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We Brits are notoriously bad at bigging ourselves up; playing things down followed by awkward apologies for any compliments that come our way are so much easier. But do you know what? Sometimes you’ve just got to stand up loud and proud and blow your own trumpet. So here we go: toot, toot, toot! The drinks scene here in Blighty is bloomin’ brilliant! There, we’ve said it. And trust us, that’s no word of a lie.
The good folk at Distilled are in puff-out-your-chest mode too, dedicating their latest download to the myriad liquid treasures that can be found in GB. The Distilled Guide to: Best of Britain doffs its cap to the people, places and products that are making Britain great again and as always, it’s written in Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland’s informative, engaging and entertaining style.
Let’s start by putting things into context. Consider this: in 2010 the number of distilleries was a not-too-shabby 116, largely made up of those of the whisky kind in Scotland. In fact, just 23 of these were found in England. Fast forward to 2018, a mere eight years later for those of you not up to the math, and the number has swelled to an impressive 361. And here’s the really interesting bit – more than half of those are operating in England. In fact, as Tom and Ben write in the guide, for the first time since records began, the number of English distilleries has overtaken those in Scotland.
Which is not to take anything away from the Scots, we’ve still got some great whiskies being produced after all. What’s different is that you can now find all manner of spirits – in particular gin as well as vodka and more niche products like pastis and specialist liqueurs, being produced everywhere from Cornwall to Wales.
That’s the distillery side of things, the guide also zones in on some of the people who are innovating on the cocktail front. Like Louis Lewis-Smith of the Dark Horse and Crying Wolf bars in Bath and Bristol who spreads the gospel according to finding great cocktails in the West Country. London bars FAM and recently opened Tayer + Elementary come under the spotlight too. Megs Miller and Monica Berg talk about their respective venues, how they approach their drinks and the influence their travels have in their unique, very popular bars. And repping Scotland, there’s Susan Spence, group procurement manager at the Manor View Hotels group who shares insights on offering a spirits menu with a proud Scottish voice.
There’s more where that came from, including an interview with Mark Shepherd and Rob Wilyman about Apollo3D, their super-cool 3D system that allows customers to have a fully immersive walk-through experience of a bar or pub, as well as a chat with Auracle Sound about the creating a sonic identity for your venue.
As for the drinks, find out why the best British bars are going ga-ga for gins like Aber Falls Orange Marmalade and Rhubarb and Ginger, Bombay Sapphire English Estate, Caorunn, Hawthorn’s and Chapel Down Pinot Noir, as well as lip smackingly good liqueurs such as Braemble and The King’s Ginger.
Repeat after us: the drinks scene in Blighty is bloomin’ brilliant!
Download The Distilled Guide to: Best of Britain here