Where did Summer go peeps?! It’s always a little sad to see the evenings draw in, but don’t fret, we’re bringing you our quintessential Autumn 2022 Spirits Roundup with heaps of delicious new premium and small batch spirits to try.
Flor De Caña 12 Rum 40% ABV
How about this delicious, carbon neutral, fair trade certified, 12-year-old rum. With a unique sustainable back story, this is distilled using 100% renewable energy. The CO2 emissions created during fermentation are captured and recycled, and the rum is even packaged with recycled materials. What’s more, this is also a partner of One Tree Planted.
The Flor de Caña 12 Year Old Rum is made, then naturally aged for 12 years in bourbon barrels without artificial ingredients. The results… a full-bodied liquid offering drinkers a long and smooth finish that is packed with a well-blended palate and tantalising aromas, which lingers beautifully on the tongue. The aging process of the reddish amber rum reveals notes of the rich smokiness of wood and sweet and creamy vanilla that’s layered with the warmth of baked apples, creating a beautifully smooth and balanced finish.
For me, this is best enjoyed in a Rum Old Fashioned or with a splash of premium sparkling water or ginger ale and an orange twist. It is sugar free, gluten free and Kosher certified.
For the price, this packs a lot of flavour and is a worthy staple for the drinks cabinet.
Master Of Malt £33
Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka 38% ABV
Following the huge sustainable and ethical trend, Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka was developed by Master Distiller Jamie Baggot, who has multiple awards to his name, including winning Best-in-the-World Vodka in 2010. Made at Ellers Farm, North Yorkshire, this is a true pedigree of a vodka and is made with British apples, balanced with a touch of potato spirit until it develops into a crisp, clean, and exceptionally smooth vodka.
You can expect subtle notes of orchard fruit sweetness, with creamy undertones and a dusting of white pepper. This stuff is lush, especially straight from the freezer, in a shot glass!
Now stocked in Waitrose up and down the country, this is a fantastic product at a very reasonable price. Worth noting is Dutch Barn has already secured Pending B Corp® status, this is one to watch!
Hatiers Resolute Navy Strength Rum 54.5% ABV
As the name suggests, this is a navy strength rum, proudly blended in the beautiful county of Devon, UK. Consisting of rums from Barbados, Australia, Guyana and Jamaica, this makes for a stunning sipper on the rocks.
On the nose, you can expect toasted brown sugar and charred oak followed by warm banana. On the palate, intensity of fruit; pineapple, apple, banana, mango build with buttery pastry, leaving darker notes of liquorice to linger. The aftertaste is special, with wafts of coal smoke drift in on the finish, with a dominance of banana cream in a long finish.
This has wedged itself into my top 10 favourite rums. A very special liquid indeed.
Kings Hill Gin 44% ABV
If the bottle doesn’t woo you, the delicious, small batch liquid will! Hailing from Scotland, Kings Hill Gin combines traditional gin botanicals (juniper, coriander and orris root) with botanicals handpicked from the Pentland Hills, which include gorse flower, heather, rose hips and elderflower.
On the nose, Kings Hill is fresh with light juniper and a delicate citrus that comes from the lemongrass that goes into the vapour basket when distilling. There is also a mellow sweetness on offer. So far so good!
On the palate, the citrus comes alive, along with a juniper hit, which leaves a delicious lingering aftertaste. This is a really pleasant, light gin, with personality by the truckload. Select a light tonic, so as not to overpower the flavours on offer here.
Craft 56 £40
58 and Co. Vodka 40% ABV
A very good find. This B Corp certified vodka from 58 and Co. is an absolute beaut. Made with 100% British wheat spirit and nothing else, this is a super smooth, clean tasting liquid, with a very faint hint of sweet maltiness.
It’s easy to appreciate how it achieved B Corp status when you learn that the London-based distillery is run 100% on solar and renewable energy – even its resin driveway is made from the equivalent of 141,000 plastic straws removed from the ocean. Impressive.
