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

Chase Marmalade Vodka

With an intense Seville orange nose, it's no wonder one of Chase Marmalade Vodka's favourite going-out guises is the Breakfast Martini.

Gallons of homemade Seville orange marmalade go into every batch of vodka prepared using Chase's unique system: first the marmalade is distilled with the vodka to fully lock in the amazing flavours, before second, further steeping takes place to intensify the aromas.

£34-37, Waitrose & selected independents; distillery

Somerset Cider Brandy

Made by the pioneering Julian Temperley of the Somerset Cider & Brandy Company, this cider brandy is the junior of the family (there's also a 10 year old, 15 year old and the recent addition of a 20 year old). It may only be five years old, but what it lacks in age, it more than makes up for in sheer vivacity.

42%, available from the Cider Shop, £19 and numerous other outlets

British Cassis & friends

Jo Hilditch rose to fame in 2008 when she was awarded a Great Taste Award for her British Cassis, a blackcurrant wine made with fruit from her Herefordshire family farm.

Essentially a British reworking of a French staple, this is like a little black dress - highly versatile and equally at home on many occasions. 

Bruichladdich Black Art 19 Year Old

Faced with the challenge of re-establishing the reputation of the re-opened distillery in 2001, Bruichladdich took a decidedly modern approach to packaging. Even the more standard bottlings – if Bruichladdich can be said to have standard bottlings – stand out on the shelf with their bright light blue livery, but the Black Art takes this to another level altogether.

The stars and astrological symbols promise magic within, but can the whisky live up to such a billing?

51.1% 70cl/£80 from specialist retailers. NB There is also a 21 year old release available, Black Art II.

Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or

This Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or has finished off its ageing in barrels which previously held ultra-sweet Sauternes wine from Bordeaux, France.

Wood finishing, additional cask enhancement, double maturation – whatever you call it, the practice of transferring whisky to a different kind of cask for part of the ageing process, now practised by, well, more or less everybody, was pioneeered by Glenmorangie in the 1990s under the far-seeing leadership of Dr Bill Lumsden.

46%, 70cl/£50, from specialist retailers

Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old

Ask a Scot which malt she favours, and chances are the answer will be Glenmorangie. But as well as being the most popular single malt in its home country, the ten year old Original has won many friends & awards further afield, most recently a Gold Best in Class at the International Wines & Spirits Competition 2011.

40% 70cl/ about £28, widely available in supermarkets & specialist retailers.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

If you are famous for making the most strongly flavoured whisky in the world, where do you go next? Well, in the case of Laphroaig, that meant an experimental programme of maturation in specially commissioned casks, a quarter of the normal size.

48% 70cl/£30 Loch Fyne Whiskies, Master of Malt, Royal Mile Whiskies & other independent retailers.

Plumpton The Dean Brut NV

This year's star from Plumpton College, the UK's viticultural centre of excellence in Sussex, The Dean Brut scooped a Gold at the 2011 South-East Vineyard Association Awards, and the President's Trophy for best small production (less than 1500 litres) in the 2011 English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition.

£20, available from the college direct, local Waitrose, Waitrose Direct, Butler's Cellar (Brighton), English Wine Centre (Alfriston), Middle Farm (Firle) & selected local stores. For full list, see handy Spring Portfolio on Plumpton web.

Camel Valley Tour Tickets

Not so much a drink this one, but the final element in our Ultimate DrinkBritain Case: a chance to meet the UK Winemaker of the Year, Sam Lindo, on one of Camel Valley's popular afternoon tours. You'll have to make your way there under your own steam, but it is in a delightful spot, so well worth the visit anyway.

Sam is as modest as they come, so don't expect airs and graces. And if he's tied up on other business, it will be either assistant winemaker Sarah in charge, or his dad, founder Bob Lindo.

St Austell Smugglers Grand Cru

Expect something roasty, toasty from St Austell's man with the midas touch, Roger Ryman. An advocate of Cornish barley – he's now sourcing over half his needs from Cornwall – Roger has created a feisty dark brew.

It's been aged in Tomintoul whisky casks lured down from Banffshire, before being finished in the bottle Champagne-method style in the careful hands of near neighbour, Camel Valley Vineyards.

11.5%, £15/75cl, from St Austell's brewery shop & online shop