“ Brand: Lyme Bay Winery / Type: Liqueur „
The Lyme Bay Winery started life in 1992 as the rather modest Lyme Bay Cider Company, a small business founded from a desire to move from the city back into West Country, and inspired by the local Lyme Bay coastline. The company originally produced cider (surprisingly enough), which was supplied on draught and in bottles to local pubs and shops. However, a gradual expansion of the business has seen it develop into a full winery, offering rather more than just the original cider (three versions of which are still available). Amongst the goodies currently on offer are country fruit wines and liqueurs, cider brandy, Dorset ginger cordial, cider vinegar and a range of boozy preserves. There is also an award winning selection of cream liqueurs; butterscotch brandy (winner of the Taste of the West silver award 2004), double chocolate, chocolate orange (Taste of the West gold award winner 2005) and ginger cream. Each is blended in small batches (to 17% vol.) using fresh cream, brandy and natural flavours, and comes beautifully packaged in stylish black 500ml glass bottles.
Has any of this yet tempted you to try one of these tipples? It certainly worked on me; I was originally just searching for a chocolate liqueur, and once I was drawn into the lures of the double chocolate cream that Lyme Bay Winery offers (incidentally very good and long since finished off), I ended up getting a bottle of the subject of this review, their butterscotch brandy, as well. My justification was the fixed price for delivery - £5.95, free on orders over £60 - making it better value to buy more than one product at a time; please feel free to steal this excuse if you too cannot decide which one you want to try most. The price of a bottle of any of the cream liqueurs is £9.95, which compares quite favourably with other drinks of this kind, with the same quantity of Baileys costing around £8.99, and Sheridans at around £10.
The Lyme Bay Winery has its own shop in Devon (see http://www.lymebaywinery. co.uk/pages/about_us.htm for directions, opening hours and a map), but with me living somewhat too far away to visit it, this left the option of buying online. The website is as simple and elegant as the packaging they use and very easy to navigate around, although the very small size of the text may present something of a challenge (or at the very least a nuisance) to some of their customers. I found it quick and easy to place my order (they take Visa, Mastercard and Switch only), and soon received the customary confirmation via email; the delivery, however, proved a little more difficult to sort out. Lyme Bay Winery have the misfortune of their (well packaged, promptly shipped) deliveries being handled by Amtrack had I known this prior to ordering, I would certainly have been put off, given the dodgy service I have had from them in the past. This time was no different. I am not here to review Amtrack, but suffice to say that both deliveries attempted by Amtrack were messed up, and I had to drive a considerable distance to their poorly signposted warehouse to collect my parcel from an indifferent employee. And of course, no apology was offered from Amtrack. I did phone Lyme Bay to inform them of the problems I was having, and they offered to ring Amtrack on my behalf to arrange a third delivery attempt and assured me that if I couldnt access my parcel in the depot (and this was looking likely for a while), then they would issue me with a full refund. They even emailed me later on to check I had received my parcel, which I thought was a nice touch from them.
Once I had finally got my hands on my drinks, I couldnt wait to try them. Removing the cork from the brandy butterscotch bottle, you are greeted by a surprisingly light and creamy smell, and indeed it is hard to detect any alcohol in it at all at this stage. Pouring out the liqueur is made slightly more awkward than necessary by the long, thin neck and narrow mouth, which makes it easy to dribble sticky trails of your drink down the side of the bottle, but I suppose this is the small price you pay for having such an elegant container; something of a triumph of form over function, I think. Nevertheless, it is the drink that is the important thing here; it appears like a paler version of Baileys, and has a similar milky texture, although perhaps not quite so thick. Lyme Bay Winery recommends that this drink is best served chilled or over ice, and that is exactly how I like it with plenty of ice cubes. Raising my glass, I can detect the smell of brandy for the first time, and sipping it provides a deliciously cool and creamy flavour with a delicate hint of caramel (it always tasted nearer caramel than butterscotch to me), with the brandy only becoming apparent in the aftertaste. It is certainly a very pleasant sensation; warming, relaxing and very smooth, although the richness of the drink does mean that it gets sickly after very little time. It is recommended that the product is best consumed within 2 months of opening, but my bottle has been sitting happily on my shelf for at least double that time, and it is still perfectly drinkable now although obviously it would not be a good idea to store it anywhere very warm or in direct sunlight, as it does contain fresh cream.
Ultimately, I would heartily recommend this product to anyone who enjoys cream liqueurs, especially if you can get to their shop. I would buy this again and would love to sample the Lyme Bay Winery range further (I am especially intrigued by their marmalade with apricot brandy), but the delivery arrangements do make me think twice about it. A high quality product and service let down by poor delivery for which I am removing one star from the product rating.
The Lyme Bay Winery
Tel: 01297 551355
Award-winning, delicious, rich and more-ish.