It’s a Bird! It’s a Booze!

It’s RYE! That’s right, today I review most mixologists most beloved spirit, rye. I’ll be discussing this wonderful spirit over the next two weeks here at the Dram. First up, we have my newest acquisition. I ran out of my old standard, Old Overholt a few weeks ago, so now I’m drinking:

Austin Nichols Distilling Co.: Wild Turkey Real Kentucky 101° Straight Rye Whiskey

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this whiskey after a long day at work. It was the first sip from the bottle. I used a Spirit Sippers large snifter (“The Wide-Mouth”) for the taste. For comparison purposes, I will taste it in a London dock glass later to see how the two glasses differ.

Eye: The bottle is similar to other Wild Turkey offerings, excepting that the green cap and a green bar on the label signify that it is rye. The rye pours a honey-wheat tan with very slow-forming and quite stubby legs.

Nose: The first thing I get is apples and toffee or caramel. It smells much like a nice caramel apple one might get at a state fair. Backing that up is a hint of both peppercorn and perhaps green bell pepper.

Mouth: In the mouth at very first, it almost tasted of vodka. Then I got a sweetness, and a fruitiness on the finish. The finish started with apples but then moved to the green bell pepper I noticed in the nose. A second sip showed more apple on the front while the sweetness remained the sweetness of unmodified sugar. I added water and gave it a swirl to mix. I lost much of the fruitiness, but got a lot more complexity with the sweetness. I got caramel notes as well as oakiness and a cumin-like smokiness. A second sip reminded me of the apple on the front, though it became more of a baked apple and lost crispness. Addind ice and pausing to allow it to melt and cool the whiskey, I took my final sips. When it cooled the rye lost much of its distinctiveness. There was still a Scotch-like smokiness, and some sweetness, and a little fruitiness, but it tasted a lot like a Scotch on the rocks.

Conclusion: This is not a bad whiskey. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. However, if my recollection of the Old Overholt is good, I think I preferred that. The search for good rye continues…

Enjoy,
The Scribe

A Broader Mind

It has been a tradition here at the Dram to post reviews of spirits on the third Wednesday of the month. Today I break with that tradition (well, technically, I broke with it in both November and December as I posted nothing, but that’s different)…sort of. Today’s review is of something that is not a spirit. It isn’t even very alcoholic. Today, I drink vinegar, as you will have seen in Monday’s MxMo post. So, without further ado, I give you:

Condimento Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Make unknown.)

Tasting Conditions: I tasted this Balsamic vinegar in a London dock glass, freshly opened, after a hard day at school. The vinegar was kept at a cold room temperature.

Eye: The vinegar is dark brown in the glass. It is poured from a bottle with a bulbous bottom covered in wickerwork, with a slender tall neck, and a spout.

Nose: It smells like, well, to be perfectly honest, it smell like Balsamic vinegar. Go into your pantry. Grab that bottle of balsamic vinegar. Take a whif. Yup. That’s what it smells like.

Mouth: It’s suprisingly not bad. The first thing that hits me is lemon juice, followed by a nice, sweet grape. It is surpringly pleasant, though, to be honest, perhaps a bit acidic, even for me, and I love to drink lemon juice. It has some pleasant complexity to it, which I can really only describe as mellowness. It is clear to me that there is a bunch of subtlety back there, but the sourness is overwhelming enough that I can’t really put my finger on it.

Conclusion: When I poured myself the glass, I started with a few drops, two sips really, and was prepared to pour it out. After tasting it, I topped up my glass with a full ounce. I would really love to get my hands on a better, tradizionale grade vinegar and try it. Note that the real stuff ain’t cheap, and can go for as much as a bottle of good aged spirits, but I think it will be worth it to you.

Here’s to an open mind,
The Scribe

Young Man, You’re Rather High

So two days ago we covered the Temptryst Peachwood, and tonight we get to see another Au Natural product. This of all the Au Natural products, this has gotten the best reviews, so I am quite excited to try it. I give you:

Au Natural Spirits Co.: Temptryst Hickory Rum

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this fine rum after a day of hard sailing in storm conditions, soaked to the skin, and chilled to the bone, cuddled up, warm, and watching the debates. In the interests of full disclosure, I did not pay for this bottle of rum, but rather it was sent to me for a review. I used a flare style rum glass from Spirit Sippers for this tasting.

Eye: The rum is a pleasant honey colour with a swirl revealing slow forming, stout, manly legs. The bottle is pyramidal and elegant with a non-production simple industrial label. I don’t know what the final packaging will be, but I would encourage Au Natural to keep the bottle shape.

Nose: There is a very sweet nose, with a pronounced aroma of hickory, with tempered well with maple syrup. In fact, I might even say that the maple syrup aroma really dominated the nose quite heavily.