But let’s get back to the vodka! On the nose, this is incredibly fresh and clean. On the palate, this is crisp, with creamy grain and distant whispers of lemon peel, followed by a pinch of cracked pepper. This is so good.
The price reflects a premium vodka indeed, and boy is it worth it!
Master Of Malt £36
Bushmills Single Malt 16 40% ABV
As a lover of Irish whiskeys, this is quite possibly one of my staple go-to drinks for those colder Autumn nights. Yes, it’s not cheap, but you’ll unlikely find a whiskey offering up so much flavour in every sip.
Aged in a combination of Oloroso Sherry and bourbon-seasoned barrels, before going through a final finishing period in Port wine casks, the unique maturation process creates a truly fantastic whiskey. With complex notes of juicy fruits, nuts, and spice, as well as a hint of ruby redness, Bushmills 16 Year Old Single Malt is best enjoyed neat or with a small ice cube to unpack its unique flavours. It also makes the most incredible Irish coffee!
Nose: Big, robust, treacle toffee and sweet spice
Taste: Concentrated, full bodied, caramelised fruits and toasted nuts
Finish: Deep, jammy berries, milk chocolate
The Whisky Exchange – £80
Drumshanbo Triple Distilled Irish Whiskey 43% ABV
This spirit is very traditionally made with unmalted as well as malted barley and Irish oats in the mash, triple copper pot distilled, and aged in a combination of Kentucky bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks for a total of five years – my taste buds are already tingling. To the eye, it’s a delicious golden colour, and is also presented beautifully in its box. Great first impression.
On the nose, lots of grainy and earthy character, with hints of nutty orange, light toffee and sherry. Very pleasant.
On the palate, more complex with that definite sherry character making a show, but it’s definitely not overpowering. There is also a floral element that moves into a warming toasted bread note.
To finish, lingering orange and sherry, barrel char – a hearty rustic nature here.
Oh I do like an Irish Whiskey, it’s always an Autumn/Winter warmer staple for me, and for the price, I feel Drumshanbo is a splendid deal.
Master of Malt £50
X MUSE Vodka 40% ABV
Let me start by saying that Scottish vodka is massively underrated! I’ve yet to try a bad one, and X Muse is absolutely no exception to that rule. Pronounced ‘Tenth Muse’. This is a blend of 2x vodkas distilled independently, from heritage barley strains. The spring water that makes up the liquid is from source at the Bonnington Estate, which is to the west of Edinburgh.
The bottle itself is a touch of class, but just you wait until you open it up…
A crystal-clear liquid provides a pleasant earthy, slightly green fruity nose. On the palate the green fruit really jumps out, mixed with cider and a peppery spice, which leaves an oaty after taste.
For a vodka, this packs a lot of taste. There’s a silky purity to this liquid that is insane with a Dry Martini. Loving this too much! The price reflects a super-premium spirit, which I can safely say, it is!
Master Of Malt £55
Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur 20% ABV
Now if you love an Espresso Martini as much as I do, then you’re going to be seeking only the finest ingredients for your recipe. This, I’m pleased to say, is a game changer for this classic cocktail, and you don’t even need extra vodka (just add a little water and ice, and you’re done!).
The beans are sourced ethically from smallholders in both Ethiopia and Brazil. They are then sympathetically roasted before a 24 hour cold brewing process, which is followed by distillation on the wild Dorset coast.
So, what does it taste like… well, first you have to appreciate that the team at Conker tried 96 different recipes before they found they found ‘the One’, says a lot right. Roasting the Brazilian beans for longer, makes the most of the cacao and caramel flavours, whilst the Ethiopian beans are roasted faster and lighter, bringing out the sweetness and natural citrus character. The end result, a full bodied, full flavoured, dark, warm spirit with the heat from the alcohol but without any bitter or overpowering aftertaste. This stuff is literally gorgeous.
