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View Full Version : Expanding my spirits drinking.....



ethangsmith
11-07-2010, 14:46
I'm an American whiskey drinker pretty much exclusively. I don't like beer other than some home brew stuff a guy at work makes. Wine is ok, but I don't drink much. I don't like Scotch, Irish whisky, or Canadian whisky either. All have flavors I just can't get past. I'm looking at possibly trying some rum, gin, brandy, cognac or other non-vodka spirits. My one friend is a gin drinker and really likes it. Some of my other friends like rum and brandy. What's some good ones that are inexpensive to try? Also, looking at my above dislike list, what would be ones to avoid? I'm looking at maybe a bottle of this:

http://plcbusersgroup.org/guide/spirit/130

I'm all about BIB products and this would be a real variance from bourbons and ryes. Any thoughts, comments, or other info would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and I should note I drink everything straight. I don't like mixing my drinks.

callmeox
11-07-2010, 15:02
Paging Josh to the NWA forum...Josh please report to the NWA forum...

ethangsmith
11-07-2010, 17:03
Is this a good thing?

callmeox
11-07-2010, 17:32
Is this a good thing?

Yep, Josh is a proponent of Laird's BiB.

ODaniel
11-07-2010, 21:32
What Irish whiskey have you had? Redbreast is great. I really haven't had too many spirits other than bourbon. I know I hate vodka, and clear rum. I don't think I like gin either, only had it once, mixed. A case of Tanqueray gin fell and busted at work, smelled like rubbing alcohol. Gross. I've only had one Scotch, JW Black Label, didn't care for it, granted it's nothing amazing.

So I guess I don't have much to add. I'm all ears as well, hah.

Some decent Absinthe may be worth a shot, or Chartrousse.

ErichPryde
11-07-2010, 22:27
Absinthe has its place in a good sazerac for sure. Not sure if I would want to drink it neat, though.

As for other liquors- definitely try the Laird's apple brandy. I'd also recommend Zaya Rum for a rum to try, I'm not a huge rum drinker and I really like Zaya.

As for gin? I can't stand gin. I used to really like it in Tom Colins' cocktails, but I'm not sure I'd go for those anymore either. I'm sure someone on here will be able to recommend something, though.

Josh
11-08-2010, 03:16
Yes I am indeed a proponent of Laird's (or Laid's) BiB. It's kind of like an apple bourbon. That may sound gross, but it's not. It's the real thing, not like Laird's Applejack which contains GNS or those sticky sweet "fruit brandies" for fru-fru drinks sold by DeKuyper, Arrow, et al.

I drink it just like a bourbon, neat or with a couple of ice cubes. It even does well in mahattans and other cocktails that call for bourbons or ryes. Here it's under $20, and at 100 proof, it's hard to beat.

ethangsmith
11-08-2010, 03:29
Maybe I'll pick up a bottle then. It's a special order through or "state stores" but it's only $20 so it seems like it's worth the price and the wait to get it.

SMOWK
11-08-2010, 07:17
The BIB Laird's Apple Brandy is excellent. I can't get it locally, but I always buy a bottle when I see it on a shelf.

The 12yr, on the other hand, is OUTSTANDING. That one I CAN get locally, and I always keep one around. It's such a great spirit. I've got a bottle of the 7.5yr on hand, but I haven't opened it yet. Maybe now, I will.

If you like bourbon, and are venturing outside the realm, Laird's brandy is a really good starting point.

Josh
11-08-2010, 07:29
The 12yr, on the other hand, is OUTSTANDING. That one I CAN get locally, and I always keep one around. It's such a great spirit. I've got a bottle of the 7.5yr on hand, but I haven't opened it yet. Maybe now, I will.

Funny, the BiB is available here, but not the 12 y/o. How much does it go for in your neck of the woods? I saw it last time I was at Binny's, but I remember it being kind of on the pricey side.

SMOWK
11-08-2010, 08:13
Funny, the BiB is available here, but not the 12 y/o. How much does it go for in your neck of the woods? I saw it last time I was at Binny's, but I remember it being kind of on the pricey side.

