I would like to thank you, the reader, for your constant visits to this site. I’m amazed at the new comments on older posts still showing up. Despite my hiatus from blogging, you’ve kept coming back and giving me a reason to keep the blog and write. So for all you readers out there, thanks and stay tuned.
Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Recently The Glenlivet Distillery generously delivered two bottles of their fine single malt whisky to sample and write about the experience. There is no better way to enjoy a fine drink such as The Glenlivet than with a friend. The opportunity presented itself, and during the course of the evening, a good friend shared in the event.
As mentioned in an earlier article, Getting to know Glenlivet, the distillery has a long a rich history. This history is echoed in their product, from the packaging to the whisky itself.
The Glenlivet 12 arrived in a lightly gold-colored box. Inside the box a package wrapped in similar colored paper revealed the bottle itself. The presentation is impressive.
Upon opening the corked bottle, a small amount of whisky was poured into a clear, clean glass. Aromas of vanilla, fresh grains and flowers play about the nose. The color reflected the packaging and reminded this author of bright morning sunlight. The taste was clean, honey-like with a hint of oak and a citrus sweet finish. Refreshing would be one way to describe it.
Upon opening the bottle, again, pouring a small amount of the whisky into a new glass, aromas of oak and dark fruits. The color was that of antique gold, certainly darker than the 12 year from the additional time in the oak casks, and a slight burgundy hue. Upon first taste, the whisky is smooth and sweet, with great mouth feel. The sweetness gives way to bolder flavors of spice, oak, and strong, hearty fruit. The taste lingers in the mouth with notes of smoke and oak.
Since this tasting, The Glenlivet has afforded the author to speak with Ricky Crawford, it’s U.S. Brand Ambassador. A concluding article will feature a summary of that conversation, as well as some of Ricky’s insights into the brand he proudly represents.
Both The Glenlivet 12 and 18 can be found in local liquor stores, such as Hokus Pokus on Jackson Street Extension. The Glenlivet 12 can be found at several area supermarket liquor and wine beverage sections around town.
Relax, Mom. What I meant to say was I had Ron de Jeremy RUM. An interesting play on words, considering ron is Spanish for rum. A clever name for the rum branded with the former special education teacher turned adult film star and multi-faceted entertainer, Ron Jeremy. Ron isn’t the first celebrity to endorse a brand of spirit, thinking immediately to Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka. While I can’t speak for Dan’s product, I can say that a celebrity endorsement can make or break a product. However, Ron “the Hedgehog” Jeremy seems to have the gift for getting those endorsements and having them pay off.
I have to admit I have a cynical attitude towards celebrity-endorsed products. By that I mean, their particular endorsement of a product does not automatically make me reach for my wallet. However, I am a fan of certain musicians, actors, etc….and if celebrity endorsements didn’t mean anything to people like me, the advertising agencies would have a their work cut out for them. I said all of that to say this….it’s not THE factor to get me to buy anything.
Ron de Jeremy is marketed as The adult rum. I am not sure what that means, but the bottom line for me as a spirits enthusiast and amateur cocktailian, is taste. Imagine receiving a sample of Ron Jeremy…uh, I mean Ron de Jeremy for your opinion. Admit it…it brings either a smile to your face or something’s wrong with you. Anybody who has seen an adult film in the last twenty years or so has probably seen Ron’s work. If not, you know the name. What I want to know is the RUM.
A Panamanian blend of seven-year-old rums by Cuban Master Distiller Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, the color of Ron de Jeremy is deep amber. The aroma is very rich and strong, containing notes of vanilla, cane sugar and spice. The taste…very rich and long lasting, with a smooth, slightly spicy finish. I feel this rum would stand up well with fruit and cream-based drinks, coconut, etc. It would also be a great addition to cola, or simply sipped neat or with ice. Could you imagine a rum from Ron Jeremy being anything else?
