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Review – Captain Morgan Black

Posted by Reese On May - 7 - 2014

CaptainMorganBlackSpicedRumWhen I say the words “Captain Morgan” I would be willing to bet that nearly anyone would know what I’m talking about.  It’s ubiquitous and duly so.  Captain Morgan Spiced Rum is an approachable rum for nearly anyone, mixes well with Coke and has a solid vanilla flavor that works well in that application.  No surprise that, when Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum came through the door, I was intrigued.

Dark rums, by default, tend to have a stronger molasses flavor and thus a steeper learning curve, for lack of a better analogy.  Black didn’t follow suit as I had expected.  It has a strong vanilla aroma with some other hints of spice coming through, but only barely.  The flavor is sweeter than I had expected with the vanilla again being the star.  There are tones of brown sugar and molasses but gentler than other dark rums I’ve had.  The other spice notes are there, but not strong.

Captain Morgan Black is aged in double charred barrels which, I can imagine, is where the strong tones of vanilla come from.  But this aging brings with it other tones that are more familiar to aged whiskies like caramel and butterscotch.  The thing I find most intriguing is that the sweetness of the rum totally masks the fact that it’s bottled at 47.3% ABV.   While the flavor is gentle it’s a bit like getting hit with a pillow full of bricks.  Gentle on the outside, but still capable of knocking you down.

While I certainly can’t recommend that you mix this rum in a Dark and Stormy, given that that name is a copyright of the Gosling’s brand, I could recommend something similar.  Perhaps a Dim and Thundery.  I’m sure you can work out the details.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Angry Orchard Green Apple

Posted by Reese On May - 1 - 2014

ANGRY ORCHARD LAUNCHES GREEN APPLE HARD CIDER NATIONWIDEIt’s no secret that I’m a huge hard cider fan.  My friend and college roommate Ted first introduced it to me and to this day calls it “the gateway beer”.  While I didn’t agree at the time (see my early post on beer) I’m starting to come around to the idea now.  But, no matter my take on beer at the time, I was hooked on cider from the start.

In the last few years we’ve seen the cider market in the US grow like kudzu and Angry Orchard is one of the newer kids on the block.  They certainly know their cider though.  Most of their ciders tend to be on the sweet, but not cloying, side and their newest flavor, green apple, follows suit.

It has a bright, crisp flavor with the distinct tannic notes you get from the peel of a green apple.  In addition to the tannin there is the unmistakeable flavor of tart green apples. The finish is quick and light and there is no aftertaste.  Overall this is a great summer cider and I could see myself drinking quite a few.  Knowing that the only ingredients are their blend of apples and yeast makes it all the better.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey

Posted by Reese On March - 16 - 2014

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us yet again and I’m coming to the party late.  However, I hope I’ve arrived in time to save you from green beer or an Irish car bomb.  If you want to drink something truly Irish this year, how about a nice glass of Irish Whiskey.  I’m serious.  You’ll enjoy the heck out of it and you’ll finish the night without green teeth or on the floor (last claim not guaranteed).

The word whiskey is an Anglicization of the old Gaelic word uisce beatha meaning “water of life”.  Further, it’s been said that Irish Whiskey is the oldest form of whiskey in existence, dating back to somewhere around 1000 AD and Bushmills being the oldest whiskey distillery in the world claiming continuous distillation since 1608.  So what makes a whiskey an Irish Whiskey?  Simple

  1. Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland
  2. The contained spirits must be distilled to an alcohol by volume level of less than 94.8% from a yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavour derived from the materials used
  3. The product must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks
  4. If the spirits comprise a blend of two or more such distillates, the product is referred to as a “blended” Irish whiskey

Okay, enough stealing from Wikipedia.  I’m hoping by now you’re at least convinced enough to try a few sips instead of a green beer. Go read the article if you’re interested in more cool details about Irish Whiskey.  But now that you’ve come this far, how about a bit further with some Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey tasting notes?

Knappogue Castle 12yo (40% ABV) – This whiskey presents with a light straw color and delicately sweet floral aroma.  The flavor is tremendously clean, lightly sweet with a touch of vanilla.  Ending with a quick clean finish this is a fantastic light and refreshing Irish Whiskey.

Knappogue Castle 14yo Twin Wood (40% ABV) – Very lightly honey colored with definite hints of the sherry casks in the aroma this whiskey grows on you quickly.  The flavor is wonderfully smooth  with a long, mellow finish highlighted by notes of stone fruits and very subtle spices.  There is no smokiness to be found and I feel this whiskey speaks of it’s origins very clearly.  A great sipping whiskey that needs no ice or water.

Knappogue Castle 16yo Sherry Finish (40% ABV) – Rich honey color and distinct aromas of stone fruits and specifically dried cherries start you off with this dram.  The flavor is sweet and fruity with a relatively quick finish.  The smooth flavor brings back the stone fruit notes with an underlying current of vanilla and Christmas spices that stays with you through the finish.  This is a sipping whiskey that I had a very hard time sipping.  I swear, this stuff must evaporate quick at this elevation. :)

If you’re still insisting on a green beer then I can only ask that you enjoy it, have a great time and be safe.

