My daughter recently asked me, “How do you review a glass?”
Pretty simple, I said: How does it look, and how easy is it to drink out of.
Root7’s new Geo Glasses tumblers merit a discussion on both fronts. Hexagonal in shape, the glasses feature gold accents (or jet black (pictured), as you prefer) on all the edges, which give them a decidedly ’70s vibe. Is this good or bad? My wife says they’re ugly, but I find the retro look strangely appealing in a shabby chic sort of way, much in the same vein as I feel about actress Amy Adams.
Drinking from any glass with angles on the rim is always tricky, but the hexagon is a simpler proposition than glasses with squared-off rims. To avoid dribbling, you need to drink from a corner, which is mildly uncomfortable but not significantly so.
The glasses themselves are sturdy, not too bottom-heavy, and feature a rounded lip that is clean enough to keep any drips from developing. They aren’t at risk of becoming my daily glassware, but they’re interesting enough to merit keeping on hand for ’70s night.
B+ / $43 per two-pack / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
If the Waerator looks at all familiar, it’s because it is almost exactly the same device as another wine aerator we reviewed a year ago. Check out our Aervana review and you’ll get the gist: Aside from some color differences and a slight change in design, the only major twist with the Waerator is that it only requires 4 AAA batteries (not included) instead of 6.
As with Aervana, the Waerator is a pump that sucks wine up through a tube you submerge directly into the bottle. A spout dispenses the wine into the glass when you press a button on top of the device. Functionally, the device is nearly identical. It works just as well, and requires the same amount of cleanup. That cleanup is significant compared to other pour-through aerators, but some users may prefer the solution here.
At $60, the Waerator is significantly cheaper than the $100 Aervana, and that’s a good thing, because $100 is simply too much for what this device does: Slowly pump wine up through the tube extending into bottle and depositing it into your glass. It works well enough — though, again, it is slow and noisy and not a terribly elegant way to enjoy your vino. That said, as with many aerators, when you place a aerated sample side by side against a sample poured straight from the bottle, the aerated wine is definitely an improvement most of the time.
Is that worth 60 bucks, or does a less expensive aeration gadget make better sense? You be the judge.
B / $60 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
Fruity, slushy beach drinks don’t get the kind of respect that craft cocktails get, and for good reason: It’s hard to be serious about a drink whose ingredients are measured in cubs, not ounces. Condensed milk, coconut rum, strawberries, Midori… those ingredients aren’t typically what you consider top shelf, either.
That said, a beach cocktail has its place (if not the beach, the pool at least), and it’s better to make them from scratch than rely on some premixed, corn syrup-infused gunk with T.G.I. Friday’s branding. So here you go. In Beach Cocktails — which carries no byline — you’ll find plenty of fruity-boozy classics, from margaritas to daiquiris, mojitos to coladas.
To be fair, it’s not all slushies. Some of the classics, including the Singapore Sling and the Pimm’s Cup, are included here, though more than a few stretch the definition of a “beach cocktail,” unless you consider a Manhattan to be a nice surfside tipple.
The book contains ample photography – a few cocktails but also plenty of stock beach/pool scenes – which is fine for breaking things up in an oversized hardcover designed, I’m sure, to be kept outside, by the pool.
B / $16 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
It’s the first wine ever designed solely for the meat eater who can’t spell! Turns out Carnivor’s intentional typo is the least of its problems…
2015 Carnivor Zinfandel California – A beefy zin that’s been pumped up with jam straight from the Smucker’s factory. Brambly blackberry and blueberry notes initially smell appealing, but on the palate the syrupy, caramel-laden fruit becomes leaden and simply overwhelming. Even with meat. C- [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
2015 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon California – The maroon hue isn’t a good sign, and neither is the vegetal nose. The palate is blessedly understated, with an almost watery depth of body that masks a berry-driven palate that comes across a lot like boozy Kool-Aid. That may be fine for some drinkers, but probably not what you’re going for at the steakhouse. C- / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
both $15 / carnivorwine.com
Like any good bitters brand, Scrappy’s focuses on natural infusions and uses organic ingredients whenever possible. Produced in Seattle, the Scrappy’s line now runs to at least 11 varieties of bitters. We received two of the most popular — orange and chocolate — for review.
Scrappy’s Bitters Seville Orange – Check out the little chunks of orange peel on the bottom of the bottle. This is a bitters with the focus squarely on the bitter element: Orange notes are filtered through a heavily bitter edge, with secondary notes of clove and licorice filling in the cracks. If you like an orange bitters that isn’t really a syrup in disguise, Scrappy’s is an excellent pick. 47.5% abv. B+ [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
Scrappy’s Bitters Chocolate – These bitters aren’t as overwhelmingly bitter as the orange, finding more of a balance between clear dark chocolate notes and some sweeter character that’s driven by brown sugar. The finish offers a touch of coffee character that could add some nuance to a cocktail. 47.6% abv. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]
each $18 / scrappysbitters.com
Located on the extreme northern tip of the Scottish mainland, Wolfburn is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland, getting its start in 2013 on the site of an old distillery from the 1800s located outside the town of Thurso. The distillery ages in a combination of bourbon casks (of various sizes) as well as Spanish sherry casks — but so far, none of its products carry formal age statements. You can do the math: Since none of this is sourced whisky, it’s a maximum of four years old, probably less.
Today we look at two of the earliest releases from Wolfburn, the eponymous single malt and another bottling called Aurora, which sees a considerable influence (judging from color alone) of sherry casking.
Both are 92 proof.
Wolfburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky – All the hallmarks of young whisky are here. This one’s green on the nose, with notes of new leather, fresh cut wood, evergreen needles, lemon peel, and menthol. On the palate, the pungent character that comes across is wholly expected, the grain taking on a surprisingly heavy bitter citrus note along with notes of dusky cloves, green pepper, and roasted onion. Those can be off flavors for sure, but here they work reasonably well as they build to a burly, if uneven, crescendo. The overly bitter finish is a bit further off the mark, though. B- / $55 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Wolfburn Aurora Sherry Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky – The heavier sherry is evident here from the first whiff, though again it is filtered through notes of fresh herbs, ample wood, and a tobacco note. The palate is sharply sherried, though still somewhat vegetal (though less so than the single malt), with notes of mint (fresher than the menthol notes in the single malt), cinnamon, and nougat. The finish is incredibly sharp and biting, with an even more bitter, herbal edge than the above — quite a surprise, and a bit of a letdown over what is otherwise a pretty interesting dram. B / $60
Rock Hill Farms is one of the sub-labels of Buffalo Trace/Sazerac, an upscale bottling in a fancy decanter that people really seem to love because it has a horse on the label.
Rock Hill Farms (bottled with no age statement or anything else by way of production data) is a rather typical expression of Buffalo Trace’s house style, a rye-heavy bourbon that’s well spiced from start to finish.
The nose features orange peel, oily furniture polish notes, and loads of nutty sherry (or sherried nuts?). A winey, Port-like character emerges with more time, studded with aromas of cloves, raisins, and dried cherries. On the palate, many of the same notes persevere, though those fruitier notes come with a slightly bitter edge, along with some more exotic notes of dried papaya, allspice, and candied walnuts.
All told it’s a fine example of bonded-style bourbon, though it may be an overly familiar one for hardcore bourbon enthusiasts.
A- / $49 / sazerac.com