Thursday, April 29, 2010

Scoreboard: Angel's Share 2, DJ 0

Time flies. The day has come again for me to evacuate the liquor from my small barrel and see what's what.

In the barrel this time was 2L of Cruzan Estate Light rum. What has come out of the barrel is a rum that's darker in color (big surprise!) and its aroma, as I expected, smells highly of wood. But wait a second... why is the rum gone??? Where did my rum go? Damn those angels... the angel's share is certainly a mighty opponent, I've come to learn. It's official: aging things in this barrel for about 5 months tends to yield results that are less than half of the original volume. It's time to taste the rum!

Cruzan Estate Light, at-home aged


Mostly of wood, though it doesn't taste of whiskey, which I feared. There's not much smoke either, like I predicted. What we have here is an aroma mostly of dry wood, with a little rum seeping through.


Honestly, this stuff is fantastic. It's certainly doesn't taste much like a traditional rum. Most of the rum's original flavor is gone... pummeled by the wood. [insert dirty joke here] Much like its aroma, only the slightest rum taste remains as a base, and atop it is a full woody flavor that manages to taste completely of itself, and barely smokey. Although "dry" and "sweet" tend to be opposing terms in the world of wine and spirits, this result manages to be both. The intense woodiness of this stuff lends a very dry mouth feel that's almost bitter, but at the end of sip there's a glorious sweetness that rests and spreads on the tongue. Quite honestly, I don't know where the sweetness came from: this seems sweeter than the Cruzan source material, and I don't think that there would be any sweetness in the barrel. Perhaps the enormous loss of rum via evaporation has concentrated what sugars were there. All I know is that this result is excellent, and I'm very pleased with it.

That next passenger for this barrel is a mixture of grape spirits. I've put in 1 liter of Ansac VS cognac, which is one of the best brandy values I know. It's on the fruity side, with a deep flavor and a sweet finish. Then I poured 750mL of Machu Pisco. Pisco is distilled from grapes like brandy, but is aged less for a more vegetal and spicy taste. Its aroma and flavor are fruity... it almost smells like apple juice to me. I chose to add pisco so that the overall contents of the barrel wasn't too old before I began to age it even more. The resulting mixture had the darkness of a younger gold rum, and I'm ok with that. Oh yeah, and I also added about 200mL of 190 proof grain alcohol... call it my desperate swipe at the angel's share.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not Booze: New Mountain Dew Flavors

Truth be told, my passion for booze started when I was of the age 21, and not before. (no, really...) Before that age (which admittedly wasn't that long ago) my passion was soda. My days were spent digging up soda news and posting on soda forums. Today, I still enjoy a good soda, though my metabolism has urged me to slow it down from times past.

Particularly exciting is when I find new and limited edition products. My eyes scan the grocery store aisles and convenience store coolers and instinctively pick up on new colors or label designs (yes, I'm a sickening, brainwashed consumer), at which point I compulsively purchase them. As sad as it is, new products like these manage to get me the most visually excited in my day-to-day life, and the people that are closest to me would confirm that.

The Big 3, Pepsi is always the one that is most aggressive with issuing new products (I've always enjoyed their flavored colas.), but this is particularly so with their brand, Mountain Dew. (The new stylization of the logo is actually "Mtn Dew", but that's stupid so I won't type it anymore) Between Code Red, Livewire, Pitch Black I & II, and a slough of others, the amount of variations on Mountain Dew seem to be endless... and I approve!

Like 2008, Pepsi is running another DEWmocracy campaign in 2010, where they issue several prospective new flavors of Dew, we drink as much soda as we can, and we go vote on our favorite, which then becomes a new permanent product.

The new DEWmocracy campaign has begun, and the
candidates are out for our scrutiny:

Typhoon (fruit punch flavored)

Comments: Nice!!

Distortion (lime flavored)

Comments: This could be a good sign. For ages people have gone to Taco Bell for Mountain Dew Baja Blast on tap, which is a variety of Dew which is exclusive to Taco Bell. Oh yeah, and it's delicious. I doubt this Distortion is the same product, but it's a step in the right direction, as far as I'm concerned.

White Out (smooth citrus flavored)

Comments: This is strange, of course, because Mountain Dew is a citrus-flavored soda. It turns out that this is a grapefruit flavored variation(several other grapefruits sodas are white), which is an interesting and possible good turn for the brand. I like it.

I nabbed a 12-pack of Typhoon to try first. It's unfortunate that I had to buy so much just for a taste, but that's how I react with new soda.

I was very excited about this flavor, because I'm quite the fan of fruit punch in most of its iterations. Unfortunately, this product falls short. I was hoping for it to be tangy but sweet, fruity but still Dew. What the result is, instead: a product that's much too sweet with a fairly dull flavor.

In reality, what Pepsi probably did was very much like multi-brand car manufacturers do today; they use components of one brand to save money in another. Pepsi owns Tropicana, and so I imagine they took some of their bottled Fruit Punch* and poured it into the Dew. The result is very lackluster. I hope the other flavors are worth keeping.

Incidentally, my friend Alex was able to get his hands on all three, and so I shall post some of this thoughts here. Call it a guest writer on Spirited Remix:

I tried Typhoon first. It smelled a lot like a package of Tropical Starburst. The taste was immediately very strong, but faded quickly. The Mountain Dew detracted from the fruit punch , I think. While the flavor wasn't particularly satisfying, its quick fade was still dissatisfying and ultimately left it tasting watered down a few seconds after each sip. Ultimately, I would not purchase it, but I don't know that I would classify it as bad.

White Out was second, and it, unfortunately, does not have this recommendation. While my wife was turned off by the color, comparing it to dirty water, I thought it was actually kind of nice. Like drinking a cloud. Unfortunately, White Out had none of the charm of any clouds I've met. The flavor was slightly grapefruity (a taste I cannot abide) and slighty dishwasher fluidy (a taste that, while better than grapefruit, I'm also not a fan of). Fresca, the only other grapefruitesque soda with which I am familiar, at least leaves you with a crisp and subtle taste. White Out overwhelms you with terrible and never lets you go.

Distortion is the only of the DEWmocracy beverages that I would actually consider buying. It has a strong lime flavor (although, again, the Dew actual does it no favors). "It doesn't make me want to gag" hardly seems like a strong recommendation, but, given what I had just gone through with White Out, it was the first thing that sprang to my mind upon drinking it. It's not great and it's not crisp, but it is drinkable. It tastes like a legitimate soda. Typhoon tastes like an amateurish effort by a recent Soda School graduate, while White Out tastes like God playing a sick joke on me.

So Distortion wins the DEW-off. It wasn't particularly close, despite Distortion's middling score. It is probably worth mentioning, however, that, after my wife and I had sampled each of them individually, we mixed all three flavors together into one glass. It was surprisingly better than any of the flavors individually.

*The only decent picture of Tropicana's bottled Fruit Punch product, which is strangely absent on the internet, is this, and that's even only the label (it's the 20 oz bottle version found in vending machines). The picture is from Soda Finder, a young chap who loves soda even more than me, and you can order your favorite obscure sodas from him. Call him your carbonated guardian angel.