Sunday, September 13, 2009

[Gin Log] Bluecoat

Gin: Bluecoat American Dry Gin
Price: ~$27
Proof: 94

Trolling through my local libation liquidators, I saw a rather eye-catching display of Bluecoat, a dry gin that claimed to be of the American [0] variety. The display boasted of various liquor competition honors [1] while the bottle trumpeted its craft distillation. For $27 a 750, I was willing to give it a whirl.

Opening the bottle with my more seasoned gin drinking friend, the smell was strongly herbal, a much bolder tone than we were expecting. Taking our first few glasses neat, however, the liquor was no evergreen monster. Definitely a subtle gin and rather smooth.

Bluecoat proved to be more than adequate for gin and tonic, providing a muted but excellent partner to our diet brand-X tonic water. I was definitely surprised when I mixed it with some lemon-lime soda we had on hand: even at one-to-one, the drink was downright refreshing. From here to inebriation mixed with only a little bit of our home-grown, 100% genuine all-natural artificial corn syrup, lime flavoring, fizzy watter and a downright patriotic gin? Sign me up, Uncle Sam!

[0] As opposed to the London or British variety. The marketeers are quite subtle in their machinations.
[1] Liquor competition judge: best job ever or most delicious job ever? Why am I even posing this as a question?

Monday, August 17, 2009

[Mixed Log] Bartini

Once upon a time JD and Lisa went to a magical land known as Portland, Oregon. Unlike Atlanta, Georgia, Portland has an incredible tradition known as "happy hour." During this wondrous time, many many restaurants and bars have drink specials. It was at the beginning of the aforementioned witching hour that Lisa and JD stumbled across a little place called Bartini. Kind of a dumb name, but boy does it get the point across: a place where one can find many many varieties of martinis. During happy hour all of those martinis are half priced. Lisa and JD learned the true meaning of "plastered at 4 o'clock" in this fashion. On their journey, they experienced the following:

Blackberry Lemon Drop - What's it sound like? Lemon drop with muddled blackberry, yo.
HMB - muddled cucumber and basil shaken with fresh lemon and citrus vodka.
Jasmintini - jasmine essence with tuacca and vanilla bean vodka.
Spicy Affair - chili pepper vodka, Alize passion fruit, muddled lime and pear puree with "a tryst of lime." Yes, the description really said "a tryst."
Peaches and Herbs - muddled basil and mint, vodka, peach puree, lime.
Strawberry Shortcake - baily's, vanilla vodka, strawberry puree, cream. (The bartender failed his roll on this one - it came out curdled, so they gave me another).
Chocolate Kiss - baily's, vanilla vodka, creme de cacao, cream.

*Swoon* Goodbye folks, I'm hopping on a plane now - I can't recount that much deliciousness without a return trip!

[Scotch Log] Oban 14

Scotch: Oban 14
Region: West Highlands
Malt: Single Malt, 14 years
Price: ~$75
Proof: 86

I know that I've claimed before that a scotch is "golden" but I think the Oban 14 really epitomizes the statement. Tawny golden. Your mom's wedding ring golden. Sun shining down and lighting up your whole glass golden. It's really damn golden.

The nose of the Oban is pretty complex. There's an initial hint of peaty-ness that would usually turn me off, but it leans towards the oaky side of the spectrum, so that's ok. Past that initial peaty whiff there's a much sweeter nose: something slightly vanilla and slightly floral without being at all cloying.

The Oban 14 really stands alone in its flavor. It has just enough warmth and kick to keep you paying attention, but overall is very wet and more mellow that some of its brothers. Flavors of green wood with just a hint of pine mingle with a velvety caramel undertone, combining into a lovely, complex, intelligent taste. It finishes with a hint of sea salt, but leaves the palate moist and quenched. Though the initial taste wasn't harsh, I found my mouth tingling with warmth for minutes afterwards.

