Drinks

Our selection of the new and the notable from the best British drinks producers.
Visit Drinks of the Month for this month's Variety Show

Wychwood Ginger Beard

Have to admit, I love ginger beer. Not the sickly sweet ones. Those that prickle the back of the nose with a invigorating fieriness. 

But I'd never really given much thought to drinking them with food. Then yesterday I saw the light. We were matching Sriram Aylur's delectable canapés at Quilon with a range of fruit and ginger beers, and to my mind – and several others too – Ginger Beard proved a pretty versatile tipple.

4.2%, RRP: £1.75, 50ml; Morrisons, Asda, Sainsburys, Ocado

Curious Brew Lager

One week after winning Wine of the Year for its Bacchus Reserve 2010, Chapel Down Winery has won another major award – for beer this time! 

Curious Brew Lager has picked up Gold in the International Beer Challenge, one of only 30 brews to do so. 

Available at a range of bars, pubs and restaurants, and by the case from Chapel Down, £29.99, 24x33cl

Knops Musselburgh Broke

From a wee Edinburgh brewing company, this is a traditional Scottish ale, brewed with an eye to older styles of beer rather than the currently trendy hop monsters.

Knops use four different malts in brewing Musselburgh Broke, which is named for the racecourse at Musselburgh, just east of Edinburgh.

33cl/4.5%, £2.10 from Edinburgh branches of Oddbins; see brewery site for further stockists.

Chiltern Brewery Sparkling Jubilee Ale

Smart and celebratory – and hand-labelled by the brewers and their team – Chiltern’s Jubilee Sparkling Ale is amber in colour, with tropical banana notes on the nose, plenty of apricot and peaches, and a pleasant earthy finish. 

In a limited edition of 1000 bottles, serve lightly chilled in either champagne flutes or wine glasses. 

Glenfiddich 12 Year Old

The first aroma to greet you on opening a bottle of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is always sweet green fruit. Pour a dram and let it rest a minute, and then a toffee note comes through, followed by a light woody spice. But add a splash of water – Glenfiddich takes very well to water – and the green pears return in spades.

The 'Fiddich 12 makes a great summer dram, so get some in your hip flask the next time you're out and about.

70cl/40%, available everywhere (it's the world's most popular malt whisky, after all!)

Glengoyne 17 Year Old

The Glengoyne 17 Year Old doesn't mess about – this is a big sherried whisky, packed with raisin, chocolate, smoky coffee and plenty more.

Of all the Glengoyne whiskies I've tasted, this has the best balance and the most interest. There is great complexity on the nose – it's a true meditiation dram.

70cl/43%, about £55 from The Good Spirits Co, Oddbins, or other specialist retailers.

Glengoyne 10 Year Old

Glengoyne are very proud of the fact that they distill their whisky more slowly than anyone else in Scotland. They say it makes for a lighter, smoother dram. The 10 Year Old showcases this pure expression of the spirit – no fancy first-fill casks, just the flavours of the whisky itself.

Immediately attractive, the nose is a sweet, soft mixture of fresh grain and honey, followed by green fruity notes of apples and pears. On the palate there is lemon fruit, which combines with the honey notes to give a suggestion of lemon toffee bon bons (one of my favourite sweets!).

£30/70cl, widely available from specialist retailers.

Brewsters Chocolate Cyn

A queue quickly formed at the Tap East bar in Stratford on Tuesday night after a pint glass had been tapped to announce the much-anticipated unveiling of Chocolate Cyn, the result of an all female brewing collaboration between Sara Barton of Brewsters Brewing Company in Grantham and three beer writers.

Element 20 2010

Element 20 2010 is one of the most complex still English wines I have tasted, with a fine juxtaposition between the tart zestiness of the Bacchus and the stone-fruit complexity of low-yielding, barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

With hints of honey and acacia, and a seriously long finish, this is a great example of what can be achieved – admittedly with more than a little care and attention. But then the winemaking duo behind this, Aussie John Worontschak and Kiwi Sam Harrop MW, have created wines of depth all around the globe.

RRP £20, available from a range of independent shops, including The VineKing, Dorking; The Sampler, Islington; Noel Young Wines; for full list see Litmus Wines 

Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit

Bitters are very much in vogue. Their distillation of myriad specially chosen botanicals into a liquid that can transform a drink, soft, spiritual or otherwise, with just a splash, are finally being appreciated.

This little brown bottle, which looks decidedly antiquated and medicinal, contains some home-grown bitters crafted by enterprising bartender and drinks consultant Alex Kammerling.

Previously of London’s 69 Colebrooke Row, that hotspot of cocktail creativity, Alex has been devising this recipe in his north London flat for some time now – around five years I believe! The end result is a liquid that’s been infused with over 45 botanicals, and is an aromatic and complex as you might imagine.