The warning signs were everywhere at last night’s London launch of new Isle of Harris Gin. Not only were the G&Ts of industrial strength but drinks consultant Douglas Blyde was at the controls to show us how to make the perfect Martini. That was before the assembled throng were then encouraged to enter a Martini-making competition. Despite how messy it got there was one thing that shone through like a lighthouse beam and it was the spectacular umami of sugar kelp – the gin’s key botanical.
Gin has become such a phenomenon not just within the bars, restaurants and pubs that sell it, but with consumers who will happily try any new brand on the market. Such is the interest in gin it has now been given the big screen treatment with its own movie dedicated to the art of distilling and gin making.
Most people luxuriating in the balmy climes of South Africa might take to the beach or safari. At the very worst they might head to a winery to partake in some chilled Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay. Not our Roger Jones who heads for a mammoth tasting of spirits from many of the world’s top Brandy producers – trying to find out why South African Brandy has dominated international award ceremonies in recent years. And then he heads off for a tasting at a distillery. Oh, and there’s one bit where Roger has to turn off his phone and leave it outside the room. Don’t worry Rog your secret is safe with us!
Drinks guru and gin distiller, Nick Strangeway, has helped Britvic’s new incubator company WiseHead Productions develop its new range of premium tonics and mixers that he believes helps put the spotlight on the botanicals in a gin. The Buyer was on hand to see him and the new premium mixers brand, the London Essence Company, bring the tonics to life.
Phil Hunter attends the press launch and tasting of the new-look Metaxa 12 star brandy at which the company unveiled its new brand ambassador, South African adventurer Mike Horn and finds the spirit still uniquely standing out from the crowd.
Before it launches Ultis, its first ever blended malt whisky, Chivas Regal has opened a Pop Up near the City of London that extols the virtues of blending. Paying punters can take part in this immersive experience so we sent along Philip Hunter to see what all the fuss is about and get under the skin of Chivas Regal’s strategy.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE could have been a wine merchant if he hadn’t flunked his A levels. Instead he went on to become one of the world’s most celebrated explorers, racking up amazing feats of endurance and guile. Johnnie Walker sponsored this Explorer Series at Mr Fogg’s of Mayfair and supplied cocktails made of Blue Label just so the audience wouldn’t get squeamish at the amputation and frost-bite bits.
Beam Suntory launches Maker’s 46, its latest Maker’s Mark liquid, in London’s fashionable Mondrian hotel. The bourbon is extra oaked for an extra smoothness that the company calls a “crescendo of wood”. The Buyer was there to get the lowdown on the thinking that went behind the idea.
Having a break from daily wine and spirits tastings, The Buyer’s Drinks Editor heads to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. But, minutes after arriving in the city finds himself boarding a Hendrick’s-sponsored double decker and getting dropped off outside the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Leopard. Spots.
We tasted four premium spirits from Calvados Boulard – the Grand Solage, V.S.O.P., the Auguste XO and Extra that retails for a mere £328 a bottle. We then tried them as mixers in a range of classic cocktails. But not with the Extra. Obviously.