Diageo on top

The Whisky Academy has voted Diageo its Distiller of the Year, which is no real surprise as Diageo has been rather active of late. Last year it launched four new Hidden Malts - an annual release of long-established but previously underpromoted malts (such as the Clynelish 14-year-old); six premium cask strength Super Premium single malts (including Talisker 20-year-old); four Rare Malts (including 1978 Caol Ila and 1981 Rosebank); and finally the Distillers' Edition releases (such as the amontillado cask finish Glenkinchie 1988, and oloroso cask finish Dalwhinnie 1986).

Middle Eastern promise?

Persian restaurant and bar Dish Dash, on London's Goodge Street, has revamped its drinks list, as well as its menu and interior. The drinks list now includes Persian cocktails, which have been devised by manager Kamau Johnston with a little help from bar consultant Jasper Aires of the Alchemist Group. With names like Zamshid, Zelzele, Ma'vara and Zoroaster, they're full of Middle Eastern promise, with ingredients of a Persian persuasion - dates, pistachio, pomegranate and passion fruit.

The best "Persian version" was the Persepolitan (geddit?), which included fresh rhubarb and pomegranate seeds with Absolut Mandarin, framboise and a dash of Campari alongside the ubiquitous cranberry juice. The worst? The Khayyam - Polstar vodka shaken with (too much) vanilla liqueur, bitters, and garnished with flaming orange oil. Owner Hugh Crossley is all set to open the second Dish Dash next month, in Balham, south of the river.

Spanish newcomer

Sherry, port and Rioja producer Osborne has launched a still red called Solaz. Agent Halewood International (0151-480 8800) reckons it will be "the biggest Spanish wine brand in the UK by 2005". Hope you're listening, Jacob's Creek. And do you know what? It tastes pretty damn good. The wine is from the Tierra de Castilla in the Toledo region, made from 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, in Osborne's new £30m winery and vineyards. Launched at the end of the month, it has an on-trade price of £3.58 a bottle.


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