Don’t let the orange and gold retro label fool you—at $22 for a 1.75 liter handle, Old Grand-Dad is a grand bargain.
It is a Bourbon with a higher rye content than most of the other Bourbons on today’s market, which gives it a different and less sweet flavor profile. Those who drop cash on Basil Hayden Bourbon should know that Old Grand-Dad tastes very similar. (Both are Beam products, and the Old Grand-Dad pictured on the label is Basil Hayden.)
Wine isn’t like a book, or a movie, or an album. Actually it’s like all these things, but not in this sense: It’s nearly incoherent to proclaim a wine of the year. The reasons, I hope, are obvious—the vagaries of vintage release, the logistics of distribution, the need for cellaring. However, we are in the awards season, and so it seems appropriate (if a bit belated) to discuss the best wine I drank in 2013.
A word about what this means: I am not including any “special” wines in this calculation that were either especially expensive (~$64) or especially old (~2005). The point is to anoint a wine that became readily available in 2013, or not too much prior, and that might be finding its way into drinkers’ hands now.
That wine is Montague’s 2009 Red Wine, a Rhone blend from Red Mountain, one of Washington’s elite American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). The understated name is consonant with a label designed for soporificity as well as the wine itself—witness the choice of a Syrah blend when it was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain that received Robert Parker’s only non-California American 100-point score. Not loud, it nevertheless speaks for itself in a clear and present tone.
Although it includes Counoise, a grape rarely found outside of France, this is a New World wine through and through. Fruit forward but not obnoxious, the nose also reveals the alcohol, high but not obnoxious at 14.5%. It is less earthy than most Rhones, but perhaps even more peppery. The tannins, also, are New World, light with crushed velvet. The balance is close enough to perfection. I am finishing the last of my six bottles now, having drunk it with Mad Men parties, steak au poivre, and lazy summer afternoons. It complimented and improved them all.
Interestingly (to me), my enthusiasm for this wine is not the consensus; its average score on Cellar Tracker is only 88.5. I can’t help but wonder if this is a reflexive response to price, for I have saved the best for last: $13. According to Jon Rimmerman, the source for my stash, the long game is a move into the $30-$35 range. And it will still be worth it.
Wild Turkey American Honey: (71 proof; $22) also is fresh to market. It is the most flavorful of the three, with a fat Bourbon aroma and honey playing a distant second fiddle. (Rating: Very Good) Read more at http://www.americanhoney.com/.
Not too many years ago, the price of fine tequila began skyrocketing. In part, increased demand was to blame. Oh, but we also were told that there was an agave shortage. Yikes—might we run out of tequila
Mariposa (60 proof) is an agave nectar liqueur that contains rose oil and gardenia. Mariposa was cooked up by the folks at Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky. Whiskey drinkers will recognize that name—Heaven Hill makes Evan Williams and other fine brands of Bourbon. Whether this liqueur is made in MExico or Kentucky or where is hard to discern—the bottle’s label does not say.
We believe it. One taste of Mariposa and we nearly gagged on the intensity. Sure, the rose oil and gardenia flavors were present, but the sweetness overwhelmed our palate. (Meanwhile, Forbes gushed over this product.)
The bottle suggests putting a measure of Mariposa in a glass of bubbly. That might work. But, for the time being, we are steering clear of this booze. (Rating: Not Good)