Slivovitz—Our Attempt at Making It

Slivovitz by AlcoholReviews.com
Slivovitz by AlcoholReviews.com

For sure, “true” slivovitz—if one insists on referring to such a thing—comes off the still. The hooch, a brandy strictly speaking, is made through the fermentation and distillation of plums. If additional sugar and spices are added, the liquor becomes a liqueur.

Here, in Washington DC, we have no still to run. So, we took a tip from Cathy Barrow of the Washington Post.

We reduced her easy recipe to work in 16 ounce mason jars.   For clear spirit, we used Russian Standard Vodka, a good vodka.

The clear hooch turned luminous red in a couple of weeks, and after two months we moved the two mason jars to the fridge.

Were we to do it again, we’d lower the sugar used and up the lemon peel and maybe consider pitching another spice.

Slivovitz often is derided as an awful booze brought out at Jewish holidays, but its history is much broader than that. (See here.) Slivovitz recently has gotten some media attention, and there even are Slivovitz festivals in the United States.

 

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King’s Ginger Liqueur—Ha, Told You So!

Kings Ginger LiqueurIn late 2011, we briefly tweeted of the excellence of this liqueur.

Well, now, Jason Wilson of the Washington Post has seen the future and the future holds…. the King’s Ginger. Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/today-st-germain-tomorrow-ginger-liqueur/2013/01/14/719e403a-5aa0-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story.html

 

In the United States, the King’s Ginger runs nearly $40 a bottle. It is a Berry Bros & Rudd product—they are the same ones responsible for the Number 3 London Dry Gin that we loved.

What more can be said than this—it is superb. The King’s Ginger is a full 80 proof liquuer that is not saccharine, shows real ginger flavor, and also has a pleasing viscous mouthfeel. (Rating: Excellent)

Read more at http://thekingsginger.com/

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Understanding the Work of the Cooper (or Cask-Maker)

The November 19, 2011 copy of the Scotsman ran a nice article on coopering. It really gives one a sense of the hard work that goes into producing the vessel—the cask, or in casual terms, barrel—that brings whiskey into full bloom.  Read Peter Ross’ fine article it at http://www.scotsman.com/scotland-on-sunday/sport-columnists/aidan-smith/peter_ross_at_large_skilled_coopers_are_keeping_scotch_whisky_traditions_alive_1_1975590.

Thenthere is this eyepopping BBC bit on robots being used in cooperage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-15909142.  In whiskey, it is always something old, and something new.

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Grand Marnier Quintessence

Liqueurs often are treated as the weird stepchild of the drinks world.  Pity, for there are many terrific liqueurs that rival the greatest of spirits. By snubbing them, many gourmands and sippers are missing out.

Grand Marnier long has had a reputation for producing a superb liqueur.  Now it has shot for the moon—releasing its $800 a bottle Quintessence (80 proof).  Why the high price tag?  Well, in part it is attention-grabbing.  But there also is this:

“Quintessence is made with the most precious cognac from the private reserves of the Marnier-Lapostolle family. GRAND MARNIER® Cellar Master Patrick Raguenaud has carefully selected very rare cognacs coming exclusively from Grande Champagne, the most prestigious growing area of Cognac. He then blended these outstanding eaux-de-vie with very old cognac from the family Paradis, their private cellar.”  (Source: GrandMarnier.com)

For kicks, we served this to an unknowing guest of ours.  He took one sip and pronounced it “fantastic.”  When we mentioned what it was and the price tag, the wind went out of him.

We are quite impressed by Quintessence.  Despite being 80 proof, it was gentle in the mouth—it is viscous, and oozes flavors of orange, toffee, and more.  A drink as good is this must be consumed alone, in a quiet place,  and from a very small glass.  This is the only way one might be able to fully appreciate its depth.  And after pouring one’s first nip of it, one should lock the bottle up so as to avoid the soon-to-come overwhelming desire to have a second. (Rating *****)

Those looking to purchase a bottle better hurry—only a limited number are available, and they probably will go quickly.  These online retailers are selling Quintessence, for now.

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Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey Liqueur

We are way overdue to review this new release.

When the bottle arrived some months ago we thought, “Oh great—Jack has come out with its own version of Southern Comfort.  Blech.”

Per the instructions that came with it, we popped it in the freezer reluctantly and forgot about it for some days.

When we finally got up the gumption to try a slug, we were quite surprised.  Jack Daniel’s Honey is not saccharine sweet or boozy.  Not even when it is served at room temperature.

Although it is an obvious choice for hot toddies, this whiskey liqueur is a treat to sip neat.  It offers butterscotch, honey, floral, and that unmistakable Jack Daniel’s flavor.  At $20-$24  bottle retail, it is bound to please many.  (Rating ****)

Plenty of retailers sell it both at brick and mortar shops and online.

 

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