Review: Diep 9 Oude Genever

I’m a bit of a history nerd, and as you’ve probably guessed I’ve grown rather fond of drink.  I’m the kind of guy that constantly finds himself researching (read: searching Wikipedia) things that I’m interested in.  That usually means that sometime around 1 a.m. I find myself wondering how the hell I ended up reading about uses of gentian root in folk medicine.  I’m rather sure this is how I came upon genever.  Genever is a spirit produced in the Low Countries (Holland and Belgium) from distilled grains infused with botanicals (herbs and stuff).  While there is some debate as to when genever was first produced it seems its popularity grew in the 16th century, meaning this is some pretty old school hooch.  When I first came upon it I was struck by the whole botanicals thing and the idea that this was the predecessor to gin.  Genever, gin—pretty solid connection linguistically.  The whole botanical infusion thing, which supposedly started to cover its crude distillation, also totally gin.  In fact they both are characterized by their use of the juniper berry.  Also present in the botanic bill of tonight’s genever are orange peel, thistle, carob, nutmeg, grains of paradise, angelica root, cinnamon and coriander.  Also, I’ll make one more distinction: apparently there are two kinds, jonge and oude—young and old, referring to age.  Tonight, I drink the old.

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Apparently the traditional way to drink it is to sip it slowly from a shot glass filled to the very brim. The first sip is taken while the glass is on the bar.

Diep 9 Oude Genever only recently showed up on the shelves of the New Hampshire State Stores.  At around $30 and in a cool ceramic bottle it seemed like a decent deal and the geek in me wanted it from the moment I saw it.  When I landed me a new high paying job I decided I’d reward my longings, and hence I bought this.  I’ve had it for a while, sitting at the bar for the occasional sip and curiosities sake.  The cool bottle makes it nice décor, too.  So what is my impression of this age old legacy?  I’m still not quite sure actually.  The flavors to me are predominantly similar to a very young whiskey.  The slightest tinge of mellowing oak and a heaping of soft and sweet malty flavors give this drink a rather full body while remaining very light on the palate.  What continues to surprise me is how subtle the botanicals are.  For the predecessor of gin I expected to be knocked out by juniper and spice, instead I found myself searching for the flavors, finding the juniper more present on the nose than the tongue and the botanicals represented more in an underlying earthy flavor that lingers nicely.  Overall it’s more like Jim Beam’s Jacob’s Ghost than Beefeaters.  But more refined than the former.  The word that keeps coming to mind is subtle, everything about this is there in just the gentlest dose.  That’s a good thing, and rather pleasant—though it requires a dedication to drinking it.  If you don’t invest yourself in finding flavors you’ll find none.  Maybe the Belgians are trying to say something about the way we drink, that perhaps we should take more time savoring our drinks, rather than pounding back martinis like Churchill or Jaeger like some frat-hole.  I like the idea of that, but I’ll continue to treat this the way I have, the occasional glass for curiosity when I’m trying to engage my senses a bit more.  It’s perfect for that—and they say it’s great in cocktails too.

Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins playing together. Much has been made of the chemistry between Lady Day and Prez, long estranged and that one glance Billie gives says it all. They would both die two years later, 4 months apart. There’s not much more to say that the song doesn’t say.

Review: Glenlivet Nàdurra

I had a rough day.   I won’t over burden you with details, but the crux of things is that I was pretty pissed off when I left work.  Peeling out of the parking lot pissed.  Being that circumstances often fall out of our control and all that bullshit I’ve stewed and steamed and leveled my head, but I still feel unsettled and could use something to take my mind off things until I hear the Rolling Stones at  6:30am and need to face another day.  Tonight that something shall be a treat.  The way I look at things there are several way I could have dealt with my frustrations.  I could have had a drink when I got home and let the anger fester within me until I felt low instead of angry. By now I’d be Don Draper drunk and bitter and there would be no joy in it.  That’s alcohol abuse, and by that I mean a waste of good booze.   I could have been destructive in some way or gone out and tried to chop down a tree with an ax.  I could have just remained an asshole all night.  That’s probably what I do most of the time. What I did was vent and let myself cool down.  As the hours have passed my mood has improved and that means that now I can enjoy a drink, and tonight I have just the beverage to reward my Gandhi approach, Glenlivet Nàdurra.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, which no one actually is, you’d realize this is the most expensive booze I’ve had the honor to waste words on.  It’s certainly not because this site is raking in big bucks—I got lucky.  I have a great father and he lets me sponge up some of this excellent nectar he got for Christmas.

