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Natural high spirits.

The idea of using wines and spirits as basic ingredients in food is as old as the hills -- the hills of Rome, that is.

Back in the 16th century, Catherine de Medici added liqueurs to her own gourmet dishes, and the results were so successful that the fame of this Italian Delia Smith spread rapidly into the rest of Europe.

But although alcohol in one form or another has been used in Cordon Bleu cooking for centuries, its use in mass produced food has been somewhat slow in the United Kingdom.

But things are changing fast.

Exactly ten years ago, a company was established to concentrate on supplying specially blended or selected wines and spirits for use by food manufacturers in mass production.

That company is Thomas Lowndes.

product range

Initially, Thomas Lowndes concentrated on the most popular spirits and liqueurs -- rum, brandy, whisky and kirsch, to cater for traditional food such as confectionery, preserves and of course the Christmas Pudding. The spirits were specially chosen and developed for their flavour retention properties, and were made available in 5 Litre and 20 Litre food grade plastic containers for the safety and convenience of food manufacturers.

From Jamaica came a pure pot still Rum with a rich aromatic taste, and a Hi-Ester Rum particularly suited for use in chocolate. From France, a carefully selected Brandy with a full bodied flavour. And from the highlands of Scotland, a blending of Malt Whiskies to create a robust, peaty taste.

The launch of this initial limited range was so successful that inevitably there was a demand for additional varieties of spirits for use by manufacturers of chocolates, desserts, bottled fruits, dairy products, sauces and gourmet meat dishes. There was also a growing demand for spirits and liqueurs with internationally established brand names which could then be advertised on the label of the finished product, offering further added value.

famous brands

As part of the international Allied Lyons organisation, Thomas Lowndes has unparalleled access to major brands from all over the world. Brands such as Tia Maria, Grand Marnier, Lambs Navy Rum, Teachers Highland Cream Whisky, Beefeater Gin, Bols Liqueurs, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry and Cockburns Port.

The ability to use such brand names to establish the excellence of ingredients in a food product and so justify a premium price, is understandably appealing to Marketing Managers of food.

Equally, Thomas Lowdnes must safeguard the correct usage of these international brand names, which is why Lowndes work closely with its customers in the development and pre-testing of products and on the trademark requirements which endorse these brands.

Currently the Lowndes product portfolio includes more than twenty highly respected brand names

special formulations

Prior to the advent of Thomas Lowndes, food manufacturers wishing to use alcohol in their products had to rely on the standard drinking variety of rum, brandy or whisky, straight from the bottles available at any off-licence.

Whilst such products are perfectly suited to the bar or dinner table, they have not been created to withstand the rigours of mass production within the food industry. Consequently, much of the distinctive flavour of the alcohol is spirited away in the production process. Appreciating this, Thomas Lowndes carefully selected the most full-bodied spirits which were specifically blended to produce the maximum flavour delivery. In addition, many of the liqueurs are also available as extracts, where the flavour is not diluted by the addition of sugar syrup, and are particularly economical to use.

wine portfolio

With Grants of St James's as a sister company and with Harveys of Bristol within the same group, it was a natural progression for Thomas Lowndes to extend the range into wine, both fortified and table wine.

From Spain, they selected a range of five sherries, Fino, Amontillado, Old Amontillado, Pale Cream and Oloroso, packaged in 20 litre and 210 Litre food grade plastic containers for ease of use.

From Portugal, came a fine Ruby Port with an aromatic fruity flavour, matured for three years in oak casks and packaged for Lowndes in 20 Litre and 210 Litre plastic containers.

From Sicily there is the dark, golden richness of Marsala Superiore, aged in oak casks for at least two years.

And a rich, dark full-bodied Malmsey Madeira completes the selection of fortified wines.

bag-in-box wines

A more recent introduction has been a range of wines, Dry White, Medium Dry White and Full Bodied Red, available in specially developed bag-in-box containers which afford a far longer shelf life than the tradional jerry can containers.

The special easy seal dispenser enables the wine to flow without allowing air into the container, so the wine stays fresher, longer, because it does not oxidise.

This innovation, added to the convenience of 20 Litre and 1,000 Litre containers, has been welcomed by food manufacturers and has opened up an exciting new market for Lowndes among the producers of ready made meals.

food products

The number and variety of food products capable of using alcohol as a flavouring ingredient is almost limitless.

The technique for introducing wines and spirits into the manufacturing process is relatively simple and inexpensive. Which is why the food manufacturers and retailers seeking to offer consumers a range of upmarket or gourmet products with natural ingredients, are using real spirits and liqueurs with respected brand names as an essential element in their product development armoury.

The technique has long been applied in the confectionery industry by manufacturers of prestige brands such as Thorntons and Terrys Suchard and among producers of Christmas Puddings, such as Matthew Walker.

But now both the bakery and dairy industries have increased their usage of alcohol in cakes, gateaux, desserts and even the ice cream trade has successfully developed adult dessert products incorporating real liqueurs.

For the food technician interested in experimenting with alcohol before committing himself to any large scale production, Thomas Lowndes offer assistance in the development and testing of different wines and spirits as potential flavour ingredients.

For the Marketing Manager, interested in maximising profitability and appeal by the use of leading brand names on the label, such as Grand Marnier, Tia Maria or Lambs Navy Rum, Thomas Lowndes will advise on the use and registration of the relevant trademark.

And for the retailer, anxious to enhance the quality or imagery of selected foods, Thomas Lowndes will co-operate in providing wines, spirits and liqueurs from their country of origin. Brandy from France, Rum from Jamaica, Amaretto from Italy, Sherry from Spain and Whisky from Scotland.

As consumer awareness of natural ingredients increases and as our palate becomes more selective and sophisticated, so the demand for gourmet dishes will inevitably grow and manufacturers will welcome that extra touch of magic, offered by natural high spirits.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:wines
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Handle with care.
Next Article:Injecting bakery products.

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