Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie

Maker: Etienne Dupont, Victot-Pontfol, Normandy, Francewpid-2014-11-18-10.22.09.jpg.jpeg

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 5.5%

Purchased for $12/750 ml

Appearance: light ochre with a big fizzy head that disperses soon after pouring.

Nose: Dry and flinty with a hint of yeasty funk.

Palate: Fizzy, apple juice, sourdough, chalk dust.

Finish: Fairly clean with a little funk and a touch of sweetness.

Parting words: There are very few denizens of the Wonderful Land of Booze that I just don’t enjoy. Sherry, flavored vodka, American blended whiskey, Coors/Bud/Miller beer and French cider all fall into that category.

This cider is drinkable enough, but the combination of funky yeast and dry chalk don’t exactly keep me coming back. Maybe I should have started my cider journey in Normandy and then sailed to the UK and US, or it’s over or underaged but this is not a repeat buy, especially at this price. Not recommended.

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Four Roses triple header: OESO vs. OESO vs. OESO single barrel selections

Maker: Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, USAwpid-2014-11-12-17.24.33.jpg.jpeg

BBD= Binny’s

TPS= The Party Source

GBS= Georgia Bourbon Society

Warehouse: BN

Barrel

BBD: 31-1D

TPS: 30-3E

GBS: 30-3G

Age

BBD: 10 yrs, 11 mos.

TPS: 10 yrs, 3 mos.

GBS: 11 yrs, 5 mos.

Proof

BBD: 103.8 (51.9% ABV)

TPS: 115 (57.5% ABV)

GBS: 114 (57% ABV)

BBD: $55

TPS: $50 (current price for private selections)

GBS: Not disclosed (<$50)

Appearance

BBD: Medium dark copper.

TPS: A little lighter with more orange.

GBS: Somewhere between the two (which are pretty similar anyway).

Nose

BBD: Leather, peanut brittle, cumin.

TPS: Big oak, touch of caramel.

GBS: Oak is just as big, but with more spice. Chili powder, Tabasco sauce.

Palate

BBD: Sweet and creamy on the palate, like vanilla toffee chews.

TPS: Sweet and creamy too, but not quite as rich.

GBS: Similar mouthfeel to BBD and just as sweet but more complex with Mexican chocolate flavors.

Finish

BBD: Sweet but drying. Toasted marshmallows. Lingers for a long time,

TPS: The oak carries through in the finish but with enough caramel to round it off.

GBS: Best of the bunch. Smoky chocolate and toffee.

Parting words: OESO is one of the most popular of Four Roses’ ten recipes for retailer and private selections, as this tasting illustrates. The E indicates the lower rye mashbill and the final O indicates the O yeast was used in fermentation. The O yeast is known for contributing a “robust fruitiness” to its offspring. These bourbons are all quite robust but not much was there in the way of fruitiness.

They are all very similar, as one might expect, but some of the subtle differences surprised me. I arranged the tasting the way I did, because I assumed that the TPS and the GBS would be closest in flavor but they weren’t. They were rick neighbors and came out at similar proofs but they ended up being the least alike of the three. The closest in profile were the BBD and GBS barrels. There were subtle differences between them but I highly doubt I could win a Pepsi Challenge scenario with the two of them.  The TPS barrel was the outlier. It is the youngest, but it was the woodiest of the three.

All three were very good, but the edge here goes to the product of the GBS barrel (which I and some friends of the blog helped select). The GBS selection was not for sale to the general public, but any GBS member would be happy to pour you some if you ask nicely. All are highly recommended.

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Vanderbush

Makers: Greenbush, Sawyer, Michigan/Vandermill, Spring Lake, Michigan, USAwpid-20141110_170204.jpg

Style: Tripel brewed with cider.

ABV: 10.2%

Purchased for $13/4 pack

Appearance: Like cloudy cider with a big foamy head.

Nose: Sweet malt, hot cereal, hot cider.

Palate: Effervescent with hops, apple juice, and sourdough swimming around.

Finish: Bizarre. Big bitter hops clashing with a slightly sweet, apple flavor. Like chewing on cotton or accidently swallowing a bug.

Parting words: I have had lots of great beers from Greenbush and lots of great ciders from Vandermill. I have nothing but love and respect for both producers. That said, this is a terrible product. The nose and palate are decent, but nothing special. The finish is what kills it. It’s just gross. If a cider-beer from two great craft producers tastes this bad, I shudder to think what the corporate versions taste like. Vanderbush is not recommended.

