Saying “Cheers”, at a distance

We all know that it is an extremely difficult time for the hospitality, drinks and tourism industries – but there are some good news stories as businesses adapt to the new normal.

So, in the ‘spirit’ of believing that the glass is half full, rather than half empty, here’s a round-up of some of the ways you can still enjoy a lockdown tipple, and plan a cheery treat for when we can all start travelling again.

English wine happy hour!

Here’s a chance to join-in with one of the biggest online tastings of English wines – from home. Get social from a distance every Friday night, until 5 June 2020, with new initiative #EnglishWineNight from Wine GB, the national association for the English and Welsh wine industry. Each Friday at 7pm the virtual ‘Happy Hour’ will see different regions sharing videos, photos and comments and a competition to win a case of wine (6 bottles), as well as offering online chats. The Wessex region (Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Isle of Wight) has already joined in, when Hampshire’s Danebury Vineyards – a family-owned boutique wine estate producing fine English wine for over 20 years – promoted a special offer case of wine for people to purchase, so they could join in and follow the tastings on social media. There will be more vineyards taking part as the initiative continues, so at 7pm each Friday log on to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and follow the activity by using the hashtag #EnglishWineNight.

Something to look forward to…

Hampshire-based Black Chalk Wine, which specialises in English sparkling wine, is not only offering free delivery on orders, but when you buy three or more bottles, you’ll be invited for a free tour of the Black Chalk vineyards (when travel restrictions are lifted). Situated on the banks of the Test River, Black Chalk – a member of Vineyards of Hampshire ( – produces and sells top quality wines, and also offers tours around the vineyards, followed by a tasting of its current range of wines. For valid sales, buyers will get a voucher for two people for a free tour and tasting, so you can plan a trip for when we’re all able to travel again. Black Chalk has plenty more treats in the pipeline too. A new winery is currently being built, and a neighbouring woodland is set to become home to a new development of boutique, ultra-luxury treehouses operated by Wild Escapes, which will overlook the vineyard.

Hampshire’s Hattingley Heroes…

Another Vineyards of Hampshire member is lending a helping hand to support the hospitality industry as well as celebrate those going ‘above and beyond’ to help others during the crisis. Hattingley Valley – a family owned vineyard and winery specialising in quality English fizz – has launched a social media #HattingleyHero campaign. It’s asking people to nominate a hero who is offering support during the coronavirus crisis – whether it’s one of our incredible NHS staff, volunteers, couriers, supermarket staff, postal workers or a deserving neighbour – with a chance to have two bottles of Hattingley English sparkling wine delivered to their door as a big thank you. To enter, tag your hero on Instagram @hattingleywines and reveal why they deserve to win ( As pressure continues to mount on the hospitality industry, Hattingley Valley is also supporting Hospitality Action – the charity offering vital assistance to all who work, or have worked, within hospitality in the UK – by making a donation for every case of wine sold.

Quarantine tipple?

You may not be able to make your own gin at Hull’s popular Hotham’s Gin School at the moment – but you can buy vouchers to book a place for when the lockdown is over, with free delivery when bought online. And in the meantime, their small batch gins are also available to buy, including award-winning Hotham’s Cardamom Gin – which pairs perfectly with spicy foods – and Hotham’s Original Gin, a smooth gin combining Juniper berries and coriander seeds with the fragrant flavours of rose and lavender. Both are distilled by hand in traditional copper alembic stills at the distillery, which is also home to Hotham’s award-winning Gin School where you can learn all about gin, how it’s made, and practise the ancient art of distilling to create your very own bottle of gin to take away. Vouchers will entitle the recipient and a friend to come and join Hotham’s for a gin experience to savour at a later date.

Potty about gin? Try a G&T with a difference

Stoke-on-Trent is known as the world capital of ceramics thanks to its pottery-making heritage, while Staffordshire is famous for its oatcakes. So, how about a tipple combining both? Moorland Pottery now combines a craft gin and ceramics – an ‘oatcake gin’ in a glass bottle featuring its iconic ‘Stokie Ware’ artwork, as well as a bottle kiln-shaped ceramic bottle. It also sells an Oatcake Tea – created by a master blender using oat flowers for a uniquely flavoured tea – so what better combination for an unusual tipple than a ‘G & Tea’; gin in a bottle kiln-shaped bottle plus a canister of Oatcake Tea?

How about a survival box?

Staffordshire’s award-winning family run ‘micro brewery’ Lymestone Brewery has launched a home bottle delivery service during the coronavirus crisis – and introduced a very popular ‘Survival Box’. Housed in an old brewery dating back over 150 years, with an on-site brewery taproom, it produces a range of cask ales and seasonal brews, and runs brewery tours, offering a chance to sample its beers and check out the brewery. While pubs and the tours are, of course, closed for the time being, you can still try out the beers, with Lymestone now taking orders online for a range of beers, cask ales and mixed cases. And their special offer, ‘The Survival Box’ containing 10 Beers, two glasses, two packets of crisps, a couple of beer mats and a good old ‘Spot The Difference’, has been selling out fast.  Delivering across the UK, it says: “Stopping in has never been so easy!” The Brewery is based in Stone, a market town with a well-earned reputation for excellent food and drink, enjoyed at monthly Farmers’ Markets and annual Autumn Food & Drink Festival.

Looking for some ‘ginspiration’?

Until we can once again join in one of the top rated tour experiences at Hampshire’s award winning Bombay Sapphire Distillery, how about being inspired to create one of its signature cocktails at home? Discover how to make cocktails just like the professionals with video tutorials, recipes and top tips to create your favourite cocktail in the comfort of your own home. And while you’re sipping your cocktail, how about planning a future trip to uncover the secrets of the world-famous gin on a behind the doors tour of its historic distillery, Laverstoke Mill in rural Hampshire?

Adding rum to the mix…

You might not be able to visit its Victorian distillery and see ‘Betty’, a 600 litre spirits still, at the White Peak Distillery, near Derby, but you can still enjoy award-winning spirits. Making its own bit of Derbyshire history – in a distillery housed in a former wire works in the Derwent Valley, a World Heritage Site for its role in the industrial revolution – it was the region’s first full-scale, craft distillery. First came Shining Cliff gin, followed by the county’s first single malt whisky using English barley… and new for 2020, there’s now Derbyshire rum. All distilled and aged on site.  Most of the rum produced so far has been laid down in oak casks to mature for a while, but a limited number of bottles of un-aged, white rum will soon be available to purchase via its website (whilst stocks last). And for a post corona crisis treat, make a date to see ‘Betty” by buying a tour voucher for any future available date.

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    White Peak

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    Hothams Gin

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    [Credit: The Electric Eye Photography]

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    Black Chalk

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    Danebury Vinyard