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.

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Review: The Soul of Brasil

Anastasia Miller and Jared Brown, The Soul of Brasil, (United Kingdom: Jared Brown, 2008), 188 pages, $17.95. ISBN: 9780976093770

Since 1992, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown have been writing, speaking and teaching about the history of cocktails and spirits. Together they have written more than a dozen books on Champagne, vermouth, cocktails, and spirits as well as articles for Imbibe, Wine Spectator, and the Financial Times. In 2009, Brown became the head distiller at Sipsmith in London and he has helped to develop spirits in Sweden, Norway, Vietnam and the US.

In 2008, Miller and Brown wrote The Soul of Brasil, which is a short history of distillation, of Brazil, and the important cultural role cachaça plays in that country. While the book seems to have been sponsored by the cachaça distillery Sagatiba, it is very well written, and serves as a good introduction to the world's ninth largest spirits category. The book is broken down into two parts; part one traces the history of beverage alcohol since 7000 BC, European conquest of the New World, the creation of cachaça, its decline in popularity and its resurgence. In part two, Miller and Brown describe what makes cachaça unique, how it is made, its categories and flavors, as well as popular food and drink combinations.

Despite the fact that Brazil only exports about 1% of the 1.5 billion liters of cachaça sold each year, the story of cachaça is interesting for other small distillers. Though approximately one-third of the cachaça market is controlled by one brand, more than 30,000 cachaça distillers exist in Brazil. These local micro-distillers are able to remain relevant by fully embracing the local music, dance, food, and drinks of their region. By becoming enmeshed in the community, their community has a reason to buy their spirit over the national brands.

First appeared in Distiller (Winter 2017/18): 175

Review: Johnnie Walker Wine Cask Blended Scotch

Owned by Diageo, Johnnie Walker Blender's Batch Wine Cask Blend Blended Scotch Whisky was distilled and matured in Scotland and bottled at 40% ABV.

AT A GLANCE

  • Brand Owner: Diageo
  • Distillery Unknown Scottish Distilleries
  • Still Type: Column & Pot Stills
  • Spirit Type: Blend of Scottish Grain and Malt Whiskies
  • Age Statement: NAS
  • Strength: 40% ABV
  • Price: $30

For over 100 years Johnnie Walker has been making renowned Blended Scotch Whisky. For much of that time Johnnie Walker was represented by its Red and Black label expressions and in more recent years Johnnie Walker expanded their color series to include Double Black, Green, Gold, Platinum, and Blue Labels. Most of these blends played with ratios of grain and malt, more peat or less peat, and the maturity of the whisky.  While each color had a distinct flavor profile they are all basically in the same wheelhouse.

However, around 2007, Johnnie Walker's Master Blender Jim Beveridge began an experiment, maturing some of their whisky in barrels that previously held other wines and spirits. Blender Aimée Gibson, came upon some of these barrels and created a unique blend of Scottish grain and malt whiskies, some of which included whiskies aged in wine barrels. The Blender's Batch Wine Cask Blend is the sixth experiment in this series, and it was first released in September 2017.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is very pleasant and inviting with notes of vanilla and marmalade with a touch of nectarines and sweet cherries.

Palate: On the palate there is an explosion of fruit with notes of sweet orange, nectarines, plum, and a hint of vanilla balance out with oak tannins.

Finish: The finish medium dry and while initially it is very warm, the warmth quickly fades and leaves the lasting notes of sweet white nectarines, with a touch of oak, vanilla, and a flavor reminiscent of a fruity Riesling. 

Conclusion: This is a really fruity and approachable Johnnie Walker that mellows out nicely with a little ice to cut the heat from the alcohol. Overall, it is a very nice addition to the traditional Johnnie Walker lineup and it demonstrates how much character can come through the cask selection. For less than $30 this is a deal and one of the best new, and affordable whiskies of 2017.

Review: Paul John Batch 2 Indian Single Malt Whisky

Paul John Batch 2 Indian Single Malt Whisky was distilled by John Distilleries in Goa, India, aged for 6 Years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 54.7% ABV

Price: $108.12 for 500ml

John Distilleries has been blending whisky since 1992, but in 2008 the company began producing single malt whisky. Their whisky is made with two Indian copper pot stills with a capacity of 3000 liters per day, and the whisky comes out around 63.5% ABV. Once distilled, their whisky is aged in American white oak barrels and once they reach maturity the barrels are vatted and the whisky is bottled without chill filtration. Because of the climate of Goa, the whisky barrels lose quite a to the Angel's Share and for Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company selected a barrel that came in at 54.7% ABV after 6 years.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The whisky has a strong alcohol nose that carries aromas of malt, oxidized wine, baked apples and caramel. 

Palate: The palate is smooth, round and slightly smokey. The initial taste is subtly sweet with notes of dried or candied fruit and roasted nuts. 

Finish: The finish is medium long, hot, and tastes of malt, nuts and the faintest hint of curry. 

Conclusion: Paul John is an interesting whisky that served neat is obscured by the high proof. With a little water the whisky opens up nicely and shows more of its sweetness and smoke without the burn of the alcohol. With a touch of water, the finish is also much smother and has a nutty flavor, more reminiscent of a classic single malt. While Paul John is definitely a well made spirit, for its age, I'm not sure that I would spend over $100 for this whisky. Though, if you are interested in tasting what is probably some of the best single malt whisky coming out of India, Paul John should be on your short list.

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.