Top 10 Best Mead Brands


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Thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world, mead is one of the latest drinks to make its comeback among gin, cider and craft beer. The best mead brands follow in their ancestor’s footsteps by producing this delicious and almost forgotten “the nectar of the gods”.

Mead was thought to have been first discovered thousands of years ago when rainwater was found collected at the bottom of beehives. This rainwater was naturally fermented with raw honey and produced a sweet elixir known for its intoxicating properties.

What is Mead?

Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey that’s been produced by our ancestors for thousands of years. Mead is available in many different strengths and flavours. Sweet or semi-sweet meads are usually best served with cheeses and desserts. In contrast, lighter textured meads are perfect on their own or as an aperitif.

How Is Mead Made?

Based on ancient recipes dating back 8000 years, mead is traditionally made by blending honey, water and yeast. The mixture is left to ferment for between 4 to 6 months to allow the yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol. At this point, some of the stronger mead varieties are then distilled to extract more alcohol. Finally, the mead is then rested for a further 6 to 24 months, depending on the precise recipe.

Top 10 Best Mead Brands

Following the tradition and the oldest recipes known, the best mead brands brought this extraordinary drink back to life, so it can be enjoyed for the centuries to come.

1. Lindisfarne Mead

Lindisfarne Mead

Overview

  • Winery: St. Aidan’s
  • ABV: 14.5% (29 Proof)
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Colour: Pale Yellow
  • Type: Traditional

Review

Founded by Michael Hackett, Lindisfarne first started producing mead back in 1962 at St. Aidan’s Winery situated just off the coast of northern England. The family-run Lindisfarne was later acquired by Harry Hotspur Holdings, back in 2014.

Lindisfarne Mead is produced by using ancestral methods known in the local region since ancient Roman times. Different to traditional meads, made with fermented honey and water, the Linsdale Mead has added fermented grape juice and herbs, creating a perfectly balanced, potent honey wine.

Taste Notes

Pale in colour, this unique blend of honey and wine has a light, delicate taste. Opening with a subtle sourness it leads to a medium-bodied sweetness of honey, producing a well-balanced, refreshing flavour.

Best Served

This mead is more of a wine and should be served chilled in a tall glass.

2. Mella Mead – Raspberry

Mella Mead - Raspberry

Overview

  • Winery: Mella Mead
  • ABV: 13% (26 Proof)
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Colour: Soft Burgundy
  • Type: Melomel

Review

A long lost heritage of the oldest alcoholic drink has been brought back to life by this Welsh company Mella Mead. This precious golden nectar was enjoyed throughout the centuries – from ancient Egyptians to Viking warriors.

Made of the purest honey, extracted from the lush meadows of fresh wild Welsh flowers, Mella Raspberry Mead is packed with gorgeous summer fruits.

Taste Notes

This full-bodied Welsh honey mead, fermented with the ripest raspberries to give the extra fruity flavour, opens with rich aromas of refreshing berries and brambles, finishing its pallet with a delightful pungent flavour of menthol for an extra kick.

Best Served

This mead is best served neat and enjoyed with pork, cheese dishes, desserts or used as an ingredient for cocktails.

3. Kinsale Wild Red Mead

Kinsale Wild Red Mead

Overview

  • Distiller: Kinsale Mead Co
  • ABV: 12% (24 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Burgundy
  • Type: Melomel

Review

Founded by Kate and Denis Dempsey, Kinsale Mead Co is the first meadery in Ireland in the last 200 years. Established in 2016 it follows old medieval processes combined with the new, modern techniques to produce this delicious ancient drink.

Inspired by the story of red-headed pirate Anne Bonny, born near the Old Head cliffs of Kinsale, the Wild Red Mead is made using the highest quality natural ingredients coming from various botanical sources.

It won the Gold award at the Blas na hEireann in 2018. Attentively crafted of raw honey, black currants and dark cherries mixed with water and yeast. The blend is then fermented for 3-5 weeks and let to brew for 6 months, producing a semi-dry, full of flavour, well-balanced mead.

Taste Notes

A deep burgundy colour nectar opens with the aromatic pallet of rich flavour berries and fruits. The zesty notes of black currant berries are tinged with the subtle sweetness of honey.

Best Served

Kinsale Wild Red Mead is best served neat over ices and is also great as the base for any fruity cocktail.