Scarlett’s Cherry Liqueur 20% ABV
Not heard of Ellers Farm Distillery? Where you been!!
This delightful North Yorkshire producer has been knocking it out of the park with its latest batch of liqueurs and spirits. This is ‘Scarlett’s Cherry Liqueur’ and WOW is it fruity. It’s made with cherries macerated in vodka, as well as almond extract, which gives it a taste, well… exactly like a Bakewell Tart, one of my absolute fave treats.
This is absolutely stunning with Prosecco, or even with good old fashioned lemonade!
This will give you the excuse to be as creative as you like, and still end up with something that will impress your guests.
Master Of Malt £19
Flora’s Elderflower Elderberry Liqueur 20% ABV
Following on from the above feature is Flora’s Elderflower Elderberry Liqueur, which is another delicious release from Ellers Farm Distillery. Expect a floral and fruity liqueur made by infusing the distillery’s vodka with elderflowers and elderberries.
From the moment you pop the cap, there’s a lot of great flavours going on here, including elderflower, honey, lychee, green apples and tart elderberries that linger in the finish.
I love this with a light tonic and a slice of lemon, letting the flavours come alive, and the sweetness prevail.
There’s something really special about the small batch spirits that Ellers Farm are churning out right now. From the distinctive, personality driven, hand drawn artwork on each spirit type, to the lengths they go to, to produce a carbon neutral product, to the incredible blend of friendly flavours on offer – these guys are one to watch.
The Whisky Exchange £19
Villa De Varda Pino Nero Riserva Grappa 40% ABV
There’s nothing better to wash down a good meal than Grappa, and this has to be one of the most delicious varieties I’ve tried yet!
Produced by the artisan distillery of the Dolzan family in the foothills of the stunning Dolomite Alps, this is a small batch, premium Grappa that uses only the best Pinot Nero grapes from the family vineyard. These are lightly pressed, so the skins are wet with grape juice.
Then, the skins are removed and distilled in copper stills. They operate on a slow discontinuous cycle, to ensure that the volatile components evaporate while capturing the precious flavours of the grape. After distillation, the grappa is left to rest in stainless steel vats for six months. After this, the distillation-strength spirit is diluted to 40% with spring water from the Dolomites, chilled, and filtered.
To become the signature Pinot Nero Riserva Grappa, the spirit is aged in several casks: partly in oak, acacia and cherry wood. The ageing is a slow process, taking three years at a controlled temperature and humidity, to achieve the perfect maturation. Mauro then performs laboratory testing to control all key chemical parameters. Finally, after a careful tasting he blends the correct quantities from various casks to produce the Pinot Nero Riserva in the distillery’s house style.
In terms of taste, this Pinot Nero Riserva Grappa has a clear, luminous amber colour. It offers flavours of red grapefruit, with a touch of saltiness, underpinned by notes of vanilla, cocoa, espresso and black pepper.
It really is a treat to the taste buds!
Independent Wine £34.95
Cardiff Dry Gin 40% ABV
The concept and product of The Eccentric Spirit Company, the general feedback online is one similar to that of marmite – you’re either gonna love it or hate it.
Personally, I am rather smitten with it. There’s an initial big citrus hit followed by a real spicy note, likely from the peppercorns and leafy herbs. Juniper is ever present here too. It’s bitter sweet and rather unusual, a break from the norm… and I do like to try something new every now and again.
This works so well with a Mediterranean tonic and grapefruit garnish, which brings out the delicious, fresh citrus flavours.
These guys have loads of gins on offer, check out their website for the full range.
Eccentric Spirits £32
Cardi Bay Vodka 40% ABV
Another little number from The Eccentric Spirit Company, this time their flavoured vodka. Cardy Bay Vodka is inspired by the gorse which grows along the Ceredigion coastline and is infused with hints of vanilla and coconut.
