I recently got to play a tiny part in liquid history when I hosted the first live-streamed whisky tasting on Amazon. Broadcast from the Aberfeldy distillery in the Scottish Highlands, it allowed viewers who’d bought a special three-pack of single malts to taste along with me and master blender Stephanie Macleod from the comfort of their own homes. More than 50,000 tuned in, and several hundred submitted questions – being part of it felt quite exciting.
The fact that Amazon is now exploring remote tasting formats speaks volumes about where the drinks market is headed. Even before coronavirus confined us to quarters, more and more of us were choosing to do the majority of our drinking at home. Millennials in particular were increasingly inclined to stay in rather than go out. They may have been slumped in front of Netflix, sure, but they were doing it in style: with Deliveroo on their laps and cocktails perfected with the help of YouTube tutorials in hand. Take note, because until the crisis abates, this is our new reality. So how to prepare to tough it out on the liquid front?
First, get to know The Finest Bubble – not only does it have one of the best champagne selections around, it can (in normal circumstances) also deliver to any central London address within two hours (thefinestbubble.com). For beer, try Honest Brew. Its monthly subscription boxes come packed with interesting exclusives from craft brewers all over the world, and it does discovery cases that riff on themes including IPA, dark beer, Best of British and alcohol-free (honestbrew.co.uk). For gin you won’t find in the supermarket, sign up to Sipsmith’s Sipping Society and receive two limited-edition recipes six times a year. Past hits include Smoked Chestnut Gin and a recipe scented with chrysanthemums (£180 a year from sipsmith.com).
And use all that loafing time to improve your drinks knowledge. The Whisky Exchange posts chatty tutorials on everything from single malts to sake on Facebook and YouTube (thewhiskyexchange.com). The online tutorial company MasterClass – which offers masterclasses from experts including Anna Wintour, Garry Kasparov, Spike Lee and Serena Williams – has just launched its first cocktail class, presented by Londoner and former International Bartender of the Year Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, and award-winning New York mixologist Lynnette Marrero (£85 from masterclass.com). All you need to know – without even having to change out of your onesie.
Alice Lascelles is Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019. @alicelascelles