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The Best English Whiskies

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English whisky? You could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland has a monopoly on the famous spirit, but with a growing range of English brands and distilleries coming to the fore, English whisky could be the next big thing. And it’s worth remembering that there’s a long and proud history of English whisky.

Whisky making in England faded from prominence in the early 1900s at the time when the famous  Lea Valley Distillery closed, but around 15 years ago, there was a burst of new whisky producers on the English scene. Thanks to the boost given to craft distillers by tax changes from the Labour government early in the 2000s, whisky has taken its place alongside gin and vodka at the forefront of new and exciting English drinks.

The major difference between those spirits and whisky is the time taken to produce it. The legal minimum requirement for whisky to remain in the barrel is three years, which means that it takes longer for this product to hit the market.

So what makes a good English whisky? The main difference from Scottish whisky is the freedom to experiment. North of the border, whisky is strictly regulated on everything from advertising to production, but English whisky makers can be a little more experimental. This has led to a wide variety of whisky types including single malts, single grains, blends, and whisky that has been aged in a range of barrel types. There are also peated and non-peated whiskies and whisky that has been produced with oats, barley or wheat, or a blend of the three.

The English whisky scene is likely to become one of the most interesting areas of growth in the domestic spirits market over the next few years, but there are already some extraordinary English whiskies that are worth sampling. Here is a selection of the best.

Cotswold Single Malt Whisky

One of the newest English whisky makers, The Cotswolds Distillery debuted its whisky in 2017, and has since picked up no fewer than 13 awards including a prestigious gold medal at the 2019 World Whiskies Awards. Described as the first ever single malt distilled in the Cotswolds area, the whisky relies on locally grown barley, and it is aged in Kentucky ex-Bourbon barrels, along with American oak casks that have been used for red wine.

This results in a soft and fruity aroma along with hints of orange and marzipan. That softness is enhanced by flavours of dark sugar, red fruit and caramel along with a little spice. It’s a whisky that is a great all-rounder, enjoyable neat, with ice or mixed. .

Adnams Triple Malt Whisky

Southwold-based distiller and brewer Adnams has an impressive range of whiskies in its portfolio, and it has been among the leaders of the English whisky renaissance, having released their first whisky back in 2013. Their Triple Malt is a five-year aged whisky made from wheat, barley and oats, and then aged in new American oak, giving it an almost tropical flavour, which includes hints of toasted coconut, banana and chocolate. It’s almost like a dessert in a glass.

Adnams Rye Malt Whisky

Another contender from Adnams is their Rye Malt Whisky. Rye tends to produce a peppery, spicy flavour, and the higher the rye content, the spicier the whisky. This Rye Malt is matured in French oak for a minimum of five years, and is made with 75 per cent English rye and 25 per cent barley. It has scents of black pepper and a nutmeg, with a taste that includes raisins, fudge and even blackberry, blended to an almost chewy dryness.

The Norfolk Malt ‘n’ Rye

Another of the pioneers of the English whisky scene, St George’s Distillery in Norfolk, became England’s first officially registered whisky producer for nearly a century when it launched in 2005. This is a single grain whisky that uses a special blend of malt and rye spirits. It is a fruity, light whisky, with plenty of distinctive character, and offers hints of coffee and chocolate along with a herbal fruitiness.

The English Small Batch Virgin Oak

The English Whisky Company took the bold decision to age their whisky in virgin American white oak casks, which ensures that the drink takes on the character of the wood. This particular vintage, which was distilled in July 2013 and then bottled in March 2019, has developed impressive flavours, with plenty of body and vanilla sweetness, and it has an impressively long finish.

Anno Single Malt Whisky

If you’re looking to splurge on a truly luxury English whisky, this could be your best option. Anno claim that this is the first whisky to be made in Kent, produced in partnership with the Westerham Brewery. The brewery added their yeast-strain to local water and English barley to produce the whisky’s mash, before the ageing process was undertaken in a medium-charred Bourbon cask, that had previously been used to age a single malt Scotch. This is a pale whisky, with hints of biscuit and marzipan, and is sold in a handmade collectors box for true whisky connoisseurs.

Sacred Peated English Whisky

Sacred, based in London, are known for their gin range, but they have now turned their hand to whisky with this peated single malt, aged initially in bourbon barrels then finished in sherry casks. This is a whisky that has been aged for five years, and produces a thick, almost Christmas cake inspired flavour, along with plenty of smoky flavour. A drink that is best allowed to sit in the glass a moment before drinking, it is perfect if you enjoy Islay whisky.

The Lakes Distillery Steel Bonnets Blended Malt Whisky

Technically, this is not a pure English whisky, but it is produced by prominent English distiller the Lakes Distillery. Created through blending their own English single malt with a Scottish malt, it is what they describe as the first cross border blend. It has already scooped an award at the World Whiskies Awards last year and has fast become a favourite with English whisky drinkers. It has a creamy taste, with plenty of fruit flavour and heat, but a long, mellow and nutty finish.

