Spirited Reviews July 2016

Words by Simon Difford

Spirited Reviews July 2016 image 1

The following are new products we've received and other products reviewed during July 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]

Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
Perhaps best described as pineapple influenced rather than pineapple flavoured, this is indeed a fruity rum with notes of grilled pineapple, flambéed peach, tangerine and demerara sugar with clove, cinnamon and black pepper spice. Crowned Best New Spirit at the 10th Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.

Fourpure Tate Switch House Pale Ale
Perfectly balanced and, as befits the co-branding, this zesty citrusy pale ale is a work of art - both in its brewing and the colourful minimalist can.

Signal Lager
Flavoursome, well-balanced and surprisingly full-bodied, with bready notes not found in your average lager.

Difford's Guide rating 5/5 [exceptional]

Comica Honijozo Sake (aged in calvados casks)
Dry, with apple, pear and light herbal grassiness made more rewarding and complex but very subtle lightly spiced oak garnish.

Filliers 1997 Single Estate Barrel Aged Grain Genever
This well-aged genever is somewhat reminiscent of whisky with flavours of nutty rye bread, linseed oil, burnt butter, leather, clove and black pepper spice.

Hobo East Coast Cyder
Medium dry cider, traditional Suffolk cider with clean apple flavours and crisp acidity. A very refreshing cider that few will dislike.

Five Points IPA
This moderately bitter IPA is bursting with tropical fruit flavours with underlying sweet nutty maltiness.

Kijyo Daikoshu Furudokei Kijyoshu Sake
This aged sake won't be to everybody's taste but is fabulously complex and savoury with flavours of French onion soup, madeira, coffee, chocolate and rosemary.

Koskenkorva Original Vodka
A very neutral, superbly clean vodka with minerality and faint nuttiness.

Difford's Guide rating 4.5/5 [excellent]

Brú Darkside IPA
Four different hops contribute to this dark amber IPA's flavour. The hops are assertive but Darkside is balanced rather than overly hopped with good bready maltiness.

Koval Dry Gin
Occasionally juniper presents itself as overripe banana in a gin, with the more usual resinous pine notes present but subdued. This is one such gin. It also has distinctive lavender notes.

X3 Rose Junmai Sake
Beautifully balanced and complex with delightful strawberry fruit and delicate rose petal over underlying earthy meatiness.

Σόλο Ψακί (Solo Psaki) H India Pale Ale
Rich tropical fruit and mango offsets bitter resinous pine.

Rebel Yell Small Batch Straight Rye Whiskey
Spicy but approachable, this rye is unusually fruity with dried fruit and burnt fruitcake.

Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Wheat character shines in this well-balanced wheated bourbon. Sweet maple, new leather, rich vanilla and dried fruit balance dry pencil shaving-like oak, cinnamon and nutmeg spice.

Foxdenton Damson Gin Liqueur
Rich jammy damson fruit but this liqueur is more complex and satisfying than that with other berry fruit favours and faint floral notes. Fruit tannins and light black pepper spice add balance.

Akita-Fuji Futsushu Sake
Dry and complex with apple, grass and delicate herbal spice.

Fabbri Amarena Mixybar
Very rich, intensely morello cherry flavoured syrup.

Fourpure Beartooth American Brown Ale
Toasty chocolate maltiness, red berry fruit and zesty lemon with moderately bitter pine.

Fourpure Shape Shifter West Coast IPA
As the "West Coast IPA" in the name suggests, Shape Shifter has pronounced bitter resinous pine hops, zesty grapefruit and topical fruit.

Liberty Fields Porter's Perfection Dorset Vodka
Made using spirit distilled from wheat grain and apple with subtle notes of both harmoniously presented in the finished vodka.

Bouvet Rubis Demi-Sec
Reminiscent of a brilliantly complex and balanced Kir Royal with berry fruit more concentrated than sweetness thanks to balancing acidity and fruit tannins. That said, this is demi-sec so a tad on the sweet side.

Difford's Guide rating 4/5 [recommended]

Brú Irish Craft Gluten Free Lager
As gluten free lagers go this is a good example. Characterised by lightly sweet freshly cut hay with subdued grassy hops.

Brú Dubh Irish Craft Stout
Fairly light-bodied as stouts go but pleasingly dry and easy to drink with biscuity toasted malt, coffee and bitter chocolate.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve NV Champagne
Rich dark honey and zesty lemon with toasty biscuit and baked pear.

Koskenkorva Sauna Barrel Vodka
We suspect that what could have been a dry tannic oaky vodka has been lifted with a little sugar. The result is far more approachable with faint smoke, nuts and tar.

Fourpure American Pale Ale
This American pale ale is on the bitter side with accompanying citrus and pine hop flavours, along with some attractive topical fruit.

Fourpure Flatiron American Red
Moderately bitter mahogany red ale with red grapefruit, orange zest and pine resin hop character.

Fourpure Pils
A flavoursome pils with robust grassy hops and accompanying bitterness.

Fabbri Cedrata
Intensely flavoured zesty lime cordial with rich sweetness balancing strong citric acidity. An interesting product to use in a Gimlet.

Soto Sake Junmai Daiginjo
Apple notes dominate this sake from the nose through to the cleansing lightly acidic finish. Very faint lychee on the nose is replaced by distinctive notes of fresh radish on the palate and finish.

Pikri India Pale Ale
This Greek IPA has an attractive baguette crust malty nose with floral hand citrusy hops. Full-bodied and creamy in the mouth with assertive hops, underlying bready malt and faint earthiness.

Koval Rye Single Barrel Whiskey
A rye whiskey with youthful exuberance. Dry tannic young oak with black peppery spice but rye character shines through the oak.

Sly Fox Route 113 India Pale Ale
The upfront bitter hops you'd expect of an American IPA but with distinctive toasty brown bready, almost Ryvita rye crispbread maltiness.

Five Points Pale Ale
Dry and hop-forward but this zesty citrusy pale ale is far from being a hop monster.

Brooklyn Insulated Dark Lager
Dry, bready and roasty with flavours of chocolate, coffee, toasty malt, bitter earthy and grassy hops.

Fourpure Skyliner Wheat Summer Ale
Clove, banana chews and light pine add layers of flavour over sour wheat bread crust.

Brú Rí Irish Craft IPA
Heavy and bready with hop notes that are assertive but perhaps a tad subdued for an IPA.

Brú Irish Craft Gluten Free Lager
A characterful Irish lager with freshly cut hay, creamy sweetcorn, white pepper spice and faint red apple.

Brú Rua Irish Craft Red Ale
An Irish red ale with some English hop influence. Caramel and fudge maltiness with mildly bitter grassy and grapefruit hops.

Difford's Guide rating 3.5/5 [commended]

Koval Millet Single Barrel Whiskey
Oaky tannins, dry cigar tobacco and black peppery spice.

Koval Barrel Single Bourbon Whiskey
Dry oak notes dominate this characterful bourbon with black pepper and clove spice.

Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Pencil shaving-like oak dominates this bourbon while vanilla and butterscotch add balance to dry oak tannins and peppery spice.

Fabbri Rose Mixybar Syrup
Arguably jammy red berry notes are as pronounced, if not more pronounced than rose blossom.

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]

Click here products reviewed in June 2016