Bottoms up! The best new indie drinks
Got a large glass to hand? We’ve rounded up 43 of the best new independent drinks from across the Muddy counties from wine and gin to rum and beer.
CORNWALL: Twin Fin Rum
Tarquin’s (best known for their fab Cornish gins) have stepped away from gin for their latest tipple, blending a new “progressive” spiced rum: Twin Fin. Inspired by the coasts of the Caribbean and of Cornwall, Master distiller Tarquin Leadbetter describes his latest creation, which took two years to finesse, as “a rum for the beach. It’s zesty, tropical and liberally spiced”. We think the golden spiced rum is great in cocktails, like this Beach Cooler, above, as we hang on to summer for a little while longer.
BERKS: Thameside Signature Blend Rum, £39, 70cl (40% ABV)
Think Tom Hardy in Taboo, sauntering off his boat after a long, torturous journey with only a bottle of rum to keep him warm at night. *Ahem* While we can’t serve up Tom, we can offer you a seriously smooth Caribbean rum blended on the banks of the River Thames. Thameside Signature Blend is a Windsor-based small-batch rum produced to centuries-old standards found in London’s 18th century blending houses. Each of the rums used in this blend are made from scratch from sugar cane molasses using traditional methods, then left to age in oak casks. It’s bursting with Caribbean flavours: tropical fruit, banana, coconut, charred pineapple, subtle spices and light oakiness. Serve neat on the rocks or in a cocktail. It’s a quality tipple, m’hearties
Not just for pirates! Although this small-batch, premium rum made in Hastings’ Old Town definitely has a touch of the yo ho ho about it – in a classy way, natch. It’s also a genuinely ethical brand, with absolutely no plastics or anything artificial used inside, or outside each hand-crafted, wax-dipped bottle. Empty bottles are recycled and money goes to local charities, so you can feel good about doing good while you drink seriously good rum. Said to be the successor to the seemingly unstoppable reign of gin, rum is most definitely stealing large segments of the market and this fine sipping blend will appeal if you want something a bit warmer and spicier than your average G&T.
DEVON: Lyme Bay Winery
Remember 2018? A great year, not just because there was no global pandemic, but because it was a peak summer for UK wine vineyards. That’s why Lyme Bay Winery have released their 2018 Chardonnay before the 2017 vintage, because they think it’s very, very good. My intensive testing has revealed it to be delightful, though a sommelier might say it’s Iightly oaked and buttery with aromas of peach and honey. A small word of warning though, the bumper summer means it’s achieved alcohol levels previously unknown in this country, so it packs a 13.5% punch. So, just the one bottle, er, I mean glass, then.
BERKS: Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Bacchus, £12.99
Stuck in a Sauvignon Blanc rut? Try this bottle of Bacchus, a lip-smacking alternative from Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Berkshire’s biggest and most famous vineyard. Bacchus – named after the Greek god of wine – is a refreshing and fruity dry white wine bursting with grapefruit and gooseberry flavours and a hint of sweet peach and passionfruit. We’re no experts but it’s absolutely delicious and won a silver medal at the 2020 London Wine Competition (judged by actual experts). Keep your eyes peeled for the stunning floral illustration on the label, and enjoy. Stanlake Park’s rosé is a pretty foxy choice too. Buy direct from the vineyard at £12.99 a bottle.
BEDS: Warden Abbey
Once a monastry, Warden Abbey is now a community-run vineyard in Bedfordshire. Four white grape varieties are grown there – Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau – and around 4000-6000 bottles produced per yield. As well as being made from locally grown grapes, they are also ethical, vegan and win awards year after year. Check out the Warden Abbey Sparkling Brut for those cork popping moments, £24 per bottle. Buy direct from the vineyard or a number of local stockists.
HERTS: Tring Winery
Who’d have guessed it? There’s a brilliant winery in the top Herts town of Tring! Jamie Smith (certified sommelier, with 20 years in the wine business) and Berko-based entrepreneur and winemaker, Alex Taylor, have set about making their own small-batch craft wines. But they haven’t stopped there – there’s also a wine shop and tasting room on site, with the team offering great tasting and experience events. Fancy yourself a bit of an oenophile? Why not sign up to one of the great Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses on offer. Bottoms up!
