Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Review: Roxor Artisan Gin

Color (5%): Water clear, no legs, no oils. 4/5

Nose (10%): Lovely grapefruit notes. The bitter pith and the citrus oils balance quite nicely. There is some spice coming from the juniper. This is 90-proof, but it doesn't come off as hot. Slight tannic tea notes do appear on the back end. 9/10

Palate (20%): Very clean. Nice and dry. There is almost no sweetness whatsoever on the tip of the tongue. Reflective of starting with grain-neutral spirit. It takes a second, but the citrus oil and spice start dancing in. They make themselves known without being overpowering and offensive. It's a delicate spice for a gin compared to the styles from across the pond. 17/20

Finish (10%): That is dry on the back end. Lots of punch on that first sip, especially. Though I don't often drink gin neat. A few of those cocoa nibs show their face as those fumes dissipate. Some of the tannic hibiscus notes pop up as well. 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): It's been a while since I sipped gin neat. This is quite enjoyable. I'd love to try this with a citrus-forward tonic like Fentiman's. This also would do well in a Collins cocktail. It's easy to see the application of this gin in cocktails across the board. How would it work in a martini with some super botanical vermouth or bitters? But with some acid, this plays extremely well with others. 27/30

Retry on Ice (25%): The tea comes out a lot with a bit of ice. The citrus tempers out, and some of those earthy notes spring forth. You get the pecan nuttiness. This has helped me reevaluate my thoughts on cocktail applications. Which flavors do I want to compliment my drink design? The citrus was huge on the nose and tasted neat, but that switches to earth when well chilled. Interesting nuance and evolution. Nice. 23/25

Total Ranking: 87% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $29
Actual Price: $32

Conclusion:  This is a fun little gin I got to try on a United States Bartender's Guild trip. The New Artisan Distillery is in a cute industrial district with charming staff. The head distiller, Robert del Grande, is a James Beard-awarded chef based out of Houston despite the distillery being just outside Dallas. The flavor profile is fresh and vibrant. They openly advertise using fresh, natural ingredients in their gin and other products rather than relying on chemical extracts and concentrates. The sense of art and design showcased at the distillery and in the bottle design is truly impressive. The skyline building by Frank Lloyd Wright was a clear influence on the bottle design. In terms of the juice, it's pretty good. There's a very "American gin" vibe, being very citrus-forward and not overly spiced with juniper. This does exceptionally well for its category and is not excessively expensive. The advertisement of real plants seems unnecessary. As far as I'm aware, most small distilleries I tour use raw natural materials, though I may be a victim of marketing, I guess. This reminds me of Bluecoat and a few other American gin brands. If you're a gin drinker, I definitely recommend sampling this. Once the bottle is gone, I'm not sure if I'll restock, but I in no way regret my purchase. I'm wary of overly unique packaging as I know that cost is passed on to me. I like simple unless it's from a brand turning out high volumes of bottles they can buy in bulk. Knock the price down a few dollars, and I'd keep this in my rotation of gins. The juice is good. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery location: Dallas, Texas
ABV: 45%

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Review: Grand Old Parr 12 Year

Color (5%):  Beautiful amber and copper hues. Medium thinning.  4/5

Nose (10%): Honeyed bread predominantly. There are some medicinal oily notes and nice dry oak at the end. 8/10

Palate (20%): Lots of honey sugars coming through. Medium full-bodied. Nice dried fruits and cooked fruits and orange notes. Some baking spices and lots of Christmas cake flavors coming through. Yummy sherry cask finish notes. Only a little, if any, peat but lots of oak heat. 17/20

Finish (10%): Arid, oaky finish compared to the sweet palate. There is a bit of a bite to this. 6/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is an oaky whiskey for the price. Possibly too oaky for some, but I like it. There's some nice complexity to this blend. Honey, cooked fruit, and oak spice. There's a nice evolution as it goes through the mouth. It's not boring, and one note, but it's not the craziest thing ever. It is a blend, but this has more character than any budget scotch in the well. 24/30

