Golden-hued beer, toasty Champagne, plum-flavoured port and whisky as rich as fruitcake: here are the drinks keeping us content during the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Additional words: Giles Fallowfield and Mark de Wesselow
Bowmore 27 Year Old Port Cask
This 27-year-old single malt is the final instalment of Bowmore’s Vintner’s Trilogy (the first two parts were an 18 Year Old matured in former Manzanilla sherry barrels and a 26 Year Old matured in ex-wine barriques). Thirteen years spent in ex-bourbon barrels and 14 years in port pipes has resulted in an exceptional balance of sweet, spice, salt and peat flavours, and a burnished mahogany colour. The classic smoke character on the palate is echoed by tobacco on the finish, but rich fruitcake flavours mean this is still an approachable Islay malt – if you can stomach the price tag. Still, a terrific treat to pull out at the end of Sunday lunch or a Christmas dinner.
Copenhagen Sparkling Tea
The fermented tea kombucha has been one of the big stories in the world of non-alcoholic drinks in the last couple of years and now Fortnum & Mason has gone one better by offering an organic sparkling tea in both alcoholic and booze-free versions. Created by the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company using teas sourced by Danish tea merchants, the drinks blend either a white wine or grape juice base with up to 13 different tea and infusion combinations to mirror the complex flavours achieved when grapes undergo fermentation. With an abv of 4-5%, the two alcoholic varieties are a zingy alternative to low-alcohol wines, though we reckon the non-alcoholic version will find the biggest market for its tropical fruit flavors and clean, not cloying, finish.
From £16, www.fortnumandmason.com
Henriot Cuvée Hemera 2005
Henriot’s previous luxury fizz, Cuvée des Enchanteleurs, has given Champagne lovers some fabulous vintage wines in the past. Its replacement, Cuvée Hemera, has a lot to live up to. Named after the Greek goddess of daytime, and coming from the sunny 2005 harvest, it doesn’t disappoint. The wine is a blend of six grand cru sites. Côte des Blancs Chardonnay comes from Chouilly, Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger, while for Pinot Noir, winemaker Laurent Fresnet has turned to the cooler northern Montagne de Reims slopes, where bright acidity tends to be preserved well, even in warm harvests like 2005. Subtle with perfumed floral aromas initially, a rich toasty note develops with time in the glass. Fine acidity leads to a luxurious, velvet textured mid-palate and long attractive finish.
As you’d expect with a name like that, this straw-coloured ale is perfect for golden autumn days. Made with the finest American hops, Salcombe Gold is clean, refreshing and dry, with a gentle bitterness. Hints of stone and citrus fruits, as well as bread and straw, provide the perfect platform for herbal hop aromas. The palate is creamy and predominantly hoppy – in a deliciously lemony, grapefuity, toasty sort of way – with a pinch of pines and spice on the finish. Its soft carbonation makes for an easy-to-drink but grown-up gold ale, delicious on its own or a great match for the fragrant notes in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
£24 for pack of 12, www.salcombebrewery.com
Taylor’s Reserve Tawny Port – Historic Limited Edition
If you like special, historic bottles, you should enjoy this limited edition port harking back to the early 18th century when hand-blown, bladder-shaped bottles were quite the thing. But it’s not just beautiful to look at, it’s gorgeous to smell, too: plums and figs, layered with hints of toffee, marzipan, cedarwood and leather. The palate is smooth and full, with nicely integrated tannins and lovely intensity, characterised by fruit cake flavours which give way to a long, clean finish.Yum!