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.

The Famous Jubilee – Grouse Whisky Special Edition

Whilst wandering the aisles of our local Waitrose on Monday, DTS & I scanned the whisky section for new and interesting additions. There weren’t too many new faces, but one of the exceptions – and rather appropriately timed, given last week’s post – was The Famous Jubilee.

It was sitting in its Jubilee celebration themed box, but was both next and nearly identically priced to The Famous Grouse, so both of us initially assumed that it was simply a special packaging. Fortunately for me, DTS is naturally curious about such things and took a closer look, after which we realised that it was actually a special blend.

Matthew Gloag & Son, the company behind the Grouse brand, have the Royal Warrant to HM the Queen for blended Scotch, so it’s understandable that they have created a blend especially to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee this month. The Famous Jubilee is a blend of malt and grain whiskies, including some from Highland Park and Macallan. It’s available exclusively via Waitrose and, should you want to get yourself a bottle, be aware that Sainsbury’s are selling The Famous Grouse in a special Jubilee box that looks very much like the one for The Famous Jubilee, but without the new blend inside; make sure you’re buying the one you’re after!

Without further ado, here are my notes on this new, celebratory whisky and a few cocktails that DTS & I thought would be particularly fitting.

On its own
Nose: A distinctive, golden syrupy sweetness introduces you to this lovely nose. Before it gets too sickly, this fades into oats, then drier grain, before finishing with an incredibly light smokiness. Compared to the nose of The Famous Grouse, this is a lot sweeter, more mellow, and less nutty, making it both more accessible and warmer than the standard blend.
Taste: Good, strong, savoury flavours: hints of malt dominate on the tongue, whilst drier grain notes were more evident at the back of the mouth. A savoury whisky, indeed; somewhat reminiscent of The Naked Grouse, but richer and warmer.

With a drop of water…
Nose: It’s amazing how much of a difference a drop of water can make! The nose is now much busier, with warm spices making that initial sweetness more interesting.
Taste: Much sweeter, but still with a dry, savoury finish, this was generally less harsh, with a slowly building, comforting warmth. Occasionally I got odd hints of dry cocoa and charred wood on the finish.

Jubilee Whisky Royale

Jubilee Whisky Royale
Add a serving of Famous Jubilee and a good dash of apple juice to a glass of ice, then top up with ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of green apple or a fresh raspberry.
Although there’s not much going on the nose of this drink, it’s absolutely delicious to sip: the splash of apple juice instantly sweetens and lifts the savoury whisky and dry ginger ale, but without covering up the malt and grain of the whisky. Perfect to serve at a Jubilee celebration.

Rob Roy
Take equal parts of the whisky and red vermouth (using any appropriately-sized measure) and shake or stir briskly with ice. Fine strain into your glass.
The red vermouth dominated the nose, with lots of rich, spicy notes. This came through strongly on the taste, too, producing a rich, flavourful drink with lots to spice to start, followed by a more bitter finish. This won’t be for everyone, but, if you like rich, bitter drinks, it could be the one for you.

60 Year Cocktail

60 Year Cocktail
[50ml Famous Jubilee 25ml King’s Ginger liqueur 150ml Soda Water]
The nose is distinctly of sherbet lemons, but any fears that this drink would be overly sweet were quicky debunked; this drink is refreshing and savoury, taking the dryer elements of the whisky and the ginger, freshening everything up with some bitter lemon notes, and throwing the very faintest hint of sweetness right before the finish kicks in. The whisky also adds a comforting, but not excessive, warmth to the end of this cocktail. A lovely, refreshing long drink for those less fond of sweet cocktails, and/or who like the grain notes in the whisky.

In Conclusion…
I was impressed by The Famous Jubilee, which I found to be both accessible for those who don’t normally drink Scotch and interesting for those who do. Smooth and spicy malt to taste, with a sweet nose and a dry, grain finish, I thought that it was at its best on its own in a glass (maybe with a drop or two of water) and left to warm up for a few minutes, but it also worked well in an array of cocktails; my favourite of these was the bubbly Whisky Royale.

Although Famous Jubilee, exclusively available from Waitrose, has a reasonable RRP at £24.99, we found The Jubilee Grouse currently on offer for £20.99.

– Mrs. B

Still Lemonade Tasting

HISTORY

The original lemonade predating the rise of fizzy pop.

