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Archive for February, 2010

The Nies

This afternoon I was thinking about a recent Kaiser Penguin post comparing recipes for the Martinez cocktail. He insisted on four things: Old Tom-style gin, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, a twist garnish and lots of ice. The Old Tom is important to him because the juniper in the London Dry would be too bold for the other flavors and unbalance the drink. With this in mind, I opted not for an Old Tom, but for Square One Botanical Vodka, which I’d discussed at great length with my friend over at No Gluten Required who isn’t wild about juniper. This Square One Botanical Vodka is like gin without the juniper, it’s really interesting. I introduced this particular spirit to her on the night of my last birthday, for which she gave me a bottle of Rothman and Winters Orchard Apricot Liqueur. With these memories swirling through my head I decided to opt out the Maraschino Liqueur in the Martinez in favor of the Apricot Liqueur, the result was delicious. I garnished with the only citrus I had around, you don’t really need to use bergamot.

1.5 oz. Square One Botanical Vodka
1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
2 t. Rothman and Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice for a good long while. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of Bergamot.

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I picked this bottle up at Blanchards in West Roxbury, which I ride my bicycle to whenever I run out of El Dorado 15 year demerera rum, which I’m sure I’ll be reviewing in the future. On my most recent trip, I picked up this bottle, from a barrel aged in warehouse CS, bottled at 100 proof.

I opened this bottle at a spectacular art gallery show (read: dance party) a couple weeks ago and unfortunately nearly killed it before having the opportunity to sit down and taste it properly. Last week I invited a dear friend over to polish off the bottle with me. In addition to being a lovely drinking buddy she was an admirable note-taker. I toyed with the idea of typing them up verbatim but then got bashful at my wandering musings. Like the Weller though, no opportunity to go back and taste this bottle again.

Consumed: Neat.

The nose starts out with honey, heather, and pepper with a sublte green plum scent being the only fruit to speak of. On the palate there’s still a big honey backbone with a little ginger and vanilla backed up by subtle notes of tobacco and leather. A very fresh and clean white oak flavor came through on the finish that was surprising and delicious.

There are few bourbons with a sweet honey backbone quite like this, I will certainly be buying a new bottle sometime in the future, as something unusual to have around.

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This wheat-recipe bourbon was distilled at Buffalo Trace in the fall of ’98, making it an 11 year aged bourbon. It’s unfiltered and bottled at the barrel strength of 67.4% ABV. As it’s a wheat-recipe bourbon it’ll show similarities to the likes of Makers Mark and Pappy Van Winkle.

I purchased this bottle at Bauer Wine and Spirits on Newbury St. in Boston, MA back in the fall when the Antique Collection was released. I was given a beautiful decanter for the holidays and this was the whiskey I chose to put into it first and it became my go-to when I got home from a long day and was just looking for a real stiff drink. Unfortunately I waited until the very last dregs of my bottle before I really sat down to compile tasting notes on it, as such I won’t have the opportunity to go back and taste it again later to see if I feel the same way, nor will I have the opportunity to try consuming it by other methods. No regrets though, I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle.

Consumed: Neat, though I wouldn’t fault anyone for adding a healthy splash of water to it.

The color is a very reddish auburn with the absence of filtration clearly noticeable in this, the last glass from the bottle. On the nose the alcohol was inescapable but served to bind all the scents together harmoniously. Demerera Sugar, caramel, dates and vanilla; then developing malt, red apples and oak. The palate followed suit initially, with stronger oak presence and adding to the mix some marshmallow and nougat with pepper on the back of the palate and a long maple finish.

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Scapa is a distillery on the island of Orkney, north of the scottish mainland, right near Highland Park. This whisky was recommended to me by Joe at Federal Wine and Spirits in Boston, MA. He was giving myself and some other customers a taste of an independent bottling of Highland Park that hadn’t been finished in sherry casks, as all distillery bottlings are. I generally consider myself a traditionalist in that I’m not wild about finishing casks. When I tried to purchase said bottle I was told they didn’t have any in stock but that I should try this Gordon and Macphail bottling of Scapa, as given its proximity to Highland Park I might find the two to be similar. I’m very glad I did. It’s unusual though, in that my tasting notes are very different from many other reviews of similar bottles, though I honestly couldn’t find any reviews of this particular bottling. Normally an island distillery of this nature will have notes of salt, seaweed, and other unusual but vaguely marine characteristics.

Consumed: Neat.

I found it to be a wonderful dessert-y scotch, unexpected given its fairly pale golden color. On first whiff you get the island sensation: subtle salt and vegetal aromas but as you really nose the glass those are lost and replaced by rainier cherries, and chocolate up front, gaining characteristics of apricots as the alcohol hits you. To this is then added raisins with the cherries moving to a more brandied scent as well as barley, milk, and almonds; then after sitting in the glass for a while- added are notes of tangerines and honey. The palate follows closely with a heavy emphasis on the complimentary flavors of chocolate, milk, barley, fruit and almonds, with the other notes deep in the background adding complexity.

Note: not my exact bottle, but very close

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