Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bushmills Malt 10 Year

As some of you will remember I've already reviewed Bushmills Black Bush blend, but here's the first of their single malt line:

The nose of this is very different from the palate, it contains a honey that's somehow a mix that's difficult to separate from the slight alcohol zest and cut grass. You'd think that grass would be a negative aura but I find it enjoying and it makes me think of the amazing Irish landscape. The palate produces a soft vanilla and honey but the grass returns changed as hay and wooded. A crisp and drying aftertaste leaves the hay on your tongue.

It's hard to convince someone how great this whiskey is with the words used to describe it, but I think it's an A (excellent). I wouldn't recommend this Bushmills to anyone with an undeveloped palate for whiskey or scotch, but to those who do, it's a great value.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PKNT Carmenere '08

Have you ever heard of the wine grape Carmenere? I hadn't, and that's what drove me to try this. Apparently this grape had been thought extinct and was rediscovered in Chili, so it seems to be only available from Chilean wineries. I was a wee bit disappointed by this one, but the price point of this particular brand is about six dollars so I'm guessing I got what I paid for.

Now if I had to choose one word to describe this wine it would be pepper. After letting this wine decant I found the smell to make the ground table pepper obvious. The palate of the wine showed the pepper as well, but also had a tannin aftertaste that didn't complement the wine (sour-tart grape.) The aftertaste simply brought the pepper back, but thankfully not the tannin. I tried another glass along with a serving of pizza with spicy sausage and it was much easier to put down the wine.

After some thought I gave this wine a C (decent). I do recommend this to those who simply want a table wine to compliment a spicy Mexican meal. Due to the unique spice of this grape I plan on trying a different brand that might represent it better.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hansen's Green Tea Soda Pomegranate

I think this is the first product I've reviewed that crosses the line between categories. My fiance found this at Target in four packs for only two dollars so she picked up one for me to put on my blog (and for her to drink). Besides unusual Hansen's product it's also very healthy, with no ill components and EGCG (a green tea extract antioxidant).

For those who care about enjoying the drink as well as the health benefits, the pomegranate isn't as apparent as you'd hope. It smells of sweetened green tea and tastes of it as well with a crisp pomegranate overtone. It ends with a different sweetness of the cane sugar in it. A negative aspect in addition to not enough pomegranate is the carbonation. It is highly carbonated. I think it would help for Hansen to reduce this, because it's as fizzy as Sprite or Mountain Dew.

Due to the cost, I believe this drink will commonly be in our fridge. I don't believe it's a product you should go out of your way to try though, I rate it a B (good). This is an uncommon product and I think I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a carbonated alternative to other sodas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zhi Tea Coconut Assam

Today I review one of my favorite black teas; Zhi Coconut Assam. I'm sure anyone who's had or even smelled this tea would understand why. Some on Teaviews.com share my favoritism for this tea as well. But here's why I like it:

Even the scent of the tea before being brewed has impressions that have an amazing coordination. Bold assam tea and coconut, but not the coconut you'd expect. While brewing you have to be careful though, I've noticed this one "over-steeps" easily and can get bitter quick. When done properly though you'll experience a beginning, middle and end to this tea, like a well done wine. Once steeped the smell and initial taste of the tea are of just the bold, malty assam but once past the introduction coconut can be found. Towards the back of your tongue and throat coconut isn't of the sweet macaroons you'd think, it's the flavor of real fresh coconut without the extract or overly sweet that's common in all other products. After swallowing the assam kicks in again with an almost coffee bitterness. My last note on this tea is that the assam is the smell, palate and even aftertaste and the coconut is something higher that builds up in intensity as you go down your cup.

Despite only having two elements, I'm giving Zhi's tea an A (excellent) due to the equilibrium experienced. The Assam tea is strong and the coconut is delicate but still experienced somehow. Zhi Tea has a fine product.

P.S Assam teas are a great alternative to coffee in the morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

maine root Sarsaparilla

My first thought when I saw this, looking for a soda to review, was: "What's sarsaparilla?" But I brought it home because I'd had products from maine root before, (I think they make the best ginger beer out there!) Once I came home I opened a bottle, poured it in a glass, and did a google search on sarsaparilla.

