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: Kirk and Sweeney 18 Year Old Rum

Kirk and Sweeney 18 Year Old Rum is owned by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (August Sebastiani) based in Sonoma, CA, Distilled, Aged and Blended by J. Armando Bermúdez & Co. in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and Imported and Bottled by Frank-Lin Distillers Products in Fairfield, CA at 40% ABV. 

Price: $49 MSRP

This 18 year old rum is named after the schooner Kirk and Sweeney, that in 1924 was seized off the cost of New York by the US Coast Guard for rum running. While 3 Badge does not make this information public, Kirk and Sweeney is most likely produced at the Bermúdez Distillery since it is located in Santiago de los Caballeros, D.R. If this indeed the case then the rum is fermented from blackstrap molasses and column distilled. Some of this fresh rum is put into ex-bourbon barrels and aged for 18 years in a brick warehouse. After this rum has fully matured, the barrels are pulled, vatted, and this blended is shipped to Frank-Lin Distillers where they bottle it at 40% ABV.

The onion shaped bottle is quite impressive and modeled after 18th-century bottles used to ship rum and other spirits. The bottle has a substantial weight to it and the screen printed label depicts the eponymous schooner, compass rose, Dominican Republic, and Long Island, NY. The natural cork closure is held closed with a gold foil sticker tape printed with the latitude and longitude coordinates for where the rum was seized off the coast of Long Island.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is bursting with vanilla and beneath that there is the aroma of molasses and a faint note of cinnamon.

PalateThe  rum is smooth and has a full body with only a slight hint of sweetness which is more inferred from the strong vanilla flavor than actual sugar. The vanilla is somewhat balanced with wood flavors and a dry tannins. Lying dormant below the vanilla are subtle notes of coco powder,  burnt sugar, and slight smokiness from the ex-bourbon barrel.

Finish: The finish has more vanilla, more oak and is bone dry with a slight mineral quality from the molasses. There is also a lingering note of coco that covers the tongue. 

Conclusion: Kirk and Sweeney 18 Year Old Dominican Rum is a very smooth sipping rum though like the 12 year old, it is a little lacking in depth of character. Tasting it side by side to the 12 they are obviously different but at the same time almost indistinguishable from each other. I wonder if the extra $10 price tag has any impact on its appeal or make it less attractive. I believe the Kirk and Sweeney 18 cold be a good fit for a rum drinker that wants a sipping rum in the vain of Ron Zacappa 23 but with stronger vanilla character. 

Thank you to Folsom + Associates for providing the free sample.

Review: Uncle Val's Restorative Gin

Uncle Val's Restorative Gin is owned by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (August Sebastiani) based in Sonoma, CA, Distilled by Bendistillery in Bend, OR and Bottled by Frank-Lin Distillers Products in Fairfield, CA at 45% ABV. 

Price: $39 MSRP

Uncle Val's Gin is named after August Sebastiani's zio (uncle in italian) Valerio. Apparently Valerio was a physician who loved cooking and gardening. In honor of his memory, August commissioned three gins that matched some of the flavor combinations he enjoyed. The Restorative Gin takes a 5 time distilled neutral spirit that is redistilled with juniper, coriander, cucumber, and rose petals. The green glass bottle is a modeled after traditional gin bottles from the 18th century with sides that slowly taper inward towards the bottom of the bottle. 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose on this gin is more classic in character with lots of juniper and coriander up front balanced with faint notes of cucumber. Almost no alcohol on the nose.

PalateThe palate has a full body that glides across the tongue with some heat from the alcohol which is not unexpected for a 45% gin.  Like the nose, the flavor is dominated by juniper and coriander which gives the impression of lemon and lime zest though they do not say any is used.

Finish: The finish is long and warm. Savory flavors of spice and juniper are balanced nicely with hints of citrus. 

Conclusion: Uncle Val's Restorative Gin is a very tasty example of a classic gin that is more juniper forward. Overall I am impressed that there is no alcohol on the nose considering its bottling strength. The one potential mark against it is that I do not notice the cucumber or the rose petal much though it is possible they are supporting the overall flavor structure without shining through. If you like classic gins like I do this Restorative Gin will do quite nicely over ice, in a dry martini with an olive and in a Gin & Tonic. Given the limey citrus flavors present a refreshing G&T with a Restorative Gin and a squeeze of lime will quite nicely on a warm day. 

Thank you to Folsom + Associates for providing the free sample.

Review: Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old Rum

Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old Rum is owned by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (August Sebastiani) based in Sonoma, CA, Distilled, Aged and Blended by J. Armando Bermúdez & Co. in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and Imported and Bottled by Frank-Lin Distillers Products in Fairfield, CA at 40% ABV. 

Price: $39 MSRP

This 12 year old rum is named after the schooner Kirk and Sweeney, that in 1924 was seized off the cost of New York by the US Coast Guard for rum running. While 3 Badge does not make this information public, Kirk and Sweeney is most likely produced at the Bermúdez Distillery since it is located in Santiago de los Caballeros, D.R. If this indeed the case then the rum is fermented from blackstrap molasses and column distilled. Some of this fresh rum is put into ex-French oak wine barrels and aged for 12 years in a brick warehouse. After this rum has fully matured, the barrels are pulled, vatted, and this blended is shipped to Frank-Lin Distillers where they bottle it at 40% ABV.

