Wine Review: Tortoise Creek “The Chelonian” 2014

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It’s been a good long while since I’ve done a wine review so I figured I’d do one tonight.

This California Zinfandel from Tortoise Creek weighs in at 14.6% ABV. I like a good Zinfandel but I’m kinda picky about them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, especially given the price point. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one though!

Pours a deep burgundy color. Thick streaks of lacing when swirled, owing to its slightly higher-than-average alcohol content. Nose consists of raspberry, a touch of caramel and alcohol astringency. Medium bodied flavors of plum, black cherry, toffee and a hint of spicy vanilla. Finish is long and somewhat hot with a cinnamon afterburn.

For about $13/bottle you can’t go wrong. This is a great everyday wine that’s not too sweet or dry and easy to please.  Surprisingly complex for its price point, it went well with the pictured Blanco Nine JT Limitado but would also be a great dessert wine in my opinion. Rating: 4/5.

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Wine Review: Apothic Inferno

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This offering from Apothic Wines is a red blend (they don’t disclose specifics from what I’ve found) aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels. Consistent with this aging, it does have a slightly higher than average alcohol content at 15.9% ABV. Whiskey (particularly bourbon) barrel aged wines have been a bit of a hot trend lately, so I expected nothing less than for Apothic to get in on the action. But did they do it well?

Pour is a deep burgundy color as a great red wine should. The nose is immediately greeted with notes of plum and cherry with a tinge of vanilla and woody bourbon. The palate is greeeted with a blast of bourbon with tones of vanilla, oak and maple syrup. This is supported by a black cherry and blueberry core. Finish is semi-dry with mild tannins and a long lingering warmth. I would rate the body at medium – it’s an easy drinking wine without being too heavy.

For the price (about $12/bottle it appears) I doubt you’re going to see a more wallet friendly whiskey barrel aged wine. I do feel the whiskey in this case might have been too assertive in that it seemed to be the star of the show instead of just adding character, but it was still a very enjoyable wine. I paired this with a Torano Exodus 1959 50 Year cigar for this review and it was a solid pairing. Rating: 3.5/5.

 

Product Review: NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass

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Lovers of fine spirits will tell you that not all glassware is created equally. The proper glass can go a long way to enhancing the enjoyment of any spirit, be it whisk(e)y, rum, vodka, tequila or what have you. Likewise, the wrong glass can really break the experience. Who’d have thought that something so simple as a glass could make as much difference as it does?

There are many glasses to choose from now, from drinking straight out of the shot glass to snifters and everything in between. As of recent years, this glass has taken the world by storm it seems, and for good reason.

Part of my holiday gift from my parents this year was a set of NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glasses. NEAT (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) claims to have used science and engineering to develop a better glass – one that wafts the searing alcohol burn away from the nose as to allow for more of the true aromas to come through, and of course aroma in turn gives way to flavor as well. Pure ethanol burn can numb the sinuses, thus you don’t get the full array of aromas if you get too much of it.

Serving spirits in the NEAT glass is very simple – just pour to the widest point of the glass for your standard 1.5 ounce pour. This makes precise measurements easy. From there, do as you would any other spirits glass to get the aroma – swirl and inhale deeply through the nose.

Being the skeptic I am when I first saw it I thought it couldn’t make that much difference. Alas, I was quickly proven wrong when I took the first whiff of a familiar Scotch. I knew how it smelled and tasted out of a normal glass so that was a good one to use as my baseline. Taking a deep inhale I noticed very little alcohol burn at all (even with the near 120 proof), while being able to take in more of the true aroma. Hey, you mean this actually works? I’m in shock!

The shape of the glass means you’re not going to get too big of a sip at a time. It almost seems metered in that way too. Get just the right amount to swirl around on the tongue and taste all the flavors before taking the swallow. Maybe the hype is justified after all?

Best of all, these glasses are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. You just can’t beat that.

Whatever the case, it does seem that this glass delivers on its claims. After drinking my fine cask strength single malts out of this glass I can’t imagine going back. This will become my new go-to glass for fine spirits and I highly recommend trying them for yourself. Once you try, you’ll never go back.

Scotch Review: Deanston Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured

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As promised, here is my review of the holiday gift I received from my parents.

