Spring 2022 Spirits Round Up
Here is our roundup of must try spirits this Spring – An incredible array of Spirits to tempt you into topping up your cabinets!
Zignum Mezcal (Anejo) 40% ABV
This mezcal is what I call a smokeless wonder. In fact, to me this is closer to the rum spectrum that Mezcal – and that’s perfectly fine with me.
It has strong notes of caramel, vanilla and wood thanks to it being aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels. The agave is not smoked, and instead steam cooked, giving this a very different flavour.
It’s super clean offering up warmth, richness and spice, but is still light enough to pull through some bright fruity notes. It could potentially benefit from some more depth, but then again if that’s what you like, go buy some rum!
Personally, I’m really enjoying this.
Ron Santiago De Cuba Rum (Extra Anejo) 40% ABV
Now what have we got here… an 11-year-old Cuban rum with some outstanding qualities, likely thanks to it sitting in ex-American bourbon casks for so long.
Ron Santiago De Cuba is arguably one of Cuba’s finest rum producers, and this bottle of extra anejo is testament to that. This is delicate and sweet, with aromas of vanilla, coconut, chocolate and dry almonds. The flavours are so simple, no fussiness at all. This is a rum for both rum virgins as well as the experienced drinker – sip it over rocks or add a new depth to a mojito!
Cuban rums are experiencing a real resurgence right now with some exciting new tipples launching onto the market, and if they all have similar qualities to this little beauty, then we’re all in for an absolute treat.
The Whisky Exchange £35
Woodford Reserve 43.2% ABV
We’re no strangers to top line bourbons, the ones you know and love – Woodford Reserve is one of these bourbons. Profoundly amber, with a rich caramel tone – it shines on any drinks shelf, broad shouldered and taking its place.
This boldness extends to its flavourful taste, Woodford Reserve is sweeter than traditional bourbons, rich with a rounded character – whilst simultaneously creamy with a tickle of spice. Throw in vanilla and caramel, a hint of chocolate and then on the nose – toffee and earthy tones. Oak and woody notes also permeate this spirit – which is complex and familiar.
This ‘Kentucky Straight’ bourbon is best placed in an old fashioned, or drunk neat – as the sun settles down on these temperate spring nights. This is a very popular bourbon, but still retains its small batch origins – staying true to its roots and retaining its well-deserved respect. If you haven’t got this on your shelf, maybe it’s time to treat yourself?
The Whisky Exchange £33.45
Goslings Gold Seal Rum 40% ABV
Goslings. Their name is well known in Rum circles – and Goslings Gold Seal Rum is a force to be reckoned with!
Distinctly robust, as one comes to expect when sampling Rum – Goslings Gold Seal also has a subtle, almost buttery smoothness reminiscent of its origins – a toffee flavour, with peppery notes. Alongside that is the expected spice and punchiness, but it also retains a hint of oak on the palate – we assume this comes from being aged in American white oak bourbon barrels.
Having sampled the delightful gold and amber Rums on offer – Goslings appears to have hit the mark when it comes to an ‘all-rounder’ this Rum will sit perfectly on its own on the rocks, and sampled like a fine Whisky, or as a compliment to classical mixers such as soda or cola – but for best results we’d suggest one of their signature cocktails the ‘South Shore’ 2oz Goslings Gold Seal Rum, 4oz lemonade and 2oz Goslings Stormy Ginger Beer, a hand-clap of mint, ice – in a tall glass. Delightful. This cocktail bursts with all the joys of a tropical vacation.
When it comes to Rum, look for the Gold Seal!
Master of Malt £22.50
Etan Rum 40% ABV
Created by five beautiful sisters, Laura, Briget, Noella, Caroline and Kareen, Étän is a premium, award-winning, golden spiced rum with roots in their native West African country of Cameroon. The word Étän actually means five in Mungaka, in their parents dialect signposting to five sisters, and the 5 delicious botanicals it’s made with.
These five botanicals, which are commonly found in Cameroon are fevergrass, ginger, cassia, vanilla and orange peel. As you can appreciate with these ingredients, Étän has a delicious warming gingery spice followed by citrus flavour. It’s quite unlike anything we’ve tried before, and we absolutely love it. It’s dry on the palate, perfectly balanced and absolutely scrumptious either on the rocks or with a ginger beer.
Étän is a rum that you’ll be hearing much more about and has already won a Silver at the prestigious London Spirits Competition 2021.
