Once upon a time, a few youthful mistakes ago, vodka was my tipple of choice. This wasn’t because I enjoyed the burn of it as I forced it down my throat, nor was it because I got a thrill giving my gag reflex regular workouts. It was mainly to do with the fact that a) you couldn’t really taste it and b) that most student places in Manchester served it as a double, entwined with ‘Red Pig’, for a bargainous £1.50.
As you might imagine, the moment I whipped off my mortar board, I made a grown-up pact with my heart to put an end to the palpitations I’d forced it to endure for three solid years.
From now on, the only way is gin, I promised.
Up until very recently, my spirits have been dispensed from a blue, square bottle and served with a splash of tonic and a twist of lime. But now there’s a new temptress on the optrics, allow me to introduce Element 29, a British artisan vodka with a taste so clean and smooth you could quite easily sip it straight.
This little gem, distilled in the Black Country, is a wheat vodka and claims to be the world’s first refill vodka. As far as booze bottles go, these are pretty attractive, frosted little numbers which make popping back to Selfridges for a refill a pleasant experience.
There are two types of tipple in this range, the original, slightly citrusy tasting voddy and an utterly divine salted caramel version. As soon as I sampled it I knew where this beast would excel! Serve a large glug of the latter with a melt in the middle, chocolate pudding drizzled with vanilla sauce. A splendid alternative to a dessert wine that will make your guests’ eyes roll back in their heads in a confused, sweet and salty ecstasy.
Need any more encouragement to purchase a bottle? According to the gent at Element 29, the amount of energy saved by refilling one bottle of spirit (as opposed to recycling it) could power a 100 watt bulb for 11 hours. So not only can you upgrade from the vodka-induced throat fire of student times, you can be all green as well as sophisticated.
Element 29 British artisan vodka is available from
Vodka: £25.95 70cl
Salted caramel vodka: £29.95