The 12yr runs around $40/bottle. I'm not sure about the 7.5yr, it's not available locally, and this one was given to me. The BIB, when I find it, usually goes for $20 or under.

Bottles of the 12yr usually last me quite a while, so $40/bottle goes pretty far. Whenever I do pull it out, it's always a hit. Unfortunately, it's not 100 proof like the BIB.

DanG
11-09-2010, 07:20
I should like to point out that a proper fruit brandy is a spirit made by distilling pressed fruits, like the peach brandy made at Mt. Vernon recently by some bourbon distillers. It's a whole world of distinctive spirits and a specialty of the distillers here in the Black Forest.

Other hard liquors to look at...

For rum, I'd recommend getting some Gosling's Black Seal, especially if you can find the 140° version. This doesn't cost much more than $20 for a fifth, I think. You can drink it neat and it tastes yummy. If you change your mind and want to try a mix, pour in some ginger beer and squeeze in some lime or lemon (I prefer lime) for a dark n' stormy.

Gin... the only gin I've enjoyed drinking straight is Cadenhead's Old RAJ although it is a bit on the expensive side. I've read it costs over $50 in the States. It's delicious, though.

As for brandy (i.e., cognac not from Cognac), there's an Armenian brandy called Ararat that's not bad for the money, as I recall. There are many fine cognacs as well, of course, but you'll have to pay a lot to get a decent one, in my opinion. I don't much like Courvoisier or Hennessey, especially not the VS. I love Martell Cordon Bleu, but that'll usually run you over $100 for a bottle.

My last recommendation would be to try some grappa or marc (the French name for it). This is a spirit made by distilling what's left after you've pressed grapes for wine. In Germany (where it's called Weintrester) and in Alsace, this is often made from Gewürztraminer pressings which works very well. I also like grappa di moscato. But you can get it as made from many different kinds of grape (pressings) -- and at least around here, it's not all that expensive. So it may be something to look into.

Hope this helps...

Josh
11-09-2010, 08:33
My last recommendation would be to try some grappa or marc (the French name for it). This is a spirit made by distilling what's left after you've pressed grapes for wine. In Germany (where it's called Weintrester) and in Alsace, this is often made from Gewürztraminer pressings which works very well. I also like grappa di moscato. But you can get it as made from many different kinds of grape (pressings) -- and at least around here, it's not all that expensive. So it may be something to look into.

Hope this helps...

It's fairly expensive in the U.S. In Michigan grappas range from $20-$140 for 750 ml (some only come in 375 ml bottles). Unaged corn whiskeys, white tequilas and white rums are much cheaper if one is looking for that "raw" experience. I have never seen anything labeled as Marc or Weintrester on American shelves.

dean_martin
11-09-2010, 14:27
Try the Ron Zacapa 23 yr rum, especially if you can find it on sale. It's a good sipping rum, but it blew me away with Coke. I don't do much mixing and I was a little reluctant at first but I'm glad I did. The taste evolves (yes, it seems to get better with each sip) into a unique dessert-like treat.

Lost Pollito
11-09-2010, 14:57
It's fairly expensive in the U.S. In Michigan grappas range from $20-$140 for 750 ml (some only come in 375 ml bottles). Unaged corn whiskeys, white tequilas and white rums are much cheaper if one is looking for that "raw" experience. I have never seen anything labeled as Marc or Weintrester on American shelves.
Next time you come down for a bourbon run, I'll point out the Marc's to You. Pretty distinctive stuff.

Josh
11-09-2010, 15:02
Next time you come down for a bourbon run, I'll point out the Marc's to You. Pretty distinctive stuff.

I'd love to try some. I do like it raw. :grin:

ethangsmith
11-09-2010, 15:41
This is all good information. I wish I could get more mini bottles of stuff to try it before I go and spend $30-$50 a bottle and find I don't like it. I think I'm going to try a few brandies first. We'll see how that goes.....

