With Dogfish’s fan loyalty, this Imperial IPA from Dogfish Head can be a challenging bottle to find. The brewing process for this expression in the Dogfish lineup is quite intense, and so goes the flavor and the alcohol content.
120 Minute IPA goes through a unique brewing process that incorporates a massive amount of hops. The boil is continuously hopped for two hours, hence the name, with high-alpha American hops used. It is then dry-hopped daily for a month and finally aged another month with whole-leaf hops.
The nose on 120 Minute is quite strong, with the hoppy aroma slightly masked by the caramel, malt, and hints of vanilla. This Imperial IPA pours a relatively cloudy gold to amber color with a light head. As you first sip it you get a prominent amount of alcohol, and the strength of the brew becomes obvious immediately. The malt and citrus help tone the alcohol down, which accounts for the surprisingly sweet follow-through. The higher the alcohol content in a beer, the more residual sugar is left behind, making the beer sweeter.
The complex brewing process behind 120 Minute ultimately produces a quite delicious yet very strong Imperial IPA. Try holding out and letting this bottle age for a year or two, it will help bring out the complexities in flavor.
Between 15% – 20% abv
A- / $9 per 12 oz. bottle / dogfish.com
Known overseas as “Tempest,” this limited edition of Bowmore has an unfortunate trademark issue in the U.S. so, for its arrival on our shores it’s been rechristened as “Dorus Mor,” a tidal gate near the Isle of Mull.
Classic, if slightly young, Bowmore, this Islay whisky is an iconic expression of what Bowmore does best. Eye-searingly hot at first, the whisky calms down enough to reveal an almost sherried character on the nose to balance out the smoky, peaty overtones. On the palate it’s got way more going on. There’s seaside character a-plenty — seaweed and salt — but also a surprising milk chocolate character, almond butter, and dried mango on the finish. It goes on and on, with a surprisingly creamy quality to it that really rounds things out. Plenty of peat on the back end too, to remind you that you’re in Islay after all.
110.2 proof. 2400 bottles for U.S.
A- / $120 / bowmore.com [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
I’m an unofficial member of the Big Bottom fan club, having gushed about the company’s 2 year old and 3 year old Port-finished Bourbons in the past. The 4 year olds sold out pretty much immediately, but Oregon-based proprietor Ted Pappas just can’t quit.
His latest series includes a collection of three 5 year old whiskeys (though none offers a formal age statement), including both the classic Port finished whiskey and a new Zinfandel finished one. Thoughts follow on the line (which have all been formally branded as Bourbon now), each of which remains pegged at 91 proof.
Continue reading “Review: Big Bottom Whiskey, 2012 Releases” »
Monkey 47 is one of those spirits with a really long and involved backstory, but the nut of it is that you’re drinking crazy gin from Germany. Created by a WWII Royal Air Force pilot who settled in the Black Forest after the war, our hero made his own gin out of local ingredients and exotic botanicals inspired by his upbringing in India. The gin wasn’t commercialized, but its recipe was meticulously documented.
That recipe — plus intact samples — were recently discovered, nearly 50 years after Monkey 47′s creator vanished. And now, this oddball German gin is being commercially produced and can be yours… if you can track it down.
Continue reading “Review: Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin” »
This curious Imperial IPA is a collaborative project, the third in the “Life & Limb” series, between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, though the Dogfish DNA is more prevalent on the bottle and label. From the companies, you’re getting the best of both worlds: “Carolina-grown red fife wheat and Dogfish Head’s continual hopping from the East and Sierra Nevada’s estate-grown caramel malt and Torpedo dry-hopping from the West.”
The hops used here are Bravo (Dogfish Head) and #644 (Sierra Nevada), an experimental strain that has yet to be named.
Continue reading “Review: Dogfish Head Rhizing Bines Imperial IPA” »
This is the fifth vintage-dated expression from Glen Garioch, joining 1978, 1990, 1991, and 1994 on the market. Bottled in 2011, it’s a 25 year old single malt from this Highlands distillery, and it’s a whopper of a whisky.
At cask strength, it’s quite a heater. The nose is full of intriguing notes from the baker’s rack, including gingerbread, pie crust, and light citrus fruit — but it’s filtered through quite a lot of alcohol, at least until it burns off a bit with air exposure.
Continue reading “Review: Glen Garioch 1986 Vintage Single Malt” »
Each year Bell’s Brewery releases its version of a double IPA, and luckily for everyone the Michigan-based brewery makes an aggressive effort to get its beers out to as many people as possible. Even some of Bell’s limited beers are not terribly difficult to track down.
This year’s Hopslam unleashes beautiful aromas of pine, citrus, honey, and lastly hops. The first thing you’ll notice about Hopslam is its nose; with six different hop varieties used, they add a surprisingly earthy aroma to the overall flavor profile. The nose of this year’s batch starts with the beautiful aroma of pine needles, next is the wonderful accompaniment of grapefruit and citrus, and lastly you get the hops and honey.
