Browse Tag


My Sharona

Glendronach 33 Year Scotch (Speyside) – Cream, pepper, spice, old-growth forest. An electric zap of front fades, then re-emerges to a low-level fuzz on the finish. Quite compelling. (2/11)


Duffau Bas-Armagnac Napoléon (Southwest France) – I dally with Cognac, with brandies from elsewhere, and yet for my bronzed grape spirits I always feel the urge to reunite with my first love: Armagnac. There’s just something more appealing, to me, about the richness piled upon complexity. Less perfection, more appeal? Perhaps that’s it. As for this particular bottle…it’s fine. By-the-numbers. It just so happens that I like the numbers. (12/10)

Da Do Ron Ron Ron

Brugal “Extra Viejo Gran Reserva Familiar” Ron (Dominican Republic) – Holy crap is this awful. I mean, if they made rum in Inuvik, I bet it wouldn’t be this watery and insipid, and yet still full of nasty volatility and turpentine burn. A complete waste of sugar, calories, and alcohol. (12/10)

Michter Sandman

Michter’s Straight Rye Whiskey (Kentucky) – Very full and rich, suggesting at dessert but never getting that sweet…in fact, the aggressive, clove-driven spice and farine texture pretty quickly dismiss sticker notions. As someone whose rye consumption is about 99% restricted to cocktails, I have no idea where this falls in qualitative or stylistic terms, or whether or not I’m “supposed” to like it. But I do. (12/10)

The search for Armenian

Armenia 25 Year Old Armenian Brandy (Armenia) – Nice grab on the brand name (there’s another word in Armenian on the label, which I suspect is the actual name, but we’ll leave that one be for now). As for the spirit? It is brandy, and the toasty character of extended wood aging is indeed there, but alongside a really bitter, pine-like whine. And the alcohol is strident and angry. This is packaged like something upscale, but it has the fierce, dangerous edge of backwoods rotgut. It’s not bad, exactly, but it certainly has some book-learnin’ to do before it can rest easily amongst its international peers. (12/10)


The Arran 10 Year Scotch Whisky (Arran) – Unchillfiltered, as the nomenclature goes. Peaty but with a stong core of brandied apricots and sweet barrel notes. Very, very easy to drink. (11/10)


Pojer e Sandri Traminer Grappa (Trentino) – Sweaty and fetid, but in a “good” way that’s actually more or less expected from this grape, I think. Very rough-and-tumble, rolling earthy aromatics and decaying flowers around in a constant swirl, and so forceful in this motion that a sense of the grappa’s alcoholic heat is nearly absent. (11/10)


Ferrand Cognac Grande Champagne “1er Cru du Cognac Réserve” (Cognac) – A little over-succulent and almost candied on the nose, at first opening. Let’s let it breathe for a bit. […] And we’re done. Blood orange? Yes, that and butterscotch. We’re verging into California chardonnay territory here. More air? Yes, please. […] Settling down, at last, but there’s still an inexorable pumpkin pie element, both aromatically and texturally, that I can’t quite get past. A lot of soil is to the good, but it’s not enough. I admit that all beverages of this type are almost exclusively aromatic pleasures for me; I can enjoy drinking them, but were that all there was to them I’d still to wine. So that the palate here is a little diagonal and slashy, bringing a great deal of heat and white chocolate for which I don’t care, is no big deal. I want to smell, not quaff. And thus, I wish the nosegrab was more enticing. [one hour later] Starting to get a lot better, knitting and filling out, with less of the fetid and more of the elegantly feral. I suspect it might be days before this rounds into form, though. More later. (11/10)

Ferrand Cognac Grande Champagne “1er Cru du Cognac Réserve” (Cognac) – Third night after opening. All the faux candied sweetness is gone, leaving something a lot more elegant. No, that’s not the right word. Sophisticated. Perhaps a little over-jacketed in layers of formality, to be honest. Loosen the bowtie! There’s a lot…a lot…of soft, loamy earth, which I like and find intriguing in a Cognac. But there’s also a planar stuffiness to the finish, as if the brandy has a slight head cold. Or as if that aforementioned bowtie is a little suffocating. (11/10)

Ferrand Cognac Grande Champagne “1er Cru du Cognac Réserve” (Cognac) – Over a week after opening, and everything difficult about this spirit is now gone, replaced by subtleties and shadings. Really quite lovely. Does it live up to its price? Probably not quite, but then I find most Cognac to be rather aspirationally priced to begin with; in context, it’s probably more or less OK. (11/10)

Islay me down to sleep

The MacPhail’s Selected Single Distilleries Collection (Bunnahabhain) 8 Year Scotch (Islay) – Boring. How do you make an Islay whisky boring? Well: exhibit A. Iodine, but only just, with a clammy boredom resting atop an alcoholic nonentity. The most “flavor” of the three from this lineup that I’ve tried, but in service of naught. (10/10)