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The Thirsty Traveler’s tips on the best drinks (that aren’t beer) in Britain

Yahoo! Contributor
Visit Britain
March 8, 2012

When it comes to drinking in Britain, it's safe to say that Kevin Brauch knows his way around a pub.

Brauch, better known as host of TV show The Thirsty Traveler, has made a career out of drinking in the most exotic locations, and no one knows the best British libations more than he does.

But if you think of beer when you think of Britain, think again. Yes, the Brits love their beer. "Pints, bitters… lager louts, it's the vocabulary of drinking and it's all quintessentially British," Brauch says.

There's a lot more to drinking in Britain than just beer. We asked Brauch for some of his best advice on what to drink (that's not beer) when you're visiting Britain.

Question: What types of wine are popular in Britain? Where are the best places to go for wine tasting?

Kevin Brauch: From Sainsbury's to the Wine & Spirit Education, there is no shortage of places to quench your thirst for wine. All major British cities boast a number of wine groups, clubs, societies and schools where you can hone your wine appreciation. I recommend posh hotel lobby bars or gastro pubs to get a true appreciation of Britain's passion for wine.

Question: Scotland is well known for their whisky. What are some of the best kinds to try when you're in the U.K.?

KB: What's the best whisky: Your last one? Your next one? The one you're currently drinking? It's a question for the ages, one that is best discussed over several wee drams in a quaint pub somewhere along the whisky trail. The sheer volume of top class whiskies available these days make this a very delicate question to answer… some great places to explore, investigate and do some research into the world of whisky are:

●        The Whisky Shop, in Dufftown, Scotland

●        The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, in Edinburgh

For the record, The Macallan and Bruichladdich) are two of my personal favourites.

Question: Most of us aren't familiar with mead, but it's a fairly popular drink in Britain. What is it, and why should we try it?

KB: Anyone interested in the rich history of Britain owes it to themselves to try this ancient drink. A fermented mix of honey and water, it's most popular around the holidays when most meads feature the addition of herbs and spices.

The island of Lindisfarne in Northhumberland is home to 'world famous' Lindisfarne Mead produced by St. Aidan's Winery. It's a very unique location for such an even more unique tipple.

Question: What are your top three "must-try" drinks when in Britain?

KB: First, go for a wee dram (in my case it would be a BIG dram) on the island of Islay, Scotland.

Take the ferry from Kennacraig on West Loch Tarbert to Port Ellen and head straight for the Bruichladdich Distillery. You may even be able to arrange a tour, a meeting, or a 'session' with one of the champions of hospitality and my favourite Scottish bloke, Mater Distiller, Jimmy McEwan.

One of the best weeks in my life was spent in Wales; the great energy, history and culture are just so palpable! The people I met very quickly became friends that I continue to keep in touch with today. Try and time your trip to one of the many local festivals. Using Abergavenny, and the Angel Hotel as a base, I happened upon a local Cider and Perry (Pear Cider) festival and hit several local breweries and the Penderyn distillery. It's just all so good in this special little spot in Britain.

And finally, nothing beats the experience of having a cocktail and/or a glass of champagne at the newly renovated Savoy Hotel in London. The first time I went there I was just in awe of the entire awesomeness of it all. It just oozes what Britain is all about!

Kevin Brauch holds title as having "the best damn job in the world!" travelling the planet drinking the world's finest spirits, wines, beers and eating the best food imaginable as The Thirsty Traveler. The 50 episode series can be seen in more than 65 countries around the world. When not jet-setting to the next brewery or vineyard Kevin's also managed time to be the floor reporter for Iron Chef America. A graduate of Ryerson University's Radio and Television Arts program, Kevin spends his off-camera time developing projects for his own company (Tapas Productions Inc.). Follow him on Twitter @drinkingrobot.

By Alison Dunn

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