Anyway, if you couldn't tell: I'm a pretty big fan of the Oban 14. It's very different from any of my other sweet, standard scotches and provides a nice change. I'll definitely be adding it to my staples, next to the Glenmorangie!

Monday, June 29, 2009

[Wine Log] Mapreco Dão

Wine: Mapreco Dão
Year: 2003
Region: Portugal
Alcohol: 12.5%

Let it be known that wine is very pricey in New York City. In the little shop I found a few blocks from my hotel, this Dão was the only red wine under $10 I could find. It's a 2003, surely it can't be so horrible as that, right?

Anyway, the wine is one of the darkest I've seen - a deep dusky plum, edging more to the purple-brown end of the spectrum than the red. It is also very opaque and dark; I can't see through even a small amount.

The scent of the Dão is pleasant and rich - very much a "port" smell more than a standard red wine scent. Heavy brown sugar and caramel overtones at first, mellowing eventually into dark berries and currant.

The taste of the wine diverges hugely from the scent. The flavors in the wine are both sharp and dry, not at all heavy and sugary like the nose suggested. The most prominent flavor is a tart, lemony berry. At first I thought it was too sharp for me, but after breathing a bit it was quite drinkable.

I wouldn't seek this wine out again, but it will certainly do for an evening in the city - and being the cheapest bottle in the store.

Monday, June 1, 2009

[Wine Log] State Lane Orange Muscat

Wine: State Lane Orange Muscat
Vinyard: Goosecross Cellars
Year: 2007
Region: Mendocino
Alcohol: 8.7%

A recent Wine.Woot purchase rewarded us with four bottles of two different off-whites, one of which is the State Lane Orange Muscat. I admit that I bought this particular set just because I had no idea what an orange muscat would be like, and I was dying of curiosity.

Once this white is in a glass, I nearly think I wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a glass of water. If you stare at it really hard you can detect the slightest golden hue, but it's quite clear overall.

I had trouble categorizing the scents in the orange muscat at first, but once it was less chilled I had more luck. There are definite flowery notes, along with light fruit (citrus, banana, apple). There is also a vaguely spicy smell, like ground pepper - so subtle that I almost missed it, but it tickled my nose just enough for me to notice.

The flavor of this muscat is absolutely divine - I can already tell I'm going to be looking for a case. It is characterized by the muscat sweetness, but where so many wines edge towards "saccharine," the State Lane is just right. The spicy scent is definitely identifiable in the taste as well, and goes a long way towards balancing the sweetness and keeping it from becoming cloying. That spicy note takes on a sweeter note in the taste - more cinnamon spice than pepper spice. There are quite a few other bright flavors: a light honey flavor (honey suckle?), sweet lemon, and a very prevalent orange blossom and other flowers. It is wonderfully quenching to drink, and I can see it being great company on a hot summer afternoon.

Sorry, I thought I was done with this review, but I checked what the web site had to say about this wine... and I just had to gloat about how well my tasting notes lined up:
Vibrantly fruity and aromatic, it’s bursting with sweet orange blossom, honeysuckle, exotic lychee and fresh melon. An enticing sweetness accentuates the lush floral and tropical flavors, finishing with a mouthwatering kiss of citrus.
Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all decade.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

[Wine Log] Mandolina Malvasia Bianca

Wine: Mandolina Malvasia Bianca
Year: 2007
Region: Santa Barbara
Alcohol: 12.8%

A few weeks ago wine.woot ran a little special on a case of Mandolina wines. The price was too good to pass up, so we took the plunge and ordered one. All of the wines included are fairly simgular - lots of interesting, rare grapes grown only on very small plots. The Malvasia Bianca is from a plot of 4 square acres, and only 437 cases were released.

This white wine is so light that it's almost clear with just the tiniest hint of pale gold. The nose is perfumey and flowery with peach, but not cloying. There's a hint of something sharp in the nose that keeps it from being overwhelming.