Today, this enjoys much greater popularity in the U.S. than in the U.K. and Europe, where it is more common to see Fizzy Lemonade or Cloudy Lemonade, both of which are sparkling. In fact, in the U.K., Still Lemonade seems to be sold just as much as a healthy juice drink as a recreational soft drink.

TASTING

1. Marks & Spencer

This one had real bits of lemon floating in it! I thought it had an authentic texture, being both smooth and tart; the balance of tartness and sweetness was just right. Pretty good.

2. Tropicana

Still, this was slightly refreshing and very bitter. It started off with the flavour of fresh, cloudy apple juice, followed by a strong pang of grapefruit and a bit of lemon. Despite being 100% fruit juice, this managed to not be too sweet and was – understandably – very fruity. I liked it, but didn’t think it was a typical lemonade**.

3.  Snapple Lemonade

Quite crisp but also very very sharp and also pretty sweet, it really lacks an balance and leaves an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Not refreshing either.

4. Minute Maid

Quite nice initially, with lots of lemon flavour, after a few sips, this became cloying and watery, clinging to the teeth. If served with lots and lots of ice, I thought that this was okay (tasting somewhat like a melted ice lolly), but not on its own.

5. Waitrose Still Lemonade

Not bad; this was quite tart, but in a fresh, crisp way. The primary taste was of lemon and the flavour tastes like it hasn’t been interferred with at all. Not too sweet, this was well-balanced and refreshing. I thought it was rather close to homemade lemonade, actually; what you would expect from a classic style.

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6. Luscombe

Very crisp and quite fresh, pleasantly it is neither to sweet nor harshly tart. I gather that the vanilla helps to soften the flavours. This is very easy to drink and I think has wide-appeal. If you really like a tartness in a lemonade that sucks your cheeks in then this isn’t for you. But as a simple delicious way to cool down on a hot day, here you go.

MAKE-YOUR-OWN

Of all of the types of lemonade, this must be the easiest to make; mostly because no carbonation is necessary. Although additional flavour embellishments can work well, Still Lemonade consists of three fundamental ingredients: lemons, water and sugar.

50ml Sugar 100ml Lemon Juice 500ml Water

Combine ingredients, in  a bottle and shake vigorously for 30 seconds to dissolve sugar. Refrigerate.

Given the importance of the water in this recipe, I suggest giving it some consideration; whilst you might not want to use expensive bottled water, I would advocate filtering your water through a Brita device or some such system before using it. Given that we live in a hard-water area with a high calcium carbonate  content, this is essential for us.

6(a). Homemade – made with tap water

Clean and quite tart, this was fresh and had a long, lemony finish. There was some sweetness to balance out the tartness although ti was quite subdued. I thought that this one was more distinctive and recognisable than the other homemade lemonades, whilst also being more straight-forward.

6(b). Homemade – made with Figi bottled water

This made a much softer lemonade; the edge seemed to be rounded off of the tart lemon flavour, producing a very clean, but less crisp taste. Very, very soft.

6(c). Homemade – made with Highland bottled water

Again, this lemonade was very crisp and clean, but also seemed slightly sweeter and duller than the others. I thought it was refreshing and liked it.

COCKTAILS

1. Lyndnburg Lemonade

[30ml Jack Daniels, 15ml Triple Sec, 100ml Still Lemonade]

Fresh and delicious the tartness of the lemonade contests nicely to the sweetness of the Triple Sec and the sweet oaky elements of the Jack Daniels. Simply superb and very refreshing.

2. London Lemonade

[50ml Dry Gin, 50ml Tonic Water, 50ml Still Lemonade]

3. Lemon-Aid

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* I don’t think that the Tropicana is made in the “classic” style, but I nonetheless think that it’s a good drink and, ultimately, for me, that is what really matters.

** Tropicana has received a bit of flack recently and was even features onthe BBC Watchdog consumer rights programme. Why? Because it contains 67% apple juice, 24% grapefruit juice, and only 9% lemon juice. Whilst I understand the complaints, I can also see how difficult making a 100% fruit juice lemonade with no added sugar would be; it’d be quite a challenge. After all, we wouldn’t just want a bottle of lemon juice!

However, it’s also worthwhile noting that, despite the fact that the Tropicana advertises itself as having no added sugar, it contains only slightly less (albeit natural sugar) than the Waitrose (with sugar); they have 9.5g and 10.3g per 100ml, respectively.