4. Friary Honey Mead

Friary Honey Mead

Overview

  • Meadery: Friary Mead
  • ABV: 14% (28 Proof)
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Colour: Rich Honey
  • Type: Melomel

Review

Friary is a family business run by two sisters enthusiastically developing interesting, tasty drinks based on traditional methods passed down from generation to generation.

Based on the oldest recipe held by the family, Friary Honey Mead is handcrafted from fermented honey with added white grape and apple juice. Spicy ginger included in this blend along with a 3-year-old meld Scottish Whisky, gives this mead honey wine a much-needed intensity and strength, beautifully balancing the ingredients.

Taste Notes

Light gold colour elixir opens with an intense nose of whiskey and warm tanginess of ginger root. Zesty notes of apple and grape juice are smoothed down nicely by the subtle sweetness of the honey, giving it a smooth, medium-sweet taste.

Best Served

This mead is best served neat and its twist of spiciness is the perfect accomplice for cheeses and desserts.

5. Zalgiris Mead

Zalgiris Mead

Overview

  • Distiller: Stakliskes
  • ABV: 75% (150 Proof)
  • Country: Lithuania
  • Colour: Dark Golden
  • Type: Metheglin

Review

From my home country of Lithuania, Lietuviskas Midus is a Lithuanian distillery producing Zalgiris Mead and is the only mead producer in the Baltic States. Based in the old town of Stakliskes on the southern part of the country, the brewery produced its first 700 litres of mead back in 1958.

Zalgiris Mead is crafted using natural, locally sourced organic ingredients. It is traditionally made from fermented honey and water with added herbs, fruits or berries and brewed between 15 to 24 months, depending on the desired strength.

Zalgiris Balsam Mead is the most potent mead within the range, which is mixed with ethyl alcohol and distilled, producing 75% strong balsam mead.

Taste Notes

Blended with natural honey, cranberry juice, ratafia and herbs, the mead has a unique balsamic flavour. The gentle spiciness and zesty cranberry notes are toned down by the sweetness of honey, producing a well balanced, semi-sweet balsamic mead.

Best Served

Zalgiris Mead was a bit too strong for me personally to enjoy neat. Paired with Fever-tree tonic water, it becomes lighter and releases lots of flavours.

6. Kinsale Atlantic Dry Mead

Kinsale Atlantic Dry Mead

Overview

  • Distiller: Kinsale Mead Co
  • ABV: 12% (24 Proof)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Colour: Pale Yellow
  • Type: Traditional

Review

Atlantic Dry Mead is a second entry on our list from distiller Kinsale Mead Co. Established in 2016 by husband and wife Denis and Kate Dempsey, Kinsale Mead Co is the first meadery built in Ireland in the last couple of centuries.

Produced in small batches, delicious Atlantic Dry Mead is crafted most traditionally, using fermented honey, water and yeast. Matured for a minimum of 3 months, this mead is a Mazer Cup Gold 2018 and Taste Award 2019 winner.

Taste Notes

The honey, picked from the Spanish orange blossom, creates a subtle sweetness intertwined with the fresh citrus aroma. Lingering hints of apple and pear within the blend add crispiness, giving it a smooth, intriguing finish.

Best Served

This delicious honey elixir pairs well with seafood, deserts or almonds. It can also be enjoyed served over the ice or mixed in cocktails.

7. Moniack Mead

Moniac Mead

Overview

  • Winery: Highland Wineries
  • ABV: 14.6% (29.2 Proof)
  • Country: Scotland
  • Colour: Honey
  • Type: Traditional

Review

Known for its passion for winemaking, the Highlands winery was the first business in the northern part of the country to be given permission to produce any type of alcohol. After acquiring the license back in 1980, the winery started production of a variety of drinks, one of which was the Moniack Mead.

Based at the 16th-century Moniack Castle, the ancestral family home of Mrs Phillipa Fraser, the Highlands winery was later obtained by Lyme Bay Winery.

Said to be one of the best meads made in modern times, Moniack Mead is an excellent example of a darker mead with a notable, slightly burnt caramel flavour.

Taste Notes

Honey mixed with caramel, water and yeast creates well balanced, smooth, warming palate. Silky to taste, the mead is not overly sweet and has a hint of dry notes, followed by a mild floral aroma lingering in the air.

Best Served

This warming, lovely flavour nectar is best served chilled or as an aperitif or can be enjoyed warm on a cold winter’s day.

