My visit to London last weekend coincided unexpectedly with the opening day of IFE – The International Food and Drink Event at London Excel. So instead of writing my usual weekly wine column, I decided to pay a visit to the show and see what I could find new in the world of beverages.
This is a trade show, intended for professionals from all areas of the consumer catering industry. It is huge, taking up two halls of the London Excel centre with hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world.
Portugal was quite well presented on the food front with a large stand from one of the main producers of Ibérico black pork from the Alentejo and a few smaller operations such as a Portuguese bakery in London making some very good custard tarts (pastéis de nata). But I was visiting mostly for the drinks and whilst there was very little in the way of wine at this show, I lost count of the number of gin producers.
The scale of the gin revolution of recent years in the UK is quite astonishing. By the end of 2015 there were 233 registered gin distilleries in the UK, more than double the amount in 2000, and numbers continue to grow.
I was particularly impressed with Elephant Dry Gin, distilled mostly with botanicals from Africa but with the unusual addition of fresh apples to the mix, sourced from orchards around the distillery. The apples lend the gin a fresh and fruity aroma.
Another interesting gin producer I met was Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin with a range that includes special Tea and Lavender editions.
Something else that caught my eye and my tastebuds was Noveltea, alcoholic tea made from Earl Grey with gin and, most interestingly, the The Tale of Tangier edition made from Moroccan tea blends with spiced rum.
The teas have a light alcoholic content of just 11% and are served either lukewarm or chilled over ice.
I would very much like to see this unusual beverage on sale here in Portugal.
By PATRICK STUART email@example.com