DanG
11-10-2010, 02:51
It's fairly expensive in the U.S. In Michigan grappas range from $20-$140 for 750 ml (some only come in 375 ml bottles). Unaged corn whiskeys, white tequilas and white rums are much cheaper if one is looking for that "raw" experience. I have never seen anything labeled as Marc or Weintrester on American shelves.
I highly doubt you'll find anything called Weintrester -- even in Germany, most wine-makers who do distill the pressings call it Marc to make it sound fancier. And considering the dearth of German wines in the States (especially from Baden), it's unlikely there are any marcs available from Germany. As for the French Marc (pronounced without the c, by the way, just to be snooty), it's not as well known worldwide even though it can be very good. You'll more likely find it in high-end imported chocolates -- Marc de Champagne can be found in some great Swiss chocolates by makers like Läderach.

As for the "raw" experience, I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but well made grappa and fruit brandies are simply unlike anything else. The flavor of the fruit shines through and you get the warmth of the high alcohol content (good fruit brandies should generally be at least 90°) without the rough, indelicate taste separating itself out as in the cheaper-made "geists." I don't know the name in English (the literal translation is spirits), but it's when you put the juice into a cheaper spirit and then redistill, similar to a common method of making gin.

Another thing to mention is that, in my anecdotal experience, Americans rarely like fruit brandies. I don't know why. I am American, by the way, and I do love them. On the other hand, the Japanese must love it, because they even make it out of potatoes. I had some at a nice Japanese restaurant in Frankfurt last weekend. I would not recommend it...

Josh
11-10-2010, 03:59
Raw meaning unaged. Even in the best made unaged brandies and other spirits I get a distinct note in the nose. That's what I mean by raw.

As for Americans and fruit brandies, I think it's become into a chicken & egg situation. They're not popular, so they aren't widely available, which means people don't get a chance to try them. But count me as a fan too!

DanG
11-10-2010, 04:53
Ah, okay, thanks for the explanation, Josh. If you happen to be in southwest Germany, let me know and I'll be happy to share some fine fruit brandy with you! I have so much liquor, I really do need to start finishing this stuff off since I may be moving back to the States next year...

As for aging -- true, this is not usually done around here. The Swiss seem to do it more often than the Germans. The award-winning distiller I know from this area ages his Marc de Gewürztraminer and plum brandy (from regular plums -- he makes brandy from 4-5 different kinds) in wood. He sells both the barrel-aged and regular varieties, and the difference is, as one would expect, very noticeable. The barrel aging does great things for the plum brandy, actually softening it up a little bit. With the Marc/grappa/Weintrester I'm not as sure. Some years it's clearly better, but sometimes I like that clean, crisp flavor you get without the barrel aging. It's very hard to say.

I also had the chance to try some barrel-strength apricot brandy that had also been kept in wood as a special competition-only offering. Very strong stuff. It actually tasted kind of like a sharp bourbon until cut down with water.

SMOWK
11-10-2010, 07:31
mmmmmm...Slivovitz anyone?

ratcheer
11-10-2010, 09:58
Ethan, some of my moderately priced favorites are Beefeater and Bombay gins, Mt. Gay and Myers's rums, and Courvossier and Remy-Martin cognacs. I don't like any vodkas except, rarely, the flavored Stolicnaya's.

Tim

jburlowski
11-10-2010, 14:23
I'll throw in Spanish brandy into the suggestion bin.

DanG
11-16-2010, 05:44
I tried heated Spanish brandy once, it was very tasty.

Another rum just came to mind -- St. James from Martinique. It's a brown rum that was Hemingway's favorite. It's not bad, and it's not very expensive, as I recall. A former girlfriend also invented a tasty cocktail with it -- St. James, pineapple juice, and Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) on ice. I named it the Mary Amberley. Kudos to anyone who gets the reference. :)

ethangsmith
11-19-2010, 17:24
I FINALLY got my bottle of Laird's Apple Brandy BIB and popped it open and I really enjoyed it. It was like a wheated bourbon with a hint of apple. I think this stuff would be perfect with a splash of Apple juice or really good in warm spiced apple cider. For $20, it's probably going to stay on my shelf. Now that I have an idea of what brandies are like, I may venture out and get some peach or blackberry brandies to see what they're like!