A toast to Sunderland’s finest! 

Years ago the North of England was regarded as one of the great areas for industry. Many thought that anywhere past Watford was ‘Grim’.  Coal was big business and raw materials were in high demand. It was a ‘golden age’.  These days the North of England seems to have lost most of that industry that made it prosperous.


Sunderland ( A shipbuilding town), in particular, was one of those such towns that had it all. Much of that is gone now but what remains is the stoic determination for something great again.  That dream, that desire, might just be becoming to fruition.

Just look at neighbouring  Tynemouth and you might think your in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds   Not only are fabulous independent shops on the high street but also the gastro-scene is flourishing. Posh shops everywhere and London prices – the only thing missing is the Hunter Welly’s !  Having looked out from Rileys Fish Shack (Below) just 2 weeks ago the gastro-scene had truly arrived!

TM The Grape Wizard

TM The Grape Wizard

Fish and Chips on the Beach – How Victorian and totally stress free

(No London life allowed here !)


™TheGrapeWizard.com – Turbot & Capers with Samphire YUM YUM

The creativity built out of 2 * 40ft containers is there to see – great food cooked to order and craft beer on tap.


TM Rileys Fish Shack

carefully selected beer and ale from some of the regions favorite brewers including

Wylam Brewery,
Almasty Brewing Co
Three Kings Brewery
Allendale Brewery.

Good choice of wine also adds to the experience. Not only was the food good for the stomach but the experience was good for the soul   All fish 🐟 was unusual – even the ugly gurnard was on the menu.  Just shows you we don’t have to be reliant on cod and haddock all the time.!!

If there is a lesson here it is the determination of a business to showcase talent to the local economy in the hope of greater things. Such is the determination up in the North of England that other businesses have taken the step to modernise and become uber-cool in recent years –  Alnwick gardens, The Sage and the Baltic in Gateshead all benefiting from a revamp !

Even the Angel of the North champion’s optimism and the hope for the future !


Then…. just the other day i was driving into Sunderland  and drove through a ‘suburb’ of Sunderland – Roker


and saw “Poetic License ” adorned on a hotel wall. Further investigation highlights a fabulous gin distillery.

It Achieved a Gin Masters Award and Gin of the Year Award 2015. Set up by a guy who worked in the hospitality industry. This is a Gin/s to try I thought!.

Here is the range



 Northern Dry Gin £34.95 thefoodmarket.com

Juniper, Cardamom, Pepper, Citrus.

43.2% Vol.

Expect a big fistful of juniper that is complemented with green cardamom to warm the heart on an Autumnal evening . Undertones of lemon and eucalyptus together with Persian lime intensifies the citrus feel  GW score 4*

Good for Negroni and the sharp citrus flavour of a classic Gin Sour

Old Tom Gin £34.95 thefoodmarket.com

Juniper, Sweetness, Rose, Oak

41.6% Vol.

A sweeter and more peppery taste compared to the Dry Gin. Oak casks add a woody flavour and colour to the Gin. Rose petals infuse a distinct character to the sweetness as well as a rose gold tinge.

Mixing Tips:  Old Tom Gin suits subtle cocktail recipes. Ingredients like lavender and rose give it a good balance GW Score 3*

Graceful Vodka £32.50 MasterofMalt.com

Smooth, Pure, Subtle Sweetness.

40.4% Vol.

 a smooth spirit, to be sipped and savoured.

Created entirely from British wheat giving a velvety smooth texture,

Mixing Tips: Cocktails with a lighter citrus flavour = GIMLETS. Avoid mixers with too much acidic content try a dry Vodka Martini

Fireside Gin £34.95 Poetic License

Mulled Winter Fruit and Juniper

40.1% Vol.

This gin is a winter warmer, your granny’s favourite blanket on your knee. Very wintery.  Juniper, coriander and orris root give it its base flavours whilst a sweetness from dried winter fruits and a zingy freshness from clementine.

The mulling spice blend of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg gives a warming flavour reminiscent of your favourite seasonal treats, sure to warm you from the inside out!

Mixing Tips: Try Winter Cocktails – Poetic License  like it ” hot, served with ginger ale warmed through with a little honey and extra mulling spices.” Try It!

The citrus edge also makes a delicious white lady.”

They also do a whole host of seasonal stuff GW Score 4*

Click to see more of the Guys from P.L.


Gracie – She does all the work and surely deserves a medal – at the very least a mention

Having tried the Northern Gin last night (22nd Sept 2017 ) I have to say it’s one of the most stand out gins I’ve tried   Up there with Herno Gin and  Icelandic Vor Gin . All too often gins can loose there distinct style and flavour. Poetic Licence Northern Gin seems to be spot on.