SCOTLAND. Single Malt. Blended Scotch? For many, your first Scotch Whisky experience was with a blend. It may or may not have been a good one. In my case, it was the latter. For a long time I preferred single malt—because it was smoother. That statement is true and it is also false. The world of single malt Scotch Whisky is as diverse as the many distilleries that lie across Scotland itself. More and more people year after year continue to “get into” Scotch. Well, if you are like me and enjoy your Single Malt Scotch, then you better develop an appreciation for the blended variety. By appreciation, I mean, the history of Scotch whisky and of course, the wide range of product available.
Some of you geniuses out there are probably saying to yourselves that “blended equals poor quality”. Perhaps that it based on your first sip of Scotch whisky one of your pals snuck out of their parents’ liquor cabinet in high school, or you managed to scam from some unscrupulous night clerk at an out-of-the-way gas station. Well, chances are you probably knew nothing about what you were drinking nor did you drink it for the simple pleasure of enjoying a good dram.
Guys and gals those days are gone. The day has come when you choose to become gentlemen and ladies and drink for pleasure…not just “the buzz”. Whether or not you become a connoisseur of fine spirits is now totally up to you. In this age of information, there’s no need to walk up to a bar or go to your liquor store and get “pwned” or labeled “noob”. Learn something.
As someone whose major influence in drinking Scotch whisky has been with Single-Malt, particularly Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, and Laphroaig, I admit that at first, I was tempted to go into this with some prejudice. I remember my first taste of Scotch, which incidentally was Cutty Sark, and whinced. Pardon me saying so, Cutty Sark fans, but keep in mind I didn’t know what the hell I was drinking and was tricked into taking a snort by a devious cousin of mine. Then my mind drifted to my first purchase of Scotch, which was Chivas 12 yr. I was then introduced to Glenlivet, which reinforced the aforementioned predjudice.
I had to take a moment to back out of my near-sighted view of blended scotch, and remember a few things. Scotland had at one time, many more distilleries than it does at present. Many of those distilleries closed because they could not get their product, no doubt, fine Single-Malt whiskies to market. To save themselves and the art of making their fine spirits, the wiser distilleries began selling their products, exporting a lot of product specifically for blending. Just think, a distillery starts up, makes a run, and has to by law age it’s product three years to be considered Scotch whisky. In the meantime, it’s making additional runs, to follow up once the previous run is bottled as is or sold to other distilleries for blending. It’s a matter of simple economics….you have to do what you have to do to survive. Even though many of the distilleries in Scotland still produce the single-malt variety, their bread and butter, so to speak, is product sold for blending.
A master blender would probably slap me in the face, or at least threaten to, by oversimplifying his art. Scotch whisky is aged in used bourbon barrels, which by law are made from American white oak and then charred on the inside. The charring will impart flavor and color that is preferable in the making of bourbon. Scotch whisky may also be aged in casks made of European oak, that have been seasoned with sherry or used for the aging of sherry. These are called Sherry butts. Bottom line is that each barrel lends a specific and unique set of characteristics to a given spirit. Taking into account the unique recipes for the right amount of malted barley and other grains, the multiple configurations of barrels in which they are aged, the length of time in which they are aged, the strength (ABV) of the spirit, and the nose of the master blender and you have hundreds of possibilities of how the resulting blend will taste. Today, blended Scotch whisky accounts for approximately 90 percent or more of Scotch whisky exported and sold in the world.
Any aged spirit, whether it be Scotch, Canadian, Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Japanese Malt Whiskey, etc., is the result of a lot of different factors…and the Master Blender has his work cut out for him. Even then, if the product is wonderful, once it leaves the distillery, is in the hands of marketeers, promoters, and ultimately in the hands of a fickle consumer.
So, keeping my wikipedia-like understanding of blended whiskies in mind, I set out to taste and evaluate these two fine blends of Scotch Whisky.
This was the first whisky to sample. The color is deep amber color with a nice floral nose with hints of peat and wood. I could taste the faint hints of peat and oak in this one, gentle at first. Toffee and chocolate, then a punch of smoky oak at the end, but not harsh. The finish was warm and long, a little peppery.