Etan Rum Website £37
Hernö Navy Strength Gin ABV 57%
Now, we’re a big fan of Hernö gin. Over the years that we’ve been featuring them, they’ve consistently delivered on quality, whilst pushing the boundaries on flavours that get your taste buds longing for ‘just one more’!
Well, we’re pleased to say that their Navy Strength, with its super high alcohol content has not let us down. This is another small batch from the award-winning Swedish distillery and has been around for a few years now.
On the nose this is floral and herby mixed with Nordic pine and is surprisingly soft and mild on the palate with a few notes of vanilla creeping through.
Team this with an Indian tonic to get the most from the flavours, which really are worth savouring. Very nice and keep up the amazing work Hernö.
Master Of Malt £35.99
Conker Navy Strength Rum 57% ABV
Conker Navy Strength Rum is distilled in honour of the brave heroes of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) who venture into stormy seas, to save lives whenever called – preventing loss of life at sea for centuries.
Similar to their Dorset Dry Gin, this Navy Strength Gin is smooth but with a higher alcohol content, so it goes a lot further…for some! It contains hand-picked marsh samphire from the Dorset coastline, alongside a variety of other botanicals, including Juniper berries, Coriander seed, Angelica root, Oris root, Casia bark, Bitter orange peel, lime peel and Elderberries. It is a full-bodied Gin, that emphasises its lighter notes on the palate with an almost savoury taste – potentially being forced by the Samphire or Casia Bark. There are also notes of pine and festive spices – reminiscent of a mulled cider.
This sits well in any G&T, as well as classic Martinis and Gin Slings. It works really well in a Gimlet, and if you can get your hands on some, be sure to add some fresh Samphire and a pinch of sea salt. Only thing that could make it better is if you could drink it on a beach or a boat! Sand between your toes – waves crashing and the sun setting.
On a final note, for every bottle purchased £5 is donated to the RNLI – now that’s a cause we can get behind!
Master of Malt £38.79
Sugar House Scottish Pure Single White Rum 43% ABV
“Rum is from the Caribbean” – Wrong! Say hello to Sugar House Scottish Pure Single White Rum!
This award-winning number is made in Glasgow – with its name being derived from the Glasgow sugar houses of the 17th century. These sugar houses typically imported and refined muscovado sugar from the West Indies and turned this wonderous material into Rum. As opposed to classical run-of-the-mill white rums, Sugar House retains a strict, long fermentation process to create premium grade molasses – before distilling this in a small pot still. What’s more, not a single grain of additional sugar is added – meaning the final product is precisely representative of its origins, and not further sweetened after the distillation process.
This white rum has a fresh and coconut vibe, with expressive notes of pineapple and banana. Naturally sweet – the finish is lingering, but overtly pleasant. This spirit sits well as the base to any tiki, or tropical cocktail – but also compliments cola and other cola-based cocktails.
There is an array of new Scottish Rums on the market, and the space is an exciting and avant-garde venture – we look forward to seeing what comes next from Sugar House, as it is clear they are a core player in the UK Rum Market. We’ll be looking North and not West, when it comes to Rum this year!
The Whisky Exchange £29.25
Ben Lomond Blood Orange and Pink Grapefruit Gin 38% ABV
If you love a fruity gin, then this may be your new go-to! And after the cold, wet and windy winter we’ve had, this is that bright ray of sunshine I’m sure we’re all certainly craving.
Imagine what blood orange combined with pink grapefruit smells like, and you’ll be bang on the money in terms of what this gives as soon as you release the cap. It’s a stunning citrus delight with layers of flavour and taste. It’s also really light, clean and uncomplicated, so make sure you keep your mixer simple.
This is all about the flavours with a pleasant zesty bite that hangs on the tongue.
Loch Lomond Whiskies £33
Inginious Gin 43% ABV
In my experience, the best things are always created by husband-and-wife teams, and Inginious Gin is no exception. Simon & Vanessa have created an absolute corker of a gin, reducing the alcohol and calorie intake without compromising on flavour – in short, this is a highly concentrated gin.
Inginious is only available in a 20cl bottle, BUT you only require 0.2 units (5ml serve) of alcohol per G&T serve compared to the 2 units (50ml) of alcohol with a standard double serving of gin. Therefore, you could view it as a low-calorie spirit, which you can get up to 40 serves out of. Inginious eh!
This is absolutely rammed packed with botanicals including juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, lime peel, lemongrass and nine further ingredients too, so what are the tasting notes?
Inginious Tasting Notes: Citrus notes of grapefruit and lime with a sweetness of liquorice and gentle ginger spice.
