TIPPLES TO TANTALIZE TASTEBUDS!
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall
Cheers! Ann Evans reports back on some of the delicious tipples to be tasted at the BBC Good Food Show recently.
The BBC gardeners Live Show combined with the BBC Good Food Show held at the Birmingham NEC recently attracted tens of thousands of visitors. The show brings together the UK’s top chefs, along with food, drink and cookery products from more than 450 exhibitors.
It’s an opportunity to sample the produce of a huge range of independent and artisan producers. And we felt it was our duty to taste a few of the many wines, beers, spirits and liqueurs on offer, on behalf of the readers!
There’s always a unique story behind each independent business bringing the personal touch to a sometimes faceless industry. Such as the story behind #Manchester Gin which began one cold February evening in 2013 when Seb and Jen met in a basement night spot in the centre of their beloved city. “What are you drinking?” asked Seb. “Gin and tonic,” replied Jen.
They hadn’t realised those words would change their lives. They began making their own gin in the dining room of the house they bought. And today the spirit of Manchester Distillery occupies a space in the centre of the city where every bottle is hand-crafted and distilled in small batches.
Their three stills produce every single drop of their gin and together make just over 500 bottles runs, which is the real definition of a small batch. With the spirit distilled in three copper stills, they are named: Wendy after Jen’s beloved late mother; Victoria after the fabulous Victoria Wood and Emmeline after the iconic suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. A tribute to three inspirational Manchester women – and a very good gin too. Www.manchestergin.co.uk
#Condessa Welsh Liqueurs from Anglesey, Wales, is a family run business that has been going for over 40 years. Richard Jones started his Condessa business in Chester in 1969 then moved to a much larger liqueur factory and winery in rural Angelsey 20 years later. Their delicious liqueurs range from fruit liqueurs to low fat cream liqueurs, and they have won many awards over the years; including the HBWTA Innovation Shield for innovating improved fermentation techniques, followed by patents to improve the quality of their liqueurs.
Liqueur flavours include apricot, black cherry, original Welsh, praline Welsh, sloe gin and my particular favourite limoncello – perfect with a splash of tonic or drizzled over a sorbet. Matthew and Sally-Anne Nelson were enjoying talking about their liqueurs with visitors to the show. Visit the Condessa website for some deliciously refreshing cocktail ideas. www.condessa.co.uk
If a cool glass of beer is more to your taste, then #Hiver the Honey Beer based in Central London is a dry, crisp, refreshing blonde beer that has been brewed with honey. They use honey as an ingredient, as is traditional to this beer style, rather than as an additive. This means that much of the sugar is fermented out so only the aroma and flavour remain.
The Honey Beer is their own secret recipe created after many different trails, and they work closely with independent British Beekeepers sourcing raw honey from bees that forage in a three-mile radius to the hive. They say that this means that the three honeys they source for Hiver are as varied and unique as the malted barley and hops that were picked during the recipe development stage.
You can visit the Hiver Taproom and Shop – find details on their website, and you can even book for the Hiver Experience and discover everything about bees and beekeeping in the city. Details: www.hiverbeers.com
Riverside Spirits based in Warrington, Cheshire produce intensely infused liqueurs, handmade in small batches in Cheshire, using only the finest natural ingredients. Their gin liqueurs include passion fruit, raspberry, sloe, damson and blackberry; their vodka liqueurs include passion fruit, raspberry, salted caramel, elderflower and cherry vodka liqueur.
The family team were at the show, talking about their product and handing out tasters for their liqueurs. Mum, Katy Day said that their business has been going for about 7 years. And they were delighted with their new attractive bottles. She added, “We have 6 different flavours of gin, 6 vodkas, 3 different rums and 3 shimmers – all made of natural fruits.” Discover more at: www.riversidespirits.co.uk
Colin Sinclair and Elizabeth Evans run the #Whisky Tasting Company and were showcasing some of the old and rare whiskies in gift sets. Their company is an HMRC-verified bottler of Scotch whisky, and they work with whisky brand owners throughout Scotland, and other countries to present premium, old and rare whiskies in beautiful whisky gift sets. They also have their own bottling facility in the borders of Scotland.
Colin explained that their gift sets provide five whiskies, together with whisky tasting information cards and tasting notes. Their whisky can be up to 50 years old. They also provide a guide to tasting whisky and a whisky tasting mat to set your whiskies out on and record your notes. Definitely something for the connoisseur! Find out more: www.whiskytastingco.com
As a fan of the #French #Cassis, blackcurrant liqueur, I treated myself to a bottle of English Cassis – for research purposes only of course! It’s made with blackcurrants grown in the fields of the company’s Herefordshire farm and produces a natural liqueur which is rich and full bodied. It has a fruity yet sharp flavour, the burst of blackcurrant imbued with a hint of sweetness. A delicious aperitif or the perfect complement to champagne or prosecco, cocktails and desserts. Who am I to argue. Discover more at: https://www.whiteherondrinks.co.uk/
Another product for those with a sweet tooth was Kin #Toffee #Vodka. This smooth blended vodka is rich in caramel tones with a subtle kick. It’s hand blended and produced in small batches in the heart of the Lake District, just south of Lake Windemere. There was no doubt that it smelt of real toffee and tasted of real toffee, and that, explained Lewis Conman and Kay-Lee Dinsdale. was because they use real toffee in the making of their vodka – not flavourings. Discover more: www.kinvodka.co.uk
Searching for the perfect G & T inspired Karl and Cathy Mason to craft their own deliciously different Yorkshire gin. Now five years on they are celebrating their unique gins. There’s the Original edition, the Lavender edition and the Tea edition. All the team at their company are delighted to have over 40 international awards for their gins and vodka. This year they also took two awards at the 2018 World Gin Awards. Their Lavender is the Category winner for the UK’s Best Contemporary Gin and their Original is the Gold Taste winner for UK gin.
Head over to their website to discover more on the perfect ways to enjoy their unique gins: https://www.masonsyorkshiregin.com/
Finally, on our round up, we chatted to Euan Kinninmonth of Eden Mill who are distillers of single malt whisky, premium gins and brewers of craft beer. They explained that Eden Mill is Scotland’s first single-site distillery and brewery, and that they apply modern techniques an understanding to time honoured traditional methods. More information on their website: www.edenmill.com