So I've made one of my top drinks discoveries of 2015. A really, really good one. Naturally, I raced Vinspire-ward to tell you guys about it right away!
It all started on Twitter - I saw a tweet from a nice Dorset-based apple company called Liberty Fields about their Apple Aperitif, and it sounded interesting, so I cheekily asked if I could try it. Rather than telling me to sod off, they very obligingly sent me a bottle (thanks!), and it landed on my doorstep yesterday morning along with lots of interesting information about them.
They've planted 1600 apple trees in their beautiful orchards, including some rare and local varieties, and since 2012 they've been using them to make some apple balsamic vinegar. So far, so lush.
|Liberty Fields' apples|
Then, in 2014, they created Apple Apertif: an 8% booze concoction made from their own apples, which are fermented and then matured in oak barrels for six months.
Before it arrived, I wasn't aware of the oak age, and was expecting something like a light apple liqueur along the lines of the sweet, pleasant fruit liqueurs we get from the likes of the brilliant Chase Distillery.
Well, it is not like that. And I love it!
It's got a brilliant yeasty and baked apple nose that makes it smell almost like a fino sherry (another absolutely fantastic aperitif), as well as some nice green apple skin notes, but unlike a fino sherry it's a deep, dark orange-brown colour more akin to an apple chutney. It looks lovely over ice in a tumbler - and tastes even better.
Taste-wise, there's so much going on. It's appley, yes - think rich, warm baked apples rather than just apple juice, but it's still got that apple freshness - and the yeastiness is mostly relegated to the finish. Its replaced by a deliciously smokey, savoury character that works brilliantly with the sweet richness from the apple. Its lightness at just 8% abv means the alcohol stays in the background, preventing it from becoming too heavy or overwhelming.
Everything happens all at once in a delightful, chaotic symphony that just works brilliantly. It's utterly moreish and completely captivating. And it's unlike anything I've ever tried.
So how should you drink it, and with what?
|A Dorset Pommes|
It's also delicious to add to soda water and ginger ale on a hot day, or into a glass of Prosecco for a smokey alternative to a bellini.
Or, OR, they've also come up with the brilliant idea of a Pimms alternative - 2 parts aperitif, 1 part gin, 3 parts lemonade, with cucumber, apple and mint. They've called it a Dorset Pommes, which is frankly genius.
Served long, it would work really well alongside pork dishes or lighter BBQ food in the summer, but it's also screaming out to be served neat with a big, flavoursome cheeseboard. Seriously, as soon as you try it you'll know what I mean.
What about proper cocktails?
Well, the Liberty Fields guys have collaborated with some brilliant bartenders near their neck of the woods in Dorset to create some drinks for you, and they're brilliant.
Have a look at the cocktail recipes on their website (the Smoking Wreck looks particularly epic), but for now, here's their recipe for the Liberty Flip:
|Photo: Stuart Webster|
Liberty Flip cocktail recipe (serves one)
Created by Lloyd Brown, Head Barman at the Venner Bar, The Bull In, Bridport
50ml Liberty Fields Apple Aperitif
15ml fresh lemon juice
10ml burnt caramel syrup (you can use a tiny bit of toffee vodka or liqueur instead if you haven't got time to make this)
1 whole egg
A little grated nutmeg, to serve
1. First, dry shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker (which means shaking them without ice).
2. Then add some ice and shake again, and strain into a coupette or martini glass.
3. Grate with some nutmeg, and serve.
Just perfection - and a lovely way to ease yourself into using egg in cocktails if you're a bit uneasy. It's all kinds of frothy goodness.
Have a happy weekend, everyone! With my new-found love of Apple Aperitif, I know I will...