Squerryes’ signature Brut is made using the ‘traditional method’, taking the very best fruit handpicked in 2016 from the vineyard high on the North Downs (their sparkling wines have scooped the much-prized Platinum medal in the highly acclaimed Decanter Awards). Set in its own stunning 2,500-acre estate, Squerryes Winery in Westerham is the perfect place for wine-enthusiasts, offering lots of tours and experiences as well as exceptional al fresco Tapas dining over-looking the vines. Located in the north of Kent, the gateway to the Garden of England – this stunning location makes a great day trip for anyone coming down from London too.
NORFOLK: Winbirri Vinyard
Winbirri might sound like it’s in the Aussie outback, but it’s actually our very own Norfolk award-winning vinyard, based in Surlingham. These guys are producing wine that’s world class and super delicious. We’ve got our eye on the Sauvingon Blanc of England or 2019 Bacchus, which includes notes of grapefruit, passion fruit with a clean crisp finish on the palate. Let’s get a case, shall we?
BUCKS: Harrow & Hope Brut Reserve NV No.4, £168 for a case of six.
To be honest, they had me at the label. The quality! The embossing! But enough of the cosmetics. English sparkling wine has enjoyed a bolstered status of late and the Harrow & Hope winery in Marlow is riding that wave, winning UK Winery of the Year 2019. The company’s fourth edition of its signature blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay is special because it’s based mainly on 2015’s crop, which was – according to the blurb – a “truly great year” for Pinot Noir. Have a glass (and another), and see for yourself.
OXON: Mr. Hobbs 150, £34, 70cl (40%ABV)
Award-winning gin, you say? A silver medal in the London Spirit Competition as well as a bronze at the International Wine and Spirit Competition too? Alrighty then, let’s crack open the tonic and let the good times roll with this brand new gin, launching officially this month to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the family-owned boating institution, Hobbs of Henley (established by mischievous gin devotee Henry Hobbs, who apparently liked nothing more than sipping a generous measure while wafting about on the Thames). With over 14 botanicals including Meadowsweet and Elderflower sourced from the banks of the river itself, and citrus notes of lime and yuzu, it’s a worthy entry on your list of top tipples.
GLOS: The Boutique Distillery, Gloucester, Glos
This handcrafted fine gin is crafted in the Cotswolds by New Zealander and ex-moonshine maker turned Glos resident Edward Harper. A belter in looks, taste and eco credentials being made at the only fully eco-distillery in England, with 100% renewable energy on site, it’s totally organic and made with pure Malvern water, so no nasties and a total of 13 fresh botanicals go into it giving it a delicious ‘full’ flavour. Boasting a genuine small batch pedigree – there are 80 bottles in each batch – the numbers are hand written and the bottles are lovingly hand-dipped into wax to seal them by the dedicated team. We love the sound of new pink gin about to hit the site too. A large 50cl bottles costs £43 with 10% of all profits going to the NHS and air ambulance service.
BERKS: Berkshire Botanical Dry Gin, £19.50, 50cl (40.3% ABV)
The sartorial standards of our woodland pals is much higher than ours right now. But when you’re the face of an award-winning gin, the bar is high. Berkshire Botanical is just a year old and yet its Dry Gin snagged gold at this year’s wine and spirit Olympics, hosted by the IWSC. Created by Mr Gin himself, Johnny Neill (the man behind Whitley Neill and Marylebone Gin fame) this small-batch gin that uses nine botanicals (including Norway Spruce) found on the 9,000-acre Yattendon Estate in West Berkshire – one of the largest growers of Christmas trees in the UK. Berkshire Botanical also make three flavoured gins too: Raspberry and Rhubarb, Sloe and Dandelion and Burdock.
Created by two brothers in Buckinghamshire’s first micro-distillery, this clean and crisp gin uses the unusual method of cold distillation (flavour is extracted from botanicals without cooking and then condensed at -8 degrees) to achieve it’s smooth finish. The award-winning Original Gin 43.5 ABV contains 13 botanicals from zesty citrus and orange blossom to elderflower, finishing on an earthy note thanks to the bay laurel and liquorice root. A measure is best served cold (the logo on the bottle will change colour when the gin reaches optimum temperature – how cool is that?!), with ice, orange peel and a fresh bay leaf.