Pop the lid and to the nose, you will receive a pleasant, clean and distinctive coconut hit. As soon as it lands on the tongue, wow, step into the tropics with this one – the vanilla and coconut are really apparent, giving layers of tropical goodies, again, very clean and bright.
This would make the most amazing addition to a boozy Pina Colada, adding whole new dimensions. Alternatively, pop it in the freezer and impress the guests after desserts, this is an absolute crowd pleaser, which is absolutely guaranteed to get the party started!
Like the other Eccentric Spirits, this is a bit different, and I like it a lot.
Eccentric Spirits £32
Chambord Blackberry Liqueur 16.5% ABV
Blackberry Chambord is the cocktail maker’s secret weapon. Fact.
Taking 6 weeks of fruit infusion to extract the aroma, flavour, and colour of Chambord,
The liquid’s natural, deep ruby-violet hue, offers a visual hint as to the depth of its balanced flavour.
Sweet, but not overly so, its fruity notes play well with rum, bourbon and rye, gin, and of course, prosecco. This is essentially the gold standard of liqueurs made from macerating fresh berries in brandy in the Loire Valley.
It not only looks great in the glass, but it adds a real WOW factor to your cocktails.
On the nose, you get sweetened blackberries, black currants, rich vanilla, and caramelized sugar.
On the palate, the texture and body are soft and juicy, less dense, or syrupy than you might expect from the saturated colour and intense fruit aromatics.
The finish is a concentrated mixed-berry jam flavour and a lingering sweet, fruity finish with notes of rich vanilla bean.
Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon £8 (200ml)
Oro Gin (Strawberry with Cracked Black Pepper & Madagascan Vanilla) 38% ABV
Here we have a award winning gin bursting with Strawberry, Madagascan Vanilla, and a hint of cracked black pepper. It’s an absolute beauty created at the Dalton Distillery in Scotland, which was founded by the Clynick family and led by Head Distiller Ray Clynick – a former scientist.
It therefore won’t surprise you that science plays a big part in this liquid’s creation:
Oro’s pressurised extraction method involves passing nitrogen into a pressure-stable vessel that contains Oro Gin, Madagascan vanilla, Sri Lankan cracked black pepper and British strawberries. The company said that “under conditions exceeding three times atmospheric pressure, the alcohol rapidly penetrates the surface of the strawberries. On removing the nitrogen, the key flavour compounds – as well as a vivid, natural red colour – are extracted and stabilised”.
The name ‘Oro’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘gold’, which is certainly a nod to this gin’s luxurious look, feel and taste.
On the taste front… this is quite possibly the most delicious strawberry gin we’ve had the privilege of tasting. It’s almost a liqueur, but better, so much better.
Mix with a Mediterranean Tonic or cloudy lemonade and garnished with a strawberry, mint and a lemon twist. So good!
If like us, you’re sad to see the Summer nights drawing in, this will certainly help keep the vibe going for as long as the bottle lasts you.
This is a gin rather than a liqueur at 38% ABV. This gin is best served with Mediterranean Tonic or Lemonade and garnished with a strawberry, mint and a lemon twist.
House Of Malt £30
Goslings Black Seal Rum 40% ABV
Gosling’s have trademarked the cocktail, the classic, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, so you can imagine what we tried the Gosling Black Seal rum with! A delicious concoction of Gosling’s Black Seal, ginger beer and a dash of lime.
Gosling’s Black seal Rum lives up to it’s name and is very dark in colour. When poured neat you can see many deep red and brown hues. It is a gorgeous rum with a strong molasses and caramel fragrance, similar to black treacle, which leads to a very bold sweet yet balanced flavour.
The perfect go to rum, both neat or in cocktails!
Goslings Gold Seal Rum 40% ABV
Unlike its older brother, Gosling’s Gold Sealed Rum is, as the name would suggest, a much lighter amber/gold rum. There are less molasses flavours, instead there are more fruity notes and sharper hints of spice – perfect for the more tiki-style cocktails.
