Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve is matured for most of its life in traditional oak casks then, a portion is aged in new, specially coopered French Limousin oak casks. The final marriage of the whiskies from the Limousin and traditional oak barrels produces a unique, smooth spiciness that complements The Glenlivet's mellow fruity flavors. Scotch whisky is not traditionally aged in Limousin oak, they are generally reserved for the aging fine wine, making this distinctive maturation an innovative process that reflects the pioneering history of The Glenlivet itself. The aromas are both intense and sweet with notes of cedar and citrus surrounded by vanilla. The palate is beautifully structured with well-balanced flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and mandarin oranges with a touch of pepper. The finish is long and sweet with floral notes and flavors of honey and vanilla.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2006 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz

I just tried this today and thought it was a fantastic Shiraz for the money. Unlike many of the Shiraz produced out of Australia, this wine is not the huge fruit bomb you typically find out of the land down under. It is actually a bit more old worldish in style offering a bit of spice and earth layered within the dark berry flavors. The Lodge Hill vineyard is one of the highest vineyards in the Clare Valley, where they can grow Riesling on the cooler, less sunny side and Shiraz on the warmer side, ensuring both cool nights and warm days for the Shiraz portion of the vineyard. The color is deep and dark in the glass with big, ripe and juicy aromas of plum, black cherry and dark chocolate. The high alcohol and silky tannins make the palate balance perfectly between the huge fruit flavors and peppery spice.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Monday, July 27, 2009

Green Flash Brewing Co. Le Freak

The brewers at Green Flash Brewing Company have really out done themselves with this convergence of beer styles where American Imperial IPA meets Belgium trippel. The end result is a zesty brew with enticing American hops and Belgian yeast aromatics that lead you to delicious malts and a complex layering of hop flavors that quench and refresh your pallet. When you pour it you notice its orangish amber color with a huge amount of American hops on the nose with notes of citrus. The palate itself feels heavy at first but then leaves you with a silky smooth mouth full of yeast and hops beautifully layered with fruity flavors of banana and grapefruit.
$7/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka

Tea flavored vodka, I know it almost sounds ridiculous but this flavored vodka sensation has been taking the country by storm all summer long. I was a little sceptical at first but when you actually sit down and try it this flavored vodka tastes just like a great glass of ice tea. It is not as sweet as the label may lead you to believe, unlike a lot of those southern tea brews although it is sweet enough to be refreshing. The tea flavor is genuine made with tea leaves grown just five miles from the company's distillery in Charleston, South Carolina. This stuff makes a great spiked Arnold Palmer just add 1 part sweet tea vodka to 1 part Lemonade fill with ice and garnish with a lemon. Be careful though, this stuff goes down a little to easily and will definitely get you into trouble if you don't watch it.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2007 Adelsheim Pinot Gris

Some of my favorite domestic wines come from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio but they typically are a bit more concentrated and rich with its flavors than its Italian counterpart. Crisp and bright flavors have always gone hand in hand with the Adelsheim Pinot Gris. In this 2007 vintage you find delicate aromas of pear, peach and apple skins that lead you to a refreshing palate with just the right amount of acidity that keeps it light and lively. Flavors of nectarine, citrus and melons show through nicely with just a touch of minerality. The finish is surprisingly creamy which lends a mouth filling texture and extends the finish longer than you would expect from a wine that starts off so crisp and clean.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2008 Gouden Carolus Cuvee de Keizer Blauw

Every year on the 24th of February Gouden Carolus brews the Cuvee de Keizer Blauw, or "Grand Cru of the Emperor" to celebrate the birthday of Charles V. The Cuvee de Keizer is brewed uniquely with only fine Belgium hops and with it being 11% ALC/VOL. this beer will age extremely well over the next several years with a complexity and intensity usually reserved for only the finest wines. This beer pours with a deep caramel color and golden tan head with aromas plums, raisins and wood leaping out of the glass. The palate starts of with sweet caramel that soon gives way to fruity flavors of figs and plums with a slight tart quality. The finish is long and mouth filling as the Belgium hops flex their muscles making it both sweet and bitter at the same time. It is still a little young so if you can keep your hands off of it the 2008 Cuvee de Keizer will only continue to develop over the next couple of years. What a treat!

