The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2014

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Benziger Signaterra 2012 Pinot Noir, Bella Luna Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($49) Exceptionally luxurious, with ripe plum, black cherry, clove and cinnamon buns. Red licorice coats the back of the mouth while a tart cranberry edges in. Rooibos tea is the bearer of subtle tannins. What a glam star—and it's Demeter- certified Biodynamic. 93 SPIRITS Karma Tequila Reposado, Mexico ($45) This blend of double- and triple-distilled 100% blue agave is a sumptuously aromatic expression that ranges from cocoa-covered agave to a field of heather. A briny splash of lime and caramel exude from the first sip. There's a tingle to the beginning and finish, and in-between, some darn good karma. 93 KARMA TEQUILA White Tiger Vodka, Russia ($25) Warm and inviting nose of mocha and white tea. The liquid is pillow-soft and yet weighty on the palate. The subtle wake-up call of white pepper occurs on the tip of the tongue but the spread of cocoa, white tea and black licorice loves to linger. The spirit goes through 40 feet of birch wood charcoal filters—distilled from winter wheat and rye and blended with pure Sikhote-Alin mountain water. A stand-out. 92 AMUR SPIRITS LIMITED Tanqueray Old Tom Gin Limited Edition, U.K. ($33) My bottle was numbered 08135 (out of 100,000 produced) and at 94.6 proof, this new "small production" expression from Tanqueray was certainly a palate pleaser. Slightly sweetened and infused with some mellow botanicals, it exhibits a gentle caress on nose and palate rather than a symphony of aromatics. Juniper and peppercorn reign, but its creamy, medium-weighted texture introduced pumpkin, candied blueberry and a hint of mocha. 91 DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA O'Begley Poitín, USA ($40) This "Irish moonshine" is produced by the O'Begley family, whose relatives immigrated to the U.S. in 1925. Locally grown grain (upstate New York) and a small-batch pot still are the crafted ingredients of this grainy spirit that is gently fermented by a beer-style ale yeast before distillation. At 100 proof, it's a hot entry that wakes up the nose and palate, but soon settles into a licorice malty character. First a creami- ness and then a stony edge. 93 O'BEGLEY WHISKEY

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