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Drink, like most things in modern life, is subject to the fickle fortunes of fashion. No sooner have you’ve mastered mixing the perfect Old Fashioned with which to impress your mates than everyone else has moved on to the sparkling sake.
It can be an impossible task predicting what drinks might be the most popular in any given year, but we’ve gazed into our crystal balls and have spied some top tipples we reckon are as good a bet as any for 2021.
Among them you’ll find new products hoping to cash in on some of last year’s biggest trends; a few more from categories hoping they might become ‘the new gin’; and some more familiar drinks that could well be due a change in fortunes.
But even if lady luck doesn’t point her fashion finger in their direction, don’t let that put you off - each one is delicious, regardless of who else chooses to drink it.
Mermaid Salt Vodka
In recent years it has felt like vodka has been left behind in the spirit boom, but recently there are signs of life, with more artisan distilleries setting up to challenge the dominance of the big brands.
The Isle of Wight Distillery is one of them, and its Mermaid Salt Vodka is a great new option for vodka drinkers: it’s clean, fresh and has a super smooth sipping texture, all enhanced by a touch of rock sea salt.
Just the thing we’ve been waiting for to kick-start a vodka revival.
Twist Hard Seltzer, Strawberry Rhubarb
Hard seltzers have been all the rage in the US and there’s now a race on to spearhead the charge over here.
Essentially these seltzers consist of lightly flavoured sparkling water with a touch of booze, and their big appeal is a low calorie content.
New London brand Twist has launched three flavours in recyclable aluminium bottles, with strawberry and rhubarb our pick for some sweet and tart fruity, fizzy sipping, evocative of summertime.
RedLeg Spiced Banana Rum
If you thought the gin market had a monopoly on unusually flavoured spirits then you obviously haven’t been paying attention to rum, where all manner of exotic ingredients have seen the sector soar.
RedLeg has recently released a spiced banana rum and it works a treat – a full whack of banana aromas hits the nostrils while a subtler banana taste awaits the palate, mingling with ginger, vanilla and the rich caramel flavours of the booze.
Rum has just got a whole lot more fun.
Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin
Brands are increasingly promoting their sustainable and environmental creds, yet finding organic spirits can still be a challenge. Step forward Eight Lands from the Glenrinnes Distillery, with organic certification for both vodka and gin.
The vodka is smooth sipping with lots of grain character to the flavour while the gin is a juniper-forward delight, freshened with citrus and a drying, spicy afterglow. A perfect choice for the eco-drinker.
Dartmoor Distillery Ex-Bourbon Cask Single Malt Whisky
England went without a decent whisky distillery for ages, but now they’re cropping up all over the place with new releases being snapped up by enthusiasts and collectors alike.
One new arrival is Dartmoor Distillery and their ex-Bourbon release is a cracking dram, despite being so young.
New spirit fruitiness and sweet stewed plums mingle with some boozy oak and vanilla notes to lead out a moreish dry finish.
Beer Hawk Low and No Alcohol Mixed Case (15 Beers)
No and low alcohol beer has, at last, come of age, with such a vast choice of products available that retailers are now putting together mixed cases loaded with quality.
The box of boozeless beers we tried from Beer Hawk includes alcohol free versions of classics from Germany and Belgium alongside offerings from some of the UKs finest craft breweries, including Thornbridge, Ilkley and Beavertown.
Which means that this year you can have your own booze free beer festival without leaving the house.
Whistlepig 10 Year Old Rye Whiskey
With bourbon now very much a mainstream spirit in the UK, other American whiskies are also coming to the fore.
For an Old Fashioned with an extra kick of spice, seek out a Rye Whiskey – and for a Rye Whiskey with zesty orange flavours to sweeten its peppery punch, turn to Vermont’s Whistlepig.
An outstanding spirit to spice up your year.
Lockdown life saw home deliveries of pre-mixed cocktails become a popular practice, as folk did their best to compensate for missing out on nights at their favourite bar. This trend could well continue, with Italian brand NIO’s letterbox-friendly cocktails among the best around.
There are plenty of classics to choose from, including the Daiquiri, Negroni and Manhattan, each mixed with quality ingredients. You just need a glass and ice then your home cocktail bar is set.
Lyre’s London Dry Spirit
Lyre’s make non-alcoholic spirits and apéritifs that allow for expert cocktail making without the booze. Fancy an alcohol free negroni?
Then simply combine Lyre’s Italian Orange, Apéritif Rosso and the all important Dry London Spirit with its gin-like juniper and citrus flavours and you’re done. It looks, smells and, more importantly, tastes like the real deal.
Hyde 1922 No.4 President’s Cask Rum Finish, 46%
Irish whiskey brand Hyde has recently started exporting to the UK, offering affordable spirits finished in a variety of casks including rum, our tip for a trend to watch.
The rum brings extra layers of sweet tropical fruits and sunny warmth to the whiskey – and in Hyde’s case this added depth of flavour works well with its easy-sipping Irish single malt.