Heston’s Fruit Cup – from Waitrose

*Important Note – Heston’s Fruit Cup from Waitrose is currently £12 for 70cl.

2014 looks to be another boom year for the fruit cup, with Bloom’s Strawberry Cup (to be reviewed later today) following on from the success of their sloe gin and the recent release of Heston for Waitrose’s Fruit Cup, released exclusively for Waitrose, as well as others in the pipeline.

2014 looks to be another boom year for the fruit cup, with many new releases in the pipeline. In particular, we have Bloom’s Strawberry Cup, which follows on from the success of their Sloe Gin, and Heston Blumenthal’s Fruit Cup, which has been released today, exclusively for Waitrose. The latter is what we’re looking at today.

Heston fruit Cup Bottle Waitrose

The Fruit Cup is based on Heston’s Earl Grey & Lemon Gin, which received mixed reviews (you can read our review here). The gin is blended with a mixture of elderflower, blackcurrant, and raspberry liqueurs, before being infused with eight additional botanicals.

The cup is made using an apple spirit base and is bottled at 20% ABV, which is equivalent to Pimm’s, but lower than the likes of Plymouth Fruit Cup or Sipsmith’s Summer Cup.

The recipe on the back of the bottle calls for crushed raspberries, freshly-peeled ginger, and fresh rosemary, which I thought was a bit ostentatious. As the cup already contains a raspberry liqueur and I’m using a good quality ginger ale (FeverTree), I decided to just go with the lime and rosemary.

With Ginger Ale, Rosemary & Lime (2:1 mix [Cup:Mixer])
First off, the fresh rosemary provides a great visual contrast to the vibrant red of the cup and, as you go to sip, you’re immediately hit with the herbal aroma of the rosemary and the fruity botanicals of the cup. On the taste, it’s clean, crisp, and very refreshing. The citrusy elements of the Earl Grey work well with the lime, and the botanical intensity of the gin is relatively underplayed, as is the sweetness of the liqueurs. The use of ginger ale adds a slight warmth to the drink. Overall, this is a refreshing, well-balanced drink that is not too sweet.

Heston Fruit Cup Ginger Rosemary

After some conversation with a colleague, I was persuaded to try the full, recommended garnish, as outlined above. Luckily, the raspberries were on offer and fresh ginger is never too expensive. I was rather pleased with the results: the raspberries, especially if you give them a bit of a muddle with your straw, add an additional, berry-tartness, which I’m sure will appeal to many, and the fresh ginger does add that extra zing, despite the fieriness already present thanks to the FeverTree Ginger Ale.

These additional ingredients do significantly add to the ultimate cost of the drink, but, if you fancy the raspberries for pudding (or are simply looking to impress), then I’d say give it a shot.

With Lemonade, Strawberries & Mint (3:1 mix)
This is a slightly lighter alternative, at approximately 5.0% ABV. Once again, with these relatively simple ingredients, you get a drink that has immediate visual appeal. Being a gradual convert to the use of strawberries in fruit cups, Heston’s is an example where it works rather well. They work really well with the elderflower liqueur, which shines through, and gives the impression of a slightly alcoholic strawberry lemonade, which is delightful. The fresh mint adds crisp aromatics and flavour that stops the drink from becoming too sickly.

Heston Fruit Cup Lemonade Strawberry Mint

With Tonic Water (2:1 mix)
For those that like the bitter twang of quinine and a dryer mixed fruit cup, this is one worth trying. The berry liqueurs stand up to the dryness of the quinine well and, along with the botanicals, create a drink that is dry, yet fruity.

With Bitter Lemon (2:1 mix)
The bitter lemon overpowers the cup in this drink, so you can’t fully appreciate the subtleties of flavour. Having said this, it’s still quite suppable.

With Iced Tea (2:1 mix)
This is a good alternative for those who prefer un-carbonated drinks. Using a simple iced tea made from English Breakfast, the result when mixed with the fruit cup is a combination of a fruit tea and a more fragrant blend. For the optimum, I would suggest using Earl Grey tea, with the bergamot tea working well with the flavour of the gin and providing a flourish of floral citrus.

In Conclusion
I think Heston’s Fruit Cup is a welcome addition to the category, not least because it is one of the first fruit cups to use a non-grain spirit as its base; the use of apple spirit adds to the fruity liveliness of its drinks. On the downside, the cup lacks the boldness to stand up well to heavy mixing – anything beyond a 1:3 ratio and the flavour is lost, with a 1:2 ratio being optimum.

Cocktails with… The Spectator gin (Lemon Balm and Early Grey) – from MasterofMalt

I have spoken many times on the innovations of Master of Malt, not just in the Gin field, but in many others, too. One idea that I found out about earlier this year and particularly liked is the concept of an individual or organization commissioning a Gin.

In some ways, this is not new (Diner’s Club had this going on in the 1980s), but these days the personalization goes beyond the label or bottle, and now extends to the actual recipe. This is a service that Master of Malt offers and was recently taken up by The Spectator Magazine (a political newspaper) on behalf of their readers.

Spectator Gin starts off as a gin made with juniper and pepper spice, which is then infused with Earl Grey tea and lemon balm. It is bottled at 42.4%ABV.

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Lemon citrus and herbal notes. This is very full to start, being zesty with some pine in the background.
Taste: A slightly nutty flavour is accompanied by orange and tannin (the Earl Grey making itself known) upfront, followed by dry juniper. There’s then some sweetness and salty black pepper notes towards the end, before more dry juniper appears on the finish.

2) Gin & Tonic
This drink is jammy and citrusy, a little like lemon curd with some dry juniper. It’s rather lively and refreshing, too. I found that it was best to use a clean tonic (e.g. Fevertree or Q) rather than a citrus-heavy one (e.g. Britvic or Fentimans) and plenty of ice, but no garnish.

3) Martini
Crisp and citrusy at the start, as many good Martinis are, with a follow-up of slightly nutty tea and a hint of spicy nutmeg. This Gin works rather well in this drink.

4) Negroni
This makes quite a sweet Negroni, in which the tannins from Earl Grey come through a lot more. The bitter flavour takes a long time to build, but certainly becomes quite powerful if you give it some time. Interestingly, the citrus is very subdued in this drink. Spectator Gin makes an intriguing Negroni that takes a bit of time to appreciate, but, on balance, I quite like it.

In Conclusion
I like the Spectator Gin and it is very different to the very similar concept of the Heston Blumenthal gin (Master of Malt, to their credit, thought of it first!) with the lemon being more dominant but at the same time you don’t get the soggy teabag smell (of Heston’s) either.

It won’t be for everyone but I liked the Negroni best.

The Spectator Gin is available from Master of Malt for around £25 for 70cl.