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Bowers Harbor Red Cépages

Maker: Bowers Harbor, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, USAwpid-20141112_171618.jpg

Grapes: Unknown (likely some hybrids in the mix)

Place of origin: Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 12.5%

Purchased for $13

Appearance: Brick red with long thick legs, pretty close together.

Nose: Semi-sweet and jammy. Black cherry jam, cedar, a touch of foxiness.

Palate: More tart than the nose would suggest. Blueberry jam, blackberries, oak.

Finish: Chewy and sweet. Wild blackberries, leather, a bit of tartness.

Parting words: This wine was a bit of a surprise to me, but it shouldn’t have been. It was sweeter than I expected but still has enough underlying structure to keep it from falling into pop wine territory. It seemed more like a table wine to me than the French-style red blend I was expecting. I should have looked more closely at the label, because it says right under the boat “Red Table Wine”.

The price is a little more than I like to pay for table wines, but I liked it over all. It did OK with our supper of homemade macaroni and cheese. My wife said that she prefers that style of wine in the summertime, and I can’t disagree with her there. Red Cépages works best as a casual warm weather sipper. As such, it is recommended.

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Hedonism

Maker: Compass Box, Edinburgh, Scotland, UKwpid-hedonism_bottle.jpg

Distillers vary by batch but often includes whisky from : Cameron Bridge (Fife), Carsebridge, Cambus , Port Dundas or Dumbarton.

Style: Blended Grain Scotch Whisky

ABV: 43%

Michigan State Minimum: $110

Appearance: Light gold with long moderately thick legs.

Nose: Vanilla, woodruff, white pepper, persimmon.

Palate: Medium sweet and full bodied. Vanilla pudding, alcohol, toffee, caramel, pecan.

Finish: Medium hot, creamy and herbaceous. Lasts a long time and gets sweeter as it goes.

Parting words: Grain whisky is Scotch whisky made from a grain other than malted barley. That grain can be anything, but wheat and corn are most common. It is distilled in a column still to a higher ABV than malt whisky, which is distilled in pot stills. Grain whisky is most commonly used to blend with single malt whisky to create blended Scotch. The malt component is used to give flavor to blends, while the grain is used to fill it out and round it off to create a very drinkable spirit.

Scotch grain whiskies are rarely bottled on their own, but Compass Box has decided to make this one a part of its core range. It’s round and rich with lots of character, giving the lie to the assertion that column distillation only produces bland, thin whisky (of course, bourbon gives the lie to this assertion as well). Aged mostly in ex-bourbon casks, it is a rich and complex as most single malts, if not richer. This is a wonderful whisky that is delicious all the way around. It’s expensive, though, and that keeps it out of the highly recommended category. Compass Box Hedonism is recommended.

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Dark Penance

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAwpid-2014-11-03-17.35.42.jpg.jpeg

Style: Imperial Black IPA

ABV: 8.9%

Purchased for $12/4 pack

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a foamy head.

Nose: Big hops, ruby red grapefruit, dried flowers.

Palate: Hot cocoa, floral hops, bitter citrus peel.

Finish: Big and bitter but split between roasted malt and hops.

Parting words: The best way to describe the flavor of this beer is as a hybrid of a porter and a pale ale. Most black IPAs I’ve had seemed to be little more than a darker colored IPA. A few have had some more depth and toastiness, but none as rich as this one. It has all the bite and spice of a good IPA but with the depth and power of an imperial stout. I’m not often overawed by beers, especially not IPAs, but this one did it to me.

It’s expensive even by craft beer standards but it’s the best beer of this style I’ve ever had and I think it’s very much worth the price. Dark Penance is highly recommended.

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Booker’s

Maker: Beam, Clermont, Kentucky, USA (Beam Suntory)wpid-20141031_173934.jpg

Age: 6 yrs, 2 mos

Proof: 128.5 (64.25% ABV)

Michigan state minimum: $59

Appearance: Auburn with thin, evenly spaced legs.

Nose: Taffy, alcohol, lavender, leather, fresh basil, roasted corn.

Palate: Sweet and hot, but rounded. Rock candy and oak. Opens up but weakens with water. Butterscotch candy, tarragon, touch of char.

Finish: Table grapes, cut grass, alcohol, caramel corn.

