Sampling The Fruit Liqueurs From Hogg Norton in Derbyshire
From time to time we are lucky enough to get sent samples of food and drink from some fantastic producers, and last week a little parcel arrived at Beak H.Q, filled with goodies for us to try. You may recall that I attended the Fine Food North Show in Harrogate earlier in the year; I’m sure you’ll have seen all the posts on my page about it! Anyhow, we got talking to all manner of folk and because time was rapidly running out, I ended up leaving my card or jotting down contact details for people.
One of the lovely teams we got talking to was the Hogg Norton crew; duo Mike and Adrian. Like many new businesses, they started off making their delicious fruit liqueurs for their own (and friends) consumption at BBQs and parties. Things began to snowball and soon they were outgrowing the garage and then the barn, and had to move to purpose-built premises. The days of using demijohns and 25 litre tubs were long-gone: nowadays it’s all produced in 200+ litre vats!
We didn’t quite get that much to try; our quintet of samples held 50ml each which, when served in a nice glass laden with ice, makes the perfect amount to indulge in. Before I talk about each Liqueur in turn, I just want to say that I loved the fact that there aren’t any artificial nasties in the product; only pure fruit and sugar (as well as that extra Hogg Norton touch) goes into the high-grade, organic distilled alcohol base.
We first tried the Strawberry fruit liqueur and it was sensational! You really do get a clean fruit taste coming through on the palate. I’m always a bit wary of fruit “things” unless it’s just the fruit, I just think that it’s not going to taste true, or that it’ll be sweeter than it should be. Imagine my surprise then, when I tasted this beauty and realised that it wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting it to be. It really was just as nature intended.
The Blackberry liqueur was sweeter than the Strawberry one, but it also had a deeper taste to it. This was beautifully fruity and gave a great representation of late summer/early autumn when the Blackberries are at their best. This was gorgeously rounded and full in taste, and both of us were fans.
Next up was the Raspberry Liqueur; just when we thought we couldn’t possibly have something better than the Blackberry, this comes along and raises the bar (no pun intended!). Seriously, this was just like liquid Raspberry – total fruit magic. It was lovely and gentle in the mouth, with that wonderful “pop” at the end.
Our penultimate tipple was the Mixed Berry version and, for me, this was the weakest one of the five. Now that’s not to say it was inferior in any way, please don’t misunderstand me; more that it was a bit too subtle for me. I like a distinct, singular note coming through and this liqueur is a fabulous blend of all the fruits in it – testament to the skill of Mike and Adrian, I think. No doubt this is a raging favourite of some people, so I do apologise if I’ve offended you, but for me this didn’t quite have enough oomph for my palate.
Last, but by no means least, was the Spiced Plum fruit Liqueur. I absolutely love Plums! As a Chick, we lived in a house whose garden had a couple of Victoria Plum trees in and as soon as the fruits were ripe I would hoick myself into the branches and eat as many as I possibly could! I remember Mummy Bird saying time and again “you’ll get tummy ache or the trots!” to me; I never got either as far as I can remember. To this day I have no self-control when it comes to eating plums, I’ll still wolf pound after pound of them down. This particular liqueur is quite sweet, as plums are, but the bonus is that you get a fab hint of spice on the back of your throat that lifts it magnificently.
My two personal favourites were the Spiced Plum and the Raspberry liqueurs; His Nibs loved the Raspberry and Blackberry ones. Saying that, we were bowled over by all of them and are more than happy to recommend them all! I would suggest that you order them in the 50ml bottles first, to see which tickle your taste buds, and when you’ve whittled them down, order the larger 250ml bottles.
If you’ve got friends that like this sort of thing (and who doesn’t?!) then a selection would make a great surprise gift for occasions, and if you’re having a bash then the larger bottles really would become crowd pleasers! Hot Wings awarded here, quite merrily (and I was after trying them all!).