Spirited Reviews June 2016
Words by Simon Difford
The following are new products we've received and other products reviewed during June 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]
Compass Box Enlightenment Limited Edition Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Wonderfully fruity with pronounced stewed apple and pear drops with faint parma violet and a perfectly balanced spicy oak garnish. [I liked this so much I ordered a bottle immediately after tasting.]
Windspiel Tonic Water
Well-balanced in both flavour and sweetness - indeed this tonic water is on the dry side. Pleasingly fresh with attractive subtle citrus.
Difford's Guide rating 5/5 [exceptional]
1800 Silver Tequila Reserva
A beautifully balanced, characterful and herbaceous tequila with good agave character and faint smokiness.
Nyetimber, Tillington Single Vineyard 2010 English Sparking Wine
An English sparkling wine to challenge some of the best champagnes. Balanced and very fresh with biscuity and toasty notes enlivened by cleansing citrus acidity. Light and balanced rather than deep and complex - it will be interesting to see how this cellar ages.
Difford's Guide rating 4.5/5 [excellent]
Glen Grant 18 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Fruity and lightly nutty with pear drops, apple, cut grass and faint notes of passion fruit. Attractive toasted almond with warming spice. A splash of water improves this generously fruity malt.
Tobermory 42 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Soot, burnt fruit cake, clove and black pepper spice characterise this malt with faint black cherry and liquorice.
Villa Massa Limoncello Liqueur
Refreshing, enlivening zesty lemon with cleansing citric acidity balancing light sweetness.
Long Table London Dry Gin
Superbly clean and fresh. Classic London dry in style with pronounced celery (angelica seed perhaps) and strong peppery spice.
Windspiel Barrel Aged Potato Vodka
Exuberant youthful oak contributes dry black pepper spiced oak, pine bitterness and luscious vanilla to this creamy potato vodka. Fabulous packaging.
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Clean, characterful and powerful with pronounced zesty citrus and delicate floral lavender. The packaging is even better than the gin.
Compass Box The Circus Blended Scotch Whisky
Fruity and rich with white chocolate, pear drops and dried fruit. Balanced by black tea tannins and an oaky garnish.
1800 Añejo Tequila Reserva
Full-bodied with assertive dry oak, enlivening black pepper, roasted coconut, nuts, toffee-apple and cigar box.
1800 Reposado Tequila
A flavoursome, light, easy reposado tequila that's short on faults.
Lamberhurst Fine & Rare 23 Year Old English Grape Brandy
Delightfully light - no boisé or sugar in here - perhaps the woodiness is tad raw and pencil shaving-like but this sits harmoniously with attractive baked apple and mild cinnamon spice. It's not cognac, nor armagnac - it's English and proudly different.
Zeca de Mato Cachaça
Full-flavoured and fruitier than some cachaças with attractive grassy and green apple notes, a rustic character and enlivening white pepper spice.
Daffy's Manor Racing Edition Gin
Classic London dry in style but with pronounced zesty citrus, celery-like angelica seed and faint lavender.
Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Sweet and fruity. Toasty spicy vinous oak perfectly balances rich red apple and passionfruit with faint nuttiness.
Glen Grant 12 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Apple pie and pear with grassy notes and warning spice. Faint toasted almond adds depth.
Glen Grant 12 Year Old Non Chill Filtered Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
A fruity malt with green apple and pear with subtle almond and invigorating spice.
Porto Cálem White and Dry
Dry, fruity, herbal and lightly spiced with delicate floral notes. Appealing notes reminiscent of tequila.
Difford's Guide rating 4/5 [recommended]
Glen Moray Classic Sherry Cask Finish Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
A value for money Sherry Cask Finish Speyside Single malt. Creamy toffee fudge, vanilla with dried fruit, sherry and cinnamon spice with nougat and mild black pepper.
Goral Vodka Master
A clean vodka made to the classic 'Russian-style' (yes we know its Slovakian) with a creamy mouthfeel and faint sweetness balancing cleansing, enlivening black pepper spice. Very faint notes of pine, charcoal, icing sugar and caramel perhaps due to added sugar/glycerine and this vodka's seven step filtration process.