I really like the concept of this. If you stick to the serving measures, then this actually works out very economical for a really clean, tasty and premium tipple.
Inginious Gin £26
The Secret Garden – With Love Gin 39% ABV
First things first, the bottle and branding is gorgeous and would look quite at home on your gin shelf, likely in pole position too. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a special gin pressie for someone, the label says it all!
With Love Gin is a floral delight and right at home with a deckchair in the back garden. It’s small batch gin that includes Rose and Geranium petals, which are distilled and blended with Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root and Winter Savoury. You’ll not find any sugars, artificial colourings, flavourings or additives here, just unadulterated delicious gin made from 100% natural ingredients.
On the nose: It’s all about the florals.
On the palate: Jumniper jumps through followed quickly by complex floral notes.
The finish: Clean, dry and herbaceous.
This is a gin to savour with an Indian or Elderflower tonic. You’ll absolutely marvel at these stunning flavours.
Secret Garden £37
Mirabeau Gin 43% ABV
Ding dong! One of our all time favourites – the spectacular Mirabeau Gin! This inspirational treat is the creation of the Domaine Mirabeau Estate in Saint Tropez, which is also the birth place of Mirabeau Provence Rose.
With Rosé in mind, the Estate ventured into a Rosé inspired Gin, and Mirabeau Gin was born. It has been given more awards than you can shake a stick at – and this frankly beautiful and luxurious bottle contains an 100% grape-based neutral spirit which is distilled using scented grape alcohol extracted in the making of one of their traditional Rosé wines.
Mirabeau Gin is a well-rounded and fruity number with a classic Juniper led range of botanicals, such as Lavender, Coriander and Jasmine complimented with Rose Petal to bring floral notes.
Finally, just look at the god damn bottle! It is simply a work of art, and is a site to behold, it feels like a treasure and is the perfect gift for any Rosé lover, or appreciator of the finer things in life.
Master of Malt £34.99
Caorunn 41.8% ABV
Caorunn is crafted in Balmenach distillery in Speyside, a Scottish region renowned for its remarkable assortment of Whiskies. Caorunn contains 11 key botanicals including angelica, coriander seed, cassia and five unique Highland botanicals foraged in the wild including dandelion leaf, bog myrtle, heather, blush apple and rowan berries – whose Gaelic name is Caorunn!
With a traditional crisp bouquet, this gin is classically juniper led, with flavours or cinnamon, vanilla extract and a citrus finish. There are mild earthy notes, but these make way for a more lemon sherbet flavour. Ideally this spirit works well in a G&T, however, we would suggest experimenting with alternative garnishes, like crisp green apple, fresh blueberries or cranberries. Keep the tonic on the small side, as this is a gin that sings, and needs little support. However, to appreciate the true flavours, notes and expressive bouquet – drop this in a glass with a large chunk of ice. Phenomenal!
Master of Malt £25.64
Burleigh National Forest Gin 40% ABV
The United Kingdom is steeped in natural history, a vibrant aspect of this is our incredible forests – Burleighs has partnered with the National Forest, where its distillery is situated to bring us a unique vision – working alongside expert foresters to curate a Gin that encapsulates the true ‘Spirit of the Forest’!
In the glass, expect hints forest fruits, wild cherries and earthy values. This works perfectly for more tart cocktails, or showcases it’s notes when complimenting a club soda, or high end tonic. Garnish with dark berries or a cheeky sprig of rosemary.
For each bottle sold, Burleighs will help support the Forest and an ongoing vision to grow a better and greener future, protecting the forest future for generations to come. What’s also worth noting, they have doubled down on their efforts to become more sustainable. It has introduced biodegradable and recyclable packaging to complement its existing solar powered electricity, and all glass bottles and cardboard boxes at the site are recycled via a comprehensive recycling system. This spirit contains the essence of our woodlands, as well as plans to care and nurture them – and that’s just brilliant. Embrace the call of the wild, embrace Burleighs!
Cranes Liqueur Gift Set 17% ABV
This simply beautiful little set contains 3 Cranes Liqueurs – the oh so lovely Cranberry & Blood Orange, a vivacious Lemon & Lychee and finally a sweet Raspberry & Passion Fruit.
We simply adore Cranes – they have consistently impressed us time and time again – and we’re here for these new additions. Designed to be used in a wide selection of cocktails or top up and add a little zing to prosecco or champagne – or simple enjoyed over ice. Each flavour has its own unique, yet fruity taste – that showcases the brands vision – great drinks, vegan, gluten free and all natural ingredients!
