Where are the English vermouth distillers?
Maybe ahead of the mass-market trend, it seems shorter, prohibition style cocktails are coming back into fashion. And these of course work with a narrow band of ingredients. Refer to Ted Haigh (Dr. Cocktail)’s excellent book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails to understand the limited number of spirits and liqueurs you needed nearly 100 years ago.
Vermouth has a considerable image problem. I positively avoided it in the early days of being into mixology. I’m sure I’d tried it at some point in the past with lemonade – Cinzano Bianco probably and resolved not to return. Even the Summer 2015 edition of Imbibe magazine – recognizes this problem.
So we all know vermouth is popular again. But no one seems to have told the public. Memo to the on-trade: something is not popular if the only people who drink it work in a fecking bar. We want vermouth in the vermainstream : a big brand paying big money for big stars to crap on about the ‘famous blend of white wine and spices’ in the middle of Coronation Street.
In parallel we know that English wine producers are doing a stormingly well at the moment. Strong growth year on year, albeit mainly for sparkling white wine.
And yet where are the English producers of classy vermouths? I wanted to buy some to add to the collection in order to make up some genuinely all-English Martinis. Gin, elderflower, rosemary all good but the vermouth? The choice is limited. To date I’ve only found Sacred Spirits red vermouth and Blackdown Spirits birch white vermouth to date.
It looks like Sacred Spirits have developed a wider range of vermouths. So worth watching I think. Albeit at over £30 each all these English vermouths are up there with spirits prices – so they need to be good.