Color was Light Amber. Deceivingly looks in the glass to be a lightly-flavored whisky. The taste was sweet, very smooth, with a hint of peat. Oak aroma slighter on this one, and a fine finish that lingered with diminished heat and left my mouth with a hint of sweetness.
My verdict…well, this is a tough one for me. Both are exceptional. Both have endearing qualities that would find a place in any Scotch lover’s heart. Comparing the two, you have to look at what they have in common. Both hail from Speyside…so that is where they are common. Both are masterfully blended from young and old whiskies. Would I purchase one over the other? Probably, as far as budget goes, the Chivas 18 year is less than half the going price for the Blue Label. Which, makes it great to have in your liquor cabinet to freely share with guests, but is not the best choice for mixing into cocktails. The Blue Label should be reserved for someone very special….it’s hard to find where I live, while the Chivas is more readily available.
A draw, then, is my best conclusion at this point. It depends on you, the consumer and what you like. As always, these fine products are in your hands.
The world rests just a little bit better now. Thanks to the men and women that serve our country, there has been a victory in this seemingly endless war on terrorism. Regardless of religious or sexual preference and complete disregard for their own safety, our men and women in uniform have risked their lives to achieve a momentous victory. On this Memorial Day, we remember the sacrifice they have made and the families they have left behind. . I sleep in safety at night because of their sacrifice. However, political and social commentary aside, it seems fitting and past time to review Brave Spirits’ At Ease Rum.
Summertime is the perfect time for fruity, refreshing drinks. I enjoy them around a poolside, out with friends, or at home after a nice dinner evening with friends. Two spirits come to mind…tequila and rum.
Brave Spirits At Ease Rum is perfectly suited for for your summertime rum drinks. Highly mixable, it does well lending a hint of flavor that clear rums do to drinks such as the Mojito. Upon tasting, it was pretty hot on the palate, and needs something to cool it down a little. By hot, I’m referring to the alcohol burn associated with drinking highly alcoholic beverages. More time in the barrel cuts back on this somewhat, by lending more flavor (and color) to the rum. As you can see by the graphic to the right, At Ease Rum is perfectly clear. Also, by saying hot…I’m not saying that is a bad thing. There is a certain amount of ‘heat’ to all alcoholic beverages. I just happen to see it more in clear liquors.
Back to summertime and relaxing….if you are going to be making a big picture of Mojitos, Painkillers, or the like…At Ease Rum will put you ‘at ease’. Summertime is all about enjoying yourself with family and friends, vacation and relaxation. It’s time to enjoy your summer and breathe a sigh of relief with Brave Spirits At Ease Rum.
Tonight was the night for Zipang Sparkling Sake! I was a little skeptical at first. I’ve had some good and bad sake experiences. My first was in my younger days when I purchased a bottle of sake from the local grocery, having no idea what it was–expecting a serious ‘kick’ when I drank it. Boy, was I disappointed. However, since then, I’ve grown to learn a little bit more about sake. As the saying goes, ‘with age comes wisdom’.
I can’t help but comparing sake to wine, but they are a different animal altogether. Despite their obvious difference in the use of raw materials (i.e. rice versus grapes; grain versus fruit; yeasts only versus koji and yeast), sake can differ just as much as the many grape varietals and fruits used to make wine. Additionally there is great skill involved in the production of both. However, as mentioned in a previous post, sake isn’t rice wine. It’s sake. And it’s brewed.
Zipang is classified as Junmai-shu sake, meaning that the rice used has been milled or polished to the point where at least 30 percent of the grain of the rice has been removed, or at least 70% remains.
Not wanting to include a complete rewrite of a previous post, there are different grades of sake. There are some, however, like Zipang, which although a true sake, are produced for specific market. Sparkling Sake, as far as I’ve seen, is something relatively new to sake drinkers– considering the beverage has been around for hundreds of years. Certainly the sleek, easy to carry, chill and enjoy packaging is a plus–slightly reminiscent of picking up a six pack of suds on the way home from work. Now, you can have sake whenever you want…a definite alternative on a hot summer day to beer or flavored malt beverage.
