July 1st, 2015
I visited the show with my friend Oli and top London mixologist Sam Sareen (above left).
Just inside the venue were the wine tasting areas.
We tried some Riojas, sherries and other wines. I asked about dry Reislings, which I’d heard were quite different to the old days of fruity German wines, like Blue Nun and Black Tower. The above, Australian Riesling, Pikes, reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc, with a slight lemon/lime flavour. I’d be very happy to drink that with fish.
Past the wine we encountered stall after stall of new gins. Perhaps as much as 70% of the show was dedicated to gin. Above is Tarquin’s gin, made in Cornwall by the Southwestern Distillery. Note the still above, used to make their gold award winning gin. The beach in the background looks to be Constantine Bay, where I used to walk my parents’ dogs. The distillery also produces an award winning Cornish Pastis, made with local gorse.
Being tea lovers Tatratea had us intrigued. It’s a Slovakian drink made with black tea, raspberries and fruit essences.
I found the original 52% abv drink to be a bit sweet for my taste, but the 72% Outlaw contained a lot less sugar and reminded me of Chartreuse. While Tatratea is a relatively new company (founded in 2003), it is said to have already become the Slovakian national drink.
We came across some exuberant Scotsmen on the Thistly Cross Cider stand.
When they discovered that Oli is a Maxwell and likes cider they insisted he join them for some photographs.
Sam and Oli needed a quick vaporizer break, so we went outside, but you’ll be relieved to know that we didn’t have to stop drinking – outside there was a convenient Stoli Vodka Lemonade van, handing out cocktails made with real lemonde – nice and sharp.
Back inside we found Beckett’s London Dry Gin. Apparently Beckett’s is the only gin to contain juniper grown in England (hand picked in Box Hill) and mint from Kingston-upon-Thames. Reassuringly, it’s distilled and bottled in London (not a legal requirement for London Dry Gin).
Anyone hoping for a cocaine high from the above Agwa, might be a little disappointed. Whilst the drink is made with Bolivian cocoa leaves, like Coca-Cola, the cocaine alkaloids have been removed during manufacture. I found it a bit too sweet and fruity, but the coca content gives the drink a distinct selling point.
The East London Liquor Company produce a very smooth demerara rum
and premium London Dry Gin with distinct citrus flavours in a distillery next to Victoria Park. There has a been an explosion in new British distilleries in the last decade and gin has made a huge comeback. I believe gin is currently replacing vodka as the top cocktail ingredient.
Zing Vodka were causing a sensation with their dry ice vodka shots.
Oli proved that the spirit of Bobby Boris Pickett lives on!
Masons Yorkshire Dry Gin proved to be one of our favourites, especially the Yorkshire Tea flavoured one. The gin is made in the style of London Dry Gin – it has citrus top notes and a slightly creamy flavour.
We missed out on trying Pistonhead,
and Poison, as the show closed before we found them. I did still have time to grab the photos, however and I’m sure you can see from the packaging what was so tempting about them. The others (worth a mention) that I tasted and forgot to photograph, were Pedrino Alcoholic Tonic, cardamom bitters, Audemus Umami Vodka (great for bloody Marys) Black Cow pure milk vodka (and the cheese they make was astonishingly good), Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin and Elephant Gin.
The sun streamed through the Victorian glass roof and we had a wonderful afternoon. It was quite a shock when the show closed at 6 O’clock, so we made our way up to South Hampstead and The Arches for a relaxed bottle of rosé.