Spirited Reviews

Words by: Simon Difford

23:09 GMT // 18 Sep 2012

The Macallan Gold (1824 Series)

40% alc./vol.
Producer: The Macallan Distillery, Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland

Released in September 2012 as the first expression in Macallan's 1824 Series it is aged in 100% sherry seasoned oak casks and bottled with a natural golden hue attained without the addition of caramel colouring.

Alongside Gold, The 1824 Series will include three further expressions, Amber, Sienna and Ruby, to be launched in Spring 2013. Like Gold, the names both refer to naturally occurring minerals and metals as well as describing each whisky's hue.

Appearance: Clear, burnished gold.
Aroma: Pungent, vanilla, fresh pressed apple juice and citrus zest with dark chocolate garnish and subtle oakyness.
Taste: Dry cinnamon and ginger toasty spiced oak, smoothed by vanilla and dark chocolate, freshened with apple, zesty lemon and orange.
Aftertaste: Dry oak lingers with cinnamon spice.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5

Dale DeGroff's Pimento Aromatic Bitters



45% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

As the brand name suggests, these pimento allspice bitters are the result of Dale DeGroff's enthusiasm for this previously almost forgotten cocktail ingredient. They are made by infusing and distilling a blend of select botanicals with allspice berries and Mediterranean spices.

Appearance: Clear, chestnut brown with dark golden edges.
Aroma: Pungent clove, liquorice and anise with cinnamon.
Taste: Bitter barky palate with hot black pepper, cinnamon and clove spice. More subtle nutmeg and ginger.
Aftertaste: Mouth drying lingering clove. As the term 'Aromatic Bitters' on the label suggests, this is stronger and punchier than pimento dram liqueurs.
diffordsguide rating: 5/5

Combier Doppelt Kummel Extra



38% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Combier first released a form of this product in the 1850's but it was discontinued. They re-released it according to the original recipe with twice the amount, doppelt meaning double, of botanical bill. It is a combination of 3 seeds, caraway, cumin and fennel.

Appearance: Crystal clear.
Aroma: Cumin dominates with leathery caraway and more subdued aniseed fennel.
Taste: Aniseed and caraway refreshing bite with cumin taking more of a back seat. Superbly complex.
Aftertaste: Long lingering aniseed and spice.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Elixir Combier



38% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Made with aloe, nutmeg, myrrh, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron this liqueur originated in 1853 but was discontinued some years later. The re-released bottle is to the original design and recipe that was first inspired by Jean-Baptiste Combier's stay in prison where he met a Dr Raspail who made a dessert liqueur that Combier refined and improved into Elixir.

Appearance: Clear, pale straw golden yellow.
Aroma: Pungent génépi with mandarin orange and lemon zest. Hints of leather and saffron.
Taste: Sweetened mandarin zest with vanilla, génépi and fennel. Sweetness will balanced by peppery alcohol.
Aftertaste: Citrus zest and fennel.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Jade Perique La Veritable Liqueur de Tabac



31% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Created by Ted Breaux, the man behind Lucid Absinthe, Jade Absinthe and Jade Liqueurs, Perique Tobacco Liqueur was launched in 2006. The name is a reference to Perique, a type of tobacco from Saint James Parish, Louisiana, USA which is known for its strong fruity aroma.

Appearance: Clear pale golden, with some black particles in suspension.
Aroma: Clean horse stables, old leather saddles in a tack room with Lady Grey tea, fresh tobacco leaf and lemon drizzle cake.
Taste: Slightly sweet, old leather briefcase, tobacco and stewed tannic lemon tea with faint soapy note and anise.
Aftertaste: Bitter stewed tea, the last knockings of a fat cigar and liquorice. Fades with stewed sweet black tea flavours.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5

Combier L'Original Triple Sec Liqueur



40% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Confectioners by trade, Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife created what is claimed to be the first orange liqueur of this style in 1834 in Saumur. Combier Triple Sec is still made using sun-dried orange skins from Saint-Raphaël, Haiti steeped in alcohol for 24 hours and distilled in 100-year-old copper-pot stills.

