oranges and chocolate coffee beans.
Finish: Bittersweet zest, hints of tobacco, and lingering oaken spice.
Return To Oz The Gospel Batch 1 whisky ABV 58.6%
A new one on me, and all the way from a distillery set in the backstreets of Melbourne’s Brunswick neighbourhood, we have here a 3 Year Old Australian Rye Whiskey, that started life in a new American oak cask. But there is a twist, this whisky has been given an Australian red wine cask finish which adds a very unique flavouring dimension – some delicious deep and layered cherry sweetness.
Batch 1 has been bottled at natural cask strength, 58.6% abv, meaning this packs a punch for sure. I do enjoy a rye whisky, and this is no exception to that rule – refined, smooth and malty, I did find that adding a little water helps release the flavours moreso.
Nose: Buttery dark rye bread, with hints of spice and light toffee, all with an underlying cherry compote note.
Palate: More rye bread notes, with caramel vanilla, sweet allspice, clove, pepper and rich red fruit
Finish: Dry and lingering. Dried red fruit and crème caramel, with woody spices.
For the collectors, there are only 434 bottles available, so you better get your skates on!
Master of Malt £75
Glen Moray Twisted Vine ABV 40%
I’m a big fan of Glen Moray. They produce some amazingly delicious, well priced drams, this being no exception to the rule. Twisted Vine is their latest expression (launched May 23), which offers an incredibly well balanced, smooth and rich depth of flavour. This is likely due to the maturation process in ex-Cognac casks, made from oak grown near cognac’s vineyards in France.
I mentioned good value above, and at £28 a bottle, this is an absolute no-brainer if you like your whiskies sweet and deep. I absolutely love the packaging design to – shimmering grapes and roots against the lush deep blue of Glen Moray’s own brand colours – works a treat!
Nose: The richness of cognac makes its mark, honey, crisp apple, and oak spice too.
Palate: Lots of layers, caramel, sultanas, malt, wood spice, apple and tannins.
Finish: Delicious floral notes linger and fade into tinned apricots and nuts.
This is a cracking little whisky for the price that you can pick up in most supermarkets. You won’t be sorry!
Kyro Gin & Kyro Pink Gin ABV
We have a double review here, 2x absolute gin beauties all the way from Finland (Kyro distillery). In fact, this gin was awarded the Gin and Tonic award for the best gin in the world for a gin and tonic. So, there you go.
First off, the Kyro Gin, which is made from locally sourced Finnish rye and has an intrinsic spice from the base spirit itself as well as the four locally foraged botanicals, and the 12 traditional botanicals. It’s delicious when teamed with a quality gin, so don’t go scrimping on low end stuff. Also makes a great sipping gin too by the way, there’s a delicious spice that burns through when neat.
Nose: Lots of pine, cut grass and juniper freshness
Palate: Huge juniper hit, coupled with sweet vanilla, cardamon, coriander, and a pleasant peppery heat.
Finish: A really pleasant zesty lingerer.
Master of Malt £30
Up next is the Kyro Pink Gin, which I have to say has rocketed to my top 5 Summer gins of all time. It is sublime!
This is a small batch gin that combines the sharp pepperiness of Finnish rye with the freshness of berries and rhubarb. Also infused with foraged lingonberries, which is a new one on me.
This means you get the same delicious, crisp freshness on offer, but with the added bonus of these awesome fruits thrown in.
For an amazing long drink, combine with Fever-Tree Raspberry-Rhubarb, tonic water, slice of pink grapefruit and lots of ice.
Nose: Berry sweet freshness, out of this world!
Palate: Raspberry and strawberry, with creamy vanilla and a crack of black pepper. Oily juniper and spicy coriander, plus almond sweetness.
Finish: Tootie Fruities. YUM!
Master of Malt £30
57˚ Skye earth and sea gin ABV 42%
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the Northern Hemisphere, The Isle of Skye is somewhere that should be on everyone’s bucket lists. And whilst you’re there… don’t forget to pay a visit to the Isle Of Skye Distillery, where one of the UK’s most delicious gins hails from.
With botanicals such as juniper, angelica, lemon peel, heather, blossom, rowan berry and yarrow, with coastal botanicals including smoked laminaria and laminaria digitata (kelp seaweed), you can see why this gin is making a bit of a splash, excuse the pun.
This is a bold characterful gin offering a perfect balance – ideal as a sipper, mixer or a straight up G’n’T
Nose: Powerful juniper balanced with citrus and pine.
Palate: Earthy tones embrace florals, slight menthol and aniseed hit. Yum.
Finish: Warm, sweet and very pleasant.
One of the best-balanced gins we’ve had the pleasure to enjoy, love it with a premium Indian tonic garnished with a piece of samphire.
Master of Malt £42
Kavka Orchard Plum & Apple Vodka ABV 38%
On a stunning summer evening what more could you want than a vibrant vodka!! Welcome to the Kavaka Orchard Plum and Apple Vodka, a must for that party vibe!
Kavaka is from a small town in western Poland, this spirit has the perfect balance, created using a method dating back to the 19th century to give complexity, yet subtle sweet taste.
Using Apple for acidity and Plum for sweetness this really is a drink to be enjoyed over ice. It’s versatile too, my favourite is to drink this as a martini – refreshing and hard to beat.
Nose: fresh apple, dried fruit and rye bread.
Palate: elegant and smooth with subtle lemon and marmalade notes.