ESSEX: Slamsey’s Fruit Gins
Nothing quite beats a refreshing G&T at sundown and there’s been a growing taste for lower-strength (yes, really), sweet gins this summer. Cue Slamsey’s Fruit Gins, foraged and fermented in the Great Notley countryside in Braintree. This family-run farm has been in operation since the 1960s, giving them plenty of time to craft the perfect fruit-based gin liqueur. After a sloe start (literally), they now produce around 1,000 litres of the sweet stuff a year and offer up eight different flavours, from marmalade and plum, to raspberry and blackcurrant. Even the labels are homegrown, designed to reflect the wildlife on the farm and you can purchase Slamsey’s Gins locally at Cammas Hall Farm at Hatfield Broad Oak, Lathcoats Farm Shop at Galleywood, near Chelmsford, and The Blue Egg at Great Bardfield.
GLOS: Tivolis Gin, Cheltenham
We love a dash of frivolity with our fizz, and Tivoli’s Gin has that in magnums – named after the spirit of the roaring 1920s it’s the brainchild of TV producer turned gin genie Sarah Gordon Jones and hand-crafted in a copper still called ‘Hazel’ in her Cheltenham ‘kitchen lab’. A London dry gin blended with the finest botanicals it’s the only gin to be distilled with Cheltenham’s famous spa water, renowned for its healing properties (Muddy can’t guarantee the same for your hangover). It’s served in the swankiest bars in Chelt from No.131 to Cowley Manor and Sarah’s sights are set next on Fortnum and Mason’s, so snaffle a bottle for your gin shelf pronto.
We’re huge fans of the clever couple behind the dreamy Ely Gin Company, who make all manner of gorgeous fruit-based liqueurs that they sell online and at their two stores in Ely and Downham Market. Once in a while they get even more inventive and come up with ‘whimsies’, very limited-edition runs of new ideas and seasonal fruits. They’ve currently got the delectable and very summery sounding flavours of Pineapple & Coconut and Raspberry Ripple to whet your whistle this autumn. Buy them here.
ESSEX: Tiptree Gin Liqueurs
Comprising the expertise of the Wilkin family (who have been fruit farming in Tiptree since the 1800s) with the distillery know-how of the Hayman family (local gin-makers since 1863, who continue to craft in the original artisanal copper still named ‘Marjorie’ after grandma Hayman), these glorious gin liqueurs are a guaranteed weekend winner. Using a rich blend of natural botanicals to elevate each batch, flavours include English stawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, damson and quince. Does it get any more (quint)essential?
HANTS: London Dry Gin, The River Test Distillery, Longparish
If you haven’t had a chance to slosh this Hants gin into your G&T, then now’s the time to try it – it just scooped ‘Best English London Dry’ at the World Gin Awards 2020. Created on the banks of the River Test, this pretty bottle is infused with handpicked meadowsweet flowers to create delicate floral and honey notes. What better way to cling onto summer?
NORTHANTS: Silverstone Distillery
Is there anything more lust-worthy than a shiny new product cloaked in secrecy? How about one infused with all the speed and glamour of Silverstone’s glorious motorsports heritage? Silverstone Distillery, the world-famous village’s first ever distillery, launch a range of Formula One themed gins later this year with more spirits currently lined up on the grid and waiting for the green light. Plus, there’s a snazzy new Gin School where you can create your very own gin recipe, plus cocktail masterclasses and tasting events. If you’re here for a track day, just make sure you book the gin tasting for afterwards.
WILTS: Downton Distillery/ Explorer’s Gin
Grab a glass, pass the Fever Tree and let’s get drinking Explorer’s Gin. In the heart of the Wiltshire Downs lies Downton Manor, former home to the Bishops of Winchester, Sir Walter Raleigh and now Downton Distillery and the ostentatiously adventurous Explorer’s Gin. Inspired by the surrounding history, Explorer’s is bold with flavours and uses a unique selection of botanicals from the garden and across the globe. Who fancies a tipple dedicated to the Spirit of Adventure? Uh, we do!
