We braced ourselves upon opening the Sunlight Liquor Sparkling Orange Blossom, expecting this honey-based drink to be like the mead of yore but we were pleasantly surprised.

If you haven’t encountered Sunlight Liquor drinks yet, they are the brainchildren of Tom O’Reilly and Eddy Collett, who love bees and wanted to produce a modern take on mead, one of the oldest beverages known to humankind.

The guys say, “traditional mead is great if you are a viking trying to survive a cold dark winter but not what you would reach for on a balmy Australian afternoon. We think honey has so much more potential when used slightly differently.

“We use concepts and methods drawn from making wine, craft beer and gin, for a truly modern and original take on one of the oldest recorded forms of alcohol. Like wine we explore the difference of region and variety of honey. Our recipe is based on the methods for producing premium craft beer: pure ingredients and no preservatives. We combine botanical elements uniquely matched to each honey, similar to flavouring modern gin.”

And armed with that background, our tasting panel got as busy as, well, bees, in sipping this nectar of the craft drink gods!

Sunlight Liquor Sparkling Orange Blossom

The first reaction of our panel, Steve Davis and Lisa Kennewell, along with two members of the Ukulele Death Squad, Ben Roberts and Eamon Bourke, was stunned silence.

Everybody was expecting to be hit by a cloying wall of honeyed sugar.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Steve commented that he’d feared his tongue was going to be thrust into a fairy floss machine but it was the opposite; it was like jumping into a hot spring you were expecting to be too hot but it turns out to be just perfect.

He said there was almost no sugar on the palate at all, just the bubbles/mousse working across the tongue. He described it as like watching a breeze create ripples across flowers in a field.

Lisa agreed, saying the blossom reference in the product name is born out in the tasting, with gentle, fragrant, floral notes on the palates.

Ben concurred, saying it was natural, crisp, and refreshing, unlike ciders which tend to be heavily and needlessly sweet.

Eamon remarked on the honey flavour that emerges right at the end of the tasting experience. Steve described it as like stepping into a darkened, sacred space, with your eyes taking a while to adjust before revealing ancient, honey, rock paintings; such is the subtle experience of honey in this drink.

You can buy Sunlight Liquor Sparkling Orange Blossom at a number of stockists and via their website, Sunlight Liquor. And you can hear the live tasting in episode 263 of The Adelaide Show Podcast.

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