Let break things down a bit and try to decide our favourite;
Cranberry & Blood Orange – This one is the classic – sweet, smooth a tasty. We’ve had it in Cosmopolitans, Mojitos and even replaced the main Campari and Rosso ingredients in a Negroni with it! It works great as an all-round experimental ingredient. When you just can’t find the right ingredient, swap it for this!
Lemon & Lychee – Citrusy from the get-go, but then lusciously sweet. This one we found surprisingly to be the best in a prosecco – diverting taste expectations away from a classic cassis topping – it adds a sweeter, and more palatable sip to the glass.
Raspberry & Passion Fruit – Smooth, almost warming with a tropical twist – we think this one is the closest to the classic Cranberry & Blood Orange – but it adds more tart and robust sugary flavours. We think this would also compliment Soda or Tonic – or add that needed sweetness to a range of cocktails including Cosmopolitans or a Cranes Negroni (this is the one we invented!)
Our favourite of this set, it’s got the be the Lemon & Lychee – it is simply incredible – and feels like new ground for this amazing brand. Keep up the great work Cranes – we love it!
Ojo De Dios Mezcal (odd café) 35% ABV
An actual world first, this is an absolutely stunning rich and aromatic spirit made up of a combination of artisanal mezcal and rich Mexican coffee.
This stuff is on another level whether it be in an espresso Martini or simply over ice. The mezcal base is made with angustifolia agave, double distilled in copper alembic stills with Mexican arabica coffee, which is grown and roasted 4,600ft above sea level at the top of the Oaxaca mountains.
There is a definite hint of smoke here, but it’s not overpowering, more of a lingerer, with its delicious notes of chocolate, spice, with just a hint of cinnamon, butterscotch, and an earthy, fresh-brewed coffee centre.
This is top notch 9/10!
The Whisky Exchange £40
Ojo De Dios Mezcal 42% ABV
An artisanal mezcal from third-generation producer Maestro Francisso Ortiz, made with sustainably farmed Espadin agave from San Luis del Rio. This agave is cooked over 10 days using local oak wood to create a soft, smoky flavour that mingles with notes of dried apricot, plum, toasted pineapple, cigar box and black tea on the palate. Love it.
You creamy beauty!
The Whisky Exchange £40
Maestro Dobel – Humito (smoked silver tequila) 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
Crabbies Yardhead – Single Malt 40% ABV
With its golden yellow colouring, Crabbies Yardhead is a quality, no-age, budget single malt from whisky bottler and distiller John Crabbie & Co. Ideal for a staple cocktail base, this offers a nose of citrus peel, savoury wood and biscuits. On the palate expect a slightly toasty meets toffee apple vibe. It’s sweet and vibrant with a pleasant lightness, finishing with a short and sweet burst of cinnamon biscuit and light honey.
The flavours feel youthful and fresh making this not the most complex of tipples, but then again, it’s not trying to be that. If you like a Highball… look no further!
Others in the Crabbies range include an 8 years old Highland, 12 years old Peated Island plus older age statements of 25, 30 and 40 years old from Speyside.
Master Of Malt £24
Heritage Corn Whisky 50.4% ABV
Quite possibly the most exciting name in English whisky right now is The Oxford Distillery, who are knocking it out the park with some absolute belters and are not afraid to break from the norm. What makes these tipples so special is the fact that their small batch, limited edition expressions will never be repeated, hence the premium.
Heritage Corn Whisky is no exception to a rapidly growing pedigree. The recipe incorporates two types of corn (51%), ‘sweet’ and ‘flint’ corn seeds, half of which are germinated (malted) along with 34% rye, 10% wheat and 5% malted barley. Lactic maceration is then undertaken prior to mash, the corn is fermented dry as a paste after milling and before mixing with water and the other grains for three days boosting creamy characters and textures.
The liquid is then fully matured in New American oak for three and a half years, which is responsible for the layers of vanilla, allspice and cinnamon notes.
On the nose; Floral and herbal with notes of honey and wormwood. Dough, buttery biscuit, raw almonds and banana finishing with vanilla, allspice and cinnamon.
On the palate: Creamy and smooth with banana and ginger cake notes. Sweet and nutty with a hint of grass and liquorice root.
The finish: Warm yet refreshing. Herbal and Spicy.
Worth noting is the beautiful artwork, created by world class illustrator, Ian Murray. It depicts story of this beautifully crafted expression in the words of the Master Distiller.