I’m no scotch connoisseur.  Actually, I rarely drink scotch, mostly because the scotch I can afford is piss.  Somehow, people who know me somehow still ask me “What are you drinking, Scotch?” constantly.  Usually I insist I don’t drink scotch, I drink bourbon, and most of the time people either don’t know they’re both whiskey (whisky) or don’t know how different they are.  As I sip Glenlivet Nàdurra I am for once happy to say, “Yes, I am drinking scotch, and it’s damned good.”  How good you ask?  Why are you still rambling, you ask?  Well let’s just say that if I could afford this I’d drink it often.  I’d probably even start drinking less bourbon.  The problem, as I see it, with Nàdurra and most drinkable scotch: price.  This bottle is roughly $65.  I usually spend around $20 on a bottle of bourbon and thoroughly enjoy that, and am proud it’s not priced for the elite.  The elite price does provide quite a bit though.  Glenlivet Nàdurra is a 16 year old scotch aged in bourbon barrels.  That explains its sublimity.  That, and the fact that Glenlivet makes a LOT of scotch and know what they’re doing.  This single malty goodness is bottled gracefully at cask strength, 54.2% alcohol (108.4 proof in our words).  I say gracefully because it’s so smooooooth.  There’s a little bite that hits your uvula, but from the tip of the tongue all the way down there’s such a gentle warmth that spreads slowly to your extremities and brain.  Of course the taste is what matters most, and Nàdurra doesn’t fall short.  In fact, after my first sip I remember thinking “the roof of my mouth even tastes good.”  My impressions start off with an almost apple like bite followed by a pear juice sweetness and finishing with something like peaches and cream.  The supple and oily consistency of the drink lingers on the surface of your tongue and every time I exhale it tastes like vanilla.  Yeah, this is nice.

Drinking Glenlivet Nàdurra I feel like I finally truly enjoy a scotch.  It’s still too expensive and a bit too highbrow, but from time to time we all have the right to shrug off our worries and indulge a little—with Glenlivet Nàdurra I can sit back and forget that I’m poor and had a rough day at work, because inside, I’m feeling like a million bucks—or $65.

Review: Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 year Bourbon

If you’ve read through this blog before then you’re aware I’m fond of the work the Russells do over at Wild Turkey.  With that in mind, and some fond memories somewhere in the bleary past, I was unable to pass up when my local liquoria had a sale on Russell’s Reserve.  I first bought this bourbon about a year before, intended for consuming with class at a New Year’s shindig at the house of my girlfriend.  We were all decked out nice as if we were actual adults and I sipped and enjoyed this bourbon.  As fate would have it another reveler had brought Russell’s Reserve Rye and we had a little side by side and chatted and there was much imbibing and 2013 came in with a drunken slur.  My subconscious obviously remembered this fondly, because I ended up buying this bourbon around the New Year too.  I didn’t bring it to the New Year’s jam / failed bonfire / bloodbath soirée I attended this year though.  A note on the bloodbath thing: all injuries were ice related and none were incurred by the author.  Anyways, I drank Grandad that night and New Hampshire’s own Smuttynose (one of which froze in the circa zero temps).  Somehow, the Russell’s Reserve has been sitting around on the bar as décor, and as the occasional luxury.  Which seems to be kind of strange, but also seems to fulfill its stated purpose–it’s called Reserve so I’ve been keeping it on reserve.

The thing is, Reserve is a pretty affordable bottle.  I think I paid $23 for it, which really is just the top end of a daily drinker’s price.  The thing is, that just didn’t feel right.  I bought cheaper bottles and let Russell stretch, a glass at a time over weeks, even though I didn’t really have to.  See, if you forget about price you’re going to think you’re drinking something a bit rarer, more valuable, and naturally want to preserve the treasure.  So while Russell’s Reserve cost me just a couple bucks more than your standard 101, it comes across with a certain sophistication.  This sophistication comes from the balanced of warmth of 90 proof of vanilla, cinnamon and a wonderfully rounded caramel.  You could chew this and get a little oak out of it too.  When that warm elixir sinks down your throat you’re left with a light and rich flavor that my brain is interpreting as Heath Bar.  In the end what’s so beautiful about Russell’s is that it achieved what it set out to do, and at a price that any man can afford.  At its low price point Russell’s Reserve is a 10 year bourbon anybody can treat as a special delight, their reserve whiskey or, for someone with a bigger bourbon budget, this could be a lovely daily drinker.  Either way you won’t be disappointing anyone you choose to share a quaff with.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Years readers!  Let’s hope 2014 brings some good luck, good whiskey and good times.  I was going to review my midnight bubbly, New Hampshire’s own Farnhum Hill Extra Dry Cider.  Then I didn’t.  But it was good, it’s local, and a lot cheaper than some elitist champagne.  Unfortunately for you all I didn’t resolve to write more this year, but that’s okay because no one keeps resolutions anyways.