The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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126  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2017 CATEGORY REPORT Cryal V odka and gin have been on a roller coaster of popularity since, well, forever. Sometimes, this wild ride takes the shape of notoriety. Nearly any bartender can recount customers who balked at drinking gin, repelled that it tasted like pine needles, or others who grimaced at the thought of vodka, due to dismal quality or all those artificial-tasting flavors. These customers' experi- ences were the low points on the thrill ride. Today, we see both gin and vodka making a steep climb, both in the quality of the products and in the resulting positive connotations among consumers. More and more artisanal brands debut in these cat- egories every year, and the time and thought put into them make them worth talking about with the same reverence usually reserved for aged brown spirit. After all, gin and vodka have stood the test of time, and while each spirit has seen its share of ups and downs, both have remained a constant on menus and shelves. They act as the base spirit in countless classic and modern cocktails. It would be hard–no, impossible—to imagine our industry without them. Gin and vodka are here to stay, so let's lift them up on their own pedestals and give them the respect that they deserve. THE GINS AND VODKAS WITH THE DEPTH OF CHARACTER TO ADD TO ANY SHELF by Emily Coleman The Other Spirit of Speyside: CAORUNN GIN Located in the Speyside region of Scotland, Balmenach Distillery infuses Caorunn Gin (SRP $35) with six traditional botanicals—juniper berries, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root and cassia bark—and five locally grown and foraged wild botanicals—rowan berries' (caorunn in Gaelic), dandelion leaves, heather, bog myrtle and Coul Blush apples. Distillation takes place in small batches of just 1,000 liters of the highest-quality triple-distilled grain alcohol. During this process, two diffusers distribute alcohol vapors through the world's only working copper berry chamber—copper trays spread with botanicals—slowly and evenly imparting the flavors of the 11 botanicals into the spirit. If you close your eyes while sipping this sophisticated spirit, the local flavors of the Scottish countryside will transport you to the rolling green hills of Speyside. Tasting Notes Citrus and floral nose; silky and fresh with notes of heather, dandelion and apple; smooth, lush and mellow with creamy texture and unique style; lush, rich and deep. 95 —Anthony Dias Blue 375 PARK AVENUE SPIRITS

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