G'Vine Nouaison Gin is 43.9% abv. / 87.8 proof. I wrote about G'Vine Floraison Gin and now have the pleasure to write about their new product which just rolled out in the US. Normally I let samples of spirits sit for awhile, but I was waiting eagerly to try this gin and had it opened the evening it arrived. G'Vine Nouaison contains nine main botanicals: ginger root, licorice, green cardamom, cassia bark, coriander, cubeb berries, juniper berries, nutmeg, and lime. Plus an additional botanical that their Floraison Gin is known fro, a small touch of grape vine flowers, but nowhere near the amount seen in the G'Vine Floraison
The aroma is elegant and refined, clean and pure, like how the air smells right after a Autumn downpour. Hints of ginger, lime, and juniper come through, with floral and spicy tones as well. A classic gin aroma, but with just a bit more oomph to it. Almost a metallic aroma at times, in a good way, like titanium and platinum. This is ginny, gin, gin. The taste starts off with a nice juniper hit, followed by hints of nutmeg and other spices, and lime. It's smooth, elegant, and in the classic London Dry Style, but with a slightly bigger and bolder, but not overwhelming, taste.
The G'Vine Nouaison Gin is a much more refined gin than the floral powerhouse of the G'Vine Floraison. This is a gin that seems made for sipping on the rocks, but even more so, for a classic dry martini, Just a little vermouth, and a lemon twist, or maybe a lime twist to bring out more of the light lime that's hiding in the background. I think you will see a lot of this gin in premium cocktails starting very soon, and from what I've heard it's sweeping the awards.
Pampero Aniversario is 40% abv. / 80 proof and is a dark aged rum from Venezuela. It's sold in a squat, rounded bottle enclosed in a tan leather sack. It is deep brown in color with a hint of amber gold to it. I've had several rums from Venezuela, going back to when I spent some time there on the beautiful, off-coast islands of Los Roches, one of the most incredible scuba spots in the world. While there I spent my time skin diving, sea kayaking, fishing, learning how to cook fresh fish in over thirty ways from my new chef friends eager to meet an American chef, and most enjoyably learning to appreciate the fine rums. I may not like the countries politics, (my friends and I had our lives threatened in an vicious attack on our taxi, when we got caught in the overflowing pandemonium of a riot where the police responded with automatic weapons blazing) but they make some damn fine rum.
Pampero Aniversario is one of my favorite of the rums with a touch of sweetness, although it is more in the dryer than sweeter part of the spectrum. The aroma is rich and warm with caramel, vanilla, toasted nuts and spice. The flavor is rich and very smooth, warming to the soul, full of vanilla, spices, hints of chocolate, and the holiday taste of fresh baked gingerbread, with just a hint of sweetness to round it out.
The Clement VSOP is a deep, dark gold with a hint of amber in color. The aroma is smooth, lush, and fragrant with vanilla and toffee, over an earthy, sensual base. Hints of lush, sexy, moist, dried apricots float on top, with a layer of spice in between; followed by a bare bit of sweetness to round out the nose.
This is a dry, not sweet rum. So it starts dry on the tongue at first, then a rush of big , tropical fruit and nut flavors comes along like a wave. Coconut, mango, papaya, pineapple, all melded together with a touch of the classic earthiness and herbal notes you find in good rum agricole. This is one of those spirits that a few minutes in the glass improve dramatically. What started out as excellent, soon became amazing, with the aroma and flavor becoming more full, warm, soft, and complex. Quiet floral notes started to come out, and then made their presence fully known. Like an orchestra quietly starting a piece of music that ends with percussive power. I recommend the VSOP sipped straight up, on the rocks, or in a premium and well crafted cocktail. It's hard to ask for more in a dry, aromatic rum. Quite a few of my friends agree with me, here's what the Rum Dood, Matt Robold has to say. Now I'm going to enjoy the last tiny sip in this bottle that I have been savoring for over a year, as I kick back after a long, hard day of building my own distillery.
Back last December I wrote about the Averna Cocktail Competition. I had been asked to enter the competion and to announce it and knowing what a great product Averna is I decided to try entering a cocktail into the competition. I was told that samples were being sent my way, since Averna isn't sold in Maine. After a few weeks with no samples to work with I figured they hadn't been sent out or had become lost during shipping what with all the massive blizzards and record snowfall we had in Maine. I contacted the PR folks and they sent out another care package to play with.
When I had received the sample to use in creating a cocktail I immediately started experimenting, but with the planning of my distillery in the works I never had time to come up with a truly great cocktail to submit for the competition. I spent a few days over a few months, but nothing seemed to click. I finally gave up since I wasn't having an inspirational breakthrough in designing they cocktail. When there was a week long thaw in the middle of winter I was dring down my driveway when i saw a cardboard box peeking through the melting snow and ice. i dug it out and found the original box of samples of the Averna products. I assume that the lazy DHL guy had just thrown it out on the side of my driveway on top of a snow bank because he didn't want to go all the way down the hundred yards to the house, hoping I would get it, and instead it was buried for a few months.
During the early summer I found out that one of the mixologists, Don Lee of my favorite cocktail bar in NYC, PDT, made it to the finals. He was just one of five finalists out of 30 semi-finalists, and over 200 original recipes submitted by some of the best mixologists in the world. Well, the day before yesterday I received the following announcement.
Results after the jump.