Finish: rich and dry balance, fantastic with a garnish of lemon.
Let me let you into a little secret…. take this from the freezer and you get a delicate, slightly syrupy textured aperitif….
… and you constantly want more!
Limited Edition Oxford Rye Tawny Pipe
Do you like exclusivity? Do you like to dress to impress? How about an extremely rare, understated, english distilled artisan whisky? Oxford Rye Whisky – The Tawny Pipe is the perfect after dinner tipple to REALLY impress your guests.
“It all begins with a good harvest” say the makers at the Oxford Distillery. Produced from one 30 year old port pipe this strong whisky is surprisingly silky given it’s complex nature!
Do nothing with this other than drink it alone – it deserves the full stage. Your guests will fall silent…
Nose: nutty with blackberries.
Palate: spicy and silky with a hint of fruity sweetness.
Finish: delicately spicy with a peppercorn aftertaste.
Go on… you know you want to put that very posh outfit on and invite people around for an exclusive evening…
Cardrona’s Solera cask whisky 64.9% ABV
If ever we get the chance to go to New Zealand, the first place I’m heading for is the Cardrona distillery, to go shake every hand of the team there. They are simply awesome at making incredible whisky, and the Solera cask is no exception.
The expression brings together whisky aged in bourbon as well as sherry casks, which as you can imagine, brings with it multiple layers to be enjoyed in every sip. It’s certainly not light on alcohol at 64.9% ABV, so in my honest opinion, this is best enjoyed with a splash of water (makes it go further too!).
Everything about this whisky just works. From the beautiful branding, bottle, colour, right through to the moment you pop the lid and take the first sniff. These guys are really going places and if you’re a whisky collector, you really need to keep a close eye on Cardona.
So, I mentioned the layers already, and want to focus on those for a second. Thanks to the maturing process in two different casks (sherry and bourbon), you can imagine how this might go. It’s rich, luscious and really flavoursome – built for my taste buds anyway!
Nose: It’s malty, nutty barley, leading into walnuts and sweet vanilla fudge.
Palate: Candied peels and jammy sultanas, more walnuts, scones with cream and jam, a kick of cassia and ginger.
Finish: A warm finish of cooked orchard fruits and baking spice.
Unreal from Cardona.
Master of Malt £75
Waterford Distillery’s The Cuvee
A fusion of ancient methods and modern science with a true spin on sustainability give this easy drinking Irish tipple a platform of it’s own. Welcome to Waterford Distillery’s The Cuvee!
Youth is the word for this pale gold whiskey, especially given the techniques for producing it were only born by the distillery in 2015. The taste is all about the grain, an unusually spicy single malt produced using what they claim is the best barley in the world.
It’s best to drink this ever-so-slightly oily spirit on its own to enjoy the true undertones of it’s evolution!
Nose: ginger and pepper with a hint of toffee.
Palate: plenty of pepper with some mint and a very slight hint of lemon.
Finish: an intensity of pepper and oak.
As processes advance, and the product ages, this is one to evolve year on year .. and I want to be a part of that!
Whisky Exchange £70
Mitcher’s Rye Whiskey
The bottle. It says it all. Mitcher’s Straight Rye Whiskey.
This rare, single variety is made in Louiseville, Kentucky using rye, America’s oldest whiskey variety.
It’s strong. Yet it’s peppery notes with a hint of orange make it ideal on it’s own or as part of a cocktail – a Manhattan being my favourite! There is even a slight hint of sweet caramel aiding the moreishness of this stunning spirit.
Nose: fresh with the rye creating strong and spicy aromas.
Palate: smooth, soft and with vanilla hints from the oak.
Finish: dry and spicy.
This is a rare find and made in small batches.. go on… you won’t be disappointed!
Cuban Spiced Rum – Havana Club
This is THE rum to get you in the swinging Caribbean spirit this summer!
The bottle alone makes you want to grab a glass, a grass skirt and party the night away!
The affordable price makes this ideal for some cocktail trials! Exotic flavours, warm spicing and double aged rum make this the perfect base with ginger beer for the ultimate long refreshing summer drink and it can be enjoyed on its own over ice too!
Nose: aromatic and delicate spice
Palate: guava, pineapple and toasted coconut.
Finish: smooth and velvety
I also like this in a Daiquri cocktail!
Wildjack Rhubarb Rum
Rhubarb always makes me think of a classic, winter warming crumble… however, in this context you truly understand the all year around appeal of this very english fruit!
Made from ingredients from the heart of England, this infused white rum is light and refreshing and very moreish simply mixed with apple juice and plenty of ice!
Perhaps the most striking thing about this rum is it’s unique, environmentally friendly, sustainable packaging…a bit of a shock at first… but I can guarantee, others will follow this trendsetting distillery!
Nose: a delicate mix of tangy rhubarb and vanilla notes.
Palate: rhubarb sharpness, hints of citrus and pepper.
Finish: a fresh sharpness.
The more I drink this the more I realise how versatile this superb spirit is! Time for a cocktail invention… Wildjack £30
Talonmore 0% ABV
Talonmore’s ginger-forward flavour is ideal served neat or on the rocks, as well as an array of cocktails such as Talonmorito or Talonmore Sour. When sampled neat, a burst of life from the ginger awakens the senses, with the smooth assam tea notes perfectly balancing out the palate – making for a truly delightful spirit tasting experience.
I won’t lie, it takes a few sips to get used to, but as zero ABV spirits go, this aint too bad!
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