My search found out that sarsaparilla is the name of a plant that root beer was originally made from. My tasting found a "lighter root beer" though. It didn't create any head when poured and smelled of sweet birch (yes the tree). Upon entering the mouth I found the carbonation to have far less sizzle than any Pepsi or Coke products. The taste had another tree to it, evergreen, but I also found vanilla. It was not your typical vanilla extract though, vanilla root is the way to describe this. I think it works better with the birch and evergreen tree sweetness as well. Sarsaparilla ends with a light sweetness for an aftertaste, and you can tell it's not most soda's processed sugar. Upon visiting maine root's website I found out they use unprocessed cane sugar, and I believe it makes a difference.

I gave maine root's Sarsaparilla a solid B (good) due to not being too sweet and a rather unique tree palate. As I stated before I've had maine root's ginger beer as well and I'm a fan. That will probably be the next product of theirs I'll visit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Harpoon Octoberfest

It was time for my first fall brew of the year. I had a hard time deicing which fall beer to choose, I'm not a big fan of octoberfests or pumpkin ales! I went with Harpoon because I had never tried theirs and I felt like staying away from the mainstream Samuel Adams Octoberfest or Shipyard Pumkinhead. (I'll probably try those later). So here's the Harpoon Octoberfest:

The head of this beer foams up a lot, so be ready to get your holding hand wet or sipping to keep up with it when poured. It soon settles down to a thin head and releases scents of malt and the familiar hops in their IPA. These same characters were in the palate but wheat was added. Then the beer finishes the same with little change of character, just the wheat and hops lingering on your tongue. This is a bitter beer but not like your typical IPA, the malt is bitter as well somehow.

I was a tad disappointed with this brew, but perhaps that's due to the high standards I've given Harpoon due to their IPA and Dark Munich. This beer is a B (good) by my standards. If you like other octoberfests give this one a try though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chandon Rosé

I'm not usually a fan of sparkling wines but I found this on sale for only $5 and I had a nice ham dinner planned for the night but nothing to pair it with, so I gave this a shot.

The nose of this wine puts the fruits of it at the front; apples, pears and strawberries. Once you take a sip the same fruits come up but the carbonation and dryness on the palate almost made me think there was a citrus part to it. After visiting Chandon's website I found that burt rosé wasn't the only grape in the bottle, pinot noir was also used. This gave me the conclusion that the crispness of pinot noir and the fruity notes of the rest were two separate things going on, not one citrus element. It finished more typically with a champagne dry that was perfectly clean.

My fiance enjoyed this wine more than me, but we both agreed that the sweet burt rose and pinot noir didn't mix well. This wine had some good parts to it like the clean finish and fruits but the "odd" dryness on the palate simply got to me and I didn't even finish my glass. C (decent)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Starbucks Sumatra

I didn't feel like taking a risk this time so I went with something I knew was safe. The Starbucks Sumatra is favorite of my mother's and many others. So here's a good coffee that you can find at any supermarket:

This is a rather simple coffee so I found my notes rather short, but that's kind of a reason I like it! The label that you can see above reads extra bold, and it is. I like bold very much, but this one isn't dark. (The palate is very pronounced but not "bitter-tart" for lack of a better word.) Sumatra is also smooth, it doesn't have the acidic part of other coffees at all. My last note is that this has a fulsome body and an earthy coffee taste.

Due to being unsophisticated this coffee will never be an A anything in my book, but I like its taste and it has absolutely no negative aspects. B (good)

P.S. I like dark coffee, and I'll be getting to that soon...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Appleton Estate V/X

When I say rum to most people they think of one of two brands, Bacardi and Captain Morgan. It's a shame too because for the most part Captain Morgan is just vanilla rum and Bacardi is just BAD! Many will walk by fine brands such as Sea Wynde, 10 Cane, Gosling's, and the one I'm reviewing; Appleton Estate without even considering them instead. Well hopefully this will be a door opened to all of you tunnel-visioned rum drinkers.

Appleton's V/X is the start of their "Estate" line, and I think it does a great job defining them apart from other rums. Aside from the honey hued gold color, the first impressions I get from the nose are brown sugar and harshness. For some reason this rum has a very rough nose but taking a sip won't make you flinch, it'll bombard your tongue with flavors! The things I get are toasted honey, nutmeg and brown sugar in that order. It almost reminds me of a well seasoned pumpkin pie! It's very full in flavor and smooth on the palate, but it ends with nutmeg and the return of a lighter alcohol burn. If you think Bacardi is smooth then you won't notice this at all though.

