Spring 2021 Spirits Roundup
Here is our roundup of must try spirits this Spring – just in time to celebrate the easing of lockdown 3.0 and a brighter year ahead! Stay in the sane and luxury lane with these marvellous tipples!
Dreamchaser Cotton Candy Flavoured Gin Liqueur 20% ABV
If you like your gin, like you appreciate your unicorns; magical, colourful and glittery, then this little number if absolutely your bag. Produced in the UK, Dreamchaser Gin Liqueur tastes just like cotton candy floss, making it perfect for sipping over ice, pairing with cocktails, or perhaps brightening up a glass of Prosecco.
If you can pull your eyes away from the mesmerising shimmery, swirly liquid, you (and your lovely friends) are absolutely going to love this little tipple. Pick up a bottle and start getting excited about lockdown 3.0 easing and the opportunity to be magically sociable again.
Herno Gin 40.5% ABV
Herno Gin is a London dry style gin distilled at the Hernö Brenneri distillery on the east coast of Sweden. With a base of a homemade wheat spirit, Herno is made up of 8 organic botanicals, the most prominent being fresh lemon peel, lingonberries, meadowsweet, and black pepper.
On the nose, this has a Swedish Pine scent, with citrus breaking through. Very pleasant. But where this really shines is in the flavour – at first it’s so fresh and zesty, with the pepper and juniper creeping through and finishing on the pepper note.
There is a depth here that we’ve not found in another London Dry Gin as yet. It’s memorable, especially with a Mediterranean tonic and slice of lime.
Whilst it’s not the cheapest gin in it’s class (£30 / 50cl), it’s unique enough, in a good way, to warrant the splurge. It’s a big thumbs up from us!
Master Of Malt £30
Mezcal Ilegal Joven 40% ABV
Mezcal has been making a bit of a splash of recent years and is enjoyed in both cocktails as well as drinking neat.
With its deep agave aromas and hints of green apples, Ilegal Joven is a class apart from some of our previous Mezcal escapades. Launched in 2005, Ilegal Mezcal is 100% handcrafted using Agave Espadin that is roasted and baked using mesquite and eucalyptus wood. The cooked Agave is then finely crushed and fermented in oak vats. It is then double distilled in small copper stills.
On the nose; herbs, floral peppermint and smoke. On the palate; black pepper, sweet caramel and dried herbs. To finish; faint smoke with florals. Very tasty.
Master Of Malt £42
Kingdom’s Ginger Spiced Gin 57.3% ABV
This is a true story – 20 years ago, a man called Kingdom arrived from South Africa and found himself homeless and jobless on the streets of London. Life felt hopeless. A random act of kindness from a stranger at London Victoria Station provided Kingdom a sense of hope, which led to a career in hospitality, followed by a series of successful businesses. Incredibly inspiring stuff.
Kingdom’s latest project is the creation of 3 delicious gins in a collaboration with Henstone Distillery, which he took just 8 weeks to prepare for market. Yes… 8 weeks to design the label, bottle and get it ready for sale. The three gins are: Kingdom’s London Dry Gin, Kingdom’s Orange & Nutmeg Gin and Kingdom’s Ginger Spiced Gin.
Let’s turn our attention to Kingdom’s Ginger Spiced Gin for a moment, which we recently received a sample of. It’s powerfully strong at 57.3%, but don’t let that put you off. Pop it open and you’ll get the immediate warmth of spiced ginger on the nose. On the palate, this is super sophisticated with the perfect hints of Juniper, coriander, cardamom and of course… spicy ginger. We teamed with a premium Indian tonic and garnished with, you guessed it, a slice of ginger. What better way to warm the soul!
Kingdom sounds like a fascinating guy, an inspiration to us all, and we love the story as much as the gin!
Veritas White Blended Rum 47% ABV
Veritas represents the blending of white rum from Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica. With its beautiful white/silvery colour, this is not only a standout bottle, but it tastes pretty damn good also. It has a complexity to it, which makes it very interesting on its own for sure.
Even with its higher than average ABV, on the nose it has a softness to it… custard tarts and vanilla, mashed up with fresh citrus with a tropical fruit bouquet to finish.
On the palate, it becomes very interesting… sugarcane, banana, guava and fresh pastry. This really has some body! To finish, ginger zing. Love it.
As white rums go, this blows the other, more mainstream white rums away. I tried neat, and was perfectly doable, but this is absolutely a weapon of choice for a well-versed bar tender who likes to make a mean Daiquiri.
The Whisky Exchange £34
Goslings Black Seal Rum 40% ABV
Produced since 1806, and hailing from the beautiful island of Bermuda, this delicious award-winning rum is rich, smooth, full bodied and incredibly good value for its class. Distilled by Gosling Brothers of Bermuda, Black Seal has a closely guarded recipe, which has been handed down through the generations. It also has a fascinating history; originally called ‘Old Rum’ and sold in Champagne bottles after WW1 due to the fact they were the most widely available bottle at the time. The cork was sealed with black sealing wax, hence the name Black Seal.