The Best of English Cakes

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Over the years, English cuisine has developed many qualities, but perhaps the thing we’re most famous for is our sweet tooth. The art of baking has been closely associated with England for centuries, and it is in the development of cakes for every occasion that English baking has been most inventive. What started as a luxury for the wealthy during the Middle Ages gradually became accessible to the rest of the population and now, there is an enormous range of cakes, biscuits and fruit buns that have a distinctive English flavour. Here are some of the most popular and famous cakes produced in England and sold around the world.

Eccles cake

The Eccles cake is one of those baked products that divides opinion in England, but if you like currants or raisins in your cakes, then this is the one for you. First produced in Eccles in the city of Manchester, it is packed with dried fruit that is wrapped in flaky pastry and cooked until the whole becomes a solid mass of warmth. It was traditionally part of the English school dinner, and has developed into a distinctively English cake, drawing its appeal from its simplicity.

Victoria sponge

Occasionally referred to as a Victoria sandwich, this famous sponge cake comes high on the list of every cake-love in England. Named in honour of Queen Victoria, the sponge became popular during the 1800s when afternoon tea became an established English tradition. The thick wedges of sponge laced with jam became a firm favourite of the upper and middle classes and there are few more reliable cake contenders in the English baking firmament.

Chelsea bun

The Chelsea bun, which has some similarities to the cinnamon rolls popular in Scandinavia, was first made in the 1700s at the Chelsea Bun House and has become a popular traditional teatime cake. Baked with cinnamon, lemon peel allspice and other aromatic ingredients, the Chelsea bun was reportedly a favourite of King George II, and it was even recorded that he would walk every morning to the Bun House to buy the buns for himself and the Royal household.

Carrot cake

The use of carrots as a sweetener dates back to the 900s when Arabian chefs are reputed to have used carrots in place of honey to provide sweetness to their desserts. There are versions of carrot cake in many countries, but it grew in popularity in England during the Second World War, when rationing meant sugar and other ingredients were in short supply. Originally, a plain cake, it received a twist in the 1960s with the addition of cream cheese icing, which turned the dessert into the classic tea time favourite that we know today.

Madeira cake

Named for the Portuguese island of Madeira, and for the sweet dessert wine produced in that part of the world, Madeira cake was created to be the ideal accompaniment for dessert wins. But the cake soon became popular in its own right and there are recipes for Madeira cake dating back to the 1700s. The simple, but enticing cake received another boost in popularity when Eliza Acton, one of the most influential of English cooks, included a Madeira cake recipe in her 1845 book, Modern Cookery for Private Families.

Battenberg cake

Its delicate colours and sophisticated recipe make the Battenberg cake a much loved and yet hard to recreate English cake. It is served in a rectangle, formed from different coloured cakes, which are sliced, arranged in a chequerboard pattern, and then wrapped in marzipan. When made correctly, it is an impressive spectacle, and a true test of the baker’s art. Originally created for the wedding of Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg, it is a distinctive English treat.

Scone

Few baked products better convey the cosiness of traditional English life than the warm scone, adorned with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Whether you like your jam on top of your cream or vice versa, it’s the centrepiece of the classic English cream tea. In fact, the scone has its origins in

Scotland. The Scottish bannock, a quick and easy to make bread that is grilled over open flame is the predecessor of the scone, which was named after the town where Scottish kings were once crowned. The earliest recorded example of a scone being eaten was in 1513, but in the centuries since, the scone has developed into a quintessentially English tea time treat. 

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding has a reputation as being one of the most traditional of English cakes, but in fact it is the most modern food on this list. It was created at a hotel in the Lake District in the 1970s, though the original recipe is said to have come from a Mrs Martin, who lived in Lancashire. An intensely sweet sponge, sometimes covered in chopped dates and then baked in a golden syrup, may have been inspired by an attempt to create a US style muffin, but whatever its origins, it has become one of England’s favourite desserts in a short space of time. Usually served with ice cream or custard, it is a modern classic, and likely to remain a firm favourite for a long time to come.

Ten of the Best English Craft Beers

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The craft beer movement has its roots in the 1960s, but modern fans of English craft beer have the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to thank. Back in 2002, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown’s budget included a tax break for small breweries. The result was an explosion in the number of craft breweries, which more than tripled within 15 years and some estimates place the total number at over 2000, compared to just 500 at the start of the century. 

That has been great news for beer fans. We now live in a time when you can access a bewildering array of fresh, tasty beers, from stouts and porters to sours and IPAs, whether you’re buying your beer by the bottle, the can or the keg. Here are ten of the very best English beers currently available .