They call New Orleans the Big Easy, but yesterday was big, but not easy, as I spent my first full day here, prior to the start of Tales of the Cocktail. I am one of the 24 judges for the 2008 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition, a strict rum judging event coordinated by the Ministry of Rum at Tales. There was a long list of people who were considered as judges for this event and Ed Hamilton, the head of the Ministry, spent several weeks winnowing down the list to some of the top rummies around.
We met at the famous Arnauds restaurant for the event. As we chatted before the judging began it soon became evident just how knowledgeable this crew was. Rum distillers, importers, writers and bloggers, and of course rum collectors. I thought I had a nice collection of spirits with over 500 bottles, of which around 100 of them are exceptional rums. I've given away more than that of mediocre rums over the past year or three, saving just the best. One of my fellow judges has over 800 top of the line rums in his collection. The least of which makes my best look like a cheap $1.99 pint of generic white rumbullion. When you have pre-embargo Cuban rums and rums over 100 years old in your collection you're on a different level of connoisseurship than I. I just want to try some little 1/4 ounce sips of a few dozen of his collection one day and I'll be happy. Just the thought has me drooling like a drunk.
So I'm guilty of impaired riding. Carousel riding that is. Like many fans of the Cocktail, I'm down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail for the next week and having a blast. Within a few minutes of getting to my hotel in the French Quarter, the Hotel Monteleone, I was sitting on a carousel and bellied up to the bar all at the same time. The famous carousel bar in the hotel turns at a leisurely four times per hour, which is negligible at first, but seems to speed up as the drinks slide down. I ordered one of my favorite cocktails, a Vieux Carré, which was invented here by Walter Bergeron in 1938, and sat back to enjoy the ride. Every now and then a friend would stop by for a chat, having to do a side step shuffle every few moments to keep up with the stately procession of the Carousel. I came to call this the Vieux Carré Strut, and soon it became one of the most popular dances at Tales.
Vieux Carré is another name for the French Quarter, meaning "The Old Square," and this fabulous drink fits right in, no wonder Bergeron called it such. The decor in the Carousel Bar is a mix of a fine lounge and antique amusement park, with an elegant feel. That is until the whole crew descended upon the establishment. Then it became more like a cross between the Midway, and the Fun House. Now if only they had the carousel horses like in Mary Poppins. I can imagine my fine friends from Tales gallumphing off the Carousel and taking a turn 'round the Monteleone, refreshing themselves along the way as we stop hither and yon for fine cocktails. Then after making our way through all the laudatory libations, a few circuits of the Queen Anne Ballroom to the tune of a waltz, zig zagging among the masked dancers; before heading out onto the streets of Vieux Carré showing the world how to do Tales in style.
Recipe for the Vieux Carré Cocktail after the jump.
On July 1, 2008 at 6:30 pm the Astor Center in New York City will be hosting the seminar The Wonderful World of Sherry: A Food Pairing. Roger Kugler, Sommelier of Suba Restaurant and Wine Director of Boqueria Restaurant will lead a discussion and tasting of those beautiful and complex fortified wines and how they pair so well with various foods.
Roger has an extensive background in wines, with a strong focus on those from Spain. He is interviewed often and has been mentioned in, and tasted wines on panels, for the New York Times. This seminar looks like it will be a fun, entertaining, and educational event for those who want to know more about his oxidized elixir from Spain. The courses and dinners at the Astor Center are truly marvelous, and having been to quite a few, I heartily recommend them.
I've never been able to afford Johnnie Walker Blue, though I am partial to the Black variety. Russians, though, seem to have no problem affording it. The land of vodka and harsh winters is now the biggest market for the world's priciest Scotch whisky according to the Financial Times.
Vodka still accounts for more than 90 per cent of the country's spirits sales, largely because Russians are not used to the taste of whisky or gin. Despite this barrier sales of costly libations have been rising largely due to the populations increased wealth.
Last year Russia became the first European country to import the "King George V" edition of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which can go for up to $1,000. That's quite a markup over the everyday version, which sells for a mere $180 a bottle.
That's right, hands on! You will get a chance to sling back the shaker in the kitchen at the Astor Center, as you learn from Dr. Dave how to make drinks from the best recipes of the Golden Age of Cocktails (1820-1920.) Folks, this is a once in a lifetime chance to learn from the best, to stand side by side with the expert on cocktails and their history, and have him teach you to make drinks that haven't seen the light of day in over a century. Two hours of shaking, stirring, muddling, mixing, and of course tasting the results. Please make sure you have a designated driver or taxi for afterwards. I predict it's going to get drunk out.
I can't think of anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon in late March. Can You? As a special bonus from Slashfood and the Astor Center, we offer you a special 15% discount. Just use code SF033008 when you sign up for the course online. See you there.
Part of this is that more and more is being sent to the US, with new premium bottling's joining the fray. Besides the whiskey blends, you have Single Malts, Single Grains, and the unique Pure Pot Still whiskeys. Jameson has started shipping some of these and sales are through the roof. You may see Jameson "Gold Reserve go for $60 and the top-end Rarest Vintage Reserve at $250 and up" Every now and then I get offered a taste of these treats and Faith and Begorra, it makes me glad to be an honorary Irishman for the day today, just so I can toss one back. Of course most of the Irish whiskey isn't drunk on St. Paddys Day, but year round, as one of the premium whiskey styles in the world. So have a taste of the Irish, Sláinte!