Review – Adnam’s Spirit of Broadside
For the most part, beer and spirits have kept themselves to themselves as if they belong to some sort of exclusive members club that doesn’t welcome outsiders in. Whilst traditionally considered to be a relatively low-proof libation, beer producers have in recent years however been edging closer and closer to the high-proof domain controlled by the spirit market. Whilst such a thing as spirit distilled from beer does exist under the categorisation of bierbrand, it is in the UK market at least most certainly not a mainstream product. It was only a matter of time though before one of the most respected UK beer producers would take on the challenge of distilling a spirit straight from a beer that enjoys global success.
Spirit of Broadside was released in May 2012 to coincide with the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Sole Bay which marked the start of the third Anglo-Dutch war and which took place just off the coast of Southwold where Adnam’s is based. It’s release also comes some 40 years after the ale from which it is distilled, Broadside Beer, was first produced. The beer distillate is aged for 12 months in heavily charred Russian oak casks before being bottled.
Nose: Huge aromas of malt-loaf and hops get straight in there to tantalise the senses, followed by sweet fruit cake, buttered popcorn and juicy raisins. This nose sets the expectations for the palate very high indeed.
Neat: The high expectations set by the nose are most definitely met in the mouth. A fleetingly dry entry quickly sweetens on the palate before releasing a burst of honeyed malty, hoppy, and nutty flavours with a well-judged peppery spice to balance. The oak notes are prominent, but necessarily so to stand up against the bold malty flavours with which it partners so well. This is like the lovechild of a beer and whisky marriage, and a beautiful one at that. Just a tad metallic and flat on the finish, but you’ll have taken another sip before such a profile becomes a concern.
Mixing: The complexity of this spirit cries out to be mixed with, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. The full range of flavours open up with the dilution that cocktails bring, and the combination of fruity, malty, nutty, hoppy, and spicy flavours means that it works well with a wide range of flavours. Best treated as one might treat a bourbon, this eau de vie offers some interesting and delicious twists on classic recipes. Manhattans, Old Fashioned’s, Sazerac’s, Boulevardier’s and so on all work very well, with different elements of the flavour profile coming out in each. By far the most successful however was a simply ‘sour’ which offered up incredible depth of flavour, unlike any whiskey sour that I have tried before. This is a spirit that encourages creativity and is despite the bold flavours is actually pretty forgiving in cocktails such that you need not consider yourself an expert mixologist to achieve good results.
Signature Cocktail – Broadside Sour
2oz Spirit of Broadside, 0.75oz lemon juice, 1oz sugar syrup, 3 dash bitters
Shake ingredients hard with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
Adnam’s Spirit of Broadside is an exciting and delicious eau de vie de bier that demonstrates how successful the marriage of creativity and technical skill can be in the hands of a distiller. It offers a truly unique flavour profile that will appeal to both beer and whisky fans, and to those who simply enjoy incredible cocktails.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.