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Sacred English amber vermouth – 21.8% ABV

Star rating: 5/5

Read our review of the best vermouth

Sacred Spirits may not have started out with vermouth in mind, but they've certainly cracked the code, with a wealth of awards to prove it. They're generating quite a buzz in the craft distillation world.

Founded with a focus on reassessing London’s small batch gin relationship, the company has now moved into producing aperitifs, vodka, whisky and...Christmas cake.

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Stepping from gin to vermouth is a reasonable move, since both are dependent on a deep understanding of botanicals, how to distill them and which work well together.

It's no wonder that Sacred Spirit have had such success in the business of botanicals. Founder Ian Hart has had a lifelong fascination with distillation and obtained a Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge University.

This expression was made with the help of Alessandro Palazzi of Dukes Hotel SW1. In Casino Royale, James Bond, as he did and does, made his timeless order of a dry martini – specifying half a measure of Kina Lillet.

Nowadays, Kina Lillet is effectively extinct, as its defining ingredient (quinine) was replaced. Sacred Spirits produced English amber in an effort to get as close as they could to replicating the distinctive Kina Lillet taste, with Palazzi testifying it to be the nearest modern equivalent. It's now used in every ‘vesper’ made at the Dukes Hotel.

Made with English wine from Three Choirs in Gloucestershire, lashings of orange peel and macerated wormwood, among a host of other botanicals, this is a gentle and floral vermouth.

Orange dominates the nose and opens up the palate before leaning into pepper and spices that give way to bitter tones. The higher ABV of the vermouth does a great job of regulating the orange flavours and underlying acidity without completely dulling their effect.

Serving suggestion

The perfect pour for this just has to be Bond’s nonchalantly prescribed dry martini. That'll be three measures of gin, one of vodks and half a measure of Sacred English amber vermouth. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.

Make sure all of the ingredients are straight out of the freezer and you get the precious oils out of that lemon peel – then, no matter where you are, you can kick back and be Bond for a drink.

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