The pour is a nice beautiful color of gold to orange/amber and the flavor is all there, right up front, very bitter and hoppy to start. A very front-loaded beer, you get a ton of grapefruit/citrus notes to start it off then a lot of hops. Like the name suggests this is not for those that do not enjoy a titular slam of hops and floral tones.
Even with its abv of 10%; it goes down exceptionally smooth, with a nice clean finish. During fermentation honey is added to the batch. This wonderful addition increases the alcohol, yet creates a nice, smooth follow-through.
A- / $3 per 12 oz. bottle / bellsbeer.com
666 Vodka has a name to live up to — even invoking “pure evil” on the front of the label. Made in Tasmania, Australia, this vodka is triple pot-distilled from Tasmanian barley, blended with water sourced from the pristine region here called Cape Grim. The finished product is charcoal filtered before bottling.
For all its uniqueness, 666 is typical of Australian vodkas, very mild on the nose with some hints of dessert-like sweetness, particularly light overtones of chocolate. The body is tailor-made for the sweet tooth. It is sugary but not overpowering, with a lightly bittersweet finish. That chocolate reappears here, along with some caramel notes. Very light herbal notes are here too, on a buttery body.
That said, the only real sense you get of vodka here is some light medicinal character that comes along as the spirit fades. It’s altogether very easy drinking, though vodka fans who love the funky hospital notes of Eastern bloc spirits will be dissatisfied.
A- / $28 / 666purevodka.com
With the verdicts on the previous editions of the Drinkology series split right down the middle, I was curious which way the words would sway in this third Drinkology treatise, devoted to all things involving the almighty grape. Thankfully, it falls under the same category as its beer sibling: an engaging, educational guide about the wine world, crafted in a manner that will appeal to veterans and newcomers alike.
James Waller leaves no vine entangled or bottle uncorked in his detailed history of the winemaking process in Drinkology Wine. There is a lot of territory to cover and explain; so much so that a second volume with greater detail could have easily been authored. But Waller does the best he can to dissect and survey the extensive range of wines available globally. In the span of about 150 pages, he delves into the vocabulary of vino, the methodology of tasting wine, and a very basic history before dedicating close to an additional 100 pages to the different varieties of wine available, and what sets one style apart from the other. The remainder of the book focuses on specific wines from around the world and a brief appendix covering such things as wine etiquette and hardware.
Unlike Drinkology Beer, Waller cuts back on the anecdotal frivolities, most likely for lack of space. However, like Drinkology Beer, it is an entertaining read worthy of a place on any wine drinker’s bookshelf or coffee table.
A- / $22 / [BUY IT HERE]
Italy seems to be a hotbed these days — not for wine, but rather for vodka.
Milano Green is made from wheat in the north of Italy and blended with spring water from the Italian alps. Production methods are sustainable, per the company, but the producer does not claim that the product is organic.
This vodka has a very modern profile: Neutral on the nose, with only mild medicinal notes. The body has ample sweetness to it and a short, simple finish. Just a hint of black pepper on the finish, and maybe the lightest touch of baking spice. No frills here, this is an easy and refreshing vodka that works well on its own or in pretty much any cocktail.
Note: Milano Green’s website features an older bottle design.
A- / $30 / milanogreenvodka.com
We covered Merlet’s new Cognac a few weeks ago, but the company is arguably best known for its fruit liqueurs, which we’re finally getting around to covering them. All of them, actually. Thoughts on these high-end liqueurs and two unique Cognac/liqueur blends follow.
Merlet Triple Sec – Triple sec is perhaps the toughest liqueur there is to mess up, and Merlet’s, made with bitter orange, blood orange, and lemon, is perfectly solid and is at times a bit exotic with its melange of interrelated fruit flavors. A very pale yellow in color, the lemon is a touch more to the forefront than I’d like, lending this liqueur a slight sourness, but on the whole it’s a perfectly worthwhile and usable triple sec that I have no trouble recommending. 80 proof. A- / $30
Continue reading “Tasting the Liqueurs and C2 Cognac/Liqueur Blends of Merlet” »
Tuaca is a famed vanilla liqueur that’s been around for hundreds of years in various incarnations. Now it’s getting its first line extension: Cinnaster, which adds cinnamon to the mix.
Here’s how it tastes.
Strong vanilla hits your nostrils first as you pour a glass, making you wonder how much cinnamon impact there could be. But stick your nose in the glass and the cinnamon comes along quickly — Red Hots more than freshly grated sticks.
Continue reading “Review: Tuaca Cinnaster Liqueur” »
Tony Abou-Ganim is a happy guy. In fact he’s so happy that within the first twenty pages of Vodka Distilled, the reader is treated to not one, but four photographs of Mr. Abou-Ganim flashing his pearly whites in various states of pose. And well he should be pleased himself: his 2010 opus The Modern Mixologist won critical warmth from such household media giants as Batali, DeGroff, and Fallon. His tireless efforts at championing mixology and his pleasant personality have solidified him as a go-to guy for mass media, landing him appearances on Iron Chef America, Today, Good Morning America, and numerous other programs.
