Aspall Premier Cru Apple Cyder, Suffolk, UK (from £2, 50cl, Tesco; aspall.co.uk) A staycation is an opportunity to explore one of the livelier and more creative domestic industries of recent years. Whether it’s the small producer-led renaissance of traditional drinks (all those thousands of tiny craft brewers and artisan gin distillers that have emerged in the past decade) or the irresistible rise of English and Welsh wine (the total British vineyard has tripled in size since 2000), the 21st century has so far been a vintage time for British drinks. I’d start a Tour of British booze with cider. In the east, Suffolk’s Aspall’s has been going for the best part of 300 years, and its graceful, subtly perfumed, sparkling premier cru hasn’t lost any of its charm since the family sold up to US beer giant Coors Molson in 2018. In the west, I’d go for something from modern British cider-making’s presiding genius, ex-roadie Tom Oliver in Herefordshire, such as his complex, tangy, properly appley still Oliver’s Fine Cider Traditional Dry (£3.20, 50cl, oliversciderandperry.co.uk).
Hepple Gin, Northumberland, UK (£35.95, thewhiskyexchange.com; masterofmalt.com) A British beer road trip could start in London with the brashly brilliant Beavertown Brewery and their engagingly lurid Lupuloid IPA (£2.20, 33cl, Waitrose). It’s a benchmark modern IPA, all humid hothouse hoppiness, bright citrus and ripe tropical fruitiness. Next a detour to a classic family-owned regional brewer, Cornwall’s St Austell, and their most summery beer, the superbly refreshing, zesty, Tribute Pale Ale (£1.70, 50cl, Tesco), before heading to the very opposite end of England, and the superb Newcastle craft brewers, Wylam, known for their intense IPAs, but in Wylam Gold English Golden Ale (£3.50, 44cl, wylambrewery.co.uk) they have a classic, clean, crisp summery thirst-quenching golden ale which hits several spots. Staying in the North East, you can start an exploration of modern British gin at the Hepple estate in the Northumberland moors. This pristine, vivid presentation of the joys of juniper has notes of resinous pine, citrus and spice and is, as the makers intended, a beautiful base for a martini.
Roebuck Estates Blanc de Noirs 2015 (£45, roebuckestates.co.uk) North of the border from Northumberland, and a summery staycation dram from the Lowlands: Glenkinchie 12 Year Old Single Malt (£39.95, masterofmalt.com) is aromatic, gentle, honeyed. But for a wilder drop, one to warm you up while sheltering from a rain and wind-lashed beach, the style from the famous whisky isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides may be more effective, with Kilchoman Sanaig (£49.90, masterofmalt.com), from the island’s newest producer, providing a fine exemplar of the peaty, smoky style, with a dark, mocha notes. Then, back south, to the Roman Villa vineyard near Petworth in West Sussex, the source of the pinot noir grapes used to make exciting new English sparkling wine release, Roebuck Estates Blanc de Noirs, which has the kind of bakery shop richness you find in fuller-flavoured champagnes such as Pol Roger or Bollinger, with that distinctive fine-line acidity that marks out all the best English fizz.
Follow David on Twitter @Daveydaibach
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.