What Home-Bartenders Can Learn From Harrods

We live in an age of choice when it comes it spirits but if you’re finding it all too confusing, let flavour be your guide.

By: Tiff Christie|May 21,2021

Setting up a home bar seems like it would be a simple enough task, especially when it comes to picking which spirits you want to stock. To the uninitiated, it’s easy to assume that all you need is the first whisk(e)y, gin, rum and vodka you came across, a few mixers and maybe a bottle of bitters if you’re feeling fancy.

But as the rows and rows of spirits in any decent bottle shop indicate, the rise of the craft distillery has made the choices seem almost endless. Now you have to consider botanicals, ageing methods, cask types and distilling techniques, among a multitude of other factors.

Once upon a time, that choice might have been based solely on the brand name. And if you didn’t know the brands, then more often than not, you liked what your parents or friends liked. Even if you just liked their ad campaign or the shape of their bottle, you just bought the brands that seemed familiar and called it a day.


Harrods newly opened Fine Wine & Spirits Rooms

Now, when looking to pick a Gin, for example, you are no longer simply presented with a few big names and the odd boutique offering, spread across a few shelves. Today, Gins can take up whole isles in a bottle shop and vary not just in terms of the country of origin but also whether they are Juniper forward or floral, perhaps citrus or herbaceous, even fruity or spiced and everything in between

And it’s not just each distillery offering a uniques product, but each expression from each distillery presenting something new. We live in an age of flavour, which can be both amazing and daunting all at the same time.

Arrange your bar like Harrods

So what is a home mixologist to do?

Well, maybe the answer lies with how the English department store Harrods redesigned their multi-million pound Fine Wine’s & Spirits Rooms. Opened in 2018, the rooms offer everything from top-tier bottles to lesser-known brands.  But it’s not so much what they stock but how they stock it that is of interest.

As Alex Dower, director of Harrods food and restaurants said at the time of the launch, ‘the new rooms break down barriers and change perceptions on the world of wines and spirits by focusing more on the flavour profile of the product, rather than the specific categories and brands”. 

The flavour profile, or even the terroir of a spirit, is not only an interesting way of arranging your spirits but also an interesting way to choose them as well.

Whether you are drinking them straight up or mixing them into a variety of cocktails, stocking spirits with the same flavour overtones can not only make your choices simpler but also open up a world of cocktail possibilities. Using spirits with a similar flavour profile, you can start to explore cocktails and spirits that you might not otherwise have tried. 

Unleash the bees 


Let’s say that you are a drinker who has a natural inclination towards a honey-based Whiskey. You know it, you like it and no matter what else you buy, you tend to always go back to it. In all probability your drinking something like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, which has rich notes of natural honey, sweet molasses and roasted nut glaze. 

But what if you wanted to stock a Gin? Looking for a Gin with a similar profile would simplify the Gin choosing process. Maybe something like Barr Hill Reserve Tom Cat, which is barrel-aged (so works well for whisk(e)y fans) might be one to explore. It has a complex flavour, with notes of juniper and ginger, but has touches of caramel, vanilla and honey that are robust and bountiful.

So far so good. So let’s move onto Rum and in this case, Beenleigh Honey Rum Liqueur. Masterfully blended Australian rum with a judicious helping of Kangaroo Island Ligurian honey.  The blend offers rich, golden colours and complex notes of spiced oak, toffee, lifted honey and hints of vanilla that give way to a velvety smooth finish.

Of course, finding a honey-based Tequila will be key to this plan but don’t worry, Cazcabel have you covered with their Cazcabel Honey Tequila. Described as having a fresh, earthy and dry Blanco at its heart with a dose of sweet nectar to the blend with a combination of Manuka and Yucàtan honey.

Sorting it all out

Now creating your own individual flavour profile will, of course, come down to personal taste. Not everyone will want all their spirits to have honey overtones but its a good way to show what can be achieved with a distinct flavour profile across the spectrum. 

If you prefer earthy tones or floral or even rich Port-like tastes, there’ll probably be something, in each of the spirit categories, that will fit the bill. 

So how do you work out what spirits contain what flavour profiles? Or even if there really is a Tequila with the flavour profile you are after? We hate to say it, but research, research, research. Google can be your best friend here, as can liquor store websites, as they will often include tasting notes for the spirits they offer.

Another way is to go to distillery or liquor store tastings or even Farmer’s Markets (and really, if you are somewhere that doesn’t offer liquor tastings at your Farmer’s market, then we can 0nly ask ‘what the hell are you doing there?’)

Now, this may not be everyone’s ideal way to choose the spirits for their home bar but hell … if Harrods can put millions behind the idea who are we to argue. So next time you are standing at your local bottle shop looking at all the different brands/variations/price points, why not look at the flavour profiles instead. After all, shouldn’t you be creating a home bar that, to your tastes, is distinctly you? 

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