The Gosling Company was founded in Bermuda by James Gosling in 1806. With over 200 years experience of rum craft, you can tell that this lighter rum isn’t just another medium-bodied rum that just tastes strong for cocktails. No, you can taste the oakiness of the barrel it aged in, pleasantly complimented with notes of vanilla, citrus and almost a hint of banana.
Black Tot Rum – Finest Caribbean 46.2% ABV
Black Tot Rum has a very interesting history to accompany this spirit. The Black Tot Finest Caribbean edition is the third instillment of this rum. The first instalment of Black Tot Rum (Last Consignment) took place in July 1970 when the British Royal Navy gave out the last ration of Rum to their sailors. You can read about it here.
Since then, the task at hand has been to create a Rum honouring the time old components of the original Navy Rum which imitates a traditional blend profile which was crafted over the span of more than 100 years. Over the course of two years Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum was born, a perfect blend of Rum from Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica.
This is one powerful rum. On the nose you are hit with strong scents of sugar but also a deep oakiness almost musky, which contributes to the complexity and feel of a vintage navy rum but in taste it is surprisingly smooth. The intricacies in flavour make this an enjoyable sipping rum, our favourite flavour we can taste is an occasional hint of zesty marmalade!
Didsbury Strawberry & Sicilian Lemon Gin 40% ABV
In this version of Didsbury’s gin you have the classic botanicals; juniper, angelica root, orris root, grapefruit peel, lime peel, lemon peel, orange peel, lavender infused with fresh strawberries and Sicilian lemon.
This gin has such a fantastic aroma of strawberries which is quickly followed by zest zest ZEST! Once on the tongue there is a joyous moment where you are reminded of retro strawberry sweets and a hint of lemon sherbet. It was refreshing to try such a playful gin infusion!
Warner’s Sloe Gin 30% ABV
There is something so wholesome about enjoying a gin which is made with Autumnal fruit found right outside your front door. It’s ideal mixed with tonic, added a splash to some fizz, or enjoy it on the rocks for gentle sipping, but we have tried it with just a hint of lemon juice to compliment the tart sweetness of the blackberry flavours, all of which marries up incredibly well with the warm spices of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Autumn is arriving quickly, and this is the perfect sipping gin to enjoy with those crisp evenings and deep sunsets whilst nestled up warmly inside.
Woodford Reserve 43.2% ABV
With the Kentucky Woodford Distillery producing whiskey since 1780, you can only assume that they have perfected it by now!
The deeper copper hues in the bourbon and the sweet honey fruitiness on the nose support the palate. The honey spiced citrus marries well with the aged oakiness and leaves the finish smooth and rich.
The oakiness comes from the barrel the bourbon rested in. Woodford Reserve stands out because the whiskey selected for bottling is decided by it’s taste as opposed to its age, with the average whiskey maturing between 6-7 years.
A classic reliable bourbon for your shelf.
Maestro DOBEL Diamante 40% ABV
Put that lime down! The Maestro DOBEL Diamante Tequila is a premium white tequila – more of an experience than a shot as it is so smooth can be easily sipped neat.
It is a blend of 3 tequila’s; Reposado, Añejo and Extra-Añejo tequila, which is then filtered to remove the colour whilst retaining the smooth and creamy texture that we know and love.
Perfect for a ‘Charro’ (Cola and Tequila) or on the rocks. We understand that many people probably have “that night” in mind when tequila comes up in conversation, but from personal experience we can say that this tequila really is a game changer. It’s premium blend keeps hangovers at bay to enable you to enjoy warm tequila flavours, which definitely justifies the price!
This has become an all-round go to tequila, it’s an asset in a Long Island Ice Tea because there is no bitter aftertaste to the spirit. In the past we have also enjoyed it with lemonade and pineapple juice for a fruity cocktail with a smooth kick of alcohol, the tequila compliments the pineapple perfectly!
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