EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Review: Ketel One Vodka

AT A GLANCE

  • Brand Owner: Diageo

  • Distillery Nolet Distillery Schiedam, the Netherlands

  • Still Type: Column & Pot Stills

  • Spirit Type: Vodka - Neutral Character

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $23

Made at the Nolet Distillery Schiedam, the Netherlands, Ketel One Vodka was first sold in 1984. The Nolet family has been making spirits in the Netherlands since 1691, when Joanness Nolet built his distillery out side Rotterdam. In 1902, the Nolet family built a second distillery in Baltimore, Maryland however, their American expansion was short lived when the distillery was forced to close due to US Prohibition. In the early 1980s, Carolus Nolet explored the US cocktail scene and witness vodka's dominance first hand. Believing his family could make a superior product, Carolus returned to the Netherlands and formulated Ketal One. The Vodka starts with a fermented mash 100% European-grown Winter Wheat, which is then column distilled to 96% ABV. Then a portion of this high proof wheat spirit is re-distilled in ten pot stills, and the center heats cuts are individually filtered and blended together. Then a portion of the column distillate and the pot still distillates are blended together and proofed to create Ketel One Vodka.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose has a nice round and clean aroma of slate and wet stone with just a hint of alcohol at the back.

Palate: The palate has a very round and smooth body that simultaneously gives the impression of sweetness and spice like cinnamon or rye bread.

Finish: The finish is slightly warm and clean. Flavors of slate with just a hint of lime zest linger on the palate and then ends with a slightly fruity note reminiscent of green table grapes.

Conclusion: While I am not a frequent vodka drinker, this is a good example of a well made large volume vodka that has a good body and clarity. It’s slight sweetness and spice will work well with a variety of mixers and will please drinkers out of the freezer or if you are using in cocktails like the Bloody Mary or vodka soda.

Review: Santo Cuviso Bacanora Blanco

AT A GLANCE

  • Owned by: Casa TresAmigos

  • Distilled by: Manuel “El Toro” Chacón

  • Agave: Angustifolia

  • Cooking: Horno (earthen pit oven)

  • Crush: Mechanical Mill

  • Fermentation: Natural fermentation

  • Still Type: Copper Pot

  • Spirit Type: Bacanora

  • Strength: 45% ABV

  • Price: $88

The agave spirit known as bacanora is named after the town of Bacanora in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Like many other indigenous spirits, bacanora went though a period of prohibition. But, even after prohibition ended, bacanora was almost exclusively consumed locally. However in 2000, the Mexican government gave bacanora its own denomination of origin to protect its production and name like they did with tequila and mezcal.

Santo Cuviso is made in the town of Bacanora by maestro Manuel “El Toro” Chacón, a third generation bacanoro. El Toro, harvest mature cultivated agave angustifolia, also know as espadin in Oaxaca, and cooks them in a conical earthen pit oven. Once the agaves are cooked, they are milled and ferment naturally by wild yeast for up to 12 days. After fermentation, the must is double distilled in copper pot stills. Post-distillation, the spirit is allowed to rest in 5 liter glass jugs between 10 and 14 days. This rest period allows the spirit to settle which is a well know practice for making unaged spirits more refined. After the rest period the spirit is bottled at 45% ABV.

In April 2019, Santo Cuvios Bacanora Blanco earned a Gold medal and named Agave Spirit of the Year from the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose has a fantastic aromas of fruit, citrus and a bright green vegetal note. As the spirit warms, the aroma opens and develop into notes of hard aged cheese or even a salty Oaxacan cheese.

Palate: On the palate the spirit is smooth and elegant with just a touch of sweetness. Then the flavors explode with wonderful notes of fruit and green agave.

Finish: On the finish, the bright fruitiness lingers with a somewhat dry ashy character the serves as a nice counterpoint to the fruit. Again, as the spirit warms in the glass, the finish transforms into chocolate caramel!

Conclusion: Santo Cuviso Bacanora Blanco is simply outstanding and if you are a fan of artisanal mezcal or you have tried other bacanoras then do yourself a favor and go find a bottle or ask your local liquor store to order one for you. The spirit is packed with flavor, complexity and it is extremely well balanced. Words alone cannot do this justice so go tastes some fast.

Santo Cuviso Bacanora Blanco Review | Tequila Aficionado Sipping off the Cuff

Review: Miel de Tierra Añejo Mezcal

AT A GLANCE

  • Owned by: Miel de Tierra

  • Distilled by: Doña Teresa Rubio Murillo

  • Agave: Tequilana Weber Azul

  • Cooking: Autoclave

  • Crush: Roller Mill

  • Fermentation: Stainless Steel Vats

  • Still Type: Copper Alembic Pot Still

  • Age Statement: 2-5 Years

  • Spirit Type: Añejo Mezcal Artesanal

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $65

Miel de Tierra Añejo Mezcal Artesanal is distilled by maestra mezcalera Doña Teresa Rubio Murillo in Jalpa, Zacateca. The agaves are harvested at 10 years old and then cooked in autoclave. The cooked piñas are then crushed with a mechanical grinder, before being fermented in stainless steel vats with a commercial yeast. Given the flavor profile, my guess is the juice is being fermented without the fibers. After fermentation, the must is double distilled in a copper alembic pot stills and the spirit is aged in virgin white oak casks. Doña Teresa then selects casks that had aged between two and five years, vatts them together, and proofs the spirit to 40% ABV before bottling. The town of Jalpa is just 40 miles from the border of Jalisco, so given its proximity, it is not surprising that this mezcal is made almost identically to may añejo tequilas. According to the brand, Miel de Tierra shares a portion of the profits from every bottle sold in helping to conserve wild honeybees in rural Mexico.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose has a lot of wood character, which is not surprising given its age. The aroma consist primarily of sweet aromas of caramel followed by light spicy notes from the oak, and a hint of black licorice.