Sláinte!

 


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Iceberg Vodkas

Posted by Reese On January - 4 - 2014

As far as spirits go, vodka does not have much character. A really good vodka will taste only of clean alcohol with very little else to distinguish it. One way to add character would be to flavor it, but those who have shopped with me (Elisabeth especially) know how horrified I am by the flavors of vodka on the market — whipped creme? toasted marshmallow? Yeah…no.

Iceberg Vodkas

Iceberg Vodka from Canada recently sent me four vodkas to taste: their regular unflavored vodka and cucumber, creme brulee and chocolate mint flavors.

The regular vodka (40% ABV) smells and tastes like a pure vodka should, with no aromas and no lingering flavors on the palate. Very clean, crisp and drinkable.

The cucumber vodka (35 % ABV) has a slightly off scent — more like cucumber peels, rather than the crisp scent you would expect from a peeled cucumber. It does taste cucumbery. Elisabeth didn’t find this flavor appealing at all, although she is not a cucumber lover either. I think this could be a really interesting vodka for a Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini. For an interesting twist, you could add this to a Pimm’s Cup or a twist on the traditional vodka tonic, perhaps.

The creme brulee vodka (35% ABV) had a great buttery caramel vanilla aroma reminiscent of custard fresh out of the oven. The vodka comes off as slightly sweet with a toffee-like flavor that is fairly subtle. This vodka does not have an overpowering or fake flavor, as so many other creme brulee/toffee liqueurs will. It would be a great addition to hot chocolate, although its subtle flavor may be lost if you mix it with it an ingredient that’s strongly flavored.

The chocolate mint flavor (35% ABV) smells just like an Andes Mint. Elisabeth tasted this one first, and almost refused to let me have any. The vodka is definitely reminiscent of Andes Mints: not overly sweet with well balanced chocolate and mint flavors. Again, this would work great in a hot chocolate, but why not add to a mudslide or something similar for a little minty kick.

Overall, these were pretty tasty flavored vodkas. Cucumber vodka, like most savory infusions, will be the most difficult for me to use. The Iceberg Vodka website also had great suggestions for cocktails based on all the different flavors. So, am I a flavored vodka convert? Probably not. I’ll still reach for gin more often than a flavored vodka. But, if you’re looking for a unique twist on a traditional vodka cocktail these might be just what you’re looking for.

Big thanks to Elisabeth for co-writing (and co-sampling) this post with me!


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Pisco Chile

Posted by Reese On April - 1 - 2013

If you looked at my Pisco selection up until about 6 months ago, you’d notice something striking.  I only had Peruvian Piscos.  And that’s unfortunately par for the course.  Chilean Piscos, while available, were hard to come by, not as well marketed and generally harder to find.  Not so any more.  Recently there has been a marketing and distribution surge for Chilean Piscos and that’s a very good thing.  I’ve received three bottles for review and David Wondrich’s comment from the PR video sums it up excellently “For not a huge number of brands they have a huge range of styles and types.”

Mistal PiscoMistral (40% ABV) – With a light amber color, Mistral is clearly a barrel aged Pisco.  That aging comes through in the aroma, with notes of vanilla, caramel and a subtle sweetness.  In addition there is a touch of dried fruit/fruitcake aromas that you find in some brandies.  Which, honestly, makes perfect sense since Pisco is really a form of brandy at its heart.  The sweetness doesn’t follow through to the flavor though there is still a touch of the caramel flowing through.  The vanilla and spice are joined by a distinct vegetal quality.Alto Del Carmen Pisco

 

Alto del Carmen (40% ABV) – My favorite of the bunch has a young brandy aroma with subtle grapiness (I’m coining that term, I’m certain it’ll be huge).  Vegetal aromas and flavors are king in this Pisco.  You get a true sense of the earth with this one and that quality adds depth to cocktails that I really enjoy.  On top of those vegetal notes you get spice, buttery qualities, some melony fruitiness and subtle sweetness.  Overall, a very tasty Pisco that mixes up very well.

Capel PiscoCapel (40% ABV) – This is the most neutral of the Chilean Piscos that I sampled and the most vodka-like.  I think this “blank pallet” quality lends itself to a lot of cocktail applications in the same manner that vodka does.  But with that come the same down sides of vodka, namely that same “blank pallet”.  This is a clean and pure Pisco.  If you’re looking for one to broaden a vodka drinkers horizons, this is definitely the choice.

So, what do you make with them?  The sky is truly the limit.  As you can see from this small sampling, the range of flavors spans from clean and vodka-like all the way to barrel aged with caramel, vanilla and spice and in between are vegetal notes similar to cachaca and tequila.  For me, I went fairly simple.  I whipped up a Chilean Sidecar that was super tasty with a rim of Chilean Merken (a smoky spice blend).  But, where these Piscos truly shine is in the classic Pisco Sour.  It’s simple and in that simplicity lies a subtle depth of flavor.  You get to taste each flavor on its own and harmoniously combined.  If you haven’t had one yet, you’re really missing out.

Salud, Amigos!


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.