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Highgate Heston Blumental of alcohol magics up new Vermouth

PUBLISHED: 17:03 25 November 2011

Ian Hart in his micro distillery in Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Ian Hart in his micro distillery in Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Highgate’s own Heston Blumenthal of cocktail innovation has launched a distinctive new English vermouth – discovered by chance during one of his experiments.

Pioneering gin makers Sacred Gin – which was born in Highgate near North Hill two years ago – has now added a spiced fortified wine to its collection. It is ideal for mixing the perfect martini or negroni.

It is the first vermouth to be made using English wine and comes from the first and smallest commercial distillery of its kind, where it is bottled on the kitchen table.

It follows the success of the original Sacred Gin, which was produced in the owners’ Wendy house and now sells 1,500 bottles worldwide each month.

The new vermouth developed out of an experiment to make mulled wine, explains owner Ian Hart.

“Last Christmas, I decided to try to make mulled wine without solids,” he says.

“The result was far too powerful for mulled wine so I put it to one side and bottled it. After tasting it, I thought it had the makings of a spiced English vermouth.”

The main ingredient is an English white wine, which is given flavour and colour using peels, barks and spices.

The key to the Sacred method is distilling each of the plant botanicals or “distillates” separately at low temperatures using a vacuum method.

This avoids the “marmaladey” results of using higher temperatures typical of commercial production.

Mr Hart is constantly seeking new flavours from across the plant world and is currently working on bottling the flavours of apricot stones, raspberry leaves and green tomato stalks.

“I wanted to capture the essence of what it’s like going into your greenhouse and picking tomatoes,” he says.

Sacred Gin, named after the Latin word for frankincense (a key ingredient), also offers gin blending kits of 11 botanicals for aspiring mixologists to create their own secret recipes.


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