Review – Professor Cornelius Ampleforth Christmas Mulled Cup
You know how it works. The weather turns cold, and you think “ooh great, time for mulled wine”. Except cold weather isn’t great, unless you’re skiing of course, and mulled wine is for the most part an unjustifiable faff. There’s the ‘teabag’ option, full of powdered stuff that’s been sat around in a warehouse since ages ago, but like actual teabags this is only acceptable for parties where it would be rude to spend all your time making proper drinks. Then there’s the whole spice route, which is fine if you’re a master blender, but dastardly difficult to balance properly without having to rename the resulting drink ‘clove with a little bit of something else-flavoured wine). Bravo to the Professor therefore for having a go at bottling Christmas, saving both the work and reducing the fail opportunities of mulled wine. The idea is a sort of Christmas-pimped version of a regular fruit cup made with VSOP Cognac, Port, festive spice tinctures and cold-distilled citrus peel and ginger. Just add 50ml (recommended) or more if you really like Christmas to a bottle of decent wine together with 65g sugar and heat gently before serving.
Neat: Sweetened bitter orange on the entrance, rapidly broadening into a remarkably smooth (this is perfectly enjoyable neat) megamix of everything you’d expect. Clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg are well-balanced, with even the often aggressive aromatics of clove kept under control. It is the clove however that has the stamina to last throughout the long, sweet and gently spiced Port-y finish which leaves a tingle on your tongue.
Mixing: Wine, clearly is the first stop and sure enough it does what it says on the tin. Although more than the recommended 50ml per bottle is advisable for a truly punchy flavour, the result is a deep, complex and remarkably fresh taste. Stale spices will be running for the hills. This is quite good enough to make even the proudest owner of Grannies perfect mulled wine recipe make the switch. Wine is a bit yesteryear though, gin is where it’s at now. Add some of this to some cloudy apple juice spiked with enough gin to make even the dreariest of Christmas TV schedules sound appealing and you’ll never turn back. The balanced spicing works a treat too however in other cocktails. Substitute in place of creme de mure in a Bramble for example, and you have yourself an easy-peasy Christmas cocktail that might just be tastier than the original. The citrus does bring out the clove, but this is certainly not a one-dimensional spirit. Try, if you will, it in place of Benedictine in a Vieux Carre. Whisky plus cognac plus sweet vermouth plus Christmas Mulled Cup plus bitters = the most incredible cocktail. Do try it, it will make you smile.
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Christmas Mulled Cup is not only the easiest and most deliciously tasty way of making a mulled wine, but it offers a broader range of cocktail opportunities that make it a must-buy.
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Christmas Mulled Cup is available to buy from Master of Malt
★: 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.