Now Drinking

Thirsty Owl Vidal Blanc

Grape: Vidal Blanc

Vintage: 2008

Region: Finger Lakes AVA

ABV: 11%

Maker: Thirsty Owl Wine Co., Ovid, New York (Cayuga Lake, west bank)

Vidal Blanc is a Euro-American hybrid grape variety developed by a man named Jean Louis Vidal.  One of its parents was Ugni Blanc, the grape used to make Cognac and Armagnac.  Vidal apparently thought his cross would be useful in brandy production, but it has proven to be most useful in the production of ice wine.

This is not an ice wine, however.  But it’s almost like a watered down one, in a very good way.  The nose is light, slightly dry, with a hint of pineapple.  The pineapple sneaks up on the palate after it enters the mouth.  It blossoms into a big slice of fresh, ripe pineapple and fades into a rich, sweet finish.  It’s a surprisingly good wine, one worth seeking out.  I don’t know if this owl flys outside of New York, but if you see it, catch it.

Now Drinking

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010

Age: 12 y/o

Proof: 95 (42.5%)

Maker: Brown-Forman, Louisville/Shively, Kentucky

Not to toot my own horn (though I would if I could), but to my knowledge, this is the first review of the latest edition of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon  online.

The 2010 is vastly different from the 2009 (see above).  It’s a cinnamon bomb.  The nose is bright and spicy, like opening up a new jar of high-quality, sweet cinnamon and getting a big schnozz-ful of the stuff.  A bit of dark chocolate lurks in the shadows, just enough to balance the bright spice with an earthy bitterness.

For 95 proof, it slides over the lips mighty easy.  After a second or two of light sweetness, the cinnamon bomb detonates.  It reminds me of how I used to stuff my mouth full of red-hot candies as a child and feel the burn engulf my tongue.  The fire  settles in but lets a little wood sneak into the party.

The finish is long and as big as the whiskey itself.  The burn hangs on as long as possible and the wood influence grows slightly but never takes over.  After what seems like an hour, the finish fades into a slightly spicey sweetness that doesn’t want to leave.

This is a remarkable bourbon.  It’s unlike any other Birthday Bourbon I’ve tasted, or anything else I’ve had.  I bought two bottles today.  I may have to buy a case.

Now Drinking

Black Star Farms Carbonated Apple Hard Cider

Maker: Black Star Farms Winery (Traverse City, Michigan)

ABV: 7%

Is there anything Black Star Farms doesn’t do well?  One may well ask.  At the most recent Michigan Wine & Spirits competition they did fairly well: Best of Class Dry White: Black Star Farms – 2009 Arcturos Pinot Gris, Best of Class Semi-Dry White: Black Star Farms – 2009 Arcturos Riesling, Best of Class Sparkling Wine: Black Star Farms – 2008 Sparkling Wine, Double Gold: 2007 A Capella Pinot Noir.  Not too shabby.  They also have an aged apple brandy and numerous eaux de vie.  Rumor has it that a 10 year old apple brandy will be hitting the shelves of their Traverse City tasting room soon.  I’ve put my best dusty-hunting friends on the case.

Anyway, this apple cider, presumably the younger cousin to their brandies, is not exception.  It is in the dry-ish British style (of the mass-produced ones we get here, anyway) but doesn’t go off the edge like the one I reviewed from Motor City.

The nose is light, almost like a Riesling, sweet apple blossoms and a bit of citrus.  In the mouth, it’s all crisp, early season golden skinned “eating” apples, like Golden Delicious or Ginger Gold.  The sweetness then comes in, but fades away quickly.  The finish is light and sweet.  This is one of the best ciders I’ve had since I’ve started this blog.