To taste, the Malvasia Bianca is very sweet, but with a spicy kick. Lots of very fruity flavors including apricot, lemon, and something flowery - maybe jasmine or lavender. The flavor is easily as sweet as a moscato, but the sharp, spicy kick saves it from being overwhelmingly saccharine - the bottle describes the style as "off-dry."

We raced through the bottle - it goes down like sweet, refreshing water. Delicious!

Monday, February 23, 2009

[Wine Log] Girardet 2006 Gewürztraminer

Wine: Giradet Gewürztraminer
Year: 2006
Region: Southern Oregon - Umpqua Valley
Alcohol: 11.5%

Have we ever reviewed an ice wine in this blog? I don't think we have! A momentous occasion! For that reason I'll overlook the fact that the stamp on top of this particular bottle of wine looks a lot like a UGA endorsement and give it a fair shot.

This ice wine is syrupy to pour and is a pale translucent corn-silk color. The nose is very rich and warm, with heavy floral tones, especially honeysuckle. There's just a little bit of a tang to the end of the scent.

The taste is as thick as it appears when poured, with very fruity flavors including pineapple and apricot, with the latter lingering for a long finish. There's a very little bit of the floral smell also in the taste, and when you lick your lips afterwards (as you will inevitably have to do, because the liquid is so thick) it has a honeyed vanilla flavor.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

[Scotch Log]Glenmorangie 12

Quinta Ruban Port Cask
Lasanta Sherry Cask
Necar D'or Sauternes Cask

I've tried each of the Glemorangie 12 year varieties separately, but haven't yet had a chance to taste them together so I could get a good idea of how the flavors varied. The 12 year batch of this scotch comes in 3 varieties: the Quinta Ruban, aged in a port cask, the Lasanta, aged in a sherry cask, and the Nectar D'or, aged in a Sauternes cask. A bit of googling tells me that Sauternes (so-TERN) is a region of France known for it's rich dessert wine.

All three of these scotches have a lovely, rich amber color. Darkest to lightest, we have the Quinta Ruben, the Lasanta, and the Nectar D'or. The first has a slightly rosier, woodier color than the other two, while the Nectar's hue is more golden. The differences in the three are very subtle, though, and we could only really discern a difference with good lighting and background.

Each of the three scotches had a fairly sharp bite, both in scent and flavor - more so than I remembered from tasting them out at restaurants, which makes me wonder how they'll mellow with a little exposure to air. The nose of the Nectar D'or was very sweet and honey like with a sharp, spicy undercurrent - maybe cloves, though subtle. The smell of the Lasanta was much richer and spicer by comparison, with a scent more mapley than the honeyed Nectar. The Quinta was the lease overwhelming of the three with a sugary, floral nose.

To taste, the Quinta was smooth and thick on my tongue with a lovely lingering finish. It was neither smoky nor peaty, but it was also not particularly sweet. Unable to place a finger on the distinct flavors of the Quinta, I referred to the bottle and found it described to be chocolatey and minty - though I can't speak to the latter, the former is certainly true, and where so much of the richness in flavor comes from. After letting my tongue rest for a minute I noticed a slightly smoky after taste.

The Lasanta has slightly more of a peaty flavor, but again very subtle. The much more dominant flavor was something close to caramel and a bit like hazelnut. On the tongue the Lasanta was much sharper, though both it and the Quinta made my lips nice and warm.

The Nectar D'or is the sweetest of the three and also goes down the most smoothly and with the least sting. The after taste reminded me a bit of cherry, though the initial taste had something closer to sugary lemons and a very prominant honey vein.

Really I could happily drink any of these, though I don't think they're likely to displace The Balvenie from the title of "staple scotch." Still, I'm glad to have the chance to taste them all back to back so I could more fully appreciate the subtle differences between them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

[Scotch Log] Penderyn Whiskey

Scotch: Penderyn Single Malt Welsh Whisky
Region: Wales
Malt: Single Malt, unknown age
Price: ~$60
Proof: 92

While exploring the fine Scotch list at The Vortex last night, I saw that they had an entry for "Welsh Whisky". Being a general fan of all things Welsh, and being curious what this was all about, I decided to give it a shot.