Sleeping Lemons – Wild Beer Company

Based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, the Wild Beer Company have produced this intriguing sours beer. This form of beer is an acquired taste, and this particular variety is a ‘gose’ a style that originated in Germany, and which is usually brewed with salt and coriander. But the Wild Beer Company have added a new twist, adding lemon flavour. There’s also a lime edition and the result is a refreshing and tart taste that is perfect for drinking with fish meals.

Broken Dream – Siren

Siren’s Broken Dream is technically known as a breakfast stout, although this refers to the fact that coffee and oats have been used in its brewing, not that it should be drunk for breakfast! This is a distinctively luxurious beer that offers a complex, deep flavour, due partly to the use of no less than six separate malts, including one variety that is smoked, along with lactose to boost the beer’s body. It’s a gorgeous drink and no surprise that it landed the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in 2018.

Railway Porter – Five Points

Five Points is a London-based brewery, operating in the railway arches in Hackney, and they are producing some of the UK’s most exciting beers. Their Railway Porter certainly packs a punch with its powerful flavour and aroma, offering hints of coffee, burnt toast and chocolate. A dark, delightful beer, Five Points have produced something special that is smooth to drink.

First Chop Hop – First Chop

First Chop are one of England’s most famous vegan and gluten free breweries, and have made a big impression from their base under a Manchester railway arch. Having started off produced 400 litres of beer per month, they are now operating a third brewhouse, situated in Salford, which produces 30,000 litres a week. Their First Chop Hop is one of their most popular products and represents a  refreshing pale ale enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike.

Jaipur – Thornbridge

Unquestionably one of the best IPA’s around, Jaipur is produced by Thornbridge of Bakewell in Derbyshire. Winner of more than 100 awards around the world, including the gold medal at the World Beer Awards, it is a winning combination of six hop varieties, including Centennial and Cascade and offers a perfect American IPA style blend of bitterness, aroma and flavour.

Love And Hate – Vocation

Love and Hate by Vocation of Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire is another American IPA, but in the New England style. It’s an India Pale Ale with a big twist, much thicker than Jaipur due to the addition of wheat and oats. Produced through a triple dry-hopping process, it is juicy with a powerful flavour that, as the name indicates, is likely to divide opinion, but there are few more distinctive IPAs out there.

Keller Pils – Lost And Grounded

The Bristol brewers Lost And Grounded, whose hand-drawn can labels are designed to form a panoramic picture when placed alongside one another, have produced one of the most popular craft beers out there. A crisp and clear offering, it is an expert combination of three types of hops along with German pilsner malt, that offers a pure, thirst-quenching quality.

Milk Shake – Wiper And True

A rich milk stout from another Bristol brewers, Wiper and True. It could arguably be described as a ‘pudding beer’ for its smooth yet chocolatey, moreish qualities, which include a vanilla edge. The richness of the drink is due in part to the presence of lactose sugar, which help to give it that milkshake feel. But although it packs a sweet flavour, the blend and the balance of ingredients ensure that it isn’t cloying or sickly, offering an indulgent, yet refreshing experience.

The Honey Blonde – Hiver

This is a crisp, clean blonde beer produced, as the name suggests, with the use of honey. The honey in question comes from three different sources. Yorkshire heather honey is combined with apple blossom honey from Kent and urban London honey. The result is a beer that isn’t as sweet as you might think, though it offers a warming honey aroma and a seductive flavour. Not surprisingly, this drink has scooped its share of awards, including gold at the 2018 World Beer Challenge.

8 Ball – Beavertown

The Beavertown brewery in Tottenham is one of the most prominent English craft beer producers, and have already been responsible for a number of popular drinks such as Neck Oil and Gamma Ray. Their 8 Ball is a red IPA, which occupies the middle ground between hop-heavy and darker maltier beers. Beavertown add rye to the mash, which produces an element of spice to the blend. This was actually one of Beavertown’s first beers, named after the pool balls used to weigh down the hop bag.

Ten English Specialities

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English food has often been unfairly maligned internationally. While not as famous as French or Italian cuisine, there is a depth and variety in traditional English cooking that is astonishing and fascinating, as well as tempting. English food is often hearty and warming, and this country has produced some of the most distinctive and tasty dishes in the world. Here for your delectation are ten of the best English specialities that are definitely worth trying.

Toad in the Hole

Don’t worry, this dish does not contain any amphibian! Toad in the hole is a famous dish made from sausages cooked in a savoury batter. The recipe dates back to the early 18th century when it was made from leftover meat. But while the dish has humble beginnings, it was rumoured to be a favourite of Queen Victoria, and remains a popular royal dish, as Pippa Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge is rumoured to be a fan.

