DRINK REVIEW: Thunder Toffee Vodka
I’ve never been a great fan of flavoured spirits as they are effectively the liquid equivalent of a microwave dinner. Honey Rum, Lime Vodka, Cherry Bourbon? Pah, give me a bottle of any non-descript, some fruit, and a cocktail shaker and I’m sure I could make a better drink than these poor imitations. But then there are others you hear about and make you sit up and take note, like a recent encounter with Thunder, a toffee flavoured spirit.
Officially described as a toffee and vodka spirit drink, Thunder is a 29.9% ABV vodka based spirit (Only 40%+ ABV drinks can be classified as vodka) that has been enjoyed by Alpine ski resort guests since the 1990s, but a couple of years ago, creator Jon Lilly (of Gjays bar in Val D’isere) decided to share the love with the world.
Before doing some research I was dreadfully counting up how many E numbers must go into making something like Thunder, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that only natural toffee syrup from pure cane sugar has been used and it’s free from preservatives or additives. I’m also told that premium grain vodka has been used, but considering Thunder is less than 30% ABV, the quality of spirit is a relatively insignificant concern.
To look at, Thunder is a more deep treacle colour rather than light toffee, which worries me slightly. However when I take a deep whiff, I’m reminded of Woolworths pick ‘n’ mix when my cup would be filled to the brim with toffee (and a few chocolate mice). Sipping neat, I liken Thunder to a mouthful of candy floss that’s been dipped in caramel, and then rolled around in Sugar Puffs for good measure. Absurdly sweet and it’s hard for me to distinguish any tasting notes other than caramel. On the plus side though, they have got the creamy texture just right. I also tried a couple of the cocktail recipes on the Thunder website, but I wasn’t entirely convinced, and would stick to tasting straight or over ice. It’s also a delicious alternative to brandy on Christmas pudding, and is a treat over warm apple crumble.
I may not be the biggest fan, but since adding the bottle to my cabinet, it has been the tipple of choice and intrigue of nearly everyone that’s come to visit. An unusual drink that’s likely to go down well as an aperitif before Christmas dinner, just not one for the purists.
Thunder Toffee+Vodka Spirit, 29.9% ABV. RRP £25 from Wine Rack stores, Selfridges, and independent stores nationwide.