This is a cask-strength single malt Scotch from Perthshire. This particular batch weighs in at 58.7% ABV, true to form and, as in the name, is aged in Bordeaux casks.

Pour is a deep copper color with streaks of red and chestnut brown. Nose of caramel, vanilla, honey and definite red wine and oak. Red wine up front. Vanilla, dark chocolate, oak, molasses some orange zest. Tannins round out the finish. Notes apricot brandy on the aftertaste and a big alcohol burn along with come cinnamon and ginger.

A truly delicious sipping Scotch, pair this with a hefty, full-bodied cigar. My selection was the previously reviewed Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro and it was a beautiful pairing. Rating: 4.75/5.

Have you had this dram? Let me know what you thought!

Scotch Review: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Tonight I’m bringing you all a Scotch review! Hope you enjoy and hope this gets your interest up!

This peated cask strength single malt comes from Ardbeg in the Islay region of Scotland. As with every cask strength whisky, it varies in ABV but this batch comes in at 54.2%.

Goldenrod color on the pour. Very peaty/smoky on the nose with tones of oak, toffee and a fruity note I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe honeydew melon? Attack is bold and hot with alcohol astringency, substantial peat, caramel and a hint of dark chocolate. Finish is very hot and white long with tones of smoke, orange zest and hot cinnamon.

A solid cask strength dram. Not my favorite but very good to have with a nice strong cigar. Had a Padron Delicias in Maduro when pairing for review but would do well with other similar sticks. Rating: 4.25/5.

Cigar and Wine Reviews: Micallef Grande Bold A Maduro and Ménage à Trois Midnight.

Tonight I have a cigar and a wine to review, so let’s just get right down to business.

Grande Bold A Maduro

This offering from Micallef cigars features an Ecuadorian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed is a 5″ x 52RG Robusto vitola.

First light is a perfect draw producing thick plumes of smoke. Medium/full body. Earthy and peppery. A tinge of must and an unsweetened cocoa in the background.

The first third tames the pepper a bit while seemingly dialing the body down to medium. Smoke gets creamier and the cocoa asserts itself more on the finish while the earthy tones morph more toward a distinct leather.

The 2nd third sees a subtle shift as the leather takes on a cashew note and the pepper dies out completely allowing an aromatic bright cedar to shine on the retrohale. No further changes were noted in the profile but the body came back up to medium/full in the last third. Ending at 50 minutes for an average burn time for the size and entering a subtle mild/medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction and a razor sharp burn. Ash holds for half the stick at a time. No issues there.

An interesting complex cigar great for any time of the day. Would go well with a variety of drinks but went very well with tonight’s wine. My only issue is I would have liked the body to maintain its intensity instead of dipping toward the middle. Rating: 4/5.

Ménage à Trois Midnight

This dark red blend from California consists of 59% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petite sirah and 10% petit verdot.

Pours a deep burgundy color. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of black cherry and rose petals. Flavors of blackberries and raspberries, plum, cherry and a hint of nutmeg. Finish contains a slight hint of chocolate. Medium body and mouthfeel.

Very good middle of the road wine for everyday drinking. Not too expensive. Complex enough and easy to please. Went well with the above cigar. Rating: 4/5.

That’s all for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

Beer Review: W00t Stout

This bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing in Escondido, California in collaboration with Drew Curtis, Wil Wheaton and Greg Koch is a heavyweight in traditional Stone fashion. It weighs in at 11.5% ABV, 45 IBU and an unspecified gravity rating.

Stone always has these entertaining blurbs on their bottles, as can be seen here:

This beer pours a jet black as any good Imperial Stout should. A solid inch of tan head that recedes to a small ring that sticks around and leaves some lacing. Big aromas of chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt and alcohol and a touch of vanilla. The palate is a big blast of rich caramel and milk chocolate up front supported by a tinge of vanilla and pecan. The middle of the palate turns fruity with notes of black cherry and raisin which eventually gives way to a finish consisting of espresso and the slightest tinge of pine. Bourbon takes over on the aftertaste and on the way down. Thick in body with low carbonation, this one is a sipper for sure, though it drinks easily enough.

What a great beer. It’s big and complex, lots of flavors going on. This one is definitely a sipper. This one is a 5/5 all the way.

Suggested cigar pairings include the Marrero Fuerte, CO Final Third, Padron 80 Years, CAO Brazilia.