Appearance: Crystal clear.
Aroma: Superbly clean fragrant orange blossom and bitter orange zest with preserved oranges, cooked lemons and waxy notes of orange scented candle. Faint woodiness akin to brazil nut shells.
Taste: Syrupy yet dry. Opens with zesty orange essence, and is quickly develops with a drier mouth feel and notes of Lady Grey tea (bergamot). A steely note runs through the mid palate turning lavender/parma violet.
Aftertaste: Zesty orange finish with lingering note of icing sugar. diffordsguide rating: 5/5

Royal Combier Grande Liqueur



38% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Royal Combier was created in 1910 by James Combier, it is blended from Combier's old Elixir, separately distilled sweet-orange infused neutral spirit and cognac. The use of sweet rather than bitter orange peels and the inclusion or a herbal elixir distinguishes this from other orange liqueurs.

Appearance: Clear, bright saffron orange gold.
Aroma: Pungent zest citrus with whiff of granny's soap with smoothing subtle vanilla leathery note.
Taste: Clean, zesty orange and mixed citrus with complexity added by honeyed, vanilla, génépi and saffron, faint cinnamon and nutmeg. Subtle influence from the base cognac.
Aftertaste: Long zesty orange and vanilla with lingering spicy cognac and faint nutty notes.
diffordsguide rating: 5/5

Jade Nouvelle-Orleans Absinthe Superieure



68% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France.

Jade absinthes are made at Distillerie Combier using original 1,150 litre copper bain marie alembics built in the 1870s and acquired from one of the original absinthe distilleries in Pontarlier, France around a hundred years ago. Jade absinthes are made without the addition of sugar, flavourings, non-traditional herbs, or chemical dyes, their colour derived solely from the infusion of herbs.

Appearance: Clear, pale lime green. With water louches cloudy milky white with faint bluish tint.
Aroma: Green peppercorn and linseed oil putty influence green anise, fennel kaffir lime leaf, and barky liquorice.
Taste: Animated palate with coriander seed, lime oil, fennel and cleansing anise. Hint of naturally sweet liquorice.
Aftertaste: Long cleansing coriander seed and anise finish. Lingering liquorice sweetness.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Jade 1901 Absinthe Superieure



68% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

Jade 1901 Absinthe Supérieure is the second of Ted Breaux's lovingly made replica absinthes, reverse engineered from sealed antique bottles of an original 1901 absinthe.

Appearance: Clear, pale golden with green tinge. With water louches milky very pale dirty green.
Aroma: Delicate green earthy herbal notes with angelica, sage, tarragon and faint citrussy lime blossom. Anise aromas are well integrated with cassia warming spice.
Taste: Slight woodiness to a punchy anise tong numbing palate with nutmeg spice.
Aftertaste: Long, wormwood and woody green anise finish.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Jade C.F. Berger (Verte Suisse 1898) Absinthe Superieure



65% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

The C.F. Berger Distillery was founded in Couvet, Switzerland in 1823 and produced several Swiss style absinthes, the most famous being C. F. Berger 65º degree absinthe verte. Sadly, the Swiss ban in 1910 brought about the distillery's demise.

Ted Breaux analysed sealed antique bottles of this revered absinthe to reverse engineer the ingredients needed to produce this modern day replica of Esprit Edouard Absinthe Supérieure.

Appearance: Clear, pale golden with greeny blue tinge. With water louches milky very pale dirty green.
Aroma: Vegetal, herbal nose with barky-wormwood, allspice, fennel and anise. Dried herbal and slightly musty rather than fresh.
Taste: Dry herbaceous with continuing musty note. Wormwood, fennel and anise with marjoram and faint clove.
Aftertaste: Herbaceous, woody influenced finish.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5

Jade Esprit Edouard Absinthe Superieure



72% alc./vol.
Producer: Distillerie Combier, 48 Rue Beaurepaire, Saumur, France

The first absinthe released by Ted Breaux and the result of reverse engineering ingredients from sealed antique bottles of Esprit Edouard Absinthe Supérieure.

Appearance: Clear, deep greeny gold. With water louches cloudy milky yellow green. Oils cling to surface resisting integration with water during louche.
Aroma: Citrussy, anise, fennel and génépi with note of carbolic soap, faint barkyness with uncooked cut cabbage and coriander leaf.
Taste: Wormwood, fennel and anise - clean and direct with well integrated flavours of cumin and coriander seed.
Aftertaste: Fades with anise. Long cleaning finish. Clean direct flavours make perfect for cocktail use.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

La Maison Fontaine Absinthe



56% alc./vol.
Producer: Pontarlier, France.