Palate: On the palate, the flavor has a delicate character from the wood with virtually no flavors from the agave.

Finish: Wood notes of vanilla, caramel oak slowly fade on the finish and ends very soft and light.

Conclusion: Miel de Tierra Añejo is a bit of a disappointment in that all the agave character seems to have been lost during the maturation process. Given how it is made, my guess is that blanco spirit is so clean and well made that, what are probably very delicate flavors and aromas in the joven just get lost in the two plus year of aging. Because of this most fans of mezcal will probably not be excited by this. However, at $65 this is still a pretty good deal for an añejo and would likely appeal to a large number of Tequila drinkers who prefer smooth and sweet añejos without much agave character.

For more information watch my review with Mike Morales on Tequila Aficionado’s Sipping off the Cuff.

Miel de Tierra Añejo Mezcal Artesanal Review | Tequila Aficionado Sipping off the Cuff

Review: Miel de Tierra Espadin Mezcal Artesanal

AT A GLANCE

  • Owned by: Miel de Tierra

  • Distilled by: Don Hector Mateo

  • Agave: Espadin

  • Cooking: Horno (earthen pit oven)

  • Crush: Tahona

  • Fermentation: Natural fermentation in pine vats

  • Still Type: Copper Alembic Pot Still

  • Spirit Type: Joven Mezcal Artesanal

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $55

Miel de Tierra Espadin Mezcal Artesanal is distilled by maestro mezcalero Don Hector Mateo in Santiago de Matatlán, Oaxaca. Don Hector harvest the agaves once they’ve reached maturity, between six and eight years old. Once harvested, the agaves are cooked in an earthen pit oven, and then crushed with a three-ton tahona before being fermented in open air pine vats by wild yeast. After fermentation, it is double distilled in a copper alembic pot still, proofed to 40% ABV and bottled unaged. According to the brand, Miel de Tierra shares a portion of the profits from every bottle sold in helping to conserve wild honeybees in rural Mexico.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose has a classic aroma of artisanal mezcals from espadin, with light floral notes intermixed with earthy aromas of smoke.

Palate: On the palate, the mezcal delivers with a wonderful and bright flavor of herbaceous lime gently supported by the smoke.

Finish: The mezcal finishes incredibly smooth without any of the burn that you sometimes find in more rustic unrefined mezcals.

Conclusion: Miel de Tierra Espadin is a great introduction to the classic aromas and flavors of Oaxacan mezcal distilled from espadin. At 40% ABV the mezcal has solid flavor without any burn and shows the skill of the maker. This is a very tasty mezcal that can please those who already enjoy the category and can serve as a perfect introduction for those interested in tasting what the hype about mezcal is all about.

For more information watch my review with Mike Morales on Tequila Aficionado’s Sipping off the Cuff.

Miel de Tierra Espadin Mezcal Artesanal Review | Tequila Aficionado Sipping off the Cuff

Review: Miel de Tierra Salmiana Mezcal Artesanal

AT A GLANCE

  • Owned by: Miel de Tierra

  • Distilled by: Don Juan Zarur Flores

  • Agave: Salmiana

  • Cooking: Horno (earthen pit oven)

  • Crush: Tahona

  • Fermentation: Natural fermentation in pine vats

  • Still Type: Copper Alembic Pot Still

  • Spirit Type: Joven Mezcal Artesanal

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $75

Miel de Tierra Salmiana Joven Mezcal Artesanal is distilled by maestro mezcalero Don Juan Zarur Flores in Mexquitic de Carmona, San Luis Potosí. Agave salmiana reaches maturity around 10 years old when it is harvested and cooked in an earthen pit oven. After cooking the agaves are crushed with a three-ton tahona and fermented in open air pine vats by wild yeast. After fermentation, it is double distilled in a copper alembic pot still, then proofed to 40% ABV and bottled unaged. Agave salmiana is commonly used in the production of pulque. According to the brand, Miel de Tierra shares a portion of the profits from every bottle sold in helping to conserve wild honeybees in rural Mexico.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose is a complex mixture of savory aromas like hard aged cheese and smoked meats, followed by a sweet note of cooked agave and pickled carrots like those found in your local taqueria.

Palate: The palate starts very sweet and then transforms into a lovely savory umami character.

Finish: On the finish faint notes of smoke float up from the back of your throat and continues its nice balance of sweet and savory.

Conclusion: Miel de Tierra Salmiana is a very balanced and approachable mezcal that expresses the core character of the agave without being overpowered by smoke. This is likely to appeal to mezcal fans as well as tequila drinkers who are interested in trying mezcal. Sip neat and enjoy.

For more information watch my review with Mike Morales on Tequila Aficionado’s Sipping off the Cuff.

Miel de Tierra Salmiana Joven Mezcal Artesanal Reveiw | Tequila Aficionado Sipping off the Cuff