Rating: 9.7 out of 10

Friday, July 17, 2009

Drumguish Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Drumguish is a five year single malt whisky produced at the Speyside Distillery. The distillery takes its name from the original Speyside Distillery in Kingussie which started in 1895 and only produced until 1905. It was demolished in 1911. The pure local water coloured and flavoured by the peat of the Cairngorm mountains, together with the fine malted barley from the Moray Firth region, and,of course, our unsurpassed attention to detail. The nose is soft and medium sweet, with a slight bit of fresh earthy peat. The palate was lighter than most highland single malts with medium dry flavors of mint with a gentle smokiness and a little bit of sea salt. The finish is where you notice the salt and peat the most, but it still has a small amount of the sweetness that highland single malts are known for. An excellent value single malt scotch.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXI

On June 27, 2009 the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, OR turned 21 years old and to commemorated this achievement they released a limited batch of Black Butte XXI. This is a doubled up, barrel aged version of the popular Black Butte Porter. This imperial porter is loaded with hops and malts, a healthy amount of coffee, cocoa nibs and is barrel aged in used bourbon barrels. It pours black as night with roasty aromas with hints of almonds, dried berries and chocolate. The palate is loaded with hops, strong notes of bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans and red berries. The flavors are all very complex, however they meld together to create a wonderful drinking experience. Unlike many cocoa porters this beer doesn't come across sweet, in fact it is just the opposite providing a nicely well balance bitterness that incorporates the cocoa instead of it being the defining feature.
$11/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.6 out of 10

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2005 Luigi Bosca Malbec Lujan de Cuyo D.O.C.

This is the only Malbec from Argentina that I have seen labeled with a D.O.C. (Denominacion de Origen Controlada) classification. Typically you see these types of classifications on European wine labels, especially those from France and Italy, where there are much more strict laws governing winemaking. The D.O.C. of Lujan de Cuyo was established in 1989 with the objective of protecting and regulating the Malbec variety, which is native to the region. A wine labeled with the D.O.C. certification must comply with the strict protocol that begins at the vineyard and finishes once the wine is produced, after getting the go ahead from the Regulating Board. The grapes come from 70 year old vines and sees 14 months in oak barrels. It shows an intense shade of violet with ripe cherry and plum aromas followed by a palate that is spiced with hints of mocha and blackberry summed up by a velvety tannic finish.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hendrick's Gin

If you are like me whiskies and other brown spirits are little to heavy for me during the summer months. That is why when the temperatures are up I turn to Gin and Hendrick's is probably the most complex and unique Gin I have ever had, however it is not for everyone. In fact, the pamphlet that comes with the bottle boasts that it is "Preferred by 1 out of 1000 Gin drinkers". Hendrick's is distilled in small batches in Ayrshire, Scotland using a rare distillation process using a Carter-Head Still that was built in the 19th century, was full restored by their full time coppersmith and there are only 3 others like it in the world. The botanicals are infused as the Gin is distilled first with the essential oils pressed from the petals of Bulgarian Rose. Next comes the coup de grace, or mashed cucumber that is mixed with cold water. This is what gives Hendrick's its unique flavors and makes it a whiskey lover's Gin.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Friday, July 10, 2009

Full Sail Brewing Company Sessions Black Lager

Just because a beer is dark does not mean that it is heavy, in fact some of the most famous darker beer are actually quite light. The darker color of these beers comes from the use of roasted malts, which is basically barley or wheat roasted until the grain has a dark brown color. The Sessions Black Lager is truly unique with its old school squatty bottle, its retro looking label and great flavor. The beauty of Sessions is that it is not a microbrew, not a macrobrew nor an import, it is all of them and none of them at the same time. The beer itself is smooth, dark and surprisingly refreshing with initial tastes of chocolate and caramel malts with a touch of citrus. The hops and malts are balanced nicely providing a long, smooth and slightly bitter finish. Definitely a beer I will drink all summer long!
$13/12 pack