Retry on Ice (25%): Quite nice actually. The oak shrinks down a little bit, making it softer and easier. The honey strays throughout. The dried fruit gets a little muted, but it's still there. This is easy drinking for me. It's not too abrasive at all. 20/25

Total Ranking: 79% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $24
Actual Price: $27

Conclusion: This product has been around since 1909. It's owned by Diageo, and while it gets less marketing publicity than Johnnie Walker, this is a quality whiskey with quite a few loyal followers. It's widely popular in the U.S. and in Latin America, as well as some fans in Japan. I first heard about this whiskey from the anime/manga "Bartender." It's a delicious whiskey for the price. I'm curious to try the 18-year-old. Given this has so much oak, I'm curious what six more years in the wood does to it. The oak makes it a bit acrid, so I can only see it getting a little use in cocktails. A good drink would have to mute that oak character a bit, defeating the point of using this. But as a sipping whiskey, this certainly beats out a lot of other blended whiskies at this price point. Give it a go; it's worth the money. I was one point away from calling this amazing, but it's great. 

Fact Sheet:
ABV: 40%
A blend of several distilleries (predominantly Cragganmore), blended and bottled in Leven, Fife

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Review: Clément VSOP Rhum Vieux

Color (5%):  Very light, faint gold honey, no brown. Medium thinning at the edges. 4/5

Nose (10%): There's a bit of salt. Lots of fresh sea air. Sweet notes of butterscotch. The sugar notes are more delicate. Dried fruits and orange marmalade 8/10

Palate (20%): Nice and oily. Lots of orange coming through on the back end. Nutty, almond, and amaretto notes dance around. Some coconut milk slips in. Creamy butterscotch. Actually, it's dry in terms of sugar content. It's odd talking about sugary flavors and saying that it's not sweet, but that's how rum works. 17/20

Finish (10%): The heat lingers for quite a while. Lots of grassy sugarcane flavor and lots of spice. It's dry in terms of sugar content. 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): It's been a while since I sipped rum neat. This is quite enjoyable. I bought this for mixing in tiki cocktails, and it certainly is great for that, but it's decent on its own. I would like a bit more age here, but it's a tasty gold rum. Lots of complexity, a great body, and a great mouthfeel.   25/30

Retry on Ice (25%): That's really nice. The spices come out a lot more. It's more punchy all around. All those oils open up to something big. I don't notice anything major being lost. This pops, and I want to have this in tiki cocktails. 23/25

Total Ranking: 84% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $44
Actual Price: $36

Conclusion:  If you seek an excellent rum experience and education, try this. Rums are broken down into innumerable categories from color to country to age to language to the method of distillation to everything under the sun. Your best rum bartender couldn't narrow rum into fewer than 10 categories. Other rums within similar types will do the job in place of this in cocktails, but this boy has some depth of character. This will work in fruit-forward tiki drinks and in rum old-fashioned cocktails. With just lime juice and sugar, this will make a tremendous daiquiri.

I like an agricole, it has a serious earthy pure taste. It feels like nothing is hidden or masked. Finding an application for this rum is easy, but I can't give it a perfect score. I need help thinking of a rum that beats this one out in terms of friendliness and versatility for the cost, but it'll never be the best option for my applications for specific cocktails. If I were building a cocktail menu, I'd opt for cheaper rums for my builds, but If you want to explore the rum cocktail world, this is a significant investment that will meet so many of your needs. If you have yet to try it, buy it. Buy it early on. You will probably find a different rum that you will like a bit better for your own applications, be it neat or in cocktails, but this is a great benchmark to start at and develop a frame of reference from. I'm happy to have this on my shelf; it's an easy teaching rum. If you can be a mentor/guide for someone into the rum world, you should have this. 

Fact Sheet:
Country: Martinique
ABV: 40%