One of the most enjoyable and heart-warming drink combinations is arguably whisky and green ginger wine. Brian Townsend finds out more…
During cold winter days and evenings, many people enjoy a whisky and green ginger wine as the ultimate anti-freeze. It is one of the most enjoyable and heart-warming of drinks and combines sweetness, spiciness and strength in equal measure.
It is also one drink many people who are not normally whisky drinkers enjoy because it has a special quality all of its own. Intriguingly, it is called green ginger wine, even though it is generally the colour of tea – indeed darker than most of the whiskies it gets mixed with.
Of all the ginger wines, by far the best known is Crabbie’s, indeed most people call the drink “Whisky and Crabbie’s”. Made originally at Leith, although the firm is now based in Liverpool, it is seen as the yardstick against which the other ginger wines are measured. It is 13.5% abv, has a bright green label and sells around the £6-£7 mark.
Obviously, their ginger wine should not be confused with Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, launched a few years ago and which has enjoyed considerable success.
Two other name-branded ginger wines are available – Stone’s, also 13.5% abv, which claims it was first produced in 1740, and Mathers, which is slightly dearer but is 15% abv.
For those who prefer a non-alcoholic ginger wine, there is Rochester, which seems to be mainly sold though health chains such as Holland and Barratt.
Several of the supermarkets do own-label green ginger wines – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s, to name but three, all of them priced between £3.50 and about £5.
Over the years I have tried nearly all of them bar Rochester and have enjoyed them all. Doubtless, all Crabbie’s fans will insist on Crabbie’s but, once mixed with a good whisky, they all taste great.
I hear people ask whether ginger wine is OK with a single malt. The answer is yes, but as the ginger wine tends to predominate, the subtlety of the finer malts tends to get lost so a good blended whisky is quite sufficient.
That said, I know someone who swears that nothing beats a powerful peated malt and Crabbie’s. I tried it once but found it a real zonk-your-tastebuds concoction. However, chacun a son gout.
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