Exploring Barbados

I got back from Barbados two weeks ago, and timed my arrival brilliantly to get back into the first of two snowstorms to hit England this spring... So it's been a wonderful thing to go through these photos and videos and remind myself of feeling warm and toasty in the sun. I have updated my Barbados Gallery in the Travels section with some of the photos and videos I took whilst I was there, but there are likely to be more on my YouTube Channel, along with other stories from my adventures, so remember to subscribe to that to keep up to date. Thanks again for taking a look and we'll see where my next adventure takes me.

ben matthews
Droning on about YouTube...

I picked up a drone (the DJI Mavic Pro [in a nice shiny apline white]) in December last year and have been having an amazing time flying with it. The plan is to get my "permission for aerial work" shortly (the equivalent of a drone license for any work I'll be paid for) but mostly I'm just learning how to get great footage from it first. I have added a new gallery to the website, and linked it in the takes section, along with all my other photographic and cinematography work.


I have also been working on developing my YouTube channel, which has been predominantly my short films and my work for other people so far. I am starting to produce some tutorial videos on cinematography and photography technique, alongside some vlogs on some of the shoots I do and some of the adventures I go on. Please subscribe to my channel to keep up to date with any new work I put up.

ben matthews
The difficulties with Australian Whisky, and the joy when you find it.

Earlier this year, my Dad and Stepmum went to Australia for a four week tour. My request for his journey was that he seek out a bottle of Australian whisky to bring back for me. For a while now, the Antipodean whisky industry has been making waves, and this was my first opportunity to get some straight from their shores…

However, my request did not come without some difficulty - it seems it is far easier to buy Scottish whisky in Australia, from the opposite side of the world, than it is to buy local. Most smaller supermarkets and bottle shops simply did not sell local and were often dismissive of the quality. However, undeterred, my Dad persevered.

Eventually, nearing the end of the trip, he managed to find a bottle of Starward whisky and in Duty Free on the trip home collected a bottle from Hellyers Road as well. Although he had completed his assignment, he felt that the difficulties faced deserved a second reward as well.

The Starboard Distillery is in Melbourne, Victoria and they proudly proclaim themselves as a New World Distillery. Their barley is all Australian, they age entirely in Australian casks and the flavour certainly shows in their approach. This whisky, the Starward Wine Cask, has won awards as both Australia’s Best Single Malt Whisky, and Best Craft Distilled Whisky in the world. It is like no Scotch I’ve ever tried, and that’s really the point. It is very fresh, very fruity, with almost a hint of bourbon sweetness in there. My father’s response on trying it was that only if pushed, he would declare it whisky, but as a drink, he absolutely loved it. However, he is a traditionalist Scotch drinker, so I accept his point, with caveats. It is incredibly drinkable and definitely worth seeking out.

The Hellyers Road Whisky he brought back was the Lightly Peated variant of their Single Malt. Hellyers Road is based in Tasmania, an area which feels very Scottish both in scenery and temperament. This is a blend of their heavily peated (about 20%) and non peated. It tastes much more like a traditional Scotch, something along the lines of a Highland or Speyside peated malt more than an island, and there is none of that bromine type flavour so reminiscent of the island seaweed. Once again, it is delicious; however, due to the difficulties in sourcing a bottle there, I’m not sure I would necessarily say it’s a must find, but if you come across a bottle easily, it should come into your possession.

I am deeply grateful to my Dad for bringing me these bottles (he has been rewarded with samples of both) and I love getting to know different  whisky palates from around the globe. 

On a separate note, the fitness gallery has had something of a reshuffle and a few new pictures uploaded, so please swing by the “takes” section of the website to check those out, and of course, a very happy new year!

ben matthews
Happy Second Birthday, BREATHE!

A little over two years ago, Breathe Studios, Farnham's Boutique Gym opened as a small and independent studio, aiming to bring a pure workout ethic to Surrey - designed with minimal equipment, bodyweight exercises and High Intensity Interval Training, the idea was to give people the skills and enthusiaasm to help chnage their lives, to become the best versions of themselves. Through the three forms of Ride, Sculpt and Move; incorporating yoga, MMA inspiring punchbag workouts, primal movements, alongide more traditional calisthenics and bodyweight based sessions, Breathe aimed to stretch, strengthen and hone your body and mind. Now two years old, their strength lies in their community; non judgemental, friendly and inviting, and their place in the community, at the heart of Farnham. I have had the pleasure of working, and working out, with them for just over a year and I bring you a selection of portraits of their trainers along with their second birthday special workout, Unity.

