Image: Thomson & Scott

Thomson & Scott has the answer when it comes to enjoying fizz without the alcohol.

Dry January is here, the month when at least five million of us are likely to give alcohol a miss as we detox after the festive period. But if you are already missing a burst of fizz, Thomson & Scott has come up with Noughty, a non-alcoholic, organic, sparkling Chardonnay catering for the growing demand for alcohol-free alternatives.

Launched last autumn, Noughty is made with 100 per cent organic Chardonnay grapes and is ‘dealcoholised’ – their word not mine – using a patented technique without any additional sugar or artificial aromas. And it is vegan suitable.

Thomson & Scott are the people who launched ‘Skinny’ Prosecco at 11 per cent abv for Easter 2016, creating a new sub-segment for low-sugar wines. Unfortunately, the name ‘Skinny’ had to be removed from labels for the UK market due to problems with EU directives – now the label says ‘organic’ – but it continues on export labels and remains a useful descriptor to define its place in the market.

It, too, is made from 100 per cent organic grapes, using a completely vegan method of production and avoiding the addition of unnecessary sugar. The result is beautifully dry, nicely sparkling and an excellent Prosecco taste.

Then, in 2018, Thomson & Scott launched sparkling rosé in a can, an Italian sparkling ‘frizzante’ with no more than three grams of sugar per litre, 10 per cent abv.

‘Noughty’ is available from Harvey Nichols, Holland & Barrett and Amazon for £11 to £12 a bottle or direct from at £70.14 per six-bottle case.

Licence to mix

Whisky sour – the simplest of all, 1 scotch measure, 1 teaspoon sugar, juice of half a lemon, top up with soda water, add a slice of lemon zest

We are seeing the return of whisky cocktails. In the age of elegance and transatlantic travel by ship, whisky cocktails were definitely ‘in’; Scotch and Bourbon in equal measure.

Then post WW2 the purists gradually took the high ground, especially with the growth of single malts, and extolled only water as the mixer. Even adding soda water was classed as a ‘cocktail’ and in many bars the Schweppes soda syphon would be on the counter for free use by customers.

This century the range of flavours and types of whisky has expanded, with innovation being the name of the game. Cocktails are returning to favour and smart bartenders are making the most of the many different varieties, some even using ultrasonic machines to integrate ingredients and centrifuges to separate liquids from fats to create totally new drinks.

These bartenders become dedicated professionals and they compete with each other. At the 2019 final of the World Class Bartender of the Year competition, held last September in Glasgow, 55 bartenders from 55 countries gathered for a series of set tasks and to present their own creations. The winner was Bannie Kang, the female bartender at the Hotel Fairmont Singapore.

Imagine Talisker (single malt from Skye) mixed with peach concentrate, extract of fig and a dash of ginger soda. Or a highball made with 12-year-old blend Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch, sea buckthorn (a wild shrub), rosehips and celery soda.

Exciting – or would it send you scurrying back to the peace and simplicity of a quiet dram with water?

It all adds up to a licence to mix, and giving the Scotch cocktails a try.



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