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Give these alternative alcoholic drinks a try

June Lee 16 October 2020
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Soju, seltzer and lesser-known Aussie craft beers add variety to your shelves

Sometimes you just need something new to perk up those jaded taste buds. And since you can’t travel to discover new drinks, these fresh offerings in the market may be just the thing to transport you to another realm. We check out the product launches from Somersby, HiteJinro and Craft Brothers and how to enjoy them.

Hard seltzer for a hot day

Somersby threw a surprise when it launched its new range of hard seltzers in Singapore this October – a global exclusive. Available in two flavours: mango and passionfruit, and lime ($11.90 for each pack of three, fairprice.com.sg), the Estonian-made drinks measure up at 4.5% ABV and less than 100 calories per 330ml can.

The base of this alcoholic sparkling water is a carbonated apple wine, as would be expected from Somersby which is synonymous with its apple cider. With very little carbohydrates and low in calories, the category of hard seltzers is one of the fastest growing, and looks set to catch on with the health conscious. Our test taste shows that it doesn’t skimp on flavour or enjoyment either, with a bright fizzy mouthfeel and refreshingly dry finish. The mango and passionfruit especially delivered on a pleasant fruit element, while the lime is much dryer and more highball like. Drink it on its own, chilled and without ice, or pair with a greasy meal or salad – it’s a surprisingly versatile drink, and gives you just enough buzz for day drinking or to start a night out.

Crafty Aussie labels  

A newly established Australian exporter and distributor, Craft Brothers – created by three brothers-in-law – are busy sourcing for some of the best and more unique craft beers and brews to bring to Singapore. According to them, less than 2% of 650 Aussie craft brewers are exported out of Australia, while 65% of the independent brewers are hyper-local – they are either in rural areas or mainly sell to their local towns. That’s why Kevin Hau, one of the co-founders who’s based in Singapore, has specially picked three brands – all from Victoria – for their initial foray into the market. Each of them are well-suited to the local palate and the weather – a bonus.

From Daylesford is alcoholic kombucha specialist Bootleg Booch, weighing in at 3.5% ABV with a crisp finish and persistent fizz, to be served over ice. There are two flavours, Passionfruit and Pink Apple ($178/24 pack of 330ml bottles). We liked the Pink Apple, which preserves the familiar sweetness of Pink Lady Apples, with low sugar and no preservatives.

Established in 2016 in Castlemaine, craft beer Shedshaker operates out of the town’s historic Woollen Mills. Their Frailty Pale Ale in particular has tingling citrus notes from the use of specific hops, and a light touch of biscuit. Try it with hawker favourites like laksa or a chilli crab session. There’s also a lager, Celtic Red and Knucklehead IPA ($197/24 pack of 330ml bottles), which you can combine in a discovery pack for the same price ($197 for 4 x 6 packs of each style).

Bright Brewery from the town of Bright is a proudly sustainable and family owned brewery. Since 2005, they’ve been crafting beer with an alpine flair, thanks to the mountain water and High Country crisp air. Take a chance on the modern Hellfire Amber Ale, a nutty and malty English style amber named after a nearby ski run. There’s also the tropical citrus zing of the Blowhard Pale Ale, Alpine Lager, and Razor Witbier which you can buy separately or in an adventure tasting case for the same price ($197 for 4 x 6 packs of each style). Distributed by Craft Brothers and available online at shopee.sg.

 

Return of the soju

As straightforward a name as you can imagine, Jinro is Back is a soju based on the original Jinro soju that was produced from 1924 to 1983. The latest iteration is the one on the right (in image), in a clear, clean bottle design with its signature toad mascot. It sold over 300 million bottles in Korea since it was re-launched in April 2019, and has just debuted in Singapore in September. For those who are new to soju, this heritage blend is approachably smooth and on the lighter side, weighing in at 16.9% ABV. It is distilled, similar to vodka, and can be drunk neat or in cocktails.

Its sweeter blend of rice, along with other starches such as barley, sweet potato and tapioca, lends it a rounder mouthfeel, finishing with a lightly dry, apricot note. It’s a more serious drink than the range of Jinro’s Chamisul flavoured sojus, and pairs well with typical drinking food – think grilled pork belly, salted egg fish skins, and even mala hotpots.  Priced from $15.95 at Korean marts, restaurants such as Tasty Loong and Kko Kko Na Ra, and bars such as Lady Wu and Joo Bar. Distributed by House of Amber Nectar.

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