Continue reading “Book Review: Vodka Distilled” »
Michigan’s New Holland Brewing Company puts my thoughts about its Beer Barrel Bourbon right on the label: Beer finished in Bourbon casks: Sure. Bourbon finished in beer casks: Sounds a little weird.
Beer Barrel Bourbon (no mashbill provided) is first aged in new oak for “several” years at a relatively low 110-115 proof. It’s then finished for 90 days in barrels that were used for the company’s Dragon’s Milk stout — which, in turn, was itself aged in a former Bourbon barrel. The cycle is endless!
The provenance of barrel from whiskey to beer to whiskey may be a little tricky to full grasp, but the results speak more clearly, and for themselves.
Continue reading “Review: New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon” »
It’s well known that Pinot Noir from California tastes different than Pinot Noir from France — even if the wines are made identically. But does the concept of terroir extend to spirits like gin, too? Can juniper berries sourced from the far ends of the world really express their differences after going through the long process of distillation and bottling as gin?
Master of Malt sets out to find the answer with this, the Origin Series of Single Estate gins. Seven versions are on offer, each made with juniper sourced from a single location, each in a different country (all are in Europe). Each batch arrives in a bottle that is distilled just from juniper, with no other botanicals added. However, a small add-on vial of distilled botanicals (the usual gin stuff) comes with each bottle. To turn your juniper-flavored spirit into real gin, just add the vial to the bottle and you’ve got single-estate gin, with all the fixings. (Note: You can buy them as minis if you don’t want to shell out for full bottles of seven experimental gins.)
Continue reading “Review: Master of Malt Origin Single Estate Gins” »
We presented Alt Whiskeys previously. Now we have Extreme Brewing. Written by Sam Calagione, owner of the highly-esteemed Dogfish Head Brewery, Extreme Brewing is a treatise on how to make beers that push the boundaries of the beverage. Several dozen recipes are included, ranging from the expected pilsners and lagers to stuff that includes pumpkin, cranberries, and Port-soaked oak chips. A number of recipes for commercially-available brews, like Dogfish Head’s prized 60 Minute IPA and Allagash’s Belgian Wit, are in the mix, too.
Continue reading “Book Review: Extreme Brewing” »
“New Western Dry Gin” from House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, Aviation has been a popular spirit across the U.S. since its launch in 2006. We’re finally getting around to reviewing it seven years later, just in time for a brand new bottle design (pictured at right), which is being rolled out later this year. (The recipe hasn’t changed, mind you.)
The botanicals in this gin (distilled from rye) are by and large traditional, though they offer enough uniqueness to be evocative of the Pacific Northwest, where Aviation is made. The roster includes: Juniper, cardamom, lavender, Indian sarsaparilla, coriander, anise seed, and dried orange peel.
Continue reading “Review: Aviation Gin (2013 Bottling)” »
We last covered Michael David’s top-end, big-dollar, sin-monikered Zins in late 2011. This time around (Lust is absent, sorry), the ratings are reversed. Thoughts follow.
2009 Michael David Sloth Zinfandel – Made from 30 year old vines located in Mendocino. Blended with a small amount of Petite Sirah. A really drinkable wine, the jamminess is surprisingly restrained vs. most Zins. Instead you get a supple, modestly tannic wine with a decent amount of acid. Fruit character is primarily in the blueberry realm, with some spice on the back end. Good stuff. A- / $55
2009 Michael David Gluttony Zinfandel – Made from 86 year old vines in Amador County, again with Petite Sirah blended in. A wildly different wine. Very woody and very pruny, with a cloying, almost medicinal finish. Black as night. Simply too overpowering, even for Zinfandel. B- / $55
It’s not every day we get to try a $625 wine made by a former pro basketball player. OK, it’s never when that happens.
Chinese phenomenon Yao Ming recently got the celebrity winemaker bug and launched his own wine label, but with a twist: His primary market is his homeland of China, and the U.S. is almost an afterthought.
Now don’t get the impression that Yao is making wine in his garage for kicks. He’s partnered with longtime winemaking guru Thomas Hinde to craft Yao Family Wines, which lovingly pay homage to his affection for Napa Cabernet. Yao is involved in the process, particularly regarding blending decisions.
Continue reading “Review: Yao Ming Family Wines, 2009 Vintages” »
The drinking industry’s war on ice is in full force. Fearful that ice will water down their precious booze, entrepreneurs are suggesting alternative chilling systems to bring the temperature of their hooch down.
But do they work? Ice is effective at chilling a drink because it melts, releasing near-frozen water into your dram. Can alternative technologies do the job, too? There are whiskey stones (soapstone cubes), or the new Tilt Chilling Sphere, a metal spheroid that you fish out of your drink with an included hook, which doubles as a cocktail pick. How effective can these non-melting chilling systems be?
We did the science, folks!
Continue reading “Experiment: Ice vs. Whiskey Stones vs. Tilt Chilling Sphere” »