BEDS: Willow Tree Gin
Willow Tree Gin is hand-crafted, by founder, Mary, on her family farm in Bedfordshire. It’s made with a blend of blend of 12 smoked botanicals, including fresh lemon thyme and Thai basil and the herbs (grown right here on the farm.) It’s local but with a hint of the exotic, inspired by Mary’s love of travel. £38 for 50cl.
WARKS: Newbold Spirit, Leamington Spa
One of Warwickshire’s newest indie distilleries to launch in the last 12 months was founded by husband-and-wife team Victoria and Ian Black in Leamington Spa. This joint venture was formulated last summer during a dog walk near their home on Newbold Comyn following Victoria’s redundancy. A year on the couple have just received some fantastic news – they’ve become triple silver medallists at the IWSC 2020 awards! Their London Dry Gin received a whopping 92-point score, just 3 points off a gold medal, and described by judges as “wonderfully dry, crisp and well-integrated”. The couple’s handcrafted Spiced Rum and soon-to-be released Dark Rum also impressed judges receiving 90 points and 91 points respectively.
HERTS: Black Bridge Distillery
The jewel in the crown of St Albans-based Black Bridge Distillery is their Blue Admiral Gin (£39 per bottle), which actually changes colour when you mix it with tonic. Great party trick for Christmas cocktail making! They also do a Classic Dry and a fruity Lime and Rhubarb if you like a bit of zing to your gin, as well as a Green Russian Vodka (£33 per bottle), made from 100% molasses and infused with green tea.
WORCS: Hussingtree Gin, Droitwich Spa, Worcs
This award-winning and proudly indie brand started out as a whimsical dream and has turned into a family business, run by a husband and wife team and their son. Taking its name from the pretty Worcs village of Martin Hussingtree, the premium distilled gin comes in eight luscious flavours, including the trend-setting and earthy Asparagus Gin (as seen on James Martin’s Saturday Morning on ITV) Bumbleberry Gin, Spiced Plum Gin and brand new for summer 2020, the limited edition Summer Cup, packed with Worcestershire black pears, apples, cherries and spices. PLUS click here for your chance to win a bottle worth £39.50!
SOMERSET: Rose & Hibiscus London Dry Gin, The Still Sisters, Frome
These are our kinda gals. Frome-based sisters Hannah and Tori and their all-women team produce small batch gin using locally sourced botanicals in their bespoke copper still called Storm. We love their Rose and Hibiscus London Dry Gin, combining the light floral notes of rosehip with the fruity, sharp freshness of hibiscus – perfect with tonic water, ice and a few redcurrants to garnish. Delish! Sip their Still Sisters Signature Dry London Gin, made from locally, organically grown peppery watercress, with tonic water and ice. Enjoy their fragrant Lavender London Dry Gin, made with lavender grown on a family farm on the nearby Longleat Estate, with ice, tonic water and a spring of rosemary. Chin chin! £10-£30.
NORFOLK: What A Hoot
Ahoy there me hearties! For a seriously good gin, inspired by Norfolk’s naval heritage choose Kings Lynn’s What A Hoot’s Navy Strength, which is created using a unique blend of traditional and local botanicals and distilled to a 57% proof. Gin enthusiasts can also enjoy experiences and masterclasses in the exclusive Gin School and Spirit Lounge or learn all about their gins on a Distillery Tour. It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?
ISLE OF WIGHT: Tipsy Wight, Cowes
Quirky flavours (wild garlic vodka, anyone?), 100% natural ingredients grown or foraged on the family farm, and fun bottles that make excellent gifts – there’s a lot to love about Cowes’ Tipsy Wight vodkas and liqueurs. Run by husband and wife team Ruth and Michael Green, Tipsy Wight is also home to several award-winning beehives, which make the honey used in their Spiced Honey and Honey and Lemon vodka liqueurs.
DORSET: Wasabi vodka, The Wasabi Company, Wareham
Made with real Dorset-grown wasabi – the super hot Japanese horseradish – and nothing else; take a sip if you dare. Delicious served over ice, with a slice of lime or sudachi (a Japanese citrus similar to lime), in a Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini and perfect with sushi (of course). £29.