I chilled my 250ml bottle down in my fridge for days and then popped it open. A unique pull top on the bottle gave way to a nice pop, with naturally fermented CO2 leaving a hazy mist floating above the lip. Suppressing my urge to guzzle it straight from the bottle, I took the advice of the folks at Gekkeikan and poured some into a flute. Right away I notice a pale amber hue, reminding me of champagne, but with far less bubbles. Nevertheless, the slightly sweet fruity aroma was very present on the nose. My first sip was nice, slightly fruity with a clean, crisp finish, although not overly dry. I can’t help but compare it to a nice Reisling but with effervescence.
Even in cocktails, Zipang is enjoyable. From the Gekkeikan website: one of the suggested recipes:
The Ninja Bellini:
- 4 parts Zipang Sparkling Sake
- 1 part peach schnapps
- Pour schnapps into a champagne flute. Top with Zipang Sparkling Sake
This sake is simply great. I love the ease at which I can now enjoy a good quality chilled sake wherever I choose to go. I look forward to paring it with one of my favorite sushi dishes…of course, it’s a Crawfish Roll! It’s Louisiana after all!
Zipang Sparkling Sake part of the Gekkiekan family of products, which includes other fine sake as well as plum wine, and is imported and distributed by Sidney Frank Importing Company, Inc.
Racking up several prestigious awards in recent months doesn’t hurt a spirit brand, especially when that brand has been around for years. Usually perched high atop the top shelf in my neighborhood liquor store with it’s uniquely shaped tapered-neck bottle, I had often admired it’s beauty, while hearing of its wonderful taste and aroma.
Some time ago, I was privileged to receive a sample of this spirit, which sat atop my own personal liquor cabinet until I had such an occasion to sample it. In the meantime, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey has undergone a bottle re-design, pictured left, and I hear rumors that a recipe change as well. Although I cannot confirm the latter, one thing about Michael Collins remains true–it still wows the pants off any discriminating whiskey drinker–at least this whiskey drinker anyway.
I started off with the blend first, because that’s the way I look at things. Popular opinion and marketing has really started emphasizing Single Malt and Single Barrel and other such terms to differentiate one spirit from another. If you are a student of whiskey or whiskey, you know that there are indeed differences between a blended whiskey and a single malt, single cask and cask-strength bottling. This does not even touch the finishing of whiskeys–whether they are finished in casks with sherry butts, etc.
Simply put, a blended whiskey is a whiskey that is a BLEND from various barrels of like age–not necessarily from the same distillery. This doesn’t mean it is cheap whiskey, bad whiskey, rot-gut, or whatever. It simply means BLENDED. In fact, if it weren’t for blended whiskeys the whiskey business would be out of business. Ireland is not immune to this, and thus, the distillery which produces Michael Collins probably survived many a lean year on it’s blends alone. It is touted as the only independent distillery in Ireland. Kudos!
Now for the whiskey….very easy on the nose, gentle aromas of vanilla and wood. By character, Irish whiskey usually is light in body and color. Michael Collins doesn’t differ here. In fact, I find it to the epitome of Irish Whiskey. Light in mouthfeel and flavor, highly mixable and very drinkable. My first taste was in a glass with a splash of cool water. Later, I did (Lord forgive me), have it with a large ball of ice in the center. The whiskey was gone before the ice barely had a chance to melt.
Bottom line, Michael Collins doesn’t disappoint. Looking forward to enjoying more Michael Collins Blended Irish Whiskey and Single Malt with friends. Learn more about Michael Collins Whiskey by visiting http://www.sidneyfrank.com/michael-collins.
Oops! I know back when I reviewed two delicious products from the Don Q Family of Rums, Cristal and Limon, that I said at the end of that post that Don Q Gold would be the next up. Well, trust me it is coming!
