Everything Old Is New Again - The Vermouth Renaissance

Posted by Balthazar in Wines August 12, 2015

For a few of us vermouth was something you saw in your grandmother’s liquor cabinet amongst all those other long-forgotten drinks that she used to partake of when the clock struck a certain hour. Others will be more familiar with vermouth as an important ingredient in some classic cocktails such as the Martini, the Negroni and the Manhattan. One thing's for sure, vermouth is having a renaissance, with old favourites regaining their former glory and a number of new additions from small artisan producers from around the world hitting the market.

What exactly is vermouth and how is it made? Vermouth is an aromatised and fortified wine which originated in Turin, Italy, in the 18th century. It can be dry or sweet, and is named after the German word for one of its traditional botanical ingredients, wormwood (although not a key ingredient anymore). Like a lot of wine-based concoctions of the time, it was devised as a medicinal drink, traditionally made predominantly from white grape varieties to which assorted aromatics (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, citrus peel, coriander to name a few) were added to give it its unique flavour. It came into its own as an aperitif and then as an essential ingredient in classic cocktail drinks during the 19th century, reaching its peak when everyone who was anyone was seen to drink a Martini (including a certain British agent who drank his shaken and not stirred during the mid-20th century). These days, you’d be hard pressed to walk into a bar, restaurant or off licence and not see an array of bottles of this wonderful drink.

At Spirited Wines we have recently had the pleasure of adding a fantastic range of aromatic Australian vermouths from Regal Rogue to our list. Born out of ‘a desire to bring merriment back into vogue through the lost art of raising a glass and toasting the ones you’re with for the perfect Aperitif or Digestif moment’, Regal Rogue vermouth comes in four wonderfully differing styles: White (Bianco), Dry, Red (Rosso) and a seductive Rosé version. Although they can be used in cocktails or put with a mixer such as tonic water they are mainly intended to be enjoyed on their own. The unique character of Regal Rogue is down to the addition of native Australian aromatics such as desert lime, quandong, wattleseed, illawara plums, strawberry gum, rosella, bush lemon and pepperberry to the base wines created from Semillon, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Meet the Rogues

Regal Rogue Lively White Vermouth

Native Australian aromatics such as bush lemons and desert limes are married with chamomile, sage, oregano, basil, thyme and lemongrass and steeped in a base wine made from Semillon, giving fresh, zesty lemon and lime aromas, with subtle thyme and rosemary notes and a slightly off-dry taste. Can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails or simply with tonic, but excellent just to savour neat on ice.

Regal Rogue Daring Dry

Using the traditional aromatic wormwood with olive leaf,  juniper, rosemary and quandong, all blended with a Sauvignon Blanc, and with the further addition of nettle leaf, gentian and orris root. A strong savoury note is apparent, led by grassy, salty aromas and layers of thyme, white pepper and juniper. A sipping vermouth for the connoisseur, or try in classic cocktails like a gin martini.

Regal Rogue Bold Red Vermouth

Native aromatics such as wattle seed and pepper berries are blended with a mixture of South Australian Semillion, Shiraz and fortified wine to which finished clove, cinnamon and ginger spice are added. Dried fruit and sweet spice notes are immediately evident: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, clove and star anise. This is a richly flavoured, spicy vermouth, and it works well served long with ginger beer and a slice of orange, or just over ice with a large wedge of orange.

Regal Rogue Wild Rosé Vermouth

Illawara Plums, Rosella, Strawberry Gum, rhubarb and kina are blended with Shiraz rosé. This vermouth is a nice play on strawberries and cream, with added tropical fruit salad, rhubarb and red plum notes. Try it served over ice with some passion fruit, or try in a refreshing spritzer. Perfect for the summer (and beyond).


So if you haven’t had the recent pleasure of tasting the new wave of vermouths then you could do a lot worse than becoming a rogue... These fantastic vermouths from Down Under are complex, intriguing, but above all else delicious. It is time to discover what vermouth can really offer.

Tagged: Aromatics Australian Wine Balthazar Cocktails Regal Rogue Vermouth

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