Jellied Eel

This English dish comes from London’s East End and is made of eels which are first boiled in a spice stock and then left to cool into a jelly. The unusual delicacy, eaten cold, was popular among poor Londoners largely because eels were so readily available in the River Thames, and were a plentiful source of protein and nutrition. The first record of an eel, ham, and mash shop dates back to the early 18th century, while the oldest surviving shop in Walthamstow was established in 1902.

Jam Roly-poly

Ask any English person of a certain age and they’ll tell you this yummy dessert evokes school dinner memories! It was a regular feature of family diets in England for many decades. The name derives from the fact that the suet pastry is first rolled out, covered in strawberry jam, and then rolled up again before steaming or baking. The pudding is also sometimes known as ‘coat sleeve pudding’ because at one time it was both steamed and served in a shirtsleeve.

Bedfordshire Clangar

There are lots of foods in England named after their locality of origin and the Bedfordshire Clangar is one that deserves more attention. Originating in the south east county of Bedfordshire, the clanger is an elongated, suet dumpling, resembling a pasty, but with a twist. At one end is a savoury filling but the other end is sweet. Usually the savoury end is filled with pork and vegetables, while the soft end is sugary or filled with sweetened berries. Traditionally, the top of the clanger is scored or marked.

Historically, women made the Bedfordshire Clanger for their husbands to take as a midday meal into their agricultural work. As with many English pastry-dishes, the crust was not designed to be consumed, but was intended to protect the fillings from the workers ‘ soiled hands.

Scotch Egg

The Fortnum and Mason department store in London claims to be the creator of the Scotch egg, back in 1738 but the history of this distinctive food isn’t clear, and some evidence suggests that they could have been heavily influenced by the Mughlai soup, Nargisi kofta, which is popular in India. At any rate, the first written evidence of this dish, made from a whole boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and breadcrumbs dates from 1809. Originally served hot, with gravy, these days it is enjoyed cold and is a regular feature on English picnics.

Stargazy Pie

This dish came from a Cornwall village, and can be traced back to the 16th century. Legend has it that a local trawlerman braved the stormy seas off the Cornish coast to save the villagers, who relied on a diet of fish, from starvation. The fish that he caught were baked in one enormous pie for all of the villagers to share, and the heads poking out of the pastry were there to remind the starving villagers there was fish in the pie. This traditional dish is still made today and there is a theory that the natural oils secreted by the fish heads during cooking add considerably to the distinctive taste.

Black Pudding

Black pudding is a sausage made largely from blood and long served as part of a typical English breakfast. Because of its ingredients, which feature blood, oatmeal, and lard congealed pigs, the dish is a major source of protein and a firm favourite with many English people. The origins of the dish are widely debated and there is a theory that the dish came from Scotland, though butchers in the Lancashire town of Bury dispute this, claiming that it was sold there as far back as 1810. These days it is served widely with breakfasts throughout the north of England.

Eton Mess

The names of some English foods can be misleading but in this case, the name is an accurate indicator of origins. This most famous of English desserts was first served at Eton College in the 1930s, reputedly as the result of a happy accident. It features strawberries, broken up meringue and cream, and soon became popular among pupils at the private school, where it was traditionally served as an annual treat at the cricket match between Eton and rival school Harrow.

Shepherds Pie/Cottage Pie

A hearty English dish that comes in two main varieties, with the difference depending on which meat is used. In Shepherd’s Pie, the preferred meat is lamb whilst in Cottage Pie it is beef. And to confuse non-English food lovers even more, neither of these dishes are pies! In fact, this dish consists of minced meat with vegetables, in a rich sauce, topped with mashed potatoes.

Pease Pudding

Pease pudding, which is sometimes known as pease porridge, is a savoury dish, not a dessert. It is made from boiled peas, usually split yellow peas, to which spices are added and is often served alongside a joint of bacon or ham. Popular throughout the North East of England, it is eaten elsewhere in England, and has become a firm favourite of food lovers in Newfoundland, Canada.

The Hottest Gins in England

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Gin is one of the most English of drinks, and a recent surge in popularity for this spirit is helping to repair its image, transforming the drink in the public mind from the ‘mother’s ruin’ reputation of old to something altogether more sophisticated. In fact, you may be surprised to know that annual sales of English gin have now passed the £1 billion mark, boosted by a resurgence of interest, not just in consuming gin, but in reviving and updating traditional methods of gin production.

This renaissance in the English gin world has seen hundreds of small scale artisan gin producers emerge to challenge the big guns of the gin industry, leading to an outpouring of gin creativity and a dazzling array of gin-products. Here are just some of the best English gins for your consideration:

Bloom Gin

Bloom have been creating gin for over 250 years, and top gin distiller Joanne Moore has brought her own distinctive take on the drink to their product. Combining honeysuckle, chamomile, and pomelo, and distilled in a conventional pot, her glamorous gin blend has won multiple awards. Best served with soda it offers a subtle range of delicate flavours.

