I love nothing more than unearthing a unique little enterprise operating out of the corner of some Cornish field/barn/shed/kitchen. This month’s discovery is the UK’s first ‘gourmet’ malt vinegar, made with loving care in a nuclear bunker on the Lizard.
We all know malt vinegar, right? That brown liquid that people sprinkle indiscriminately on fish & chips, so cheap that some people use it for cleaning. Or do we?
Italian balsamic vinegar has been considered the drizzle of choice in the UK for over 20 years but according to this new business, there is an age-old English artisan product that, when made the traditional way from beer, can compete on flavour and versatility. So the people behind Lizard Ales have started producing ‘the only gourmet malt vinegar in the UK’ – made from real ale, matured for months in oak, and unfiltered and unpasteurised.
Verdict? It took me several gos to rid myself of preconceptions but once I had, I found it has considerable complexity and a lovely sweetness. I also have a very soft spot for the vintage styling – all brown paper labels and vintage fonts. If it seems too good for your fish and chips, you can use it wherever you would balsamic or a good wine vinegar, or even to make up a pesto.
£3.25 for 250ml, Tel. 01326 281135, available from farm shops and independent shops around Cornwall, http://artisanmaltvinegar.co.uk