Our latest round-up of the booze that’s making the nooze includes a pair of beers, a couple of rums and a gin-and-jam combination that we reckon would serve as a decent stocking filler. We’ve also got a “low waste” cocktail recipe for you to enjoy. Thanks, as ever, to the good folk who sent us samples for this feature…
Grander 8 Year Old Panama Rum, 45%
There are two things that interest us about the narrow strip of label on this bottle. Firstly, it’s a rum from Panama, and we’re not sure we’ve previously tried any booze from that country. And secondly, it displays a ‘no additives’ message. Adding sugar (and other flavours) to a rum isn’t considered as much of a crime as it is with other spirits, but even so it’s good to see a product declaring its purity.
Both 8 and 12 year old Grander rums were released in the UK for the first time earlier this year, and we were grateful to get our hands on a bottle. It has been aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, which help to lend it some toasty spices to the smooth vanilla flavours of the rum, and it’s clean and flavoursome enough to sip neat while being suitably punchy for a cocktail. A good all-rounder for the rum drinker.
The Kraken ‘Reef Wreckage’, 47%
Everyone is familiar with The Kraken spiced rum, yes? There’s nothing new about this booze. What’s new is the fancy limited edition ceramic bottle this Kraken is packaged in.
The ‘Reef Wreckage’ bottle has been produced to help raise money for the good work done by marine conservation movement Surfers Against Sewage, and in particular to highlight the damage currently being done to the world’s reefs.
It follows a successful campaign last year when The Kraken teamed up with the organisation to help clean up beaches across the UK. To go with our rum we were also sent a recipe for a ‘low waste perfect storm’, which turned out rather well, so we’ve published it below. And while you’re drinking it please check out www.theleagueofdarkness.co.uk for more information on The Kraken’s work to help protect our oceans.
Pinkster Gin Cracker Gift
We’ve been getting festive in the Thirsty Gardeners Test Shed, pulling box-loads of booze-filled Christmas crackers to give them a thorough test for a piece in the Independent. Our ears are still ringing to the noise of the bangs and we’re slowly trying to win back friends after trying out appalling cracker jokes on them for the last few weeks.
One cracker that didn’t quite make the cut, but is worthy of a mention, was sent to us by Pinkster Gin. It was felt to be lacking in traditional festive values for the piece (no bang, hat or joke and dressed in branded pink livery), making it more of a gift purchase than one to sit next to the turkey. But there’s nothing wrong with the contents. Not only do gleeful recipients get a bottle of Pinkster Gin but they are also rewarded with a small jar of gin jam. This boozy bonus gives you not just something to knock back after the Christmas pudding has been demolished, but also a gin-based spread to for your boxing day breakfast, bringing Gin O-Clock forward by several hours.
Anspach & Hobday, The Porter, 6.7%
This isn’t a new beer. We’re featuring it because, along with Anspach & Hobday’s The Cream Ale and The IPA, it has just been added to Marks & Spencer’s range of core beers. It’s one of our favourite ever porters, brewed by one of our favourite UK breweries, now available in the shop where Nick buys most of his beers. And if that’s not good news then we don’t know what is.
If the beer is new to you then here’s how we described it last year in a feature for the Independent: “A richly delicious dark drink that has layers of every kind of roasted malt flavour you can imagine. Porter perfection.”
Camden Town Brewery, Off Menu IPA, 5.8%
Another drinks round-up and another mention of Camden Town Brewery. They keep sending us new releases, we keep being impressed by their quality, so we continue to write about them. It’s a happy chain of events.
But there’s something a little different about this latest can of beery brilliance: it’s not a lager. Surprisingly, for a brewery that has been in operation since 2010, this is their first IPA and, just like those lagers, it’s effortlessly simple and refreshing.
We had our first can with a substandard takeaway curry* and it hit all the right notes, thrashing the food for flavour and making the whole meal more enjoyable as a result. It has some of the hazy juiciness favoured by contemporary IPA brewers and a pronounced sharp, piney bitterness, with a maltiness that left a sticky sweet mark on our ghee-stained lips. A delicious IPA that deserves much better from any accompanying food.
Low Waste Perfect Storm Recipe
50ml The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
25ml soda or sparkling water
4 slices of ginger
2 cubes of sugar (or 10g)
1 star anise
1g all spice
1 cassia bark slice (ie. a bit of cinnamon stick)
2 whole cardamoms
Cut a lime in half. From one of the halves slice off a wedge for a garnish. Squeeze the lime juice into a cocktail shaker then chuck in the used husks.
Pour in 50ml The Kraken Rum and top up with 25ml water.
Add the sugar and spices (we suggest cracking the cardamoms first), seal, and shake for a good 10 seconds to dissolve the sugar then leave to infuse for five minutes.
Strain into a glass, add ice and top up with soda or sparkling water, not forgetting lime garnish.
This is called a ‘low waste’ cocktail because, according to our press release, it uses “low waste ingredients” and “all ingredients are compostable.” We reckon you can reduce waste further by reusing the ingredients (with the addition of more lime juice) for several more of these cocktails before composting.
*Vegetable dopiaza. Undercooked wedges of onions with a few frozen peas and sweetcorn served in an oily slick of tomato gravy.