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Life In Sugar and her Amazing Cakes!

I've recently been doing some photo and video work for Laura Dodimead, also known as @life_in_sugar for her competition piece at Cake International this weekend. For the category "pushing the boundaries" she made an extraordinary representation of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip playing on George and Charlotte's christmas presents. She won a gold medal and came second overall! She has also won three other gold awards in the last year and won Kirstie Allsop's Christmas Cake Competition in 2015.

queen cake final.jpg

She is entirely self taught, which I believe allows her creativity to express itself fantastically, as it has never been formed in the mould of formal education. Laura started making cakes ten years ago, following the birth of her eldest daughter. She is teaching a course this year on christmas cakes and toppers, in her amazing studio near Farnham, Surrey and has many more courses planned. The level of detail and the quality of work in her creations is truly exceptional, and something I worked hard to capture in the photos and video presented here.

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For more information, please email her at l.rana@hotmail.co.uk, or check out her Facebook site. A few of the photos and videos can now be found in my Food Gallery. Thanks for reading and remember to subscribe to keep up to date with the latest news.

The (fully) Peated Balvenie

A few years ago I wrote an article on a Balvenie release; Peated Cask, 17 Years Old. I was able to ask a few question sof the Balvenie Ambassador, Dr Andrew Forrester. At that time, clearly Balvenie was already making a peated run, but the whisky used for the peated cask used malt brought in from another malting - he said at that point that perhaps it would be used for a full peated expression, but he couldn't say for sure... a few years down the line and a purebred peated Balvenie has finally been released.


Balvenie run a weeks worth of heavily peated (30ppm phenols, for the peatgeeks out there) barley through their own malting floor each year, a practice which started back in 2002. This Peat Week release is a single malt from that initial run, aged in ex bourbon casks for 14 years. The peat they use is from North Pitsligo, a small area about 40 miles North East of the distillery and so is very much Highland peat - differing massively from the more widely seen island peat, so immediately recognisable in the Islay malts. This peat has a far greater proportion of non-phenolic bio-matter, resulting in a smoky, earthy taste, rather than the Islay's famous medicinal notes.

This is a superb whisky, beautigfully combining the traditional honey forward notes of The Balvenie, with a rich smokiness that carries through. One could even place a few slightly citrus notes in there too, perhaps bringing an "'all in one' hot toddy" element to Peat Week, medicinal in its own unique way.

A Sojourn to Greece

I've just returned for 10 days in the Mani Peninsula, mainland Greece, in a village called Kardamyli. It was a truly amazing experience. This time, we decided to explore the local area on foot and by paddleboard, but last year we explored more of the peninsula by car. I would thoroughly recommend it as a destination! Was a very calming break, spending a lot of time on the beach, stacking stones and watching people. Back to real life again now...


I hope you like the photos and video, to see more, head over to the Travel section.

A Trip to Cornwall

I've updated the Travel section of Takes with photos from my most recent trip to Cornwall and a trip last year. We were in and around the Rock/Padstow area and got a chance to explore the amazing beaches! i also learnt (if you can call it that) to surf... The whole area is astonishingly beautiful, and it makes me wonder why it took me so long to explore the area!


To see more, just head over to the Travel gallery, and have a look!

A wet and muddy Yoga Session...

I spent a very wet and muddy Sunday evening with Charlotte Temple this week, filming and photographing a few of her yoga flows, to help her develop her portfolio for her website. She was an exemplary model, willing to literally get her hands dirty for photographs that she felt best expressed her work.


The videos are available on her instagram, and will be available on her website as soon as it's updated. More of the photographs are now in my fitness gallery.

ben matthewsComment
Good things are coming...

I'll be using this page to update you with any additions to my website, any events, tastings or presentations I'll be giving and finally any generally newsworthy type news that I wish to impart... However, at the moment, the biggest news is the launch of my website, my branding and general rebirth of all things Little Tipple. keep your eyes peeled!

ben matthews