Tom Gosnell, owner of what is thought to be London’s only meadery, is taking “a modern approach” to the traditional spirit with the launch of Gosnells Vintage Mead.
After returning from the America five years ago, where mead is hugely popular, largely due to the success of the TV series Game of Thrones, Tom set his sights on revitalising the phenomenon in the UK.
He said: “Mead has come a long way from the days of monks, sorcery and enchanted castles. US Mead makers are looking to the future, and not to the past, unhindered by our British monastic tradition of making it deep yellow, at high alcohol and outrageously sweet.
“The monks needed it for internal warmth and to wax the vocal chords, but central heating and a modern palate have changed all that.
“So, five years ago, I started to make a lighter, drier style more akin to a buttery Chardonnay or a Blanc de Blancs Champagne. And as it is a mere 5.5% ABV, we now find it in a wide diversity of London restaurants served as an alternative to wine.”
Gosnells Meads take “a modern approach” to a traditional British drink, using unconventional yeasts and then pasteurising lightly to leave more residual honey-sugar and balance.
The 2018 Vintage Mead is made from 100% London honey, sourced from hives in Woodberry Wetlands N16 and Lea Bridge Road E10. It has been specially brewed at the same strength as most wines, 12% ABV, and is presented in a wax-embossed 75cl bottle.
It was created in October in Gosnells Peckham Meadery, then fermented for a month to demonstrate the purity of the honey’s urban roots.
Tom added: “I had always dreamt of making a mead with local London honey – something that completely encompassed the flowers and blossom of the city – and I am really pleased with the results.
“It’s amazing the variation in flavour you get between different honeys, and with the different weather-derived blossoms of each year. The hot summer of 2018 meant that the flowering season in London was earlier than usual, and this has led to more typically autumnal flavours than you would find in our Gosnells 5.5%.
“It is incredibly complex and deep, with notes of blackcurrant, sloe and a hint of spice. It has a totally different taste profile from our core offering, our Gosnells ‘Lightly Sparkling Modern Mead’, which is 5.5% ABV and made from the honeys of orange groves in eastern Spain.
Tom reflects that a lot of London bars are cottoning onto the versatility of modern meads. Nightjar, Clove Club and Bar Swift are using the meads as a complex base for all sorts of cocktails.
Gosnells Vintage Mead is priced at £25 and available from the Gosnells website.