Vermouth- The famous ingredient of the Martini.
Whether you shake it or stir it, use vodka or gin, take it clean or dirty, it is not a martini without Vermouth, until now.
Many people are unaware that Vermouth is actually a wine product; one that hasn't always been reserved for the cocktail cabinet. There was once a time when Vermouth was sipped straight and enjoyed for its bitterness, there was no need to pour it into a shaker and mix it with Gin or Vodka.
I want to recreate that crafted product, with a mead twist.
Vermouth is made by taking wine, that has fully fermented and aged, and then both fortifying it with a spirit and flavouring it with some herbs spices and bits and pieces. Initially this was a practice used to reclaim an oxidised wine, but Vermouth became so popular that wine was made specifically to create it.
The main flavour ingredient of Vermouth is Wormwood; a bitter tasting herb with some controversial history based around a belief that it was a psychotropic substance. Wormwood, is also the main ingredient in Absinthe. There are two types of Wormwood used traditionally in Vermouth, I use them both.
Vermouth is taken from the French pronunciation of Vermouth, the German name for Wormwood. I grow an abundance of Wormwood, it travels less than ten metres to get to the Meadery.
As well as wormwoods a wide range of other flavourings were traditionally added. Some recipes call for as many as forty. The ones that are commonly used include: rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger, juniper, basil, angelica root, chamomile, oregano, quinine, citrus peels, mugwort, gentian, vanilla, peppers and hops.
The wine chosen was traditionally a Pinot Gris but many wines were used in the different regions. These days craft blenders and winemakers are getting creative with all sorts of wines, with red vermouth being a bit of an on trend product.
The spirit used to fortify the wine was usually a brandy spirit, though could also be a clear spirit.
I currently use a brandy spirit but am negotiating with the tax man to use a honey spirit.
The herbs and flavouring ingredients could be added in a couple of ways: each has its merits, and each has its adherents who swear that there is only one way to perform this step.
The original manner that Vermouth was made was a portion of the wine would be removed from the barrel and it would be cooked along with a batch of herbs, and perhaps spices and berries etc, This would be reunited with the rest of the wine, which would then be fortified with brandy.
A sweeter vermouth would also have sugar added.
Another manner is that ingredients can be added to the spirit and allowed to steep in it for some time; this flavoured spirit is then added to the wine.
Alternatively, the ingredients can be "hung in" the distilling pot and the vapours imparted into the final distilled product, which is added to the wine. A variation on this last method it to steep the flavours and then distil the spirit.
Or any or all of these methods could be used with some blenders treating each ingredient in its own manner and utilising the method best for it.
Once the wine and spirit have been married, they head off for a honeymoon in a barrel, usually only for a period of around six months, though this is up to the winemaker/blender.
Vermouth in its dry form, is said to have originated in Italy, the French liked it but thought it should be sweeter, so they used a sweeter base wine. In essence, Dry Vermouth is of Italian heritage and Sweet Vermouth speaks French.
I had planned on releasing a Vermouth, and could well do so in the future. In the meantime, I am putting that focus towards creating a Mead based version: A VermeadTM
Because it is about time there was an alternative.
You can follow the progress of my VermeadsTM on this site as they move from in the Making to ageing and then of course to in the bottle.
VermeadTM is a registered trademark of Oaked Gold
‘It is against the law to sell or supply alcohol to, or obtain alcohol for, anyone under 18’
Paul Mills Trading as Oaked Gold
ABN 18 603 381 461
NSW Liquor Licence number LIQW880015329
Oaked Gold™ and Ministry of Mead™ are registered trademarks.