• 91

Sweetdram Escubac Aperitif (700ml)

$89. 99
$1079.88 Dozen
ABV: 34%
As the gin sector continues to saturate, Escubac offers the discerning drinker and bartender something genuinely original and genuinely delicious to use. Aside from the addictive E&T (see below), this modern spirit is delicious served on the rocks, while its citrusy, spicy personality and deceptive dryness, brings enormous versatility. It can be handled like a gin or a vodka etc., be poured as a base spirit or it can be 'base split' with countless other spirits.

A modern twist on an old drink, Escubac is a reinvention of an old style of spicy yellow liqueur that originated in Tudor England as 'usquebaugh' (a sort of ancestor of whisky). After being adopted by the French, and renamed Escubac, the drink eventually vanished into the ether. Enter Daniel Fisher and Andrew MacLeod Smith. Drawing on the so-called 'Gypsy Brewing' movement in the US, the Sweetdram team distills in small batches using the ancient copper alembics of the historic Combier Distillery in the Loire Valley, France.

To start, Sweetdram macerate 14 botanicals, including caraway, cardamom, cubeb, lemon and bitter orange and citrus for 72 hours, then slowly distill them using Combier's antique stills. Following distillation, the spirit is then very lightly sweetened with golden raisin and a small amount of sugar (Escubac contains four times less sugar than the average liqueur), and tinted a light straw-yellow with strands of saffron. The recipe alone took 18 months to perfect in the team's Dalston workshop, and was clearly time well spent.

Try an Escubac & Tonic (E&T): Fill a highball glass up with ice cubes. Pour in a 30ml measure of Escubac. Top off with tonic water to taste. Garnish with a wedge of lemon or a lemon twist. 34% Alc./Vol.

Tasting note: Brilliant gold. Kind of like a quality dry vermouth on the nose; herbal, fresh and delicately bitter with hints of fennel developing. Follows through in a silky, medium weight profile with an interesting combination of anise, citrus and caraway. Subtle mint freshness on the finish. Reminiscent of dilute absinthe. Delicious on its own over ice. 34% Alc./Vol.

Other reviews... 4.5 stars - diffordsguide.com