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2007 Michael-David Vineyards Petite Petit

This is the latest installation from Micheal-David Vineyards, who proudly make the popular Seven Deadly Zins. In my opinion, this is by far the best wine I have had from them. This wine is properly named since it is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petite Verdot, and with the way U.S. wine laws are you would usually see this style blend just labeled 'Petite Sirah' since there is more than 75% of Petite Sirah in the blend. When you pour it into your glass you first notice the deep purple color that leads to nose full of plums, violets and baking spices. The palate is big and bold with flavors of plum, blackberry and currant that almost slap you in the face. The wine is aged for 14 months in French oak which adds a slight vanilla flavor in the already smooth and everlasting finish.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ommegang Abbey Ale

I broke this beer out at a barbecue the other day to show one of my neighbors what real beer is, needless to say he put down his Miller Lite and wanted to drink my entire bottle. Brewery Ommegang was started in 1997 in a traditional Belgium style farmhouse located four miles south of Cooperstown, New York. Demand became so overwhelming that in 2003 Brewery Ommegang was sold to the Belgium brewery responsible for Duvel Golden Ale and now Ommegang brews are made both in Belgium and Cooperstown. This particular brew is made in Belgium is the first beer produced by Ommegang and was inspired by the ales produced by the Belgium Trappist monks. This beer pours nicely into a dark red brown color with a nice fat foamy head. The aromas are full of Belgium yeast as well as some fruity and nutty notes. The palate is full and robust with breadiness that dissipates to fruitiness as you reach the exquisite finish.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Sunday, July 5, 2009

2007 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

It can be difficult to find good Pinot Noirs under the $30 price range, mainly because Pinot Noir is a very low yielding vine and it can only be grown in certain pockets of the world unlike Cabernet Sauvignon that can pretty much be grown wherever. However, the Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is one of the few good quality Pinot Noirs that is priced under $25. Aromas of strawberry, Bing cherries, raspberries and mocha leap out of the glass. The palate is well balanced with a good acid backbone and exhibits flavors of pomegranate and cranberry. This is not your typical fruit driven Pinot that are usually seen out of California, which is mainly caused by the cooler climate of Santa Barbara County. A fantastic value!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ska Brewing True Blonde Dubbel

I brought this 22oz. waxed capped Belgium style Pale Strong Ale over to a friend's house and happily sipped it away for hours. When you first pour it you notice its hazy golden yellow color with a thick creamy head. The aromas come off sweet with notes of caramel roasted hops, citrus and apples. The palate has a sugary sweetness with yeasty, honey, and fruity flavors surrounded by caramel roasted malt that leads into a long, slightly bitter finish. With such intense aromas I was expecting a little more from the palate, which I found to be a little flat. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful craft beer for the summer time.
$6/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crystal Head Vodka

New to the market, the New Crystal Head Vodka has already gain a huge amount of buzz on the Internet from the latest video of Dan Aykroyd showing off his new vodka in the interesting crystal skull bottle. The bottle itself is supposedly reminiscent of the 13 crystal skulls unearthed around the globe that date as far back as 35,000 years ago. The crystal skulls are supposed to possess spiritual powers that enlighten anyone how touches them. If you are thinking what I am thinking, this sounds a lot like the latest Indiana Jones movie. The vodka is triple filtered through polished crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds and is free of additives.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2006 Juan Gil Jumilla

This wonderful Spanish red has done nothing but impress me vintage after vintage. The Jumilla region of southern Spain is located in the province of Murcia along with other notable appellations, such as Yecla. Monastrell, known as Mourvedre in most parts of the world, is the primary grape grown and produced in Jumilla and the Jual Gil is an excellent introduction into both the region and the grape. The grapes are selected from 40-year-old vines, which are grown in chalky soil with arid conditions that lead to very low yielding vines. After a 25 day sur lie maceration the grapes are pressed and aged for 12 months in French oak. This all leads to a wine that has deep rich color, intense aromas of smoked wood, earth and blueberries, with a complex, supple and long palate. This wine will continue to evolve over the next 5 years, drink from 2010 to 2015.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10