Start Point Gin

Produced by the Salcombe Distilling Company in South Devon, this award winning gin has picked up global awards. Combining a zesty mix of 13 botanicals and pure water drawn from nearby Dartmoor, it is distilled in a 450 litre still through the old-fashioned one-shot method. This fragrant take on gin, along with its Finisterre version, which is aged in a sherry cask, was said to be inspired by the town’s fruit trade that saw exotic fruit arrive in Devon via the Mediterranean and West Indies.

Pechuga Gin

The Portabello Road distillery in west London launched in 2011 and as well as producing some of the most exciting gins in England, also offers visitors a chance to see the distilling process first hand. Portobello Road gin draws on nine classic botanicals including nutmeg and cassia bark and is best served with grapefruit and tonic. And the Pechuga brand, offers a surprising twist. It is produced through the suspension of a turkey breast in the still, alongside the addition of fruits and spices, creating a unique and memorable set of flavours.

Sipsmith London Dry Gin

A boutique name in the gin world, that has since hit the mainstream, Sipsmith started off in a west London garage in 2009 and has led the way in forging new markets for English gin makers. Sold to spirit giant Beam Suntory in 2014, the Sipsmith range of gins have stayed true to the company’s London roots, and this traditional London Dry Gin is made with lemon and marmalade, adding a range of aromatic qualities that make it the perfect gin for martinis or serving with tonic over ice.

Tanqueray No Ten

A drink that earned its names from the pot still in which it is still distilled to this day, Tanqueray’s No Ten is one of the best known small-batch gins from a company that started making the drink in 1830. This is the gin to have earned a place in the San Francisco Spirits Hall of Fame. Favoured by some of the world’s top barmen, it’s a premium gin that combines camomile and citrus for a perfect blend.

Hayman’s Sloe Gin

There are few gin operators with a more impressive history than Haymans, who have been making gin for over 150 years. The Hayman family recipe is a closely guarded secret, and produces one of the most memorable range of English gins. Their strong tasting sloe gin also shows off the London-based distiller’s distinctive qualities. Dark red and plummy offering a hint of almond thanks to the flavours of wild-grown sloe fruits, this is an indulgent and warm classic.

Curio Rock Samphire Gin

Situated on the Lizard at the southernmost point of Cornwall, Curio use local ingredients to give a regional spin on the gin tradition, with impressive results. Their Samphire Gin is made using rock samphire taken from the Cornish cliffs, to produce a small-batch gin that is distilled four times to give it a distinctive purity and strength that means it can enjoyed neat. ​

East London Liquor Company Barrel-Aged Gin

Set up in what was once a glue factory, the East London Liquor Companyhas created an impressive reputation with their range of sophisticated spirits that are created and sold from its base at the corner of Victoria Park. They have produced a range of gins, including a premium cardamom-toned London dry gin, a brace of limited edition gins, and this sherry-barrel-aged gin that features pleasing orange zest and ginger cookie tones.

Hendrick’s Gin

Founded in 1999, Hendrick’s has had great success in showing new approaches to the art of enjoying this classic drink. Their gin is presented in a bold apothecary bottle, and is made from Bulgarian rose and cucumber in a quadruple distillation. The result is a refreshing fragrant gin with a long finish that is particularly popular as a cocktail drink.

Best of English Tea

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As a country of tea drinkers we take our daily brew seriously. There are dozens of expert tea makers out there, taking the finest tea leaves and blending them to provide a huge variety of teas, from herbal and soothing to traditional Earl Grey. Everyone has their favourite flavour but there are plenty of great English teas that deserve to be experienced and enjoyed out there. We’ve looked past Typhoo and Tetley to discover some of England’s finest tea blends.

Brew Tea Company Earl Grey

This twist on a classic tea by the Brew Tea Company is a sweet and fruity affair. For a beautiful, tasty brew, the Ceylon Leaves are combined with orange peel, bergamot and calendula petals. One of the most popular styles of tea in England, traditionally served with lemon or a splash of milk, Brew Tea’s take on Earl Grey is also good news for those of us concerned about the environment, as it is ethically sourced as and both the packaging and the tea bags are fully plastic free.

We Are Tea peppermint leaf tea

Peppermint tea is soothing, and can help with digestion, but the tea available in cheap bags is often faded in taste. That’s definitely not the case with We Are Tea products. After picking, this peppermint leaf tea is slow-dried so it preserves its fresh taste. On the palate it’s clean and crisp so it’s no surprise that this tea has won three Great Taste Awards. Another bonus: The plastic-free tea bags. Made from corn starch and sealed using ultrasound, they are completely  biodegradable.

Storm Tea organic Assam tea

Healthy and full-bodied, this Storm Tea organic Assam tea makes a great cuppa. Hand-picked at the Bherjan farm in Assam, north-eastern India, the tea is best known for its malty flavour, which is due to  Assam’s intense moisture and strong monsoon season temperatures. A great present for a tea enthusiast, it is best enjoyed as a pick me-up in the middle of the morning.