Sweetdram Escubac Liqueur
Reminiscent of Kümmel with pronounced caraway, anise and black pepper spice. Very complex. Perhaps lacks roundness.
One of those unusual gins where juniper is presented with overripe banana notes alongside the more usual pine flavours. Softwood, nutty and new leather notes (we suspect from generous use of angelica root) soften and round this gin which also has faint sultana/fruitcake notes.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary Limited Bottling Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Half the age and half the round fruitiness of the flagship 16 year-old Lagavulin, but some might prefer theirs younger, feistier, spicier and oakier - in which case this 8 year-old is a great way to celebrate 200 years.
Slingsby London Dry Gin
A punchy, classically styled London dry gin with upfront piney juniper and pronounced zesty citrus.
ENVY & NV London Dry Gin
A good value for money, classic London dry styled gin.
Envy & NV Triple Distilled Vodka
A great value-for-money vodka - clean with a soft mouthfeel, faint bready notes and very mild black pepper spice.
Envy & NV Caribbean Rhum
A characterful value-for-money white rum with notes of pecan pie, passion fruit and black pepper spice.
Envy & NV Blended Scotch Whisky
Fruity and spicy with vanilla, toffee and fudge.
Envy & NV Absinthe Verte
This competitively priced absinthe may lack the alcohol punch generally associated with the spirit but it doesn't lack complexity and is a superbly clean spirit.
Cîroc Pink Grapefruit Vodka
Clean, pink grapefruit marmalade flavours with assertive orange zestiness. Faint sweetness balances tart citrus.
Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Red apple, passion fruit and clove with nutty toasty vinous oak.
Glen Grant 10 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Whisky
This 2016 sample lacked the creamy roundness of our 2014 sample. Grassy green apple with cinnamon spice.
John Boy's Sussex Cider
Dry and earthy with good crisp apple character.
Peter Spanton Beverage No.3 Dry Ginger
Don't confuse this with your average flabby ginger ale - it is feistier than most ginger beers with a distinctive meaty smokiness.
Difford's Guide rating 3.5/5 [commended]
Long Table Cucumber Gin
Assertive black pepper spice enlivens cucumber - more pickled fat wally gherkin than succulent long slender English cucumber, with freshening pine.
ORA Hermes Italian Pilsner
Such pronounced bready malty notes and hop bitterness that this Italian beer is a long way from what most would expect of a "pilsner".
ORA Gioele Italian Ale
This Italian version of a Scotch ale is bready and yeasty with grassy hop bitterness.
Sierra Café Liqueur
Lightly sweet, dark chocolate is as pronounced as coffee with toasted nuts, light spice and faint herbaceous notes.
Sierra Orange & Cinnamon Spiced Liqueur
Clove and cinnamon spice predominate with sweet lime cordial masking underlying herbaceous tequila.
Bulmers No.24 Cider Wild Blueberry & Lime
Serious cider aficionados look away. Young drinkers in search of rich berry flavours with fruit tartness - this is for you.
Pimm's Mango & Passion Fruit Cider Cup
Mango and passion fruit with sweet apple notes. Zesty citrus and carbonation counter jammy sweetness.
Pimm's Cider Cup Plum & Red Apple
Jammy fruit with candied sweetness.
Pimm's Cider Cup Strawberry & Cucumber
Perhaps more Pimm's cup with strawberry jam than "cider", and a tad on the sweet side.
Difford's Guide rating 3/5 [mediocre]
Difford's Guide rating 2.5/5 [disappointing]
Pimm's Summer Fruits Cider Cup
Not really want we consider a cider, or fruit cup, or even an adult-style drink. Sweet, floral rich, jelly-like berry flavours.
Difford's Guide rating 2/5 [pretty awful]
Lovo Sparking Coconut Water and Vodka
Subdued and bland with a flavour reminiscent of coconut flavoured cream-of-soda.
Difford's Guide rating 1.5/5 [shameful]
Difford's Guide rating 1.5/5 [disgusting]