Mouth: This was fairly smooth, definitely well within what I would consider a sipper, but close to the border. The best I can describe the base flavour is the maple syrup I got from the nose, but not quite as sweet as maple syrup, though still on the sweeter end of rum. This was tempered by a large variety of spice including cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves. In addition there were some nice fruit notes with apple the most prominant. Adding in some water revealed a wonderful hickory smokiness on the finish. In fact, the water really brought the hickory to the fore. For a second, it was almost unpleasant as I felt like I was breathing in thick hickory smoke. The water took this from a good rum, to an amazing one. Last, I dare the ice cube. After waiting a minute for the rum to cool, I had a sip and found that the ice cube really supressed much of the complexity that was brought out by the water, and left this a fairly smoky, almost Scotch-like rum on the rocks. In fact, I might have been able to fool a friend into thinking this was whiksky on the rocks.

Conclusion: This is a wonderful rum. Truly outstanding. If this is being sold at under $30, I will try and keep this stocked. Really quite good. Definitely one of the tastier rums I have had the pleasure of trying.

So here’s to a rovin’ fair,
The Scribe

I See Jerusalem and Madagascar

Good evening everyone. I just thought I would share some rum-related TV that I have been watching lately. There’s a wonderful show about drinking called Three Sheets. Think of it as a more alcoholic version of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. The idea is that the host, comedian Zane Lamprey, travels around the world and in each country he visits a distillery, winery, or brewery that produces the local drink, drinks with the locals, usually to excess, and then, the morning after, tries the local cure for that pounding hangover he has. I highly recommend the episode on Jamaica, which, in fact, is why I am bringing this up durring rum month. Check it out on Hulu.

Don’t practice canabalism,
The Scribe

To Go With Sweet Oranges and Apples

This was a hard decision. Each rum had its merits. While I think the Pusser’s is the best quality rum, and, indeed, is my quotidian sipper, I think that the V/X is actually a better mixing rum. On the other hand, when you want a lighter rum, saw for a rum sour, the Mount Gay is superior. However, en todo, I am going with the V/X

Here’s your ladle,
The Scribe

For the Shores of Sweet Barbados

This week is gold mixing rums. We’ll be playing with some of the biggest names this week: Mount Gay, Appleton, and navy rum. First up, is a rum that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve said it before, but some rums are well known for the support they give to the sport of sailing. This is a rum I have been drinking as a sailor for a good long time. This rum, if you haven’t guessed yet is:

Will this rum eclipse its competitors?
Will this rum eclipse its competitors?

Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd.: Eclipse Gold Rum

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this rum as an evening digestif while watching the Olympics, and contemplating the possibility of an Olympic campaign of my own (this is strangely appropriate given Mount Gay’s sponsorship of all sorts of sailing). This was the first pour from a fresh bottle. I used a Spirit Sippers Flare rum glasss for this tasting.

Eye: In the glass, this spirit was a light gold with middling thin legs. The bottle has a bubble and the text printed on the label over a map of Barbados from whence hails this spirit. Just to remind you that Mount Gay is the oldest rum distillery in the world, the bottle is embossed with the words “SINCE 1703.” All together a befitting presentation.

Nose: The nose is remarkably smooth, though this may be due to the glass as I have found the flare to really cut down the burn. The aroma is reminiscent of honey with notes of banana and pineapple. Further sniffing did reveal just a touch of burn, but very slight.

Mouth: This rum was quite sweet on the tongue with a surprising burn on the back end that, while surprising was more of a shock than anything else. The flavour was very honeyed with a large dose of berries and banana as well as just a touch of orange and the slightest note of oak and mesquite. Adding water back, smoothed out the back, but the burn came up to the front side, which was rather strange. The whole rum really lost any distinctive flavours and just became kind of generically rummy. I’m kind of afraid the ice, but I gamely added it in and waited a few minutes to let the drink cool, even though the ice kind of overwhelmed the lower globe. The ice really removed any flavour other than a bit of alcoholic burn.

Conclusion: To be fair, this rum really isn’t meant for sipping, and while you can get away with sipping some rums in this price range, it’s very touch and go. I got this rum for mixing, and it performs in that role quite well. It makes a wonderful punch, swizzle, and even a good mojito. This is a keeper, though I get many of my bottles free as trophies in sailboat racing, but during the winter, I’ll pay for a bottle or two.

Fair winds to the island,
The Scribe

The White Funnel Line

So this week we covered white rums. We hit the Cruzan Estate Light, the Myer’s Platinum, and the J. Wray & Nephew Overproof. I also meant to post a review of Bacardi Superior, but unfortunately, life got in the way of that one. I think, reading the reviews, that there is a clear winner here. I am a huge fan of the Cruzan. In my introduction to the review, I commented that it is widely regarded as the best white rum widely available at a reasonable price point, and since I refuse to shell out big money for a white rum, it was perfect. There are few white rums that I would offer the title of sipper to, but the Cruzan came darn close. I highly recommend snapping up any remaining bottles of the two year old, and trying the younger version.

So, until the blue water turns to green, I remain,
The Scribe