The onion shaped bottle is quite impressive and modeled after 18th-century bottles used to ship rum and other spirits. The bottle has a substantial weight to it and the screen printed label depicts the eponymous schooner, compass rose, Dominican Republic, and Long Island, NY. The natural cork closure is held closed with a gold foil sticker tape printed with the latitude and longitude coordinates for where the rum was seized off the coast of Long Island.

Tasting Notes

Nose: At first whiff the nose is dominated by vanilla. The aroma is rich and opulent with notes of creme brulee and brown sugar topped off with more vanilla.

PalateThe palate is smooth with a medium body. The rum has a subtle sweetness that well balanced with oak tannins. The flavor is explodes with vanilla and faint hints of molasses. As you drink the rum tertiary notes of milk chocolate and caramel peak trough the veil of vanilla. 

Finish: The finish is long and warm. Once again vanilla is the central flavor throughout the finish with light notes for green sugar cane and oak. 

Conclusion: Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old Dominican Rum is a bit of a one trick pony. Vanilla, vanilla and more vanilla at every turn. While I enjoy the flavor of vanilla, it would be nice if there was a little bit more variation in the flavor profile. That being said it is impressive that a 12 year old Dominican rum is not completely dominated by oak or super dry from over a decade of matruation in a tropical climate. For those who enjoy Zaya Rum, Kirk and Sweeney 12 is comparable in its flavor profile and would please those looking for a smooth, vanilla forward sipping rum. 

Thank you to Folsom + Associates for providing the free sample.

Review: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin

Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is owned by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (August Sebastiani) based in Sonoma, CA; Distilled by Bendistillery in Bend, OR and Bottled by Frank-Lin Distillers Products in Fairfield, CA at 45% ABV. 

Price: $39 MSRP

Uncle Val's Gin is named after August Sebastiani's zio (uncle in italian) Valerio. Apparently Valerio was a physician who loved cooking and gardening. In honor of his memory August commissioned three gins that matched some of the flavor combinations he enjoyed. The Botanical Gin takes a 5 time distilled neutral spirit that is redistilled with juniper, cucumber, lemon, sage and lavender. The green glass bottle is modeled after traditional gin bottles from the 18th century with sides that slowly taper inward towards the bottom of the bottle. 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is bright with inviting notes of lemon zest, cucumber and a faint hint of orris. 

PalateThe palate is smooth and luxurious with a little bit of heat from the alcohol. The initial flavor of the gin is slightly sweet from the lavender and citrus notes. As the gin lingers on your palate the flavors evolve and develop more savory characters from the juniper and sage. 

Finish: The finish is wam with long notes of juniper, sage, tarragon. As those savory notes fade away, lemon zest reemerges bright and fresh waiting for the next drink.  

Conclusion: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is a good example of a citrus forward contemporary gin. It works well in a dry martini. The savory sage notes pair well with the vermouth and they are balanced nicely with the bright lemon zest. I would also imagine that this Botanical Gin would work well in a Bee's Knees. For my tastes, contemporary gins are not my favorite but Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is sure to please those who enjoy citrus forward gins that work well in cocktails and or like their martinis with a twist of lemon. 

Thank you to Folsom + Associates for providing the free sample.

Review: 1970s Johnnie Walker Red Label

Owned and blended by The Distillers Company (now Diageo) Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky (1970s) was bottled at 40% and 43% ABV.

Price: Unknow historical price however, current price is between $130-$230 per bottle.

In 1867, Alexander Walker created the blended Scotch brand Old Highland Whisky which was rechristened in 1909 as Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky. Blended Scotch is a mix of both grain whiskies and malt whiskies that have been distilled and mature in Scotland for at least 3 years. Grain whiskies are spirits are defined by the EU as a mix of grains such as malted barley, corn, rye, or wheat, distilled on a continuous column still, and matured for at least 3 years. Where as malt whiskies are spirits made from 100% malted barley, pot-distilled, and matured for at least 3 years. 

By the 1920s Johnnie Walker was being sold in 120 countries and had been using the same squared bottle and angled label for about 50 years.  In 1925, Johnnie Walker was acquired by The Distillers Company and by the 1970s Johnnie Walker Red Label was the most popular Scotch whisky sold in the world. While it is would great to know what whiskies went into the Red Label Blend in the 1970s as compared to today, sadly Johnnie Walker does not make that information public. Nevertheless, I'm grateful to David T. Smith for providing me a sample.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose greeted me with the aroma of fresh baked biscuits and honey with undertones of fruit carried on bright notes of alcohol.

Palate: The palate was smooth, had a medium body that was slightly warm. 70s Red Label tasted nutty like roasted cashews and had a light sweetness that balanced nicely with notes of spice, oak, and smoke with a little briny sea air.

Finish: The finish is long with lasting notes of brine and smoke mixed oak and sweet cherry.

Conclusion: It was surprising to me how fresh and vibrant Red Label tasted after all this time. 70s Red Label was a tasty blended Scotch whisky that demonstrates the skill of the blender to create a lighter whisky that still retains plenty of character. Johnnie Walker has clearly been putting out high quality whiskies for quite some time so there is understandable why they sold over 17 million 9-liter cases in 2016.