ISLE OF WIGHT: Mermaid Salt Vodka, Isle of Wight Distillery, Ryde
While you might know the Isle of Wight distillery for their award-winning Mermaid Gin, blended with ten botanicals including rock samphire, organic lemon zest and locally-foraged elderflower, don’t sleep on their vodka offering. Mermaid Salt Vodka has just been relaunched with a fresh new look and is plastic-free, in line with the rest of the Mermaid range, and the pinch of Wight Salt sea salt gives it a mouth-watering kick. We also have it on good authority that whisky is in the works, so sign up to the newsletter for updates.
CAMBS: Burwell Brewery
Amazing what you can create from a small shed in your back garden if you put your mind to it. Friends Ricky and Paul, a former chemist (so far so Breaking Bad) set up a nanobrewery in Ricky’s back garden in 2019. To date they’ve created five brilliant beers, with equally awesome names – we’re talking Judy’s Hole, Margaret’s Field, Beer Fuggled, Stefans’ Mühle and Burwell Sunshine. They currently supply these craft ales to beer festivals, clubs and events in the local area and now direct to the public here.
SUFFOLK: Adnams’ new Kobold lager
Anyone who lives in East Anglia already knows and loves Southwold’s super brewery and distillery Adnams. Never ones to rest on their laurels, the inventive folk in the Adnams lab have just brought out a brand new lager, Kobold, a crisp 4.7% ABV lager created with all English ingredients including East Anglian extra pale malted barley and wheat. The name means water sprite and is particularly fitting as sales of this new lager helps support marine conservation projects through a partnership with Blue Marine Foundation.
ESSEX: Red Fox Brewery
With an explosion of craft brewers in and around Essex, there’s plenty of pale ales to whet the appetite. Our choice? Red Fox Brewery in Coggeshall. Developed in 2008 by Russ Barnes (an award-winning brewer at the Great British Beer Festival for two years running, don’t ’ya know), this boutique selection of traditional beers celebrate some of the most flavoursome East Anglian malts out there, from golden ales and aromatic beers, to rich, full-flavoured porters.
SUFFOLK: St Peter’s Brewery’s Farmer’s Flagon
Just before lockdown St Peter’s Brewery in Bungay released a brand new ale, so chances are you haven’t had a chance to taste it yet. It’s called Farmer’s Flagon because it was created to celebrate Suffolk NFU’s centenary year. You don’t have to be from farming stock to enjoy it though, although the rich pale ale with woody accents isn’t for delicate Prosecco-loving palettes and is best enjoyed after a day spent enjoying the beautiful East Anglian farm-filled countryside. Buy here.
HANTS: Trip Hazard American IPA, Itchen Valley Brewery, New Alresford
More of a beer girl at heart? You’ll want to try this brand new release from Itchen Valley Brewery, which landed in August. Trip Hazard has all the citrus punch you’d expect from a good IPA, and is exclusive to this New Alresford brewer’s online shop. Out of stock? Try their Hampshire Rose or Watercress Best instead.
WORCS: The Hop Shed, Worcester, Worcs
If you love authentic craft beer and fine ales than it doesn’t come more homegrown than The Hop Shed in Suckley. One of Worcs newest indie brewers, the brand was born when the owners who’d been married for 20 years decided to heave-ho their careers and start the business. Every single hop that goes into the beers is grown on the family farm in Worcs. We also love the fact that all the names owner Sarah chooses for her brews are breeds of chicken (Frizzle, Phoenix etc). A nice nod to the brewery’s home being The Old Chicken Shed! If you get bottle-bambozzled, try the Pekin Pale Ale, grown with an experimental variety that gives it tropical fruit flavours, err, yum. Choose a selection box of your own here, priced £28 for 12 bottles.
SURREY: Binary Botanical
Looking for a light drink that’s easy on the calories and won’t have you squiffy on the second glass? Say hello to Binary Botanical. Produced in Surrey by the Good Living Brewing Company, Binary Botanical is a new generation of alcoholic bevvy – it’s a beer for wine lovers. It’s a sophisticated drink – lightly sparkling – with notes of cider, but all the refreshing attributes of a traditional beer. And best of all, it’s practically good for you! Binary Botanical has half the calories and alcohol of wine, is sugar free, gluten free and vegan. Binary Botanical is available to buy in a 660ml sharing bottle and a 250ml single serve bottle.