Roqberry teas

Roqberry teas are just the thing if you’re looking for incredible blends of flavours. There are some unusual flavours available with Roqberry, including an eye-catching sushi and spice blend, but the more popular flavours include raspberry fondant and s’mores, which has more than a hint of marshmallow to its flavour. The innovative infusions of Roqberry are made from premium single source varieties including oolong, green and rooibos and are all packed into biodegradable tea bags.

London Tea Company vanilla chai tea

If you’re a fan of Christmas-evoking flavours and aromas, this is the one for you. The vanilla chai of the London Tea Company fills the house with amazing scent of cinnamon, coffee and cloves while their black tea provides the perfect backdrop to set off the flavours.

Good & Proper Tea Brockley breakfast tea

Brockley breakfast is a great morning tea, due to its full-bodied, hearty flavour. It was given its name due to the south London home of Good & Great Tea and is a mix of Kenyan, Assam and Ceylon black teas, finished with the floral notes of Darjeeling. This award-winning tea is ideally served with a dash of milk. It is available in both compostable tea bags and loose leaf tea.

Whittard jasmine green tea

A much-loved beverage maker, Whittard always offers consistency and naming just one of their teas is a tough task. They boast an outstanding selection of black, green, white, oolong and other teas, but the jasmine green tea is one of their finest. Grown in southern China, the tea is richly fragrant and light and is at its finest when enjoyed as an after-dinner palate cleaner.

Kanuka lemongrass and ginger tea

This Kanuka tea, calming and sweet, will chase away all of the winter colds in a heartbeat. Invigorating, with spice undertones, this tea is perfect drunk either hot or cold and by adding black pepper into the loose-leaf blend, Kanuka have given this tea a slightly spicy aftertaste. Kanuka, based in St Albans, specialise in loose leaf teas and exotic blends, and their products are sourced ethically from around the world to bring together the best combinations of flavours.

The Best of English Cheese

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If your opinion of English cheese is based on the mass-market cheddar you can find in the supermarket, it’s time to update your cheese knowledge!

In recent years there has been a boom in English cheese marking, and there are now over 700 types of cheese produced in the UK as a whole. In fact, from Cheshire to Cheddar, Brie to Stilton you can find pretty much any variety of cheese on these shores. A staggering 98% of households in England buy cheese regularly and the UK cheese export market is worth more than £650 million.

The resurgence of popularity in artisan cheeses has helped to focus attention on the fantastic range of cheeses available in England right now. Here are ten of the best.

Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

If you think of Red Leicester as that vivid orange stuff in supermarkets that tasted more or less the same as cheap cheddar, it’s time to try some of the real stuff. Launched in 2005, Sparkenhoe Red Leicester has led the return to genuine red Leicester. A dark, fiery orange colour, with a soft, long-lasting nutty flavour and chewy texture, this has set a new standard for Red Leicester.

Stichelton

Stilton is one of England’s most famous food brands. For a cheese to qualify as a Stilton, it has to follow a number of rules, including a specific recipes and a strict pressing process, along with many other requirements. Stichelton abides by all of those rules, except for one. The creator, Joe Schneider, used unpasteurised milk. The result is a beautiful tangy white cheese that has caught the imagination of cheese lovers throughout the UK.

Stinking Bishop

This is one of the most famous cheeses in the United Kingdom, thanks to its featuring in the Wallace and Gromit film The Curse Of The Were Rabbit. Stinking Bishop, as the name suggests, is strong smelling stuff. That’s because it is washed in perry, which helps to make the distinctive pink rind. Despite its odour, the cheese inside is soft, mild and herby and a real treat.

Beauvale

Beauvale is the English version of Gorgonzola. It’s a fairly new cheese made by Cropwell Bishop, a long established producer of Stilton. The beautifully smooth and fluffy texture of this cheese, which can almost become spreadable at room temperature, and its soft taste has helped it to scoop numerous awards, and is one of the most successful modern cheeses in England.

Cornish Yarg

This is a famous old English cheese that is covered in nettle leaves as it is aged, helping to add extra spice to the final wheel. Cornish Yarg has won multiple awards, thanks to its creamy texture (which tends to be crumblier towards the middle of the cheese) and its slightly tangy flavour. And as a  seasonal speciality you may also find it comes wrapped in wild garlic leaves.

Keen’s Cheddar

Cheddar is England’s favourite cheese, and there is a variety of high quality cheddar out there, with Keen’s cheddar representing one of the best versions. A completely homemade West Country farmhouse cheddar, it has less of the sweetness associated with conventional varieties and packs a pronounced farmyard flavour that reminds you of what cheddar is supposed to taste like.

