We’ve been bombarded with press releases piggybacking Dry January, Burns Night and Valentine’s Day. Here’s a selection of the boozes we guzzled for the occasions…
Alcohol Free Beers
At the back end of last year we put together a list of the best alcohol free beers for the Independent following a mammoth, week-long tasting session.* Since then we’ve been inundated with breweries and PR companies asking if we’ve tried their products. In most cases the answer was ‘yes’, but they weren’t good enough to topple the winner, vandeStreek Playground. Of those that failed to get a mention but deserve some credit were alcohol-free versions of Adnam’s Ghost Ship and Green King’s Old Speckled Hen (both 0.5% ABV). Each one tasted remarkably similar to their booze-backed namesakes with the only obvious tell tale signs of difference being a slightly thin finish to Ghost Ship and a touch of raw malt Speckling the Hen’s flavour. We would both gladly drink them in place of alcohol in future.
Joining the alcohol-free party was a new rum punch called ‘Punchy’. As with our beers, the producers have created two versions – one with alcohol (at 4% ABV) and one without. They were both similar tasting and very decent drinks, with tropical fruit flavours and a touch of ginger coming through at the finish. They managed to avoid the over-sweet, syruppy taste of similar drinks with some dry fizz giving them a bit of sophistication. The rum in the alcohol added an extra layer of smooth warmth and some richness to the flavours – and although the alcohol-free version was perfectly drinkable, the dab of rum reminded us why alcohol is so great: it’s not just about its intoxicating effects, it simply makes perfectly good drinks taste and feel even better.
Find out more about Punchy’s drinks at punchydrinks.com
Glenfairn Highland Single Malt Whisky, 40%
Supermarket giant Tesco recently unveiled a new range of single malt whiskies at bargain prices, each representing a different whisky making region of Scotland: Speyside, Highland and Islay. With the press release arriving just a few weeks short of Burns Night our eyes were drawn to the tactically smart food matching notes of the Highland offering: “Pair with a veggie or traditional haggis supper.” Nick got himself a bottle and performed haggis and whisky scoffing duties, mixing his glass of Highland malt with soda water to make it a more meal-friendly drink. His gravy-stained, scribbled tasting notes read thus: “Enough oaky depth to cope with the peppery haggis and mustard, and there were also accents of floral honey riding the fizz, adding a refreshing touch to the meal.”
Tesco’s new Glenfairn single malt whiskies, including our Highland edition, are all priced at £20 per 700ml bottle and are available from the Tesco website
Nelson’s Gin, 41%
With Valentine’s Day looming we were at the end of a flurry of marketing emails promoting romantically themed boozes (and some limited edition Marmite). One such notification that caught our attention came from Nelson’s Gin, who released a limited edition rose and raspberry gin that was promoted by Master Distiller Neil Harrison with this line: “The combination of the dopamine-boosting alcohol, aphrodisiacal rose petals and libido-enhancing raspberries is the perfect way to get things going this February.” We prefer to focus on flavour rather than other potential fruity shenanigans and can report that it’s a floral delight with subtle hints of fruitiness from the raspberries.
The gin is available on its own (at £40 per 700ml bottle) or in a gift set with chocolates (priced £58.82) from the Nelson’s Gin shop.
*No hangovers. Hurrah!