LEICS: Cidentro, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
I always thought cider had a bad rep – it’s the stuff I chugged down at school parties but now it’s what the cool kids drink and not only in summer dare I say. For husband and wife team, Matthew and Hiranthi, what began as an interest in cider making, then led to planting a few cider apple trees. Fast forward a few years and their family-owned orchard produces seven different apple varieties each with their own flavour characteristics. They both carefully nurture their 540-odd orchard trees to produce 100% freshly pressed juice. They currently have 3 ciders – still, lightly sparkling but being a #roséallday kinda gal, it’s the rosé cider that has my vote. It’s made from the of juice of their blush red apples and English Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir. I’ll drink to that!
KENT: Kentish Pip Cider
A range of flavoursome, uplifting drinks using apples picked from this family-run, fruit farm. Discover your favourite by trying a Mixed Case of these award-winning local ciders, all hand-produced at Woolton Farm (right next to Howletts Wild Animal Park, 5mins drive from Canterbury). The collection includes Wild Summer (with elderflower), Skylark (heritage cider and dessert apples) and High Diver (Cox and Bramley apples) amongst others. Visit Woolton Farm where there’s a shop and cider garden to stroll around, or sit and drink in the sun, plus open days and private tours. You could even make a weekend of it and stay in one of three holiday cottages or book a bell tent in The Barn Garden.
A hot new indie drinks brand that’s also great for the health conscious? We were all ears when we heard about Sussex-based Gallybird. Admittedly half of its health creds are because it’s a mixer, with classic Indian and botanical tonics to its name, but that’s not all that makes this one of our favourite discoveries of 2020. Founder Fo wanted to be able to enjoy a relaxing sundowner or cheeky G&T without quaffing down heaps of sugar, and your average tonic is either packed with the white stuff or worse, artificial alternatives. Her answer was Gallybird, and this luxe brand is made with nothing but pure plant extracts so it’s basically virtue in a bottle. On its own, in a mocktail or with the ubiquitous G&T, it’s a classy drink that holds its own. Here’s how we quaff it at Muddy Towers.
SOMERSET: Somerset Shrubs, The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Burrow Hill, near Martock
On the wagon? Try this new non-alcoholic tipple from the people behind the award-winning Somerset Cider Brandy Company (Somerset Pomona, Kingston Black Aperitif, etc). Shrubs is a drinking vinegar, once supped by cowboys in the Wild West, and made here in the wild South West with cider vinegar made from Somerset apples, Somerset honey and raspberries. Knock it back in place of a spirit in cocktails, or with ice, tonic and a slice of whatever you fancy. Its said to have health benefits too. £12.50.
Another booze-free brand, we hear you cry. Well, bear with us, because this one’s a bit special. Founder Bryony kicked booze in 2018 and went on a quest to find something to quaff while she continued to indulge in her love of dining out. She discovered komboucha at an uber-hip Club Soda festival in London’s Spitalfields Market, and the seed was sown for what would become a flavoursome organic drink with lasting notes of green fruits and a dry finish. Presented in a wine-like bottle, Boucha more than looks the part. Zesty, crisp and sparkling, it’s also packed full of enzymes and antioxidants. Health never tasted so sophisticated.
DORSET: Fortnum’s X Cold Brew Tea Liqueur, Conker Distillery, Boscombe
Gives a new meaning to afternoon tea. This tea liqueur is cold-brewed for 24 hours in traditional copper stills in Dorset’s Conker Distillery, then blended with Fortnum & Mason’s signature Countess Grey black tea – so bergamot and orange flavours – and New Forest spring water. Perfect in a Champagne cocktail, served long with soda and a peach wedge or just over ice. £40.
********* WIN! *********
To win a bottle of Hussingtree’s Bumbleberry gin, hit up Muddy GlosWorc’s instagram page and enter now! Worth £39.50 this award-winning, perfect autumn gin could be yours by a roaring fire by the 28th September.
And, for an extra entry which will be counted, enter here on our Reader Treats page too.