The Oxford Distillery £95
Ciroc Apple 37.5% ABV
This is a combination of quintuple-distilled grape-based Ciroc vodka and apple flavours, and it’s a HUGE hit with me. Personally, I think this is more of a mixer, but could quite easily be a sour shot.
On the nose: Strong and ripe, with the obvious hit of apples.
On the palate: Actually, quite sweet and fruity, with a clean mouthfeel with a bite of alcohol. There are some icy notes here to enjoy also.
Finish: Smooth and super silky. Yum.
I love this with a splash of cranberry juice as well as apple juice, on the rocks with a slice of apple to garnish.
Snow Queen Vodka 40% ABV
“Using reverse-osmosed water in a secret location” might sound like something from the plot of a Bond film, however, this is part of the process that creates the pristine spirit – Snow Queen Vodka. Originating in South Of France, this tipple is created using the finest European grains and organic ingredients – the family distillers, whom have been mastering and perfecting the process for generations – where this happens, well that is genuinely a secret! But it sounds magical!
This Vodka is fresh… as fresh as a Winters day. Smooth, with mild citrus notes – its quality really shines through lack of a burn or lingering aftertaste – it is clean and to the point. It can be enjoyed neat or used to compliment your favourite Vodka based tipples. It works great in a soda, with fresh berries – but also as the base for a decent Martini.
It also has a handful of awards and has history, it was the exclusive Vodka in the royal enclosure at Royal Ascot in 2008 and 2009! So is truly a royal by name and royal by nature!
Master of Malt £31.99
Blue Aurora Ice Wine 10.5% ABV
Just outside a quintessentially British town of Oundle – on a family run farm called ‘Lutton Farm’. Earthed in history, this farm is now a commercial fruit farm – one of its main crop is blueberries. With over 500 tonnes picked each year, a huge portion of this goes to the supermarket. But, due to a strict grading process 15-20% of these delightful little berries was going to waste…well no more! These perfectly usable berries are now being utilised to create a range of English Blueberry Wines!
Blue Aurora Ice Wine is one of these incredible creations – this is a simply sweet and floral beverage, that compliments any occasion! On the nose we have candied violets, rose petals and dark berries. On the palate – smooth, sweet and creamy – with a refreshing lift to finish, that lingers with sweetness on the tongue.
We adore these unique and inspired beverages – they showcase the versatility and ingenuity of an industry that is ever changing, but delivers incredible creativity. Blue Aurora Ice Wine will be enjoyed all year round – from Summer picnics to Autumn gatherings!
Bardinet VSOP Brandy 36% ABV
Now we know you’re familiar with Bardinet VSOP! Long standing veteran of the Brandy world – Bardinet VSOP is a staple in any cocktail makers ammunition cabinet. Matured in oaks casks at the Domaine de Fleurenne estate near Bordeaux in France, Bardinet is French through and through. Masterly crafted, no corners cut and has very high standards. VSOP, meaning ‘Very Superior Old Pale’ Cognacs are crafted from eaux-de-vie for at least four years. This creates a complex, and rewarding spirit that retains a lingering aroma, and is mellow in nature.
Bardinet, when drunk straight is a balanced experience – lengthy on the palate and has nuances of matured fruit and a dry woodiness. Drop this in a Sidecar cocktail with some Triplesec, a dash of lemon juice and a handful of ice – and you’ll be pouring a top up in no time.
Master of Malt £16.52
Bathtub Gin – Grapefruit and Rosemary 43.3% ABV
To put it simply, this gin is summer in a bottle. We matched Bathtub Gin’s Grapefruit & Rosemary Gin with Fever Tree’s Mediterranean tonic. Poured over ice, and a sprig of rosemary for some aromatic flare, it took me back to summers in Lake Garda, Italy. It was as if I could feel the sun on my face and feel the warm evening breeze.
Bathtub Gin is a compound gin, meaning it is made by flavouring neutral spirits with essences, natural flavourings and botanical ingredients without redistillation. Just like the Prohibition era! It is a very fragrant Gin and could easily be sipped on its own over ice. It has so many different notes, from a deeper spice flavour moving to citrus and finally welcomed by the herbal rosemary. Delivered with a creamy and smooth finish. This gin is an excellent addition to the drinks cabinet for that little holiday escape you can enjoy after a long day.
A recent poll on Bathtub Gin’s Instagram declared Grapefruit and Rosemary should be the winning flavour. It has since become a wonderful product chosen by its fans – and us!Let’s also not forget how beautiful and alternative the bottle is!
Master of Malt £33.95
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