1801. A year that doesn’t ring a bell in too many history books, yet their was a stir in the Edinburgh port of Leith, with the clan Crabbie bursting onto the scene with a secret recipe containing only 4 ingredients. Having fresh ginger shipped from as far as the Far East to be combined into these secret ingredients still to this day, shows how much the traditionalists prevail over modern solutions. And because of there nod to the Scottish Merchant Adventurers of days gone by, the Elephant Trademark you see on all bottles commemorates this arduous process to create a rather spiffing brand!
Launched in February 2009, I’ve been lucky enough to try three of the flavours that Crabbie’s offer, so below I offer you my tasting notes on each.
Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer – 4%
Matured for 8 weeks, fresh ginger aromas are an instant hit on the senses with a dash of citrus and biscuit malt to almost balance the nose out. The palate enjoys a crispness from the fresh ginger used, with citrus hops flowing around nicely to compliment. Theres not much carbonation so it’s surprisingly easy to swallow, and gives a refreshing aftertaste with spiced ginger lingering for a while.
Crabbie’s recommend to enjoy their Original over ice with a slice of lemon or lime, which emphasizes the citrus hops, but not too much to over-power the overall flavour and enjoyment.
Crabbie’s Black Reserve – 6%
Targeted for the older drinker, Crabbie’s Black is oak matured with extra spices, citrus and ginger steeped for a longer period. Again, the fresh ginger aromas are an instant hit on the nose, yet scents of heavy oak and malt combine well with only a dash of citrus following soon after. A deeper malt flavour is present on the palate, with the citrus tones making themselves known compared to the nose. Theres a slow burst of malt that takes its time to leave on after-taste.
Crabbie’s Spiced Orange – 4%
Launched in the summer of 2011, it combines the Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer with infusions of orange and spices. The nose has a slow mix of fresh orange and spiced ginger, whilst the palate has flavours of chocolate orange and spice with the ginger fire following quickly after. An after-taste of fresh orange is a welcoming taste to enjoy. It feels less carbonated than the original, with it going down noticeably better.
Overall, I personally can’t choose a favourite. The Original is one of the best alcoholic ginger beers on the market today, however I think there variant of Spiced Orange, albeit not straying off the path of ginger beer, offers something a little different to the customer and for me, maybe even a little better. The Black offering is also a good choice, especially for the older clientele who might be after a darker, deeper route of flavours.
Crabbie’s themselves seem to be doing rather well despite only being launched nearly two years ago. Extensive marketing, including catchy TV adverts with the characters George and Camilla, and their use of upper class language (which reminds me of the winning formula Hendrick’s Gin has) seems to have put them onto a winning path. Take a look at some of the video regarding their ‘Tickety Boo’ campaign here – Crabbie’s Ginger Beer Advert
If you ever see any of the Crabbie’s range in your local bar, supermarket or off-licence, give them a try, especially with a fresh slice of lemon, lime or orange to really give your taste buds something to talk about!
You can purchase the Crabbie’s range here.