Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Gavin0
The Best New Spirits From Imbibe Live
Every July I attend what could be the greatest alcohol trade show on the planet; Imbibe Live. The show is hosted at Olympia’s Grand Hall and features nearly every well known beer, wine, and spirit on the planet. However, being a bit of a spirit expert I swerved the wine and beer and headed straight to the strong stuff; here are my favourites from the day:
St Remy Honey Brandy Liqueur, France
Mixing one of the best brandies around with honey is wrong, very wrong; but it just tastes and looks sooo right. Walking passed, the golden bottle shimmered like treasure in the sunlight and I couldn’t help but be drawn in. On the tongue it still shares some of the characteristics of a good brandy but the honey kick is evident from start to finish. The purist will publicly declare their hatred, but secretly enjoy behind closed doors.
St Remy with French Honey Liqueur, Launches Q4 2014, 30% ABV
Imperial Collection Vodka, Russia
Russian vodka has taken a bit of a battering of late. No longer is it seen by those in the know as the vodka powerhouse of the planet; that crown now belongs (arguably) to Poland, but this St Petersburg vodka caught my eye. But not so much for the taste, but for the incredibly elaborate bottle it comes in.
As the name suggests, gold is prevalent, with the Imperial Gold Snow containing gold flakes. If you are even more extravagant, there is also a limited edition bottle housed in a Faberge style egg (only in Russia!). Unfortunately the liquid inside isn’t quite as fantastic especially as it’s over £30 a bottle; but even if you don’t like it, at least it will make your drinks cabinet look pretty.
Imperial Collection Gold Vodka, RRP £32.14 / 70cl, 40% ABV.
Koko Kanu Rum, Jamaica
One of the most hotly anticipated rum launches is finally upon us. Koko Kanu has slowly been leaked to bars across the UK for the past couple of years, but will be hitting retailers soon and will have Malibu quivering in their boots. The smooth coconut rum is from the same folks behind Appleton, so comes from a rich heritage. Also, unlike its media friendly 21% ABV rival, Koko Kanu is more rum than coconut at 37.5% ABV.
Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, RRP £17.93 / 70cl, 37.5% ABV
Hedonist Cognac Liqueur, France
Another liqueur that is sacrificing good cognac to appeal to the mass market; Hedonist is described as “a subtle blend of cognac, natural ginger, and a hint of vanilla”. Subtle is certainly the word because if I hadn’t read the label before trying, I’d still be scratching my head wondering what the hell it was made from. Unrecognisable as a cognac, but still very drinkable neat; and the bottle looks a class above too.
Hedonist Liqueur, RRP £30 / 70cl, 29% ABV
The Duppy Share Rum, Caribbean
Launched at Imbibe Live, this Jamaican and Bajan blended rum is fresh from the barrel. Plenty of vanilla and caramel on the palette, it’s delicious neat but even better in a Mai Tai. One for the rum collector to look out for in the coming months.
The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum, RRP £37.99 / 70cl (available exclusively in Selfridges), 40% ABV
Kah Tequila, Mexico
Known as the ‘Day of the Dead’ tequila, but with so much fantastic tequila and mescal flooding the UK market at the moment, the distinctive bottle is what makes this brand stand out. Housed in colourful glossed skulls as a nod to Mexico’s ‘Dia de los Muertos’ celebrations, even if you don’t like the liquid inside, you’d be tempted to buy just for the vessel alone. In fact, a quick scan of eBay reveals that empty bottles are being traded for over £20 a piece!
But not only that, what’s inside is pretty amazing too. Coming in Blanco, Reposado, and the pick of the bunch, Anejo; however you can pick up a three 50ml bottle gift set for under £45.
Kah Tequila Anejo, RRP £73.99 / 750ml, 40% ABV
QuiQuiRiQui Mezcal, Mexico
Mezcal is cool. If you live life a bit on the wild side and like your tequila rough around the edges, this is the spirit for you. Although made from the agave plant, unlike its popular relative, Mezcal has been a closely guarded secret by Mexicans, and quantities are scarce. Qui-Qui-Ri-Qui though is one of the first to properly grab the spirit by the neck and market it to the mass market. Distinctive by the bright branding and tag line “Drink Mezcal, Hail Satan”, have a look out for it in specialist tequila bars or head down to the spiritual home of QQRQ, 184 Hackney Road bar in Hoxton where brand owner Melanie Symonds serves up some stunning cocktails with the stuff.
Qui Qui Ri Qui Matatlan Mezcal, 45% ABV. Not available to buy…yet.