It was a boys-only event at the office when a selection of sample tubs of Hampshire ice cream specialist, Jude’s, arrived at Arb HQ. At day’s end, on a temperate summer’s evening, pens were parked in favour of spoons, laptops closed and tub lids popped open.
In attendance, four stalwarts of the team; Larry from Editorial, producer Stirling, designer Steve and tech maestro Graham. On offer: five of Jude’s signature flavours including Great Taste award winners Very Vanilla and Salted Caramel, new flavours Flat White Coffee and Brown Butter Pecan, and the refreshingly inventive Gin & Tonic.
There would be debate over the use of apparatus, conflict over a favourite, and deliberation over where to best enjoy it. There would be firm opinions from Steve and a single-handed felling of a tub from Stirling; Graham approached the exercise scientifically, falling just sort of creating a spreadsheet, and Larry simply couldn’t decide where to begin. One thing was certain, there would be barely a spoon left unlicked. Steve opened the batting…
Steve: I like the packaging. There’s a seaside, deck chair thing going on. Feels very summery.
We start with the vanilla, any ice cream-maker’s benchmark. There is much puckering of mouth and furrowing of brow. Ice cream tasting is a serious business.
Larry: It’s not too sweet, which is good. The vanilla’s quite subtle though, I may have hoped it be more prominent.
Graham: I see it’s not just Madagascan, but Madagascar ‘Bourbon’ vanilla. I wonder what provenance that has? Lovely and rich, though. Very creamy.
Stirling (to Steve): Are you eating that with a plastic spoon? That’s like drinking single malt from Tupperware…
Steve: Nonsense, you can ONLY eat single-serving tubs of ice cream with a plastic scoop.
Graham: To be fair, it’s a good scoop. It’s solid, ergonomic, nicely designed.
We turn back to the task in hand.
Steve: Hmm…it’s a nice flavour and the texture’s rich but there’s a little bit of an oily, buttery coating at the end. Not, dare I say it, in my top drawer, it reminds me of a hard Mr Whippy.
We move on to Salted Caramel. Steve has high standards with salted caramels, so there’s some work to do after a disappointing vanilla. Ahead of its time, Jude’s launched theirs in 2010, four years ahead of any other leading brand. This might take some beating.
Graham: I’m a big fan of this.
Steve: That’s nice. That meets my standards spectacularly.
Meanwhile, Graham sneakily pops the lid of the Flat White.
Graham: Why ‘Flat White’ particularly? Is that a bit gimmicky for a name?
Stirling: Ah, but if you’re a coffee man, you know how you like it. It has to be specific. He studies the label. Much as they are with the ingredients – these are fair trade Colombian Arabica beans.
Larry: Ooh, wow, the aftertaste of coffee on that is really strong. It starts like a cappuccino, then pow!
Graham: That’s how I like it. That’s a proper coffee ice cream, that is. There’s a complex flavour there, the coffee gets stronger through the taste profile, and is even slightly bitter at the end. That’s lovely.
Steve: That’s really very good. It’s milky, it’s smooth, it’s got the right coffee flavour. That’s not just instant coffee frozen, that’s decent espresso in there.
He ducks out and returns with a glass of water, to palate-cleanse, he tells us. We are taking this very seriously indeed.
Steve: It’s good, it’s very good, but there’s a contextual thing to this. I can’t see myself walking down a seafront eating that, it’s more of a dessert ice cream after a good meal.
It’s fair to say coffee is a hit. At which point, we hear a-
He’s just tried the Salted Caramel.
Stirling: I’m a convert. I’m a salted caramel man. This is the winner so far.
Larry: It’s very moreish. I’ll say one thing for all of these, they’ve nailed the aftertaste. You get the caramel hit and then just a subtle touch of saltiness.
We moved on to the last two, and both new flavours. Brown Butter Pecan and Gin & Tonic. The former a collaboration with peanut butter legends, Whole Earth.
Steve: Right, then, I’m going for the nuts.
Stirling: You tuck in, chaps, I’ll finish this [Salted Caramel] off…
Steve: Hmm…that’s more butter than pecan.
Graham: It’s a lot richer.
Steve: But, again, I can imagine eating a tub of that happily.
Larry: It’s sweeter than I’d expect. Having had the vanilla and the caramel, that is suddenly really sweet.
Steve (to himself): That coffee is such a big hit.
Graham: Demerara sugar is the third ingredient. And then caramel.
Larry: Wow. That would explain it. Again, very moreish, though.
While we deliberate on the dulcitude of the Butter Pecan, one of our number surreptitiously pops the lid of the gin and tonic…
Steve: Try that, and wait ten seconds…
Steve:…and see what the flavours do. It’s quite incredible. The flavours all develop later and later and later, and you actually taste gin.
Larry: Crikey, that’s good. And it’s Sipsmith to boot. This is not your common or garden juniper, nor an imitation flavour.
Graham: And it’s an ice cream, not a sorbet. That’s interesting.
Stirling: It’s made it slightly softer, too, the alcohol content.
Steve: 5% is gin. It tastes like sherbert to begin with, then ever so gradually the gin and tonic comes through, and it’s like you’ve sipped a gin and tonic. That is very clever.
Graham: I’m impressed. It could be horrible, but they’ve nailed it.
Steve: It’s gonna be a big seller. And it’s totally summer.
And there we have it. Tubs scraped dry and yearning for more. So, what did we learn? There are ice creams and there are ice creams. And, to the connoisseur, it can depend on where you eat it, what time of day, and who you’re eating it with, but everyone has a preference, everyone has a favourite.
As long as it’s Gin & Tonic.
Jude’s ice cream is available at a number of leading stockists, including Selfridges, Waitrose, Wholefoods, Blue Bird Chelsea and National Trust shops. For more information, including other flavours, recipes and their charity work, visit www.judes.co.uk.
To celebrate National Burger Day (Thursday 25th August) and the August summer bank holiday, Jude’s have created an ice cream burger using their latest flavour, Brown Butter Pecan. Packed in a strawberry ‘patty’ sandwiched between a toasted brioche bun and topped with a sprinkling of nuts, the Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream Burger will be served from their striped horse trailer in St James’ Park, London, from Thursday 25th until Saturday 27th August.