That’s the spirit! Ten local tipples to try
Muddy raises a glass to our fabulous local drinks' producers with our guide to the best spirits from Salcombe, Exeter, Totnes, Plymouth and beyond.
Love to try something local from the bar menu when you’re out and about in Devon? Think of this as your helpful ‘When in Rome’ guide to quaffing your way around the county and tick ’em off your bucket list, pronto.
Propping up a bar anywhere between Exmouth and Swanage? There’s a gin for that! Created by a qualified palaeontologist (true) Wayne Munday and son Jack, Fossil Coast Gin is inspired by the 95-mile long stretch of coastline, encompassing stunning red rock cliffs, white limestone and its fascinating fossils. You needn’t be a geology teacher to enjoy it, but as you knock one back, revel in the knowledge you’re supporting a local gin producer who works with the charity responsible for educating people about this special bit of coast and making sure it lasts for, ooh, at least another 185 million years or so.
Fiercely independent and rammed with delightful indie businesses, Totnes is full of surprises, the latest for Muddy is it’s home to the award-winning Devon Rum. Pop into Totnes Wine Co to pick up a bottle for your next mojito or Mexican night, it will spice things up nicely, I promise! Think rich amber Caribbean rum blended with Devon spring water, and sweetened with honey made by the busy bees at South Molton’s Quince Honey Farm. Buena!
Papillon Gin is soooo good, I still remember the first time I tried it, appropriately at a cosy inn on Dartmoor, where the distillery is based. Its more’ish floral flavour comes from native blooms and berries which grow on the moors. I love its butterfly label (and the hidden illustration with owners Claire and Adam on their bikes on the reverse side), plus their ethos of raising money and awareness about Dartmoor’s endangered Pearl Bordered Fritillary.
Just. The. Prettiest. Gin. Ever. A double Rosé Sainte Marie Salcombe Gin is what the words ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ and #nofilter were invented for. The tasting notes say ‘fresh lemon peel and Provence herbs… complemented by the natural sweetness of red fruit and the distinctive perfume of white flowers and orange blossom carried on a sea breeze.’ Divine.
A delicious range of multi award-winning gins from local dynamo, Karen Skerratt, Exeter Gin channels the city’s well-known Roman history, both in its stylish look and Med-flavoured botanicals. It’s now available in picnic-friendly pouches and the Muddy Award-winning Laura Wall Gallery’s Seaside Gin. Plus, Karen has finally been able to open the doors to her lockdown-delayed gin school, upstairs at the family’s Teignmouth distillery (above). Isn’t it a beaut?
In the Ocean City? Then it’s got to be Plymouth Gin Distillery, England’s oldest working distillery on Southside Street. It’s known for its tours and workshops, but there’s also their under-the-radar refectory bar, open Weds-Saturday, where you can drop in for a curated gin flight of four of their tastiest classics.
Someone give me a pat. Muddy has just done Dry January, and only six months late too! I owe my willpowers-of-steel to Sea Arch, my numero-uno favourite alchohol-free gin. It’s properly gin-ny, calorie-free, with none of that weird medicinal flavour you can get with some zero gins (Germoline, really?) and its gorgeous blue-bottles are designed and made on the English Riviera. What’s not to love when you’re dieting, the designated driver or just want swerve a hangover?
Fancy an Espresso Martini, m’lady? Try Cove Coffee Liqueur from Devon Cove Vodka. Created by Leanne and co in beautiful Hope Cove from their own home-grown potatoes, it’s full of local Salcombe Brew coffee beans and goes down as smoothly as a Baileys. Perfect over ice.
The last time I fancied a wolf was when watching Twilight with my daughter but let’s, ahem, skip over that, shall we, to something much more sophisticated – Wicked Wolf, a premium small batch gin. Blended, filtered, bottled and labelled on the banks of the River Lyn by the industrious hands of husband and wife team, Pat Patel and Julie Heap. A glass or two is sure to navigate you past any hairy-handed beasts when you’re prowling the bars of Exmoor.
Next time you’re on the North Devon Atlantic coast, from Braunton to Ilfracombe, release your inner mermaid with a Samphire tipple from Atlantic Spirit. It’s like drinking in the sea air. A big Muddy thumbs up to owners Quint and Sadie for using local artists, including the wonderful linocut artist Merlyn Chesterman, to design the artwork on their gorgeous bottles too.
Got a favourite local quaff we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.