Anyway, I digress… this rum is delicious over ice, but really shines in coke as well as cocktails. It’s beautiful caramel amber colour provides a few hints as what to expect; on the nose you get a stewed fruity banana cake, with a cinnamon twist.
On the palate there is a lot of depth here; charred muscovado sugar/treacle with a citrus zest and a hint of cinnamon, which is followed by a finish of dark and stormy burnt currants.
It’s clear to see how this delicious liquid has survived and thrived since 1806. Great taste for an incredible price!
Brewdog Lonewolf Cactus & Lime Gin 40% ABV
If you enjoy pushing your gin boundaries, this is an absolute must.
This spikey and citrusy little number is totally unique. Distilled with key botanical; kaffir lime and Queen of the Night, a fragrant cactus flower that appears only after dark, this is literally loaded with citrus flavours.
Other notable botanicals are Scots Pine, Tuscan Juniper, Grapefruit Peel, Lemon Peel, Pink Peppercorn, Orris Root, Angelica, Mace, Cardamom, Lemongrass, Almonds, Lime, Coriander and Lavender. This is stacked!
The cactus notes deliver tides of watermelon and lychee flavours which riff perfectly next to the zesty lime. Works excellently in a G&T (plain tonic) or your favourite gin based cocktails. If you do one thing, throw this in a martini – absolutely divine! Hats off to Brewdog for once again for ripping up gin’s wild frontier.
Hedgerow Spirits Botanical Vodka 40% ABV
Winner of the world vodka awards (2020), and blurring the lines between gin and vodka, we have here something rather special. This is fresh, I mean really fresh, with an elegance of elderflower combined with the vibrancy and sweetness of the other 5 hedgerow botanicals, which include Rosehip, Crabapple, Nettle Leaf and Sloe Stones.
We say do like the Russians do, pop it in the freezer and serve to guests as an aperitif. Also, nice with a Mediterranean tonic and a mint leaf garnish.
Really nice way to enjoy an evening, whatever you’re doing!
Master Of Malt £35
anCnoc 12 40% ABV
Award-winning whiskies of such fine quality at this price are not easy to find! A classic non-sherried Speyside style offering up a warming spice and a finish… that doesn’t seem to ever finish. Stunning.
There is a depth of sweetness to this that I’ve rarely enjoyed before, so when the likes of Jim Murray talk of it as “a malt that should adorn a shelf in every whisky-drinking home,” I can find no argument to disagree. It’s versatile (great in an Old Fashioned and even better on the rocks) and silky smooth thanks to a maturation process in a combination of second fill American oak, ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.
It’s my new go-to staple!
Master Of Malt £30
Glen Moray 15YO Elgin Herritage 40%
Not the first time we’ve picked out and featured a Glen Moray, and by Jove, it won’t be the last. This is part of the Heritage range (12YO, 15YO & 18YO) and is another award-winning Speyside, with a delicious spicy sweetness thanks to its maturation process in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks. Scoring highly in most reviews (80+), this has a hint of fresh fruit and toffee fudge to the nose reminding me a little of custard creams.
On the palate, it’s balanced and silky smooth. You’ll get dried apricots and a delicious gooseberry tartiness, combined with nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and citrus.
As with most Glen Moray whiskies, the price feels affordable and great value for the age. Absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling yourself rotten with a bottle of this!
Master Of Malt £50
Cranes Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur 17% ABV
In time for Spring, this is just the ticket for mixing with a glass of Prosecco, pouring over ice or experimenting with a few fruity cocktails. Hailing from Cranes of Cambridge, but with cranberries all the way from Wisconsin, USA. This is a sweet liqueur infused with natural blood orange juice & orange rind – lending to a versatile base to those who like to call ourselves a ‘mixologist’!
Try a cosmopolitan with this – cranberry juice, Cranes Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur and a complimentary vodka with a splash of lime juice, garnish with orange peel and enjoy. It also works great in a mojito or Martini – Cranes can really liven up traditional cocktails, and add a fruity kick creating a new dimension of flavours to explore.
Master of Malt £19
Lugger Rum 40% ABV
Distilled in my own beautiful home county of Devon, Lugger Rum is setting the world alight with its unique blend of Guyanan, Trinidad & Tobago rums, which is aged near Lyme Regis using charred ex-bourbon barrels. This gives it a smoky richness. The rum is then spiced with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, orange peel, clove and vanilla offering up a truly tropical experience – to the nose it’s definitely banana aromas.
On the tongue, you’ll not find smoother… honey, strong orange and dark chocolates with a cinnamon dusting – yes, it’s sweet. Personally, I like this neat over ice – the flavours are deep and therefore very enjoyable. This absolutely earns its place in the drinks cabinet!
The Whisky Exchange £35
Lyme Bay elderflower & cucumber Gin 40% ABV
Let’s admit it, after this (the most gruelling) lockdown, we all want to get a little spring back in our step right? Well this could very well be your ticket!
Another cracker from the Lyme Bay Distillery, and it has to be said, what a lovely pair too! Both elderflower and cucumber are immediately apparent on the nose, this is fresh… I mean really fresh, and is absolutely ideal for this, our Spring round up.
