Jan 14, 2017

Louis Roque Vieille Prune...

Louis Roque Vieille Prune (42.0%): Now this is an interesting one... A brandy distilled from plums. Yes, it is kinda like an aged Slivovitz but also not... A different kind of plum known in France as "prune"  is used in the process. As you all know the name "prune" refers to any kind of dried plum in US but actually it is derived from the French word which indicates that specific kind of plum... Anyway, to avoid any confusion let's say now that it is distilled from fresh prunes in Souillac, north of Armagnac region by Louis Roque. And as I learned also from Serge Valentin a.k.a. Whisky Fun this specific type of brandy making started to create an alternative way to produce distillate after phylloxera wiped all the vineyards in France but got popular and some producers kept making it even after.

Oh, one last thing: After you manage to peel the rock solid wax from the bottle (it took me a good 15 minutes) you will see that it has a wine bottle style cork. You need a cork screw to start with and more importantly you will need to save that cork carefully because if you end up damaging it you better have an old cork lying around somewhere at home. Ok, enough talk, let's pour...

Color: Light amber, polished copper with very thin legs.

Nose: Well, plums... Yes, it noses like Slivovitz in the beginning. After allowing it to air a minute or two herbal and floral aromas evolve, almost like a cordial now. Garam masala, nutmeg and cardamom pods. Elderflowers, juniper berries and sloe gin.

Palate: Not so sweet on the palate... Maybe I was preparing myself for a liquor like palate after the nose but it's not like that. Very much like an aged Slivovitz. Toasted oak, burnt plums on a plum tart and young eau de vie. French pastry shop: Almond croissant, pain aux raisin and creamy pastry fillings. Viscous and thick.

Finish: Long with sweet burns on either side of the tongue. Definitely finishes sweeter and thicker than the palate. Chestnut honey, burnt sugar and toffee.

Overall: I liked it... Actually I liked it way more that I thought I will. Maybe because I am familiar with Eastern European plum brandies or maybe it ended up being less sweet than I though it will be but I think I will enjoy it once in a while as an digestive and a late night drink. Would I buy another bottle when it is finished? Yes, I would... Probably not right away but sometime. Nice to find something I can enjoy sipping that I was not familiar with before. Recommended to folks who like to be adventurous...

Price: $45

Jan 11, 2017

Santa Teresa 1796...

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera (40.0%): Continuing tire-bouchon's malternative January with a rum from Venezuela... Santa Teresa 1796 is a vat of rums of various ages matured in ex-Bourbon and Cognac casks which goes through a solera process after it's blended. The solera system created by master distiller Nestor Ortega is made of four rows of French Limousin oak casks which gives an additional four years of maturation to the spirit. The process was originally built in 1992 to launch a special product for the 200th anniversary of Santa Teresa Hacienda in 1996 and has been used since then.

Color: Dark amber, old copper with a ruby hue and faint legs around the glass.

Nose: Leather upholstery, the rack of old bomber jackets in your favorite second hand shop, tobacco leaves and molasses. Dark honey, almost like buckwheat honey. Overripe baby bananas, cherry coke and Snapple fruit punch. Dried cranberries, sticky toffee pudding and honey roasted nuts like the ones thay sell from pushcarts on the streets of New York. Toasted wood, bitter almonds and freshly grated nutmeg.

Palate: Not so sweet, almost salty... Thin in texture but oily and mouth covering. Salted butter, caramel filled chocolate drops, molasses and cocoa nibs... Spicier than the nose suggested: cloves, cinnamon, allspice and tons of nutmeg. Cherry coke and bananas are present on the palate as well. Roasted nuts I had on the nose are lightly salted now: Macadamia nuts, cashews and hazelnuts. Candied orange peel, toasted coconut chunks and damson plum jam. Beautiful palate...

Finish: Long with sweet spices rather than the salty notes. Caramel, wood and quince paste.

Overall: That's my kinda rum..! Not overly sweet and well balanced. Old enough to hide all the young alcohol notes but young enough not to show any over-oaked character. Great cask management, the wood influence is as delicate as in old style sherries... Only thing I could ask would be slightly higher abv. to give a little more texture and body. For this price it is a steal,  one of my favorite rums priced under $50...

Price: $40

Jan 8, 2017

Ararat 3yo...

Ararat 3yo (40.0%): Today we have the legendary brandy from Armenia on my desk which is named after the holy mountain of Ararat... It is a double distilled spirit distilled from local grape varieties. Yerevan Brandy Company started the brand all the way back in 1887 but didn't get a steady worldwide distribution till its acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 1998. Today the distillery has a line-up of seven different expressions and this one is the youngest and cheapest in the range being only three years old. They say after being served Ararat Dvin, one of the older expressions of the seven, at Yalta Conference Winston Churchill loved it so much, Stalin started to send him a case every year till his death in 1953.

Color: Medium amber with slow legs. Quite dark for a three year old brandy... Medium amber.

Nose: Young... Cheap construction lumber, saw dust and vintage buckskin jacket. Shoe polish and new make spirit. Let's wait a couple of minutes. Totally worth it, much better now... Burnt sugar, ginger snaps and Ferrero Rocher singles. CaffĂ© mocha, ground nutmeg and ground cloves. Very sweet...

Palate: Pretty thin mouthfeel and young alcohol burn... Cinnamon, powdered ginger and sweet chocolate chips. Burnt sugar again, quite a lot... It gets even sweeter somehow, almost like a cheap rum now. Molasses, candied orange peel and caramel bonbons. Not my cup of tea.

Finish: Medium long with mostly sugar burn. Artificial sweetener, cinnamon and honey...

Overall: This is a quite sweet brandy, definitely too sweet for my palate... I really don't remember this amount of sweetness from my earlier experiences with Ararat but it was ages ago. On the other hand that sweetness probably is helpful to cover the harshness of the young alcohol which was pretty dominant from nose to finish already. Well, the brandy is only three years old to start with... I know that the price tag is very attractive but I don't think that it is worth to purchase a bottle. At least not this one. I definitely would like to try the other expressions of the line-up though...


Price: $23