Gin’s popularity has soared in recent years. This trend does not appear to be waning anytime soon. Vermouth’s success in the wine industry is surprising. Vermouth, while not exactly like gin, is a fortified aromatized wine that uses botanicals to add flavors similar to its spirited counterpart. It was used as a medicine in China 1,500 years ago. It takes its name from wormwood, a key botanical. Later in the 18th century, it became popular in Turin as an aperitif.
We found that English vermouth can be as diverse as gin, depending on the winemaker’s influence and the botanicals they use. It was fascinating to discover the different vermouths produced by each producer, from the elegant, delicate In The Loop to the spicy Albury to the herbaceous Bolney to the citrusy Astley.
This article will take a closer at some of the vermouths we like best, made from English grapes. Although not all are produced by English Wine producers, this is a great way to expand our English Wine collection. We found that they were all excellent value and made a wonderful stocking stuffer during the holiday season.
We created cocktails to showcase the vermouth’s characteristics with the help of the talented Josh and Rory from The Next Episode, Ruddington. It must be said, however, that the majority of wines we tried were delicious served over ice or with just a splash of tonic. These wines will be making a regular appearance in our Christmas drinks cabinet.
In The Loop No. 18 Chardonnay
In the Loop was founded by Gnina Balichin last August as the former Assistant Vineyard Manager of Albourne Estate. Her vermouth, made from English grapes grown on the South Downs and blended with six botanicals, is the lightest of all the vermouths we tried. The botanicals are grown in Gnina’s greenhouse or foraged locally. They enhance the English character of wine, and their floral notes complement Chardonnay’s citrusy character. The packaging and the juice are all classy. I am sure we have fallen in love with this drink.
Serving glass: Tall, thin highball with a volume of approximately 300ml
Garnish: A sprig of rosemary and a lemon curl
Fill the glass with ice cubes
In the Loop No. 18 Chardonnay vermouth, 75ml. Pour in 75ml of In the Loop No.
Add a dash of Sparkling Chamomile Cordial.
To make the Sparkling Chamomile Cordial:
Steep one chamomile bag in a cup of hot water until it is fairly strong (5 minutes).
Use 1/4 of the mixture in caster sugar, and reheat if necessary. Pour into a soda stream or seltzer to make a fizzy.
Albury Vermouth Bianco.
The Albury Vermouths were the most spicy, and at this time of the year, that is perfect. Albury Bianco, produced with the neighboring Silent Pool Distillery, is made with distilled Sauvignon Blanc grapes combined with Pinot Noir. The layers of flavors developed on the palate were complex and distinct. This is the perfect vermouth for me to enjoy on its own, over ice. The slightly sweeter taste balances out the bitterness from the wormwood and brings together all those warming spices. We chose mint as the most prominent botanical and wanted to use it in a twist on Julep.
Glass: Julep cup (copper and glass).
Garnish: Sprigs of mint
Mix the following ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice:
20ml East London Liquor Co Rye
Albury Bianco 50ml vermouth
House of Broughton Ginger Syrup 7.5ml
Five mint leaves
Two lime wedges
Pour over crushed ice and garnish with a mint leaf
Astley Vineyard is experiencing a revival under the Haywood Family. Chris focuses on producing high-quality still, sparkling, and sweet wines made from Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe. He also produces a sparkling Sec. The vermouth has a distinct citrus style with an herbaceous undertone. To make this character stand out, we chose a simple take on a Bee’s Knees.
Martini Glass: Martini
Garnish: Sage leaf
To get some dilution, give the following ingredients a short shake (5-6 times) to get them out.
Astley vermouth 50ml
25ml Brockmans Gin
25ml pineapple juice
Honey 1.5 bar spoons (7.5ml).
10ml Lemon Juice
Pour into a shaker without ice and shake it longer to foam up the pineapple juice. Pour into a Martini Glass without ice.
Albourne’ 40′ Vermouth
Melbourne was the first Sussex winery to produce vermouth. Alison Nightingale heads it. In our article in April 2018, we went into more detail about the blend of botanicals used in the wine. The Albourne ’40, which is the most complex of our vermouths, uses, as the name implies, 40 botanicals. The sweetness of the vermouth, which is off-dry, helps lift the aromatic, spicy nose. This sweetness works well with our Boulevardier.
Glass: Coupe or Saucer
Garnish: large ice cube squeezed into an orange wedge
Mix the following ingredients with ice:
Cotswolds Single Malt 20ml Peated Cask
45ml Albourne’ 40′ vermouth
Three good dashes Bitter Union aromatic bitters
10ml Leopold Bros Aperitivo
Strain into glass over a large ice cube
3 Pinot Noir In The Loop No. In the Loop No.
The ‘No. The ‘No. 3’ vermouth has a completely different floral and fruit profile from their Chardonnay-based white vermouth while maintaining the elegance of their signature. The Pinot Noir, as expected, adds floral notes of rose petals and heather, along with a hint of red fruits. Here, we decided to keep things simple and bring out the floral notes while adding some bubbles.
Garnish: Hold the foliage
Mix one strawberry in 1 bar spoon (5mls) of Hibiscus Syrup with a drop of rosewater.
Pour the liquid into the bottom of a flute
Fitz Pink is the perfect way to top off your look.
How to make Hibiscus Syrup
Make a strong hibiscus hibiscus. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and add two parts of sugar for every 1 part of the liquid. Stirring to dissolve the sugar and reheating as needed is recommended.
Bolney Estate Rosso.
Bolney, a Sussex-based family business, is now in its third generation. Winemaker Sam Linter has carefully selected the wines. In 2018, Sam explained to us that the vermouth was born out of curiosity and sustainability. They used grape juice that could not be used in their still or sparkling wine. Bolney vermouth is a vermouth with a marmalade-like bitterness. It is complemented by savory herbal notes from the Bolney hedgerows and flavors of eucalyptus and sloe. Bolney Rosso’s dark bitterness goes well with Christmassy flavors.
Garnish: orange wedge studded with cloves
Mix the following ingredients with ice:
40ml Bolney Rosso vermouth
Brightwell Rush English Brandy 25ml
20ml Christmas Pudding Syrup
Freshly squeezed Orange Juice 50ml
Strain into a Collins glass over ice.
How to make Christmas Pudding Syrup
Pour 1 part sugar and 1 part water to make a Demerara syrup. Stir in the whole Christmas pudding. Let the pudding infuse overnight before straining.
Albury Vermouth Rosso
The Albury Rosso vermouth is similar to our Albury Bianco. It has a rich flavor of exotic nutmeg and anise with coffee, rooibos, honey caramelized, and other exotic spices. This combination was perfect for our Amaretto Sour. The spicy, bitter vermouth combined with the nutty Amaretto and the sourness from the lemon juice.
The following ingredients can be shaken dry (without ice) and then wet-shaken over ice.
20ml Lazzaroni Amaretto
30ml Albury Rosso vermouth
Lemon juice 25ml
Simple Syrup, 12.5ml
Strain into glass