The color was fairly light, a diluted tea or honey color. The smell was sweet, especially up front. A lot of brown sugar and not astringent in the least. It was quite pleasant to smell; I found it difficult to move on to tasting! There's also a lingering honeysuckle or other floral flavor once the sweetness fades a bit.

The flavor had more in common with maple syrup than the aforementioned brown sugar, but the mouthfeel was very thin. It has a pleasant burn in the mouth, but at first I didn't notice any warmth once I swallowed. However, as I continued drinking I found that a very pleasant warmth was building slowly behind my ribs.

The taste isn't quite Scotch and it isn't quite Irish, but it's quite tasty. I've since learned that the Penderyn distillery is the only whisky still in Wales, and it only began production in 2000. The current age of the single malts it is producing are between 4.5 and 5.5 years old. This definitely surprised me, it could easily pass as a 10 year or even 12 year old Scotch. However, by the end of the glass the drink was tasting rougher, more harsh. I suspect this is a symptom of the youth of the bottle.

Overall, I consider this a very promising distillery, I'd be more than happy to continue drinking Penderyn Whisky in the future, although until the bottles start getting a little bit older, I think I'll stop at one glass a night, rather than sticking with it all night like some of the smoother whiskies. I can't wait to see what else they produce, especially since there is rumour of them producing a Sherry cask bottling and a Peated bottling[0], both of which would be very interesting!

Their website implies that they do not produce very many bottles... with luck I'll be able to track down a bottle of this locally[1]...

[0] It appears that these have already been released as limited editions, but some commentors appear to imply they will be making seperate full-release versions.

[1] Oooh! The Penderyn site has a "find a retailer" section! Nice! It looks like they carry this at Beverage Superstore in Suwanee, Green's on Ponce, and Tower in Buford, amongst many others. Bonus :D

Friday, January 2, 2009

[Rum Log]Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum

Rum: Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum
Bottle Number: A23/07
Price: $70
Region: Bermuda
Proof: 80

A certain someone at my New Year's party heard me espousing the amazingness of Zaya, and as he had been putting off buying my Christmas present until inspiration struck, he seized upon my apparent new Rumly Passion to pick up another bottle of fancy sipping rum for me.

Thus I came into posession of the Gosling Family Reserve, which loudly and proudly broadcasts that it is, indeed, an Old Rum. The bottle comes in a large wooden box with Old Rum stamped clearly on the side, and a metal ring aroung the bottle espouses the old-i-tude yet again. The bottle itself is hefty and matte black, with a gorgeous shiny (albeit polymer) wax poured over the top to steal the deal. The understated label is finished with a hand written bottle number - something I'd surely consider a good sign if the Pyrat hadn't just scammed me with a a similar setup.

When poured into a glass, the Gosling is a rich, dark amber - an intense color that looks as though a lighter colored rum has been super-saturated with brown sugar or infused with syrup.

The nose is primarily brown sugar, with a hint of something softer - my first impression was of flowers, but I think powdered sugar is a better descriptor after a second smell. The scent was very sharp with a final hint of citrus - lemony.

Neat, the flavor of the rum was smooth with a strong powdered sugar theme that matured into something like sweet cream. A little tangy around the edges. The finish was dry and lingering with a subtle caramel aftertaste - very delayed. There was just enough sting to keep you paying attention - more of a kick than the Zaya, but less than a strong scotch.

With ice, the tangy lemony flavor I mentioned above came out more clearly, and the rum mellowed quite a lot. The aftertaste shifted away from caramel and more to straight cream - very soft on the tongue. Once the ice melted I'd defnitely classify the flavor as "malty."

All in all, I'm very impressed with the Gosling - the whole experience was a bit like drinking a sweet scotch, much more enjoyable than the saccharine experience of the Pyrat Rum I reviewed last time. Definitely a must try - and yet another inevitable step down the path of giving me more expensive liquors to obsess over.