English wine, Welsh beer, Scottish spirits…This island is teeming with quality produce, and the consumer's thirst for all things local shows no sign of abating. Bibendum share latest trends on the 'local' alcohol boom...
Guest article from Bibendum Wines
Breweries are opening at record rates and each week brings success stories for more niche spirits. Wine is holding its own as well, with English wine reaching “a tipping point” according to wine writer, Oz Clarke, when discussing the record-breaking number of awards for English wine in 2014. With better quality products, increasing consumer demand, and the continuing trend for local, including British drinks as a key part
of your offering is the savvy thing to do.
With its elegant acidity, English sparkling wine is made for food, and restaurateurs are increasingly favouring it over other bubbles. Aiden Byrne, Head Chef at the acclaimed restaurant, Manchester House, agrees: “I love the versatility of Balfour Brut Rose. For me personally, it works as a great match to dishes on our ever-evolving menu.” As Winemaker Sam Linter, from the Sussex based Bolney Wine Estate, highlights, “So many areas of agriculture are not working now, industry.” British consumers are increasingly interested in drinking English wine as Oliver Vivian, Head Sommelier at Chobham restaurant, Stovells, concurs, “If we recommend it to customers they’re happy to give it a go.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the burgeoning popularity of craft beer, as it’s been adopted by British consumers in a way not seen since the wine explosion in the ‘80s. BrewDog is perhaps the most familiar example of a brewery that has captured the public’s imagination. What’s surprising is that craft beer in its current form isn’t as new as you’d expect. All over the country, independent brewers have been quietly working away, making fantastic beers. St Mungo, Meantime and Chapel Down make incredibly flavoursome beers that are challenging the status quo of larger breweries. Brains Craft Brewery and Beerd have thrown the rulebook figuratively out the window by creating beers that include flavours like Orange Curacao and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
According to the WSTA, the UK is now home to 204 distilleries. Despite this rapid growth, spirit production as we know it is still in its infancy. It took the south a fairly long time to catch on to the mastery going on in Scotland to say the least. Now you’re just as likely to see a gin distillery pop up in Cambridge as you are the rebirth of a Scotch distillery. Being able to describe Chase and Sipsmith as veterans of the UK spirit production scene shows just how far the quality and quantity of distilling has come. (Both companies are less than ten years old.) Thanks to companies like these, when it comes to gin, 93% sold in the UK is domestically produced. The localisation of the distilling phenomena looks set to continue in 2015.
Take the Somerset Cider Brandy Company for example: the recipient of the first licence in the UK to distil cider into brandy, as well as the first drinks producer to gain a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), the equivalent of an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee).
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