A drink for all seasons: The whisky that costs more than a brand new car

The car in question, in case you're wondering about that headline, costs £23,340. But we've a few more things to look at before we get that far...

Putting the ‘tea’ in teetotal

The inventors of the very Japanese-looking Saicho Sparkling Tea are the very un-Japanese sounding Charlie and Natalie Winkworth-Smith, but there’s a nice story behind it. Natalie — who is originally from Hong Kong — is intolerant to alchohol, turns ‘red as a tomato’ if she touches a drop, and always felt left out at parties where everybody was sipping Champagne or Prosecco.

The couple created this range of sparkling teas to put an end to that. Very nice they are too; try the Jasmine; it’s floral, delicate and deliciously refreshing – once you get over the fact that your tea is cold. And fizzy.

Saicho Sparkling Teas in Jasmine, Darjeeling and Hojicha. Priced at £8.99 per 500ml bottle — click here to buy.


Putting the ‘waistline’ into getting wasted

For those of you who believe that January is already bleak enough without packing up alcohol for the duration, yet who still want to get back to pulling on your dress/skirt/trousers without having to breathe in, help is at hand. ‘Balans’ is a British drink looking to cash in on the White Claw craze of last summer, essentially packaging up mildly-alcoholic water with a fraction of the calories and sugar of the equivalent amount of wine or beer.

That makes it sound almost as bleak as doing Dry January, but both lime and mandarin flavours actually taste pretty good — think vodka and soda water with a cordial mixer.

Balans Mandarin and Lime Aqua Spritz. Priced at £1.50 for 250ml can — click here to buy.


Putting two fingers up to New Year health kicks and Dry January

Read the brewer’s description without knowing this had anything to do with beer, and you’d think it was an advert for a Marks & Spencer pudding: ‘Luxurious, creamy, and rich, it combines Madagascan vanilla notes with cacao nib and roast chocolate flavours.’

As far-fetched as such prose sounds for a can of beer, we’re thrilled to say that it pretty much delivers on every front. An absolute marvel of a drink, but one of those that’s deadly-strong (at 7.5% ABV) without tasting so.

London Beer Factory Big Milk Stout Beer. Priced at £3 for a 440ml can — click here to buy.


Putting the ‘Woah!’ into whisky

Royal Salute — the top-end of the Chivas family of whiskies — has never been cheap, with even it’s ‘standard’ bottles costing around £120. Special editions, often in custom-made ceramic decanters, can be three times that. But their 52-year-old is on another level at £24,000, which is £660 more than a new VW Golf. Of course, if you’re in the market for a twenty-four grand whisky then even your butler wouldn’t be seen dead in such a mundane hatchback.

Sadly, samples weren’t available (or at least not to us), but the tasting notes ‘intensely fruity aromas of ripe plums, toffee apples and chocolate-covered hazelnuts’ on the nose, ‘sweet marmalade, ginger and cloves’ on the palate and ‘hints of pears in syrup and liquorice’ in the finish. It’s ‘an unparalleled blend for collectors and enthusiasts’, says Royal Salute’s master distiller, Sandy Hyslop.

And as for that price? Yes, it’s a lot. But then again, in 2018 Macallan released a 52-year-old single malt which currently goes for £80,000. In that light, the Royal Salute is a bit of a bargain…

Royal Salute 52-year-old whisky. Priced at £24,000 for a 70cl bottle, which includes a hand-blown Dartington crystal decanter — click here to buy.