8. Chalice Mead

Chalice Mead

Overview

  • Meadery: Chalice Mead Co
  • ABV: 14.5% (29 Proof)
  • Country: England
  • Colour: Golden
  • Type: Traditional

Review

Founded by Mike Magstaff, the Chalice Mead Company was born from the big dream, a desire to bring the old tradition of mead back to the modern world. The heritage that would be populated across the country, preserving its ancient qualities admired by our ancestors throughout the centuries.

Traditional Mead, as the name suggests, is crafted with fermented honey mixed with water and yeast. Following old recipes and the new, modern techniques the mead is made using raw, locally produced honey.

Taste Notes

Lightly spiced and peppery on the opening, the sweetness of honey explodes mid palate. The finish is long and sweet. This lush, full of flavour traditional mead is satisfyingly tasty and aromatic.

Best Served

Traditional Mead is perfect on its own, over the ice or mixed with a fizz of your choice. Enjoy this oldest alcoholic drink and let the sunshine brighten your day!

9. Celteg Medieval Mead

Medieval Mead

Overview

  • Winery: Celtic Country Wines
  • ABV: 12% (24 Proof)
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Colour: Honey
  • Type: Traditional

Review

Celtic Country Wines is a family run business established more than 30 years ago. Branded under Celteg name they specialise in a variety of different alcoholic beverages including wines, liqueurs and meads. Expertly made, using the finest ingredients sourced from around the world.

Made traditionally, following the oldest recipe passed down by our ancestors, Medieval Mead is produced from natural, raw honey fermented with water and yeast for a distinctively soft taste.

Taste Notes

Pleasantly aromatic, rich golden colour elixir, delivers a significant flavour of pure honey. Medium intense, gently sweet mead has a beautifully balanced palate.

Best Served

Celteg Medieval Mead goes with deserts or can be enjoyed on its own, especially if you have a sweet tooth!

10. Reservoir Black Heath Mead

Reservoir Black Heath Mead

Overview

  • Winery: Black Heath Meadery
  • Distillery: Distillery: Virginia Reservoir
  • ABV: 50% (100 Proof)
  • Country: United States
  • Colour: Pale Gold
  • Type: Melomel

Review

Black Heath Meadery is a family run business founded by Bill Cavender over 20 years ago. Based in Richmond, Virginia, the meadery produces a wide selection of different tasting meads.

Reservoir Black Heath Mead was crafted in cooperation with Virginia Reservoir distillery. Their traditional ‘Muse Mead’ made of fermented honey, water and yeast is then combined with an assortment of fruits, berries and herbs.

The Virginia Reservoir distillery then performs the fascinating process of distillation for a perfectly balanced and purified mead. Typically 12% ABV the honey elixir has become a super-strong 50% mead, preserving the flavour and aroma.

Taste Notes

Sweet, floral honey with a hint of caramel is presented inside the striking blue colour slim bottle.

Best Served

Serve this mead neat at just below room temperature. Best enjoyed as a post-dinner digestif.

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What Are The Different Types Of Mead?

What Are The Different Types Of Mead

Traditional Mead is made only with honey is classified as unflavoured and comes in three varieties; dry, semi-sweet and sweet. 

Melomel is the main term given to mead blended with fruit. Depending on the fruit it’s made with, falls into further subcategories:

  • Cyser – made with apples or cider.
  • Pyment – mixed with grape juice
  • Morat – is the mead blended with mulberries 
  • Rubamel – made with raspberries

Metheglin is a type of mead made by blending unflavoured honey mead with spices and herbs, similar to the spice used for mulled wine. Again there are a number of subcategories:

  • Dandaghare – made with Himalayan spices
  • Rhodomel – contains rosebuds
  • Braggot – blended with beer
  • Oxymel – crafted with wine vinegar.

Conclusion

Often misunderstood as wine, cider or liquor, the mead is actually a drink in its very own category. A syrupy comeback in the modern drinks world allowed this forgotten over the centuries honey elixir to proudly take centre stage on the bar shelves again.

With dedicated mead bars popping up across some of the biggest cities around the world, this medieval drink is well promising to stay.

Visit London’s Gosnells Mead Bar for an exclusive mead experience, trying the range of brand’s delicious frozen cocktails. Or if you happen to be in New York, then All-Wise Meadery is your next stop shop!

This sometimes pungent, characteristic drink, praised and adored by poets and kings for 8000 years is awaiting to be loved again.

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