Parting words: Booker’s was created by and named after Booker Noe, grandson of Jim Beam and father of Fred Noe, current Beam brand ambassador. According to marketing materials, this is how Booker drank his bourbon: uncut and at 6-8 y/o.

Booker’s was one of the first high-end bourbons I ever tasted and it was one of my favorites back then. I’ve had it a few other times over the years and it’s always been one I’ve enjoyed. This one doesn’t seem as good as ones I’ve had in the past. It has more of the less desirable aspects of the Beam character than  past bottles, especially with water added.

I’m not sure if it’s worth the price, especially considering that Knob Creek Single Barrel at 120 proof is only $46 and Baker’s is $47 at a lower proof and higher age. I’m not sure if a few more proof points and a pine box (perfect for Halloween) is worth the extra scratch. Still, it tastes good and that’s the most important thing, right? Booker’s is recommended.

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Kavalidere Öküzgözü d’Elazig

Maker: Kavaklidere, Akyurt, Ankara, Turkeywpid-20141029_173503.jpg

Grape: Öküzgözü

Place of origin: Elazig, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 13%

Purchased for $7 (reduced from $12)

Appearance: Brick red with medium thick, evenly spaced legs.

Nose: Black currant, old book, grape juice.

Palate: Medium bodied and chewy. Wild blackberries, old oak, white pepper.

Finish: Very soft. A subtle tang and tannic bite.

Parting words: Although what’s now Eastern Turkey was probably the birthplace of wine (according to archaeology and even the book of Genesis), Turkey’s first commercial vineyard was founded in 1925 at the behest of president Ataturk. There are still a number of state-run vineyards and Turkey is one of the world’s largest producers of grapes but little of that output makes it to the U.S.

Kavalidere’s Öküzgözü of Elazig is one of the few labels that makes it to this side of the pond. When I first opened this bottle it was vile. Moldy cardboard nose and thin. I thought it may have been tainted but I’m always reluctant to take bottles that I bought on sale back to the store. After being open for an hour, it seemed to improve slightly, so I just capped it and waited until the last day. It is dowright drinkable now, but still with a slightly musty aroma. It does fine as a dryish weeknight table wine, but I wouldn’t pay over $11 for it. Of course vintages vary, as always. Kavalidere 2010 Öküzgözü d’Elazig is mildly recommended.

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Oktoberfest Celebration Lager

Maker: Rochester Mills, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USAwpid-20141020_183329.jpg

Style: “Oktoberfest” lager.

ABV: 6.2%

Purchased for $11/4 pint cans

Appearance: Amber with a big foamy head.

Nose: Sweet malt with a slightly sour, yeasty aroma.

Palate: Medium bodied. Dark malt,

Finish: Lightly roasted malt with a nice hit of hoppy bitterness on the back end.

Parting words: I know Oktoberfest season is coming to an end, but I’m a slow beer drinker. This beer is a fine example of the style and is very food friendly, as it should be. Went well with fromage fort, pretzels with mustard and even pecan wood smoked baby back ribs. The price could be lower, but it’s a tasty seasonal beer and I’m a big fan of craft pint cans. Rochester Mills Celebration Lager is recommended.

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Wiser’s Legacy

Maker: Corby, Corbyville, Ontario, Canadawpid-2014-10-16-18.21.08.jpg.jpeg

Distilled: Hiram Walker, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Pernod-Ricard)

Age: NAS

ABV: 45%

Michigan State Minimum: $45

Appearance: Light copper with long thick legs.

Nose: Leather, spearmint, potpourri, coriander, green cardamom, woodruff, Habanero peppers.

Palate: Full bodied and medium dry. Butterscotch, white pepper, basil, cilantro, alcohol.

Finish: Eucalyptus cough drops, aged Alsatian Pinot Gris, hint of oak.

Parting words: Wiser’s Legacy is the legacy of now retired master blender David Doyle. Wiser’s Legacy is back in the U.S. after two year long absence. Named 2013 Canadian Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate, it’s a remarkable product.

It’s made from a blend of rye, malted rye and maltly barely and has loads of minty Canadian rye aromas (think early batches of Whistle Pig) that are elegantly balanced with candy sweetness and toasted barrel notes. It manages to be both unabashedly Canadian and a transcendent, world class-whisky on par with bourbons twice its price and single malt Scotches four times the price. I taste something new every time I pour myself a couple ounces.

Nobody knows how long it will be back on American shelves, so buy a bottle or two while you can. Wiser’s Legacy is highly recommended.

 

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