One of the things I love the most about going home for Christmas is buying new booze to try with the fam.
This year, Iâ€™ve found some amazing English wines and spirits on my travels. Iâ€™ve bought one (or more, cheeky) of the below to take home â€“ and I recommend you check them out as well.
English Whisky Co.’s Chapter 14
My other half is a huge whisky fan, so for his 30th birthday this year, I wanted to find him something special. Luckily, the English Whisky Companyâ€™s limited edition Chapter 14 is just the ticket. It won Best Whisky in Europe in Jim Murrayâ€™s 2015 World Whisky Bible, heralded for having hints of crÃ¨me brulee – almost like a light brandy.
Itâ€™s made at the St Georgeâ€™s distillery in Roudham, Norfolk (just down the road from my belovedâ€™s family), which was designed and built by Andrew & James Nelstrop in 2006. The location was selected for two key reasons; access to the two main ingredients needed to produce amazing whisky. They have the cleanest water in the Breckland aquifer deep beneath their distillery, and high quality barley since Norfolk is one of the worldâ€™s premier growing regions.
Chapter 14 is a 5 year old single malt, distilled in bourbon casks for a minimum of 5 years. Itâ€™s really fresh and fruity, and is a perfect treat for Christmas â€“ not too heavy, but excellent quality. Buy it online for Â£44.99 by end of December 17th for Christmas delivery.
Chapel Down Tenterden Estate Bacchus Reserve 2014
Continuing the birthday theme; for my 30th this year, my best friend bought us a pair of tickets to Celia Brookâ€™s Borough Market gastro tour. It was a wonderful day out and Iâ€™d fully recommend you look in to it if you’re keen to explore the market but are a bit overwhelmed by the size of it (read more about it here). But back to the booze.
The last stop on the tour was The Wine Pantry; which stocks only English wines. We tried three absolutely lovely bottles, which I’m not ashamed to admit really did surprise me. The bubbles were great (from Breaky Bottom Winery), but my favourite of the lot was this one from the Chapel Down winery in Kent. Not only are the suppliers to the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey, but they were also made a CoolBrand for 2014/5.
Iâ€™ve not had a great deal of English wine, and wasnâ€™t really sure what to expect â€“ but this was incredible. Reminiscent of a Sancerre, but less sweet. Light, fresh and perfect for Christmas Day morning with smoked salmon. Buy by the bottle online at The Wine Pantry for Â£14.99, or online here for Â£71.95 for a case of six.
Rebellion beers’ IPA, Yo Ho Ho and Roasted Nuts
Keeping it in the family, my Mum & Stepdad introduced me to Rebellion brewery earlier this year. My first taste was the Red Rebellion; and even as a non-beer drinker, I think itâ€™s great. Itâ€™s the kind of ale you want to drink on a Sunday with a roast. Therefore, for any of the festive period, itâ€™ll work wonders.
Rebellion started brewing in 1993 in a small industrial unit in Marlow Bottom. In 1999, they moved to nearby Bencombe Farm and over the years have expanded several times, now producing approximately 70,000 pints per week. You can find their beers in over 400 local pubs within a 30-mile radius of Marlow, in their brewery shop or in several local supermarkets and off licenses.
Their classics will be ideal for Christmas, but they also do seasonal specials. This year the Christmas limited editions are Yo Ho Ho; a very crisp and fresh beer filled with the festive flavour of citrus peel. It has a lovely clean bitterness and is light on maltiness making it an ideal palate cleanser to accompany all the festive feasting you can manage. Or you can try Roasted Nuts, a deep ruby, complex and flavoursome Winter warmer, packed with intense and distinctive malt & hop character.
Sacred Gin infused with Christmas Pudding
Highgate-based Sacred Spirits make the best negroni kit in the world. Fact. Itâ€™s a killer Christmas present for under Â£50 that you can buy online here. HOWEVER, this year theyâ€™ve launched a brand new gin infused with CHRISTMAS PUDDING.
Yes, you heard it right. Sacred actually made 48 kg of Christmas Puddings using the founder’s great aunt Nellie’s recipe and steamed them for a whopping eight hours. They then macerated them with English grain spirit, Juniper berries and then redistilled for a refreshing alternative to stodgy puddings. Sacred suggests serving from the freezer after the Turkey!
Sure itâ€™s a bit pricey at Â£33.85, but it really does taste amazing. Itâ€™s not overly sweet, just spicy, rich and absolutely like Christmas in a glass. Buy online here.
Marks & Spencer’s Still Mulled Spiced Cider
During this yearâ€™s Christmas pudding and cake making weekend (we used Nigellaâ€™s recipes, full details here) we realised that we didnâ€™t have anything mulled to drink. Shock horror. A quick trip to Marks & Spencer provided us with two bottles of their new spiced cider for Â£10.
Mixed with spices, berries and pure Christmas joy; this is the ideal alternative for those not keen on mulled wine. Be warned though; itâ€™s a pretty significant kick of sweetness. However, itâ€™s incredibly moreish and really tasty. For such an amazing price, itâ€™s a total winner for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve parties alike.
Note; this is out of stock online (probably because there’s a crazy-good deal where you can bag six bottles for Â£27!), so try heading instore and rummaging the shelves.
Kamm & Sons
I discovered Kamm & Sons, a bittersweet botanical spirit distilled with ginseng, fresh grapefruit peels and manuka honey, at the Young British Foodie awards this year. Made in London, it’s been likened to Campari (but better) by Kirsty Allsopp.
On the night I tried it, it was mixed in to a Lust for Life cocktail (in the featured image above), which I think is the perfect serve for a Christmas afternoon drink. Made with grapefruit juice, apricot syrup and bergamot bitters, it’s a perfect balance of sharp and fruity. Buy online from Ocado for Â£28.00.