The growing market for sipping gins seems to be growing – using more richer flavours and combining that with your favourite music seems to enhance the experience.

Some of you may have noticed that I havn’t put up a blog for a few weeks. My father in law has been battling with a long term illness. Obviously this week is a little more personal than normal but it is only fitting to finish this weeks blog with a tribute to a man who lived and loved life.  Tom introduced me to many a fine whiskey in the company of Robert Zimmerman (click here to find out more!). . 

Perhaps it is some sort of ‘poetic licence’ to have discovered a gin called ‘Old Tom’ made in his home town in the week he passed away. He is now immortalised

So here’s to you Tom  🍻 – You did a fabulous job as a Father, Mentor and a Guardian.  You are a true inspiration – an example of what all of us should be as individuals and you did it without trying. You will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Since beginning this blog and finishing it I am now sadly dedicating this piece to you.

Cheers !


This weeks music pairing 



GW Spirits Rating

  • 1* Not very interesting, boring branding, expensive cost price for product
  • 2*Branding improving, showing signs of some thing interesting. Good value for money
  • 3* Middle of the road product, not good value for money and not too expensive.    Simlar products on the market make it generic
  • 4*Unique in character and good value for money
  • 5* Inventive, unique in character, visually fabulous together with a favourable cost price

Wylam Brewery – you’re a canny b*%%er

 Wylam Brewery

On the eternal search for a fabulous micro-brewery I seem to have stumbled on a rare gem!  With the genetics of your parents there is always history to be learned, to be unearthed and in rare instances to be forgotten. My mothers side of the family are from The Northeast (where the Tyne bridge,Jimmy Nail and Cheryl Cole all seem to have a place in every Geordie’s heart ( OK maybe not the last one!)

Beer has long since been the drink of the North and the fortunes of Newcastle Brown Ale have declined in recent years.   The advent of craft beer, however,  has seen the popularity of flavour and characteristic from beer to be evermore diverse.

source @ thegrapewizard.com

Wylam brewery is one such small brewery that is producing great beers, great flavours and very much ‘on trend’

Having organised a brewery tour on-line with my fiancé I was somewhat dismayed (or pleased😉) that she decided not to come at the last-minute. (Why would she ! The tour was made up of 50 people 45 men 5 women ) I asked my nephew, Tom ( an 18-year-old) if he fancied a beer tour ! – guess you know the answer! Most notably the breadth of range with the brewery will encompass the female drinkers tastes.

We made our way to the brewery  on the outskirts of Newcastle town centre and were surprised that it was situated in the leafy suburbs of Jesmond. It’s origins were in a small village west of Newcastle (Wylam) and set up by 2 guys who , I guess , wanted to make a beer that was more popular than Newcastle Brown ale ( and arguably taste better) became friends and decided they were onto something. It became so popular that the premises had to be moved

Now The current owner Dave (see below)


presides over this brewery and is a very passionate and engaging guy. It’s a pleasure to see the owner of the company take the tour and interact with every person.

Having turned up with the nephew we were shown around the brewing area and sampled some Citra hops. Citra hops are prominent hops used to promote , as you would imagine, citrus flavours   A very good exercise for the tasting later

source @ thegrapewizard.com

Having seen the tour of the brewery we were shown to the tasting areas.  You have not seen so many smiles on so many men’s faces. Like children in a sweet shop   Dave and the chief brew-master talked us through four beers 2 on draught and 2 on cask


1st  Collingwood Pale Ale – honey in flavour with a slight orange/ tangerine aroma citrus and pinewood on the palate

music pairing -Miles Davis  A kind of blue


007 –  stone fruit and gooseberry sherbet  yum yum

music pairing  -think crazy rock group pairings


Jakehead IPA –  rocket fuel IPA rich bright and lots of hoppiness  bittersweet with complex hop characteristics

Music pairing Robbie williams  mixed with troubled mind of Jim Morrison


Redkite –  ruby ale rich and malty.  Think Jamie Cullum

So one thing I loved about this new brewery was all the flavours from all the beers were different and exciting.  I’m not even a beer nerd but it was their attitude to the consumers and the branding that made this discovery exciting. All the guys were engaging, were very passionate and were very determined in the direction of the brewery in the marketplace.

They want to service the northeast and to grow that market   And I like that …  They grow their market and also keep themselves a craft brew company.  A prerequisite in my mind of a very loyal following. Very canny !

On top of that. They just can’t get any cooler

Wylam brewery