Due to that burn, I feel obliged to give this rum a B (good) instead of something more awarding. But I want you all to know that once I'm through with this bottle I'll have my eye open for Appleton Estate's Reserve or Extra 12 Year.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Republic of Tea Pomegranate Green Tea

Perhaps I'm on a healthy tea run? This is my third hippy-healthy tea in a row! I never bought this tea because of its supposed health benefits though, doesn't pomegranate tea sound interesting? I think so.

Steeping this tea is very pretty in a clear glass cup; the swirling rose hues of color were very pretty. After three minutes I smelled my cup and found it to be floral, not fruity or citrusy like pomegranate. Scanning the tin I found hibiscus to be listed under ingredients before pomegranate. Doing more aura explorations I did find hints of pomegranate, but they definitely took the back seat to hibiscus. On the palate pomegranate was the most detectable on the back of the tongue, but I do wish it was stronger. The floral notes were also found. Both left an aftertaste but the hibiscus lasted longer. I think this tea should be re-named Hibiscus green tea with pomegranate.

I didn't have to contemplate my score long on this one, C (decent). It could've easily been a B if it had a more apparent pomegranate taste, this one is just unbalanced in taste and too weak on the palate for me. For those of you who like jasmine teas and want to get their daily overdose of antitoxins, put this one on your list though.

The Republic of Tea

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yogi Tea Egyptian Licorice

Yogi Tea tries to sell their products just as much as an herbal mood and health supplement as a tea you'll enjoy. Visit their website and see. You might've also noticed how much Yogi sounds like yoga! But who cares about the benefits of drinking tea (I do a little), so we'll move on to the benefits of its taste.

As my tea steeped guess what it smelled like? Licorice. When I say licorice don't think of Twizzlers, think an exotic sweet with a touch of peppermint. Once I sipped the drink I experienced the same but a new note of nutmeg and cinnamon could be found. The Yogi website decalred that there were orange peels as well but I coldn't find that. After I found this I left the teabag in my tea to see what it would do, and I found the licorice got stronger (but not the nutmeg). There were no negative effects of this in my opinion either like getting bitter, too "blunt" or throwing off the balance of flavors. An aftertaste also develops as you get down to the bottom of your cup. It's another apperance of licorice! This time it's only the "exotic sweetness", and it continues to grow and become more noticable as you finish your cup.

This is a good product and it might have some good propperties to help digestion. I just don't know if Yogi's addition of cinnamon and orange peels has done much to compliment the licorice. B (good).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shipyard Imperial Porter

I chose this beer for my first Maine brewery because it's a brand all will recognize, but this isn't your typical Shipyard that you can buy in a six or twelve pack. This can only be bought as a single big bottle, so make sure you're prepared for a big beer with a higher alcohol content when you pop this or just accept that you'll be wasting part of it if you can't finish. I didn't have this problem, it was good.

Pouring into the glass I found that the head was a little thinner than expected but it retained well. For those that aren't familiar with porters, the body is lighter than stouts I've come accost (but not light). On the other hand this one has a far more pronounced palate than most stouts! The two elements I got from this beer were malt and chocolate. The smell made the malt more distinct but the chocolate was greater in taste. My last note is the higher alcohol content is undetectable.

I give this beer a B (good), but I must note that I was a tad disappointed comparing it to other beers of this price-point. It's rather simple when measured against an Allagash or Unibroue of similar cost. Either way, good job Shipyard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay '07

I realized a few days ago I've reviewed many teas, beers and liquors but not a single wine! I made the choice of J. Lohr as my first brand because I've had many excellent wines from them and their chardonnay is a wine I commonly recommend to customers at my work.

Now for those of you who know much about Californian chardonnays; almost all of them have a taste in common, oak. The Riverstone Chardonnay certainly has this but much more is going on as well. Taking a whiff of my glass I noticed citrus and pear in addition to the vanilla-oak, (the vanilla-oak reminds me of Cutty Sark). Once I took a sip the pear took on a more clover honey perspective and the vanilla-oak became a bit more seperable. The body of the wine was a little heavier than I expected and it finished very clean with the citrus as a last note. The pear did leave a pleasant sweetness on my tounge after finishing however.

