Lybations is a new brand of ready to serve cocktails designed with premium drinking in mind. They’re produced using authentic ingredients and come bottled in frosted glass decanters with swing top closures. And yet, Lybations are quite low in calories thanks to a quite low alcohol level (about on par with wine, but of course consumed in much smaller quantities).
Three varieties are available, all reviewed below. Each is 32 proof and 55 to 60 calories per serving.
Lybations Pepino Diablo Margarita – Made with 100% blue agave tequila reposado, lime, cane sugar, cucumber, and serrano. It’s cucumber all over the place on this one, with lots of tart lime coming on strong after that. There’s not an overwhelming sense of agave here or, it must be said, the diablo serrano pepper. That said, it works well enough as a margarita, provided you don’t mind that slug of cucumber juice. Tastes a little healthy. B+
Lybations Flower Power Sour – Made with vodka, lime and lemon, cane sugar, and elderflower. Less pungent than the margarita, its lemon-lime character coming across more like a lemon-lime soda, with just a touch of floral element (though not particularly identifiable as elderflower) to it. Relatively harmless and unchallenging, though the finish has some vaguely vegetal funk to it… think carrot juice. B-
Lybations Lime In The Coconut – Made with vodka, coconut, lime, and cane sugar and a terrible, terrible name. It’s coconut-forward on the nose, but much heavier with lime on the palate — perhpas making this less badly named than I’d originally thought. This relatively simple construction offers few surprises but is reasonably refreshing. Try it blended with ice, pina colada style. B
each $18 / lybationscocktails.com
Woodford’s latest Distillery Series bourbon — a limited edition experimental series that doesn’t quite merit Master’s Collection status — is here. “Five Malt” connotes what it is, though the company doesn’t exactly tell you everything:
Inspired by the popularity of micro-breweries to explore malted grains typically used for beers when crafting whiskey, Five Malt’s distinctive flavor profile is established within the grain recipe and aging process. To obtain the desired sensory elements, minimum wood exposure is required. Five Malt is a whiskey distilled from malt mash then aged in recycled Double Oaked barrels for a span of six months resulting in warming malt notes with a coffee flavored finish.
That doesn’t quite tell you the whole story, as it is mute on the identity of the five malts, which it turns out are these:
- Two row barley
- Pale Chocolate barley
- Kiln Coffee barley
- Carafa barley
All five are malted renditions of the grain, of course.
Again, this concoction is cooked up and distilled and aged for all of six months before bottling. In other words, while it’s got a touch of wheat in there, this is effectively a very young single malt, American style.
It fits the part. Master distiller Chris Morris wants us to experience the grain in all its glory here, and damn but you’re gonna get it. Anyone with familiarity with young American malt whiskey will know exactly what they’re getting into before the bottle is ever opened. Intense cereal notes meet a heavy wood influence on the nose — think hard pretzels, heavily charred toast, and coal. The palate offers notes of rye bread, fresh malt, and more of that intensely charred wood influence, with hints of licorice and cloves on the back end.
In other words — there’s not a whole lot to see here, as the finished product is largely indistinguishable from any number of other immature malts aged in new oak. I know Woodford likes to experiment with young whiskeys from time to time, but I also know that this would have been a lot more interesting in roughly 2022.
B- / $50 (375ml) / woodfordreserve.com
Another Provence rose, this one a blend of 40% grenache, 40% cinsault, and 15% syrah. The nose is pure strawberry with a lemon twist, but the body takes on a more curious note, with essence of orange peel, herbal lemongrass, and some odd currant and winey Port notes on the somewhat gummy finish. I also get a wierd roasted red bell pepper character as the finish fades. All told, it’s an unusual rose but pleasant enough as a weekday diversion.
B- / $20 / hechtbannier.com
Edmeades is a Mendocino-based part of the Jackson Family Vineyards empire, with a heavy focus on zinfandel. (Nay, an almost exclusive focus on zinfandel.)
Today we look at three of Edmeades’ single-vineyard expressions of the grape, all from the 2013 vintage.
2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino Ridge Perli Vineyards – Heavily fruit forward, this is a traditional zin with all the trimmings. Raisiny fruit? Yes. Notes of chocolate? Yes. Somewhat flabby body with a lengthy finish that shows off some vegetal overtones? That too. Overtones of caramel and blackberries add a little to the experience, but not enough to elevate this out of the rank and file. B / $31
2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County Shamrock Vineyard – The raw and jammy fruit notes find some balance in the form of slightly sour balsamic notes, which really kick up as the lengthy, slightly chalky finish emerges. Old World in structure, this wine still suffers from a somewhat flabby body, but it’s engaging and intriguing enough to merit some exploration. B- / $31
2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County Gianoli Vineyard – Sizable chocolate notes, along with notes of licorice and cloves, given this zin some character, but it doesn’t always fit perfectly with the densely fruity core, which is lush with berries and plum jam. Again, a rather unctuous and flabby body makes this less refreshing than one might like, though its complexities are interesting enough to merit a glass or two. B+ / $35
Another Provence-sourced rose, in quite a distinctive bottle.
There’s not a lot to write home about with this bottling, which muddies its floral aromas with notes of canned vegetables and chlorine. The palate is thin, almost watery at times, offering very mild strawberry notes alongside some notes of perfumed orange blossoms. Again though, the finish is weak and short, though ultimately quite harmless.
Aka Vie Vite.
B- / $17 / vievite.com
You will not stop Francis Ford Coppola from pumping out wines. The man directed The Godfather, for Pete’s sake. Four new wines — all from the 2014 vintage — are on tap for review in mid-2016. Let’s dig in..
2014 Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Chardonnay Sonoma County – Oak and butter, nothing surprising here, but some notes of green figs and banana give this otherwise straightforward bottling at least a little something to hang on to. The finish ends up a bit on the sweet side, however. B- / $15
2014 Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Chardonnay Russian River Valley – A higher-end bottling and a much different wine than the above — quite dry and herbal, with notes of melon complementing a more gentle pear character on the palate. The lengthy finish offers up some of chardonnay’s characteristic buttery sweetness, but keeps things restrained and balanced. B+ / $20
2014 Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – Surprisingly lovely, this coastal pinot offers both bright fruit and more sultry notes of licorice, wet earth, and mushroom to add complexity and balance. The finish remains heavily acidic, with tart cherry notes pushing through everything. A great value bottling. A- / $20
2014 Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – A very gentle pinot, uncharacteristic of the Russian River, with notes of restrained cherry, licorice, and root beer. The very light body supports these notes, layering in some strawberry character, leading it to a quiet and uncomplicated finish. An easy crowd-pleaser with just enough complexity to make it worth talking about. A- / $24
New wines from Landmark — not just the chardonnay we frequently see, but also the winery’s pinot noir. Thoughts on both expressions follow.
2014 Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay Sonoma County – Robust on the nose, with an initial body that offers notes of melon and citrus. Notes of buttered popcorn emerge on what fades into a somewhat thin and green finish, its moderately heavy oak treatment unable to rescue things as it fades out. B- / $25
2014 Landmark Vineyards Overlook Pinot Noir – 53% Sonoma, 39% Mendocino, 8% San Benito County. Significant crystallized deposits in this bottle. A little vanilla breaks up the relatively dense mix of cherry, currant, and fig fruitiness before giving way to a lightly sour-bitter finish. Relatively heavy for Landmark, but not unpleasantly so. B+ / $20