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… Heston Blumenthal’s Lemon and Earl Grey Gin from Waitrose

It’s been a bit of a Chase Gin week here on SummerFruitCup and today, whilst mooching along to our local Waitrose, Mrs. B. informed me that the Heston Gin has now arrived.*

‘Heston from Waitrose’ Earl Grey and Lemon Gin is a designed specifically for Waitrose by Heston Blumenthal and is manufactured by Chase Distillery. Like the new Great British Gin, this Waitrose-exclusive spirit is potato-based (and packaged in the same bottle) and is made using an array of 7 classic botanicals**. The gin is additionally infused with lemon and Earl Grey tea.*** It is bottled at 40%ABV and specifies its suitability for vegetarians on the label.

On its own:
Nose: Simply upon opening the bottle, the smell of the gin burst out: zesty, but sour lemon is followed by wet tea. Overall, it has the feeling of lemon tea, but could be better.
Taste: Smooth up front, very fragrant and very citrusy, with floral tea notes. There’s some coriander, too, but where this gin really stands out is with the lovely Earl Grey tea finish, which is long and delicious. With a drop of water, distinctly piney juniper and a sweet element of liquorice also pop up.

Gin & Tonic
This drink is really the litmus test for this gin, which is primarily designed for the off-trade market and, more specifically, the supermarket shoppers of Waitrose, the majority of whom consume their gin with a splash of tonic water.

A resounding pass with flying colours. Refreshing and zesty, it has some floral tea and orange elements, plus a hint of lemon verbena. I think that a nice, clean (not citrusy) tonic works best; Fevertree or Schweppes work well, although I’d be keen to try it with Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 for a more herbal twist.

I initially tried it at 2:1 ratio, but also really like it at greater dilutions: 3:1 or 4:1. The drink still works for those who like a little more tonic, but, personally, I think I’ll stick to the 2:1.

Martini
Very lemony, with some orange blossom, as well as a crisp dryness from the tea. When I made the Martini (stirred), the gin seemed to have slightly louched, which gave it a misty appearance. I like the flavour of this cocktail: it’s quite complex, but I think that some will find it overly pungent.

Negroni
This makes an odd Negroni, which is quite soft initially, with floral citrus notes. The nose is very vegetal and, for me, a bit off-putting. There’s some bitterness at the end, but the cocktail overall doesn’t really work for me.

In Conclusion
Heston Gin had a lot to live up to, as I’d eagerly anticipated it for several weeks now. Noticeably, by adding flavours to a classic gin make-up and increasing the floral elements, they have produced a gin that is more like some of the contemporary varieties coming out of the USA or Australia.
Given these changes, I found that the gin doesn’t fit into all classic gin cocktails, but, with some tailoring, I think you could get some good results. It will probably lend itself well to some Spring cocktails, too.
As a cocktail ingredient, there is not a lot out there that can rival it (the Spectator Gin is less perfumed) in terms of application and, with some experimentation, some great drinks could be created.
In reality, any gin aimed at supermarket shoppers will be judged by how it works in a Gin & Tonic and Heston’s in works well, giving a slight twist to a familiar drink.

‘Heston from Waitrose’ Earl Grey and Lemon Gin is available exclusively from Waitrose Stores for around £22 for 70cl.

*The Heston Gin as I have eagerly awaited its arrival.
** Including Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Citrus Peel, Orris Root, Liquorice and Almond.
*** Heston seems quite keen on using tea to flavour things – I am quite fond of the Lapsang Salmon.
*** Interestingly, last night, I was tasting some of the MasterofMalt Spectator Gin that also uses lemon (this time lemon balm) and Earl Grey tea as an infusion with the spirit.