Brandy, Rum, Tequila, Vodka.. We're not just about Whisky and Gin, so are more than happy to guide you through our range of Rums, the difference between Tequila and Mezcal and of course we have plenty of time for our Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados too.
Spirits & Liqueurs. Another very broad area, but as we’ve covered off Whisky and Gin elsewhere, this does leave some room for us to showcase other distilled drinks.
Actually, once you get past the generic terminology, there’s as many variants and anomalies as there is with whisky.
Rum now comes in an immense range of styles and Vodka is something we simply can’t afford the room to stock loads of. However, there are some unusual ones to be had..!
We’re quite proud of our Brandy selection too – some are vintage dating back, well, years!
Spirits & Liqueurs Definitions
Brandy is a generic term and applies to a spirit made by distilling wine (from grapes), cider (apples), pomace (fruit skins) or the wine from any other fruit (fruit brandy).
Fruit brandies are also called eau de vie (meaning ‘water of life’).
Brandy can be aged in wooden casks and others are coloured with caramel which gives the appearance of ageing.
Pomace is the remains of fruit (such as grapes) after they’ve been pressed – such as the skin, seeds and pulp.
Pomace Brandy is the liquor distilled from the pomace. The pomace can be fermented, semi-fermented or not fermented at all.
Different countries use different fruit and have different names;
UK – Marc
France – Marc
Italy – Grappa
Cyprus – Zivania
Greece – Tsipouro
Spain – Marc or Orujo*
*Spanish settlers in Peru and Chilli distilled fermented grape juice as an alternative to Orujo – this is called Pisco (named after the Town of Pisco, and main ingredient of a Pisco Sour).
Rum will be forever associated with the Navy or with Colonialism. Whichever your associations, we’re just here to bring you a diverse range of it.
Made from either sugarcane juice, or byproducts (such as molasses), it is a distilled alcoholic beverage to enjoy.
Within the Caribbean, Rum styles can be categorised dependant on the traditional language of the island.
English – Darker rums which use molasses. Places such as Jamaica, Antigua, Granada, Barbados, Bermuda and more.
French – (see Rum Agricole), is exclusively from sugar cane juice and retain more of the vegetal taste, Places such as Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Spanish – White rums which are smoother – and probably used more widely in your rum-based cocktails. Places such as Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and Colombia.
Rums are graded as follows;
Dark – often made from caramelised sugar or molasses. Aged for longer than others, in charred barrels.
Flavoured – infused with fruits (such as banana, mango, pineapple) and often lower in alcohol.
Gold / Amber – generally these are aged and take some colour from the wooden casks.
Light / Silver / White – much less flavour than others and can be sweeter. Popular in mixed drinks.
Overproof – Higher ABV (up to 75-80%).
Premium – a sipping Rum, often from smaller boutique brands selling carefully selected/aged Rum.
Spiced – becoming more popular. Darker in colour with added spices (cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, cloves etc) and sometimes caramel.
Some terminology in the Rum world is historical, others are legal definitions;
Rhum Agricole – is rum from sugar cane juice – the style traditional distilled in the French Caribbean islands.
Gunpowder – isn’t a legal definition but refers to a simple test to check the strength of spirit. If it was spilt into gunpowder, and that would still ignite, then the Rum (or Gin) was of a strong strength.
Navy Strength – as with Gunpowder, this is a strong Rum – supposedly the strength given to the Navy – bottled at exactly 57% ABV.
Although synonymous with the Caribbean, Rum can be made elsewhere;
Brazil – Cachaça, made from fermented sugar cane juice
Panama – Seco
Liberia – Cane Juice, or ‘CJ’
Czech Republic – Tuzemak (made from sugar beet)
Germany – Rum Verschnitt (blended Rum)
We all know vodka – traditionally an Eastern European drink that does particularly well all over the globe.
Vodka could be made from anything of agricultural origin, as it’s mainly comprised of alcohol and water, however these days producers add in other flavours, or distil from fruits or even milk. Traditionally though, Vodka was made with cereal grains or potatoes.
Good vodka is notable for it’s smoothness and this may be down to distillation method (triple distilled), or through charcoal filtration (like with Tennessee whiskey) which removes some of the harsher elements of the alcohol.
Either way, it’s a great mixing drink due to its neutral nature with variations on the theme growing in popularity.
Tequila is the more well known of Mexico’s Mezcals – a distilled drink made from the agave plant. (Mezcal is the less well known, but both are in fact ‘Mezcal’ in the same way that Cognac and Armagnac are both ‘Brandy’).
Although similar, there are fundamental differences between the two drinks.
Mezcal can be made from any type of agave plant and mainly is made in the state of Oaxaca (although other states, such as Puebla, have been approved to make the drink).
Mezcal is made mainly by small producers who extract the heart of the agave plant (the pina) and roast them in clay pit ovens for several days. This gives Mescal it’s characteristic smokey flavour.
The cooked pina is then crushed to a pulp to be mashed – this is by a stone stone wheel, often powered by horse or donkey!
The matured and bottled spirit is labelled as;
Joven – young
Dorado – unaged, but with added colour
Reposado/Añejado – aged in wooden barrels from two to nine months
Añejo – aged in barrels for a minimum of 12 months, but usually from 18 months to three years.
Tequila can only be made from the blue agave plant, mainly around the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco.
Unlike Mescal, Tequila can be baked in more traditional ovens and machinery can be used to break the pina down before mashing and fermenting, although large stone wheels may also be used.
As with Mezcal, the spirit is distilled twice
Tequila comes in two broad categories; Mixtos (with minimum of 51% agave) and 100% agave.
Bottles will be labelled as follows;
Blanco / Plata – unaged. Bottled tsraight after distillation.
Reposado – aged for a minimum of two months in an oak barrel (but less than a year).
Añejo – a minimum of one year, but less that three years in small oak barrels.
Extra Añejo – aged for a minimum of three years.
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