TOPO Piedmont Gin
Chapel Hill, NC
I have mentioned this gin before on this blog, when I took a tour of the distillery. But this is the first TOPO spirit I’ve had my hands on a bottle of and thanks go to Esteban, TOPO’s spirit guide, for the parting gift at my farewell from North Carolina. At that tour, I was impressed by how soft the Piedmont Gin’s notes were in comparison with other gins that I often find overwhelming. So you can bet I’m excited to give it a thorough tasting.
Nose: A sap-covered pine cone comes to mind, hinting of sugar with the juniper. Spices are present in modest levels; I can’t distinguish between them but I can appreciate their evening properties. Allspice pokes its head out eventually. No major alcohol heat. Citrus rounds out the smell.
I chilled the shot before sampling because I can only barely handle gin on its own – I am not a gin martini drinker. So you should recognize that its flavor profile may be dulled in this review, but hey, at least I drank it at all. Mild alcohol tingles, then spices hit my lips: clove, allspice, coriander. Those quickly take a backseat to the soft, pillowy upswell of juniper. Mild lemon mixes with that juniper until they both dissolve and the spice comes again. But it’s different now, brighter, more like celery seed. The longer I sip, the more the gin reminds me of an oatmeal cookie.
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Entrance to the distillery.
Back in the fall, I spent a few days at TOPO Distillery’s facilities as part of the Terra VITA Sustainable Classroom. It was a strange sort of torture being so close to their organic, 99.6% local (more on that later) array of spirits that includes white whiskey, vodka, and gin. So I asked Esteban McMahan, TOPO’s spirit guide, if he wouldn’t mind hosting a tour and tasting for food bloggers in the Triangle. And he said yes!
The evening started with us bloggers slowly trickling in, a few having fallen prey to the oft-made mistake of going to Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery down the road first. That restaurant provided us with some delicious appetizers.
Salmon, cucumber, and herb cream cheese bites.
The pork banh mi on crostada was especially delicious.
It’s also quite loud to crunch on when someone’s speaking. I may or may not know that from personal experience.
Esteban plied us with libations featuring their spirits as we filtered in, and I loved the blueberry cocktail.
It was made with blueberries, simple syrup, lemon juice, and TOPO gin. The gin was a subtle undercurrent, which suits me quite well as I can often find gin overpowering in a drink. Other drinks which I did not sample were a vesper cocktail, heavy on the gin with a pretty curl of lemon—
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Bring Me That, a Web-based service for ordering food, is a startup with the Triangle Startup Factory in Durham. This is of particular interest to you, the readers of my blog, because you tend to like food from local restaurants and Bring Me That is making it easier for their food to end up in your mouths. After launching in Ohio, Bring Me That has opened up shop for North Carolinian restaurants, and they asked me to check out the service for them.
Bring Me That aims to make ordering delivery less painful by providing an online system to make it no harder than point-and-click for customers. I have definitely had the phone call or twenty that ended with me unsure I’d ordered what I wanted, so I’m behind anything that makes it easier. Bring Me That partners with restaurants that offer delivery, sets up their menu within the system, and confirms the order with the restaurant after you place it. You’ll get a confirmation email with a time estimate after that. Pretty nice!
To order, go to their website (linked here), enter your zip code, and voila!
First-page results for my zip code.
It gives you a list of nearby restaurants offering delivery to your area. The website is easily navigable, and if you have any difficulties, a chat window pops up after a few minutes to assist you. Now you might notice two things about that screen: (1) There are a lot of chain restaurants listed, many of which already have online ordering systems; and (2) Catering only and large minimum purchase amounts abound. I asked Michael LaMarca, one of Bring Me That’s founders, about that. His response:
We understand that we have a lot of restaurants that cater or have high minimums. We are working on providing a filter option that will either place all these options toward the end or have the customer filter them accordingly.
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