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About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.

Cheers!
Mike

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gordon & Macphail's Tamdhu 8-Year

Distilleries don't die, they just fade away
Tamdhu - mothballed in 2010.

Apparently it's been purchased, with plans to begin production again, but it may be sometime before we see something new out of Tamdhu. Although, we didn't see much out of Tamdhu as it was used mostly in blends (Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse, etc.).

Tamdhu was (is?) a Speyside malt.  Speysides tend to be the most approachable of the single malts: lighter, sweeter, less peaty.

I like Speysides, as a foil (of sorts) to the peat heads. Like the hop heads of the beer world, who are always looking for the hoppiest beer, peat heads want the peatiest scotches. This creates an absurd hop/peat competition among the producers to make the hoppiest beer or peatiest scotch. A lot of these aren't even good, but the fervor in the market for these extreme products creates a hop/peat bubble. Consequently, Islays are now absurdly over-priced and there are too many subpar, heavily-peated blends.

All the while, Speysides just chug along. Sure, there are over-priced examples (i.e. Macallan) but for the most part, no one is looking for the "sweetest, sherriest scotch" so take advantage of this opportunity.

This particular bottling of Tamdhu is another independent bottling. The label doesn't say much, except that it comes from Tamdhu, is 86 proof, and it was aged for 8 years in "oak casks." However, I assume it is not chill filtered nor is caramel coloring added.

Like other Speysides, the nose has plenty of spice, honey, and dried fruit, but also floral notes, oak, and tarragon. It has an oily mouth-feel with flavors of oak, vanillin, fig, leather, menthol and a long, peaty finish (which is surprising, for a Speyside).  Downside: it's got a lot of heat.

For $35, it's a good buy for a single malt scotch. Would I spend much more than that? Probably not.  However, in our over-priced scotch market, you get a surprisingly complex scotch for a reasonable price.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Drouin Pommeau de Normandie


This is probably one of the best things I've ever had. I'm not exaggerating.

Pommeau de Normandie is a blend of fresh-pressed cider and Calvados that is aged for about two-and-a-half months in oak barrels after it's blended.

The description reminded me of a port (or sherry) so I figured I'd give this a shot

I am really glad I did.

As I expected, it is very port-like. The deep amber color and aromas of candied apples, toffee, honey, tea, nutmeg, and cinnamon are very inviting. It is sweet (but not cloyingly so) and has a rich oily mouthfeel, with flavors of vanillin, mulling spices and dried fruits (mostly apple and raisin). It has an astringent apple-skin finish (due to the tannins), with a bit of maple too: it's excellent.

I hope to try another Pommeau de Normandie (or de Bretagne) someday soon - just so I can compare.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blackbird Buffalo Bluegrass Kentucky Barrel Aged Cider


Every time some says "cider" to me, I think of this classic Simpsons exchange:

Principal Skinner: "They're very slowly getting away!"
Moe: "They're headed to the Old Mill!"
Homer: "No we're not!"
Moe: "Let's go to the Old Mill anyway and get some cider!"

I should've mentioned this in my cider post from 2011.

Hard ciders as a segment of the "beer" market have been growing these last few years: a 49% growth in sales last year alone. Fortunately here in New York State, the legislation hasn't really caught up with the appearance of this new market so ciders are available in both grocery and liquor stores. But this really depends on the distributors and what brands they own so you may not be able to buy Woodchuck Hard Cider (the most popular cider) at a liquor store since it is "owned" by a beer distributor.

Blackbird Cidery officially opened in Barker, NY in 2011. I first visited their cidery and orchard in 2013. Through both open/wild fermentation or use of specific yeast strains they make all styles: dry to sweet, and still to sparkling.

This Buffalo Bluegrass Kentucky Barrel Aged Cider is a limited-edition release so I picked up two bottles when it first became available at my liquor store. Initially, it was not what I was expecting. The oak from the barrel was a bit overpowering and it was considerably drier than I thought it would be. Yet this may be because my previous barrel-aged beer experience influenced my expectations of this cider. In barrel-aged stouts the vanillin and oak compliment the malty sweetness of the beer. With a cider, it has more in common with a lighter, drier sparkling grape wine. Therefore with a change in perspective, the more sips I took the more this cider grew on me. The barrel-aging offers notes of smoke, vanillin, and oak while the "open fermentation" gives the cider wild floral and yeasty notes. It paired extremely well with salmon and a bunch of earthier vegetables - all flavored with fresh dill.

It reminded me of Blackbird's Orchardist's Reserve Cider (my favorite of their ciders), although this Kentucky Bluegrass cider is much drier. If you are expecting a sweet hard cider, like many other available on the market, then you'll be disappointed. However, open yourself to new experiences and give this (and other dry ciders) a try - you may be pleasantly surprised.