Don't serve this wine very chilled, if at all. I found when chilled it made the palate more faint and brought out the citrus more, (not as pleasant). The J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay is a A (excellent) in my book. This one is a great value as well, at only $10 this is one of the best Californian chardonnays I've tried.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Red Lavender

This one is a favorite of my fiance. She has a cup with a touch of honey whenever she wants to go to bed, and it works. "Red tea" isn't the standard traditional tea camllia sinensis but rooibos (roy-bos), a tea with many anti-oxidants and NO caffeine! So it obviously should be a choice for all of you yoga and health-nuts out their.Let's move on to what matters to us: Does it taste good?

It does taste good. Smelling the tea before and after being steeped all you can get is lavender because it overpowers the rooibos. Tasting the final product you'll find out what rooibos tastes like. It's rather hard to describe but I'll put it as a rich and slightly nutty sweetness. Of course the lavender is still present but doesn't conquer the taste of the rooibos. As I stated before, me and my finance typically serve this with a touch of clover honey to even the sweetness of the lavender. An aftertaste develops as you drink your cup that's the floral element of the lavender, not the sweet one.

Because lavender isn't a favorite flavor of mine I give Zhena's Red Lavender a solid B (good), but my finance and mother would easily grade it as an A- (excellent).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cutty Sark

This has been one of my most difficult reviews to write due to the simplicity of this liquor. You would think that a blended scotch would have many things to it but this one does not. It's simply oak and vanilla.

The liquor has a light hay color and a scent with no burn at all that puts oak at the front. It's body is rather light, but the palate is almost non-existent. I think oak may just be a flavor that can be sensed through smell more than taste, but it does leave a prominent after taste. The vanilla occurs in all of stages as well but not like vanilla extract, it compliments the light oak flavor and makes the overall flavor more "round".

Cutty Sark isn't a bad product, it's just a simple one. Think of it as a oak and vanilla flavored vodka. C (decent). Now approaching it like a flavored vodka you should ask "what cocktails can I make with this?" Here's a good one:

2 oz Cutty Sark
1 tsp fine sugar
1 oz lemon juice
3 oz club soda
combine Cutty Sark, sugar and lemon juice in a glass full of crushed ice and stir well. Top off with club soda, stir again and serve.

Adagio Almond Oolong

Adagio would seem to be one of the biggest loose leaf tea companies on the internet. I've even seen some of their products in retail and grocery stores! But Adagio's teas haven't been a favorite of mine because of my comparison to their competition such as Zhi Tea, Golden Moon and Mighty Leaf. I can't just review my preferred products though, so here's a tea that sits at the back of my cupboard.

Upon opening the tin you can tell that this tea is certainly nutty, in fact it's hard to detect the actual tea. This is unfortunate because oolong tea can be very layered and substantial in flavor. Once steeped the tea is a very pretty amber gold but the scent hasn't changed in flavor, just gotten lighter. Something that will surprise you is the body of this tea, it is full! I think the nuttiness contributes to that because all that your palate senses is the taste of almond. once swallowed the almond flavor remains for a bit but for the first time you can detect a light floral note that I believe is the oolong finally. Perhaps this tea should be just Adagio Almond.

If you love almonds, perhaps this tea is for you! I can't find anything unplesant about this tea, just nothing interesting. I find it too simple to drink even when I'm just reading or my mind is not contemplating the senses. C (decent).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Boylan Creme Soda

When most think of drinking soda they think of twisting off the cap of a plastic bottle and drinking it for staying hydrated or caffeinated. It's rarely enjoyed like getting a coffee from Starbucks or pouring wine for dinner. Well we're going to throw out that stereotypical assumption because there are sodas that can be enjoyed the same way and are better for you because they have sugar cane instead of the standard sweeteners.

Now your first impression might be "woo-hoo a cream soda in a fancy bottle" (sarcasm for those that didn't pick up on it). But after opening a Boylan Creme you can smell the cane sugar along with a hint of the vanilla. Then you take a sip and it is creamy vanilla soda. The vanilla and cream are almost the same part of the taste because when I say cream I'm not referring to the body but the palate. It's hard to describe how cream can be apart of a soda but I think this effect might be because of the reduced carbonation and smoothness. Once you're finished with the bottle you don't have that same sticky, syrupy, acidic aftertaste of other sodas either. (I'm talking about the kind you get when you didn't brush your teeth). Instead it's more natural and "clean".

After trying it you'll see why premium sodas like Boylan are worth the extra fifty cents. B+ (very good)

P.S. My fiance certainly approved of this one as well, due to how much of my bottle she drank.