Tag Archive for sweet

TOPO Piedmont Gin

TOPO Piedmont Gin
Chapel Hill, NC
ABV 46%

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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.

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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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Trader Joe’s Grande Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir 2011

Trader Joe’s Grande Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir 2011
Napa, California

trader joes reserve carneros

I tasted this wine before purchasing it at Trader Joe’s, and I’m glad the sample convinced me to get a bottle. Its rich, medium-bodied boysenberry digs into me and won’t let go. The nose has a fleeting burst of fig newton, but is otherwise lackluster. That’s fine because the wine’s taste more than makes up for it. It’s sweet and tart in complementary proportions. Cocoa gives it depth, though that may be the chocolate-dipped apple I just ate. The texture is velvety smooth. Its tartness reminds me of aloe vera, and it’s just enough to give the wine some verve.

I will call this a gateway wine, one with no dryness so the uninitiated will think only of those bright boysenberries and how delicious it is. Could it be more complex? Of course, but I’m smiling as I drink it.

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Meadow of Love Absinthe Superieure

Meadow of Love Absinthe Superieure
Delaware Phoenix Distillery
Walton, NY

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Let’s be real — Meadow of Love is a very hippie name for a spirit. And let me be realer — hippie names speak my language. I went to college in Santa Cruz, people. I’m not an ideal hippie myself, but the culture is part of my lifeblood. Meadow of Love is made in a pot still with grand wormwood, anise, florence fennel, roman wormwood, hyssop, lemon balm, and violet. I haven’t even uncorked the bottle and I’m already wishing I had patchouli lip balm on and was lazing among the wildflowers, enjoying a Pacific Ocean sunset from the sun-drenched Oakes Lawn at UCSC.

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The absinthe’s color pre-louche is a lovely pastel yellow with a halo of mint green at the edges. Soft legs indicate the presence of sugar but not in large volumes. The nose of a straight shot borders on nail polish with sweet violet, anise, and mint, though the mint is likely a tingle from the lemon balm that my tongue misconstrues. It has the melting, airy texture of Laffy Taffy. Sugar dominates at first sip, but alcohol takes over with bitter floral notes and evergreen. Its potential is obvious, but a louche is definitely needed to mellow this absinthe out.

Following the bottle’s instructions, this absinthe should be louched with 3 to 5 parts water, leaving out the customary sugar cube. After my first post-louche sip, I’d agree. It has a natural sweetness, and more sugar would take away from the multiple herbal layers.

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The color post-louche is nearly completely milky, preserving only a hint of yellow-green. While I do like a vivid imbiber, I appreciate the lack of chemicals in this spirit. Stick closer to a 3:1 ratio for water to absinthe; at 4:1, the flavors aren’t prominent enough. At 3:1, the alcohol is tamed and the natural sugar tantalizes, making the fennel and violet notes float down almost too easily. The texture is velvety. Grassy floral notes and licorice rise up after the sugar takes a backseat, and they beckon for a second sip, and a third … and a fourth.

Meadow of Love is perhaps a tad too at one with itself, bordering on a blend that makes those layers nearly indistinguishable. But it’s groovy, man, groovy.

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