I was surprised with the opportunity to review this rum, as I was not expecting a professional sample from Don Q. (Thanks @jaejr! ) I hadn’t written anything in a while. In fact, I hadn’t had too much to drink in quite a while. I wasn’t planning on having folks over, but I got this message via facebook (where else) from my older sister proclaiming Mojito Mondays were back!
I think the Mojito was one of the first drinks I made for visitors to the home bar, and I just so happened to have this lovely bottle of Don Q Mojito Rum sitting precariously on my shelf. I couldn’t resist. What better way to sample a Mojito-flavored rum than with a Mojito.
Adapting the traditional Mojito recipe, I omitted the fresh mint (shock). Keep in mind now, folks, I had yet to lay a lip on this stuff. I added a 1/2 oz of lime juice, an 1/2 oz of simple syrup, and 2 oz of Don Q Mojito Rum. Whiz bang! Topped off with a little club soda with lots of ice and hey, I was serving mojitos. I would have loved to have the mint handy to add as a lovely garnish and to enhance the flavor of mint subtly hidden within the bottle. The drink was a hit. I tasted it, and so did others. Nice and refreshing! That’s what a Mojito is supposed to be. Like a good gin is to the Tom Collins, good rum is to the mojito. Don Q Mojito did not disappoint!
So, I told you I hadn’t properly tasted this rum. Quickly pouring myself a shot, I sipped the rum. Simply delicious! I didn’t feel the burn of alcohol in the least, but instead a slightly sweet taste. I could detect the presence of lime and mint flavors, which are subtle. I know it makes a hell of a good Mojito as it’s name implies, but also could be used as the base for other rum-based drinks, adding a new dimension to some old favorites.
Wherever you live, go to your liquor store and demand Don Q rums….I’m quite sure they’ve an edge over the competition! After all, Don Q is the #1 rum in Puerto Rico and in other areas of the globe.
As far as coffee goes, I’ll admit I am not a huge fan. I work at a place where coffee is the expected as soon as you walk in the door, with myself often making the coffee and serving it to visitors and employees alike. However, I never understood the reason why I should drink something hot when it’s already hot outside, at least in Louisiana.
My dislike for coffee itself as a beverage of choice should not be construed as I hate the flavor of coffee. Give me coffee ice cream or whip me up a mocha frappacino and I’m a happy man.
Having already a good coffee liqueur in your home bar is a must, however, and mine is no exception. I’ve made many cocktails with that black elixir for those coffee drinkers out there that bleed the stuff. I was thrilled to receive, although it’s been quite awhile, a sample of the limited edition Kahula Coffee Cream.
In a word, it’s delicious. It’s like a frappacino with a little umph. Silky smooth on the palate with the great flavor of coffee you’d come to expect from Kahula. It’s a cream liqueur that remains shelf-stable for quite some time, however, it’s recommended that you refrigerate it after opening to help in the shelf-life of the product.
Last night just so happened to be one of the times where family comes over and I get the chance to flex my mixology skills by whipping up some tasty libations. Armed with a full freezer of ice and some good-looking citrus, I was prepared. As the night progressed and the hummus and blue corn chips and mojitos (more on a wonderful product there), the focus turned to a coffee based cocktail or two.
Here’s what I came up with:
Move Over, Mudslide!
- 2 oz strong coffee (I used a Senseo brew)
- 2 oz Kahula Coffee Cream
- 2 oz Half-n-Half
- 1 oz Rich Simple Syrup
- Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake the devil out of it, until you can’t hold the shaker anymore.
- Strain through a mesh strainer, as to help cut down on the amount of foam you serve.
- Serve in a pre-chilled cocktail glass
There you have it. Yes, I know it’s incredibly sweet and quite tame for a cocktail. But, allow yourself to tweak it a bit for your audience, perhaps with a clear, tasteless spirit of your choosing, and I’m sure everyone will be quite happy.