Appleby’s Cheshire

One of only a handful of modern companies still making traditional homemade Cheshire cheese, the Appleby’s cheese making process still involves bandaging the wheels rather than waxing them. The result is a tangy, zesty and crumbly cheese that represents the pinnacle of the Cheshire style.

Ticklemore

This fresh, brilliant white cheese is made from goat’s milk, and provides a healthy, refreshing taste that doesn’t have the typical overpowering quality of typical matured goat cheese. The texture is quite solid, and the unusual shape of the finished product comes from the practice of draining into a container, which creates a natural rind with ridges on the outside.

Tunworth

A Camembert-style cheese that shows English cheese makers can make soft varieties as well as their French counterparts. Tunworth has an incredible flavour, with a distinctive wafer-thin rind. It’s no surprise that this is a multiple award-winning British cheese.

Berkswell

Up until 30 years ago, English-made goat and sheep’s milk cheeses were almost unheard, but these days they are at the forefront of exciting new cheese brands. Berkswell is a type of sheep’s milk that has matured to a firm texture with a sweet and nutter favour that lingers on the tongue.

10 of the Best English Cider Makers

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There has been a cider and perry revolution in the last few years, with a new wave of cider makers entering the industry to compete with longer-established independent producers. The result has been a renaissance of this quintessentially English drink, and a renewed appreciation for the variety of cider and the craft that goes into its making. Go beyond the standard supermarket brands and you can discover a universe of cider brilliance. Here are ten of the top independent UK cider markers.  

Purbeck Cider 

Based in the centre of the Purbeck hills in Devon, Purbeck Cider produces 100% single pressed cider from some of the county’s traditional trees. The drink is crafted using traditional methods by a small team that has been heavily involved in restoring and replanting traditional orchards, and the result is a range of natural tasting ciders that have caught the imagination of cider fans, including favourites such as Dorset Draft, Dorset Blush and the distinctive Garden Mint Cider. 

Aspalls  

One of the oldest cider makers in England, Aspalls is named after the tiny hamlet near the market town of Debenham in Suffolk, that has been home to the cider-making Chevallier family for nine generations. In fact, the Cyder House in Aspall was built in 1728 and still features the original mill and press by the founder of the dynasty, Clement Chevallier. They are renowned for producing traditional, intense ciders such as the dark, rich and strong Imperial Vintage, named after the family’s success at the 1921 Imperial Fruit Show, which is the perfect accompaniment to lamb or strong cheeses.  

Sheppy’s 

Another long-established cider maker, Sheppy’s are among the oldest premium craft cider-producing families in England, having been in the business for more than 200 years. Since 1917 they have been based at Bradford on Tone in Somerset, and they still use traditional cider making methods, fermenting their cider using the apples’ own naturally occurring yeast and employing oak vats, some of which have been used for nearly 100 years.  

Friels 

One of the new breed of cider makers, Friels was set up a little over a decade ago and has made a huge impact in the English cider scene. Employing 100% English apple juice, their apples are sourced through the nearby Worcestershire and Herefordshire orchards and then pressed at Stourport, on the banks river Severn. Friels are particularly well known for their First Press ciders and in 2017, the Friels First Press Vintage won a World’s Best Cider Award.  

Kent Cider  

This award winning cider maker has drawn on centuries of cider making tradition in that part of the world, to produce a series of distinctive blends, created by bringing together fruit from their own orchard and across Kent. The company is known for their adherence to orchard traditions, including holding annual Wassail and Blossom days, and their heritage product is made using the old fashioned rack and cloth method on their cider press, which is apparently 150 years old.  

West Milton 

Established in 2000, West Milton have continued to develop their craft, beginning with a range of traditional farmhouse style ciders, and moving into the ancient art of ‘keeving’ a process that removes many of the natural nutrients of the juice before fermentation. And as with all good independent cider makers, they use only the best local fruits. The result has been a range of award-winning premium ciders including the famous Lancombe Rising, Dorset Starlight and Dorset Twilight.  

South Downs Cider 

The eastern England cider tradition is distinct from that of the west country, and South Downs are one of the traditions finest modern exponents. Established in 2012, at the foot of the South Downs in East Sussex, they produce an eastern-style cider and perry range using only fruit sourced from within a 20 mile range of the town of Wilmington. South Downs Elderflower cider is one of their most popular brands, known for its refreshing finish and flowery flavours.  

Pilton Cider 

Another artisan cider maker in the heart of Somerset, Pilton have specialised in producing whole juice sparkling cider through the keeving process. All of the apples used are collected from traditional orchards around the parish of Pilton and then slowly fermented for months in their Victorian cellar before bottling. Some of their more popular varieties including Pilton Smokey Plum, fermented in peat-smoked Laphroaig barrels and the fruity Tamoshanta. 