Aside from the obvious, this contains coriander, juniper and angelica. When paired with a premium tonic and a slice of cucumber… prepare to be dazzled in an incredibly fresh and clean way. Floral notes of English countryside and regal gardens that complement the bubbly sparkles of the tonic. Relaxing your mind and whisking you away to a brighter future! Escapism in a glass – simply lovely!
Ealing Gin 42% ABV
Queen of London Dry Gins – Ealing Gin is one of our faves – Brewed in Ealing Distillery’s copper still called “Felicity” this gin a one for all taste palettes.
Contained in a receptacle that can only be described as a masterpiece – the tipple won’t disappoint – on the tongue – juniper, citrus, spice, with floral and herbal hints. On the nose, the combination of orange peel, rose petals and finally pepper and spice (and all things nice!) with a hint of camomile. Smooth and delectable, works well with a combination of high-end tonics, sparkling water or seltzers.
And to top it all off – founders Simon & Amanda Duncan have pledged 20% of all profits to charities addressing loneliness and social isolation, which is beautiful. Grab yourself a bottle of Ealing, serve with a slice of grapefruit and a premium Indian Tonic, and savour the modern taste of West London.
Seven Hills Gin 43% ABV
When it comes to Dry Gin – it’s easy to get lost in the versatile and elaborate flavours on offer – each trying to cover its own niche.
Seven Hills Gin is worthy of your attention – rather than covering all bases, Seven Hills humbles in its expertise in a truly Italian way. This gin is crafted by a handful of talented mixologists with over 25 years of experience. Inspired by the 7 hills of Rome – it utilises seven core botanicals – juniper, celery, rose hip, artichoke, blood orange, chamomile and pomegranate.
Seven Hills is distilled in vacuum pot stills at a low temperature, which maintain the smooth and rich flavours of each of the core botanicals, which interestingly were all used by the Romans for their medical and culinary purposes!
Designed to make the perfect Negroni – this gin also sits well in a combination cocktails, but also neat, over ice. The perfect accompaniment to those warm summer evening on the horizon!
The Whisky Exchange £32
Primo Aperitivo Negroni 26% ABV
Italian mixologist Filippo Previero has masterly crafted this exquisite restyling of a traditional Italian Aperitivo. Primo Aperitivo Negroni takes inspiration from Italian heritage, good times enjoyed with friends and urban cocktail culture.
A bottle of Primo Aperitivo Negroni is modern, elegant and ready to drink. Drop in a block of ice, pour and garnish with an orange slice – sit back, relax and sip the evening away. Bittersweet notes of orange-peel, citrus essences, vermouth and botanical gin are present here.
This Aperitivo is the perfect pre or post dinner drink – and would complement any hearty meal, sounds cliché but this would go excellently with stonebaked pizza, olive and anti-pasti. Great drinks deserve great foods!
Master Of Malt £25
Highclere Gin 43.50% ABV
Setting for the world renown period drama series ‘Downton Abbey’, Highclere Castle is the physical embodiment of this historical place – and Highclere gin is its spiritual successor.
Highclere is crafted from some quintessentially British botanicals – orange peel, lavender and cardamon, and each with a fascinating history. The lavender has grown on the grounds since Roman times, the orange peel is taken from the victorian orangery and the cardamom was a staple used in the estates kitchen.
The flavour of this gin are subtle and calming – which sits well when compared to other punchy spirits. We find this gin to be quiet welcoming to all taste profiles, and it seems to suit a variety of occasions – sipping whilst reading a good book, or as a compliment to a delightful meal with friends.
Absolutely ideal for an array of cocktails – including G&Ts, French 75s, Martinis or a simple Gimlet.
Master of Malt – £37.95
Maestro Dobel Humito 40% ABV
Get this… the world’s first smoked, silver tequila. Similar to its cousin, Mezcal, this has a unique smokiness to it, created by mesquite wood during the agave cooking process.
This has good looking cocktails written all over it!
On the nose it’s earthy, smoky, salty and subtly citrus. The smoke isn’t overwhelming like Mezcal, and that’s pleasant. To taste, this is incredibly subtle and delicate to many less premium tequilas, with a definite citrus sweetness and an air of fresh herbs. There is barely any burn, but as you swallow, you’re going to notice the smoke again.
This is one to roll out and impress with your cocktail making skills, adding a new dimension to a tequila sunrise for sure!
The Whisky Exchange £50
Masons Raspberry Gin 42% ABV
In 2013 Karl and Cathy Mason set up Masons, a distillery founded on their passion for quality, well made gin.
With an array of quality gins in their repertoire, we’ve been lucky to taste another showstopper. Masons Raspberry Gin is a special edition intensely flavoursome gin with a balanced profile. On the nose we have a robust concentrated raspberry flavour with hints of vanilla and citrus.
When paired with fever tree or a high end tonics, the more complicated botanicals are released, we’re visited by juniper and coriander – and sewn into mix is the raspberry we expect, but not in an overpowering way. With just the right amount to create a smooth and rewarding spirit.
Masons have set the bar high and are a force to be reckoned with in the modern gin market. Watch these folks, because we think we’ll be seeing a lot more from them!
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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