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

Blair Athol 12 Year Old

Blair Athol Distillery is the home of Bell's blended whisky, a popular brand famous for its long running series of bell shaped commemorative decanters. Nearly all of the whisky made here goes to supply the blend, so tasting the malt is a bit of a rare treat.

Blair Athol 12 Year Old is a good everyday dram. If you like Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old or other robust Highland malts then this is an interesting alternative.

About £35/70cl; at the distillery, from specialist retailers, Master of Malt, Royal Mile Whiskies.

Wareside Wines Sparkling 2008

Lightly biscuity with white peach notes, this is a highly promising sparkling wine from the Briscoes in Hertfordshire.

As with the majority of the smaller English and Welsh wineries, Wareside Wines has no winery on site at the moment. So the Briscoes' Pinot Noir joins with Chardonnay from Martin Oldaker in Surrenden in Kent, with Vince at Stanlake Park acting as midwife-winemaker.

£22, from winery; The Vine Shop, Ware

Wright's Original Dark Ginger

It might seem like ginger is the latest craze to hit our flavour-hungry palates. Well Wrights Original could claim to be the daddy of them all, with its Dark Ginger created from a traditional recipe dating back to the 19th century.

It's got a fab lick of spicy ginger and is unashamedly sweet. My tip therefore is to add a generous squeeze of lime and enjoy over ice. Or follow the creators' suggestion and add a splash of soda or sparkling water.

Find at Farm Shops around Surrey and in selected National Trust properties

Lull

Here's something that little bit different. Deliberately designed to be healthy, Lull is super-charged with natural botanicals, from lavender to green tea, lemon balm to fennel, plus – of course – the hint of hops, and some anti-oxidant fruits.

The first creation of new drinks entrepreneur Claire Lettice, although it's only the hops that come originally from the UK, all the botanicals are produced in Herefordshire.

available Fortnum & Mason, online at Lull: 2x25cl, inc P&P: £7.50 – & France

Killerton Estate Apple Juice

Now this is what apple juice should taste like. A moreish blend of tart and sweet, Killerton Estate Apple Juice tastes like a mix of Cox, Bramleys and more mellow varieties.

But then this juice is made from what one might call an orchard blend on the Killerton Estate near Exeter, the National Trust's flagship property on the sustainable stakes.

£4.50/75cl; Killerton Estate Shop, Kitchen Restaurant & Tea Room

Belvoir Elderflower Cordial

Throw off the thoughts of Winter with this very essence of Spring, Belvoir's Elderflower Cordial. Serve chilled with plenty of ice and either a sprig of mint or the neatest sliver of fresh ginger to give this delicate floral-infused drink a little lift.

c. £4; available delicatessens, food halls, farm shops & major supermarkets; or online

Adnams Sole Star

Before you switch off at the sight of this low alcohol beer from those purveyors of flavour, Adnams – please don't.

With his customary flair, far-sighted head brewer Fergus has tweaked his malt recipe so that, yes, there's plenty of flavour.

Bath Ales Barnsey

Resolutely mahogany in colour with a rich malt flavour, Barnsey is the new name for what was Bath Ales' Barnstormer.

Named originally in honour of Bath Ales founder Roger Jones' good friend and ex-Bath and England rugby player, Sky Sports presenter Stuart Barnes, the rechristening "continues to reflect our considerable admiration for Stuart, known affectionately as Barrel Barnsey". 

4.5%; c. £2/50cl; available in bottle, cask, minikeg; brewery shop, Bath Ale pubs, selected Sainsburys

Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop

The Bristol Beer Factory may be best known for its way with malts – the 12 Stouts of Christmas series is pure genius – but don't let that fool you into thinking the Southville posse don't appreciate the odd hop or two.

This award-winning brew – SIBA south-West Bottled Beer Champion 2011 since you ask – packs a fab New World hop-kick

6.5%; £2.20/50cl; Bristol Beer Factory shop

Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout

We tried this Harveys beer before we were aware of its illustrious history – a beer that sailed the waves to the Imperial Russian Court before falling into obscurity post-World War Two.

Having consulted The friendly Oxford Companion to Beer, we find out that, luckily for us the Yanks were intrigued, so much so they commissioned top British brewers to recreate the style.

9%, Harveys Shops & Online; £2.30-£3/27.5cl; Cobbetts of Dorking & other independent beer shops