La Maison Fontaine is a clear 'blanche absinthe' distilled using 15 herbs, including green anise and fennel in the French Jura Mountains at Pontarlier, a town renowned for its absinthe history.

Appearance: Crystal clear. With water louches cloudy milky white with faint bluish tint.
Aroma: Inviting confectioner's liquorice with green anise and fennel. Clean and fresh with an almost menthol quality and faint lavender.
Taste: Superbly clean, green anise and fennel with peppermint freshness and faint camomile.
Aftertaste: Long fresh finish with anise and white pepper.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Lejay Liqueur de Cocoa Brun (Brown)



25% alc./vol.
Producer: Lejay Lagoute S.A.S., 19 rue Ledru Rollin, Dijon, France

Appearance: Clear, teak brown with burnished copper highlights.
Aroma: Pungent cacao nibs with earthy note, coal dust and faint mocha.
Taste: Powerful rich cacao and milk chocolate flavours with syrupy mouth feel and black pepper spice.
Aftertaste: Long lingering dry cacao with subtle tiramisu and PX sherry note.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Lejay Liqueur de Banane (Banana)



25% alc./vol.
Producer: Lejay Lagoute S.A.S., 19 rue Ledru Rollin, Dijon, France

Appearance: Clear, bright canary yellow.
Aroma: Mashed banana, banoffee pie banana and freshly scrapped vanilla pod.
Taste: Powerful palate, freshly mashed banana and confected banana with faint spice.
Aftertaste: Mashed banana continues, baked banana, penny chew banana sweets and lingering cinnamon spice.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Gabriel Boudier Pink Grapefruit (Pamplemousse Rose)



% alc./vol.
Producer: Gabriel Boudier, 14 rue de Cluj, Dijon, France

Appearance: Cloudy, pale baby pink.
Aroma: Fresh, pink grapefruit soda and real lemonade with grapefruit zest oils.
Taste: Bitter grapefruit zest oils and citric acid balance sugar to remain slightly dry, pithy - even tart. Refreshing - be great served with a splash of gin over crushed ice on a scorching afternoon.
Aftertaste: Delicate zesty pink grapefruit. Remains authentically like real fruit throughout.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Gabriel Boudier Cherry Brandy



24% alc./vol.
Producer: Gabriel Boudier, 14 rue de Cluj, Dijon, France

Appearance: Clear, deep burgundy red.
Aroma: Rich cherry fruit, bakewell tart, toasted almond notes evident from the cherry stones.
Taste: Bursting with ripe juicy cherries, rich and concentrated without being syrupy. Brand spirit notes and tartness of the fruit offsets and balances.
Aftertaste: Macaroon and baked plum evident in the richly flavoured cherry finish.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Gabriel Boudier Marasquin Liqueur



30% alc./vol.
Producer: Gabriel Boudier, 14 rue de Cluj, Dijon, France

Appearance: Crystal clear.
Aroma: Clean, pungent aromatic fruit, teak oil, boat varnish and roasted almond with waxy cherry skins.
Taste: Rich distilled cherry fruit with hints of nutty fruit stone and faint dark chocolate.
Aftertaste: Perfumed cherry and cherry stones with faint chocolate and sugared almonds.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Gabriel Boudier Apricot Brandy Liqueur



24% alc./vol.
Producer: Gabriel Boudier, 14 rue de Cluj, Dijon, France

Appearance: Clear, mid golden.
Aroma: Fresh sun-ripened apricot skins, apricot tart, light blossom and apricot stones with aromatic mango skin and faint spice.
Taste: Cooked and confected apricot with apricot skin, light buttery nutty and marzipan notes. Lightly syrupy mouth-feel balanced by light citric acidity.
Aftertaste: Lingering baked apricot pastry and apricot conserve, with red apple skin, banana chews and cinnamon spice.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Gabriel Boudier Vanille au Cognac Fine Champagne



35% alc./vol.
Producer: Gabriel Boudier, 14 rue de Cluj, Dijon, France

Appearance: Clear, deep bronze polished gold flecks.
Aroma: Floral fine champagne cognac-like nose with confectioner's vanilla and sweet puff pastry.
Taste: Initially slightly sweet and syrupy but quickly balanced by a strong spiritus kick with backed vanilla pod/crème patisserie and buttery pastry.
Aftertaste: Cognac persists with nutmeg and cinnamon warmth . Lingering buttery pastry. Reminiscent of Navan.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5








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