Spirited Reviews May 2016
Words by Simon Difford
The following are new products we've received and other products reviewed during May 2016. Products are listed according to the Difford’s Guide rating awarded to them.
Please click on product names for full tasting notes and further information.
Difford's Guide rating 5+/5 [outstanding]
Difford's Guide rating 5/5 [exceptional]
Beefeater Burrough's Reserve Second Edition
Dry and spicy with dry oak tannins balanced by rounding red wine and sweet tropical/dried fruit notes.
Havana Club Tributo 2016 Cuban Rum
A characterful sipping rum with rich dried and tropical fruit balanced by dry grassy, nutty and delicately spiced oaky notes.
Duvel Triple Hop 2016 Experimental Hop HBC 291
Despite its heady strength, this dry but balanced ale is all too easy to drink. Retains Duvel's signature yeasty character with black pepper bite and subtle lavender bitters notes.
Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur
Much drier than your average coffee liqueur with punchy espresso notes and very delicate flavours, particularly the orange notes that emerge in the finish.
Sipsmith Damson Vodka
Jammy berry and faint almond and marzipan with just enough sweetness to balance tart fruit tannins and acidity.
Beluga Allure Noble Russian Vodka
Faintly sweet, nutty maple syrup notes add roundness to this this Russian vodka with assertive black pepper spice.
Difford's Guide rating 4.5/5 [excellent]
Olmeca Altos Añejo 100% Agave Tequila
Creamy mouthfeel with pronounced peppery spice, caramel, chocolate, vanilla and vegetal notes.
Corazón de Agave Expresiones Reposado Tequila Rested in Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels
Caramel and leathery agave with dry spicy oak characterise this reposado with is a mere 1.5 months of being a añejo.
Corazón de Agave Expresiones Añejo Tequila Aged in Old Rip Van Winkle Barrels
Old Rip Van Winkle Barrels heavily influence this spicy tequila - dry oak and whiskey, with praline and caramel. At 23 mouths' old this is almost a double añejo.
Greenway Distillers Germain-Robin Absinthe Superieure
Liquorice notes make this complex Californian absinthe distinctly pastis-like. Try from the freezer diluted with 1.5 to 2 parts well-chilled water with the merest dash of sugar syrup.
Helbings Feiner Aquavit
Liquorice tones add roundness to this caraway led aquavit with star anise and peppery bite.
Vulson Old Rhino Rye Whisky
Leathery toasty rye bread character shines in this straightforward, characterful spicy, exuberant rye.
Clean with zingy cracked black pepper spirituous spice and faint toasty nutty and star anise notes.
1769 Madison Park Premium London Gin
Classically London dry in style with a strong citrus element. Attractive creaminess to the mouthfeel.
By The Dutch Batavia Arrack
Forget refinement, bring on the flavour explosion. Proper Batavia Arrack is powerful stuff and this characterful example has assertive fruit esters and spice.
By The Dutch Old Genever
A malty characterful oude genever with generous juniper. Dough balls, pastry dough, pine and buttery chamois leather with black pepper spice.
Giffard Toffee Nut Sirop Flavoured Sugar Syrup
A flavoured sugar syrup that perfectly delivers the flavours promised on the label, "Toffee Nut".
Beluga Noble Export Russian Vodka
Clean with drying notes notes of charcoal and coal dust accompanied by enlivening cracked black pepper spice.
Lowlander White Ale
Well-balanced and thirst-quenching with freshly baked white bread and invigorating coriander and white pepper spice.
Medium-bodied and complex. Pronounced zesty orange and grapefruit with piney bitterness, passionfruit, light spice and subtle black tea.
Giffard Chocolate Cookie Syrup/Sirop
This syrup delivers exactly what it's name promises with rich chocolate and biscuity flavours.
Difford's Guide rating 4/5 [recommended]
Matugga Spiced Rum
Pungent and estery with blackened fruitcake and warming Christmassy spice.
Matugga Golden Rum
Pungent, dunder-like and estery with tropical fruit, gingerbread and warming spice.
Raynal & Cie Three Barrels VSOP French Brandy
At around half the price of a three star cognac, this silky easy-drinking French brandy may lack the depth and complexity of more serious brandies but represents great value for money - even at a mere 38% alc./vol.. Candied fruit, green grapes, raisins, almond, caramel and faint crystallised ginger.
Ardbeg Dark Cove Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Charcoal, coal dust, creosote characterise and smoked ham. This is a love or hate Marmite of a malt.
Difford's Guide rating 3.5/5 [commended]
Kalani Mayan Coconut Rum Liqueur
Heavier, more syrupy sweet and intensely coconut flavoured than many of its competitive set with accompanying peppery rum notes.
Juniper Green Organic Gin
Classically London dry in style but relatively light-bodied compared to other gins - perhaps influenced by the low alc./vol.. A faint musty note impairs this gin throughout.
This "Poorter" is brewed with vanilla and liquorice, the latter being more pronounced than the former, with fudge, chocolate and coffee.
Early Times Old Reserve Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Some might describe this light-bodied bourbon as being tad thin. However, this lightly spicy bourbon is an eminently approachable entry for new bourbon drinkers with amaretto notes, caramel, char-grilled sweetcorn, chocolate and vanilla.
Huana Guanabana Liqueur
A sweet rum liqueur with tropical fruit, zesty citrus and vanilla. Citric acidity balances the sweetness but detracts from the Guanabana fruit's delicate flavours.
Difford's Guide rating 3/5 [mediocre]
Vintage Velvet Chardonnay Vodka
Pleasing creamy mouthfeel and subtle dairy-like notes overpowered by black peppery spice.
Difford's Guide rating 3/5 [mediocre]
Difford's Guide rating 2.5/5 [disappointing]
Difford's Guide rating 2/5 [pretty awful]
Difford's Guide rating 1.5/5 [shameful]
Difford's Guide rating 1.5/5 [disgusting]