Quick Tastings

It’s been a busy few weeks, so no time to write obsessively about any one thing. Here’s a few things written about slightly less obsessively:

LazizaLaziza Regular 0.0% – This is described as non-alcoholic malt beverage and searching around the interwubs has found a few pages referring to it as ‘halal beer’. From what I can make out it’s a beer mash before the yeast is pitched, along with a bit of malt extract to add a bit of body. It poured more like a fizzy drink than a beer, bubbling up the glass like a freshly opened bottle of Coke, before collapsing to some beer like lacing. I assume that all the carbonation has been added rather than occurring naturally as there’s no fermentation, but lots of beers are recarbonated and I’ve not seen one do that before…

Anyways, it looks a bit like darkish lager and doesn’t have much of a nose – some malt, some sweetness and a musty ‘carpet underlay’ smell. To taste it’s full of raw malt, but quite thin and watery. It is also quite sour with a slug of almost pleasant lemon barley water. It lingers on the tongue for a surprisingly long time, with sweet lemons turning quickly sour and malty. In summary – like eating a handful of malt when visiting a brewery: useful in seeing a part of the beer making process but not overly pleasant in of itself.

Both Barrels Shiraz Durif 2010 – Part of a case of wine that I got as a thankyou for helping out with the first round judging/initial sieving process of the Born Digital Wine Awards 2012. Anyways, the folks at Laithwaites sent me over 12 assorted bottles which I have been slowly drinking my way through since. This one has really stood out so far – on the nose it had earthy spice, a touch of leather and stacks of ginger, both freshly cut and ground. To taste it was almost like a mulled wine, with ginger, woody spice and sour cherry. It finished long with warm raspberry, lingering spice and a light tannic dryness round the sides of the tongue. Not what I expected at all and one that’d do nicely either chilled in summer or slightly warm at Christmas.

Jim Beam Devil's CutJim Beam Devil’s Cut – A whiskey that I’ve been waiting for since I heard about its US release in summer last year. It’s finally arrived over here and I grabbed the first bottle off the shelf at work. It’s a twist on regular Beam, mixing it with extra spirit that has been ‘extracted from the wood of the casks’ using a special undisclosed process. It’s pitched at about the same price as regular beam, so I wasn’t expecting too much but was interested to have a try. On the nose it had rich caramel, butterscotch, buttered grain and some red wine tannic notes. To taste it was sweet up front and then packed full of woody flavours – cinnamon, cloves, more cinnamon and bitter dark wood. It finished, as expected, dark, woody and bitter, but not unpleasantly so. A decent enough bourbon for the money and one that works nicely in simple cocktails thanks to the extra woody punch – the end of my bottle fuelled a tasty #lastdrinkoftheweek Whiskey Sour.

Oak Aged Mr SquirrelAnother Tim Anderson Joint, this time in association with BrewDog. This time it’s upped the madness quotient in the way that BrewDog seem to inspire in guest brewers, being a dark lager brewed with Miso paste and Sorachi Ace hops, conditioned with walnuts, and barrel aged with apples. I ventured to BrewDog Camden one afternoon on the off-chance they might have some left from the single keg they’d put on the night before and was happy to see they did – the beer drinkers of Camden aren’t as adventurous as those in other parts of London. On the nose it was pure concentrated miso paste – dark, sweet and full of salty soy sauce. To taste it was big, sweet and fruity up front, nicely sour in the middle and generally hugely rich and over the top, finishing with more miso. It was more like a cooking sauce than a beer, but I’ve been known to drinking cooking sauces in the past…

Macallan Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – A sample sent through to me by Macallan’s PR folks (thankyou Macallan’s PR folks!) that I was holding off on trying until we got the bottle in at work, but I got bored of waiting. It’s a whisky that’s already sold out on the Macallan website and which should hopefully be hitting a ‘few select retailers’ shortly, bottled in honour of this summer’s Diamond Jubilee. The bottle‘s quite shiny and they’ve gone for a few tie-ins with the jubilee  – 52% (the year of the Queen’s ascension to the throne), drawn from the casks on 6th February (the date of the ascension), only 2012 bottles produced and released in early June (the date of the jubilee celebrations). However they’re not actually shipping it out until August, which I’ve heard was due to not getting permission to put the Queen’s face on the ceramic ‘brooch’ that is on the front of the bottle. Anyways, after last year’s award winning Royal Wedding bottling reminding people that Macallan really do know how to do good celebratory drams the buzz around this as something to drink as well as collect has been quite high.

On the nose it’s packed with sugared rasisins, Christmas pudding, sweet red grapes, leather tobacco pouches (with sweet tobacco in), old wood and newly polished oak. To taste it starts sweet, with lots of dried fruit, marzipan hints, Christmas Cake and pudding (as well as a bit of potentially psychosomatic burning brandy) and a touch of vanilla, before turning woody, with polished wood turning slightly bitter and pleasantly tannic. It finishes long with more leather and tobacco as well as some woody spice and a bit of sweet fruit. All in all a rather tasty dram and surprisingly restrained at 52%.  Unfortunately I suspect it’ll be rarely opened – a limited edition Macallan at £300 a bottle sits perfectly in collector land. However, with their new no age statement 1824 Range (not to be confused with the 1824 Collection that you can get in duty free) all being sherry focused and replacing their age-statemented Fine Oak and Sherry Cask bottlings in some markets, hopefully they’ll get back in the ‘respected sherried whisky’ producer game again.

And one last one:

Carlsberg Copenhagen

I love the design of the label and bottle on these so much that I bought them – a Carlsberg beer designed in Copenhagen and brewed in Lithuania. According to the marketing it’s all about a ‘metrosexual’ or asexual look in an attempt to draw in those who don’t normally like beer and women… Yay for beer stereotypes! However – looks good, tastes rubbish. No strong flavour and not even that refreshing when served chilled. Ho hum.

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