Olivers 

One of the most renowned independent cider makers in England, Olivers produce a range of fine ciders based on fruit and methods from the Herefordshire region. Their cider and perry is fermented with wild yeasts in small batches, and they use fresh-pressed, hand-picked, unsprayed fruit. The company has been wildly successful, exporting their product across Europe and to the USA.  

Crafty Nectar 

Better known as a cider subscription service, Crafty Nectar, which set up in 2015, has also developed cider brands of its own. Using a blend of Yarlington Mill, Harry Masters Jersey, Michelin and Dabinett apples, they have created Crafty Nectar No.7, a mellow and popular sparkling cider, which won a Bronze International Cider Challenge Award. They also produce a rhubarb-flavoured cider, No.8 Rhubarb Cider that has proven to be a big hit with cider aficionados.  

Exploring the Best of English Wines

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England may not have the same prestige as its immediate neighbour to the south when it comes to producing high quality wine, but the wine makers of England have been catching up in the last 30 years, and these shores now boast some of Europe’s best vineyards. Here are five of the best wine making facilities that have helped to put English win on the map.  

Ridgeview, Sussex 

Situated next to the South Downs in Sussex, the cool climate at this award-winning vineyard is ideally suited to producing sparkling wine, and Ridgeview has been at the forefront of the sparkling win renaissance in England. The chalk-clay mix of the soil in the area is ideal for the chardonnay and pinot noir varieties of grape used to produced sparkling wine, while the meteorological influence of the English Channel curbs the worst excesses of the English frost.  

Ridgeview was founded in 1995 and has made extraordinary progress. Production has now reached over 250,000 bottles and Ridgeview wines are served at the most prestigious locations, including 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. The rise of Ridgeview to the top table of European wine was confirmed by their International Wine Maker of the Year award in 2018, and by their position as the only English vineyard to make the top 50 of last year’s World’s Best Vineyards Awards

Hush Heath, Kent 

Established in 2002, the rise of Hush Heath near Tonbridge in Kent, has been spectacular. One of the new breed of English vineyards, Hush Heath has been at the forefront of the resurgence of English win, winning numerous awards, most notably for their Balfour Wines, which have developed an impressive reputation. Balfour wines are famous for their clear taste and fresh finish, and the vineyard that produces them is known for its precision and attention to detail.  

Hush Heath wines are served in top quality restaurants and bars around the world, and their flagship product, the Balfour Brut Rose was named as the official English win of the 2012 London Olympics.  

Wiston Estate, Sussex 

Located in Sussex, the 6,000 acre Wiston Estate has been owned and run by the Goring family since 1743. The South Down’s chalky slopes and the flat clay soils of that region inspired the Romans with visions of vineyards, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the estate was first planted. 

Since then, Wiston haven’t looked back. Traditional varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are grown there in conditions that bear a remarkable resemblance to the geology of the Côte de Blancs in the Champagne region. And the absence of herbicide treatment, combined with traditional viniculture methods ensures a distinctive flavour. One of the rising stars of English win, Wiston’s notable recent achievements include winning a medal at the 2018 World Wine Awards for its Blanc de Blancs Brut 2011. 

Exton Park, Hampshire 

Exton Park Vineyard is another of the big guns of English wine, producing a series of award-winning vintages. The Exton Park vineyard is situated on the undulating chalk slopes of Hampshire’s South Downs National Park. At around 55 acres, it is one of the biggest vineyards in Hampshire, and the result of three separate plantings over many years.  

The climate and soil conditions at Exton perfectly replicate those that prevail in some of the world’s most famous sparkling wine regions, and they boast one of the most talented winery and vineyard teams in the country, turning the predominate varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay into award-winning wines such as their Pinot Meunier Rose and their Blanc de Noir.  

Gusbourne, Kent 

A Gusbourne Estate in Appledore, Kent has a long history, dating back to 1410, but its winemaking credentials were established more recently, in 2004, when Andrew Weeber instituted the first vine plantings in 2004. His vision was to create high quality English sparkling wines that would compete with the best that the rest of the world had to offer. Within the space of six years, that vision became reality when the first vintage, the Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2006 and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006 were unveiled, to widespread acclaim from wine critics.  

A Gusbourne Estate in Appledore, Kent has a long history, dating back to 1410, but its winemaking credentials were established more recently, in 2004, when Andrew Weeber instituted the first vine plantings in 2004. His vision was to create high quality English sparkling wines that would compete with the best that the rest of the world had to offer. Within the space of six years, that vision became reality when the first vintage, the Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2006 and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006 were unveiled, to widespread acclaim from wine critics.  

Since then, Gusbourne has built an impressive reputation for outstanding sparkling wines, using a combination of tried and trusted tradition and cutting-edge technology, and their prominent position in the English wine industry was underlined with six gold medals at the 2019 WineGB Awards.