As I boldly stare into the face of winter going through its death throes, my mind often wanders to pleasant thoughts of what spirits I’ll be drinking as the weather warms up. I’m weird like that.
As much as I love a G&T, negroni or boulevardier, I do fear that we are reaching ‘peak gin’, so this year my boozy antennae are scanning for other signals from the spirit gods. And I have received good copy, loud and clear, that this spring and summer I shall be drinking Escubac.
It comes from the crew at Sweetdram. This is an East London spirits workshop where they compile a library of individual botanical distillates, blend them together to determine a provisional formula, upscale the blend to a 110-litre test still, tweak it a little and when happy, take it to production using the antique stills at Distillerie Combier in Saumur in France’s Loire Valley.
It’s a riff on an old recipe from the 1700s, one that has been given a contemporary twist. They macerate 14 botanicals, including caraway, cardamom, nutmeg and citrus, for 72 hours, then slowly distill before sweetening with raisins, vanilla and a dash of sugar before colouring it with saffron.
It is kind of like a cross between chartreuse and gin or perhaps just a gin sans juniper… but by golly it’s good; balanced and smooth with a trail of cardamom, spice, vanilla and the merest hint of spearmint in the background, finishing harmonious and long. Tackle it with ice, tonic and lemon. Drink nice things.