5 lovely drinks from Glastonbury 2016
Another drink that found its way to me via Burning Man, this time through the wonderful hands of a fellow ‘Playanaut’ David who was down at Worthy Farm for the weekend. Mezcal is a relatively new one on me but it’s growing like whoop in the US and beating a path to these shores; it can already be found in the best drinking holes. Essentially the superior cousin of Tequila, the main difference is regionality within Mexico (although there is overlap on that front), and choice of agave. Tequila is made only from the Blue Agarve, whereas Mezcal is made from a number of different varieties. Without going into too much detail, really great Mezcal is made from agave that has been ‘cooked’ in a pit before fermentation, and then crushed with a stone wheel and trough remarkably similar to the 1728 apple version we have at Aspall. Only then is it fermented, distilled and matured. There’s an industrial way of doing this – and most tequilas are made industrially – but it’s the handcrafted smoke preparation that makes the best Mezcal. And David’s was at the top of this league. As a victim of ‘bad tequila’ as a young man (ahem), I have always approached anything agave with a degree of scepticism. As with cyder, how wrong you can be. David’s personal brew – he makes this stuff himself – was seismically good; the first reaction is one of smoke, but this is too one-dimensional a descriptor to do it credit. On tasting there’s some spice, wood, green notes and a warmth that coats the mouth and throat. Fire water this is not – and it’s gorgeously moreish. It’s from David’s The Lost Explorer brand. Keep your eyes peeled, you will not be disappointed.
2. Whispering Angel
I’ve got a bit of a rose theme going right now; wine-like liquids are usually derived from the apple in my world, but I do like a bit of the grape counterpart, and Lizzie and I have been enjoying some absolute corkers recently. This is one of them. Produced by Chateau D’Esclans in France, it does not evoke such a surprised / amazed reaction as some of the South African and Californian variants we have tried recently, but it is as spectacular a performer from Provence as you can hope for. Both 2014 and 2015 were great years across France, and this from 2014 did not fail to disappoint. It has a seductive pale colour and an accompanying delicate fruity nose. The palate is well balanced, the mouthfeel fresh and full of the promise of summer. The only trouble with this stuff is it slips down as easily as a pint of cyder, and at 13.5% abv that’s a slippery slope. So get out the salmon and salad, and see just how well it performs with food.
3. Hobo Craft Czech Lager
Ok, so I do need to declare a vested interest here; we work very closely with the Hobo Beer Co, and even make their “East Coast Cyder” for them. However, I was a big fan of this craft lager from the Northern Bohemian town of Zatec, 60km to the north-west of Prague before we knew each other. Whilst everyone in the trade is getting their knickers in a twist about the benefits of putting beer in a can, Hobo’s Czech lager was actually the first craft beer in a can in the UK. I’ve made a lot before of lagers that have cross-over abilities – able to please both lager and ale drinker alike. Well, this one wrote the manual. It’s a classic Bohemian lager, darker than its Pilsen cousins. Biscuity maltiness is to the fore, deftly blended with Saaz hops to give an uplifting citrus aroma. The bitterness of the hop and sweetness of the malt balance perfectly to give it a thirst-quenching quality unrivalled by any other beer I drank in Somerset this year. Not only does it benefit from the oxygen depleted and sunlight starved environment of its can, it is, unlike many other mass produced lagers, actually “Lagered” for 2 months. And this makes a huge difference. Hats off – if only all lager were this good.
4. Somerset Cider Bus Mulled Cider
What British summer is complete without a mulled cider? Hmm, as oxymoronic as that may sound, where Glastonbury is concerned, wild, woolly, wet are all likely weather outcomes. And there was some clear foresight on that front going on within the Temperley noggins, prepared as they were with great steaming barrels of the stuff. There really is nothing that quite hits the spot when you’re a little wet through and there’s a chill waiting in the wings to slide under your vest; and with a slug of their cider brandy in there too, well, now you really are talking of a Ready Brek glow. Piping hot to warm the hands, spicily aromatic to charm the nose, rich, sweet and full-bodied with bags of character to embrace the tastebuds and a velvety texture to warm the heart. It’s good when it rains at Glasto…..
5. Woodforde’s Reserve Bourbon
It’s always good to have a little nip in your pocket for ‘medicinal purposes’, and this was our chosen companion for 2016. I have a feeling they are probably owned by a large corporation now, but my friends in the US tell me the distillery is still very small scale, and the method of production time honoured and small batch. A “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”, we had a ‘Distller’s Select’ bottle. Boy is this stuff good, just the aroma is so rich it is almost liquid – it’s oaky and smoky with honeycomb in the background. The palate is as rich as the aroma, with malty sweetness and hints of spice. And the finish – long, warm, lingering and toasty. This is as far from Jack Daniels as you can possibly get, and if you are drinking it at home, it would only be right to make sure that any Coca Cola has been either been poured down the drain or banished to the shed out of respect before the bottle is opened. With there being a no glass policy at Glastonbury (it is a working farm complete with cows), we decanted the whiskey in to a smaller bottle for our forays on to site. Stupidly, I allowed the flip top bottle I was using as a hip flask to come open in my bag and the contents were deposited within – happily, only about 100 of the 250ml capacity. On the bright side, my bag still smells gorgeous a week later.