Spirit Review

Review: Gosling's Black Seal Bermuda Rum 151 Proof by Jason Hambrey

Gosling's Black Seal 2.jpg
ABV
75.5%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller Gosling's (Bermuda)

Gosling’s is iconic in particular for its part in the Dark N’ Stormy cocktail, a mixture of ginger beer, lime, and rum. The cocktail name, indeed, is trademarked by Gosling’s and the two have become synonimous.

This one packs a punch at 75.5%, but I like it more in a dark and stormy since you only need an oz, instead of two, which means more bubbles from the ginger beer since you aren’t adding as much non-bubbly liquid to it.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

 The nose feels very “generic” from a rum sense: white sugar, molasses, baking spice, orange peel, licorice root, and clove. The palate is clean, lightly sweet and a bit cloying. It is surprisingly light, perhaps so because of the artificially-enhanced colour. The finish is light with molasses and light baking spice.

While I like overproof rums quite a bit, this one doesn’t have the richness to match the proof and I end up just watering it down if I’m drinking it neat. You lose a bit of the finish with water but overall it tastes better. With ice, it narrows a bit on molasses and rich spice with a great spice – perhaps why it shines so well in cocktails.

A pretty flat rum. It isn’t really made for sipping the way I like to analyse spirits – on their own and neat. However, it’s hard to shy away from the fact that there is a reason this is so synonymous with the dark & stormy cocktail: few rums do it better. It marries perfectly with the lime and ginger. And that’s how I’ll drink my bottle of this…

Value: Good if you like dark and stormys or similar rum cocktails. Not much going on though if you drink this one differently…


Review: Novo Fogo Silver Cachaca by Jason Hambrey

Novo Fogo 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
1 Year in Steel Tanks
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

Cachaca is a spirit produced in gin from fermented sugarcane juice. This is similar to rum in that it is a sugarcane product, but distinct from rum in that it is not made from molasses, rather, unprocessed sugarcane juice. Novo Fogo is a prime example of cachaca, and is made from certified organic sugarcane in a carbon-negative distillery. The sugarcane juice is fermented for 18 hours before being distilled in a copper pot still and then aged for 1 year in steel tanks.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

This is night and day compared to most white rums. The nose here is very heavy – I expect it turns many off but I love it. I have very limited experience with cachaca – but this is closer to a whisky new make than a white rum, to me. Banana, a rich vegetal character – I do get sugarcane and sauteed cilantro – but also roasted root vegetables and spicy sprouted greens. It’s quite a bit different, but I really like it and it continues to grow on me. The palate is lightly sweet, with some arugula, brown sugar, and terrific herbal notes. Lightly sweet. The finish is quite light and clean, as one might expect for a clean spirit.

It makes a really nice caipirinha, one of my favourite cocktails. The bitterness of the lime perfectly matches the big character of this spirit. It is also nice in a daiquiri, in a small proportion (~1/4 oz) of the spirit with the rest remaining white rum. It adds lots of complexity there.

It mixes really well.

Assessment: Highly recommended.


Review: El Gobernador Reservado Pisco by Jason Hambrey

El Gobernador Pisco.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
none
Recipe
100% Muscatel Wine Distillate
Distiller Miguel Torres (Chile)

I enjoy white brandies, but I don’t tend to get too many of them - however, a good pisco sour is worth getting a bottle of pisco for - and this one, in particular, makes a great pisco sour (it’s pretty good straight, too). So, I might as well write about it!


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

Great nose here, and it touches so many areas - big with fruit (floral grapes, peach, apricot), yet very floral (daisies, sweet nectar) with some coconut, vanilla, and mulberry. In a cocktail, the big fruit and floral notes just bloom while adding a bit of intriguing savoury-type white spirit character. That’s why I love it in a pisco sour!

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: I’d buy a whole bottle of this at $35 just to make pisco sours with.


Review: Villa One Anejo Tequila by Jason Hambrey

Villa One Anejo Bottle Shot.png
ABV
40%
Aging
12-16 Months in Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Villa One (Jalisco, Mexico)

This is the oldest version of the Villa One brand from Nick Jonas and John Varvatos, being aged in ex-bourbon casks for 12-16 months. The brand’s master distiller, Arturo Fuentes, is nicknamed “the godfather of Tequila” and has been at the forefront of the development of connoisseur and premium brands of Tequila for decades. Aged tequila is a specialty of his, and his experience with aged spirits began before his time making Tequila - he used to be a cognac distiller.

This is available throughout the USA as well as Ontario, BC, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Nova Scotia (all close to $100) and Alberta ($67).


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

I always find anejo tequilas so interesting since they take to oak in a way that is so different than rum, whisky, or gin. The aging process seems to intensify some of the core notes without changing them too much, and the oak feels quite additive and subtractive rather than primarily transformative. And that is the case here – the nose has vanilla, maple, caramel, mixed floral aromas, herbal notes (dill, celery seed), and a good kick of agave spice. The palate has woody spices, vanilla, and caramel all carried by a spicy, peppery backbone. It’s a justaposition of creamy confectionary notes and rich, vegetal spice. There is this really awesome plantain-like character at the core, too. The finish is loaded with pepper, brown sugar, vanilla, baking spice, and wildflower honey.

The integration of the oak is great - it’s quite balanced, which isn’t always the case with anejo tequilas which can just be dominated by barrel character. Delicious.

I’m not that big into spirit pairings, generally, but this has me craving big food - carne asada with a rich charred salsa or even steak. I think it would do quite nicely.

And, if you are into mixing – this is great in a La Rosita cocktail.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Villa One Silver Tequila by Jason Hambrey

Villa One Silver Bottle Shot.png
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Villa One (Jalisco, Mexico)

This is made from 100% Weber Blue Agave, sourced from the highland and lowland regions of Jalisco from plants that are 5-7 years old. The agave hearts are cooked for 10 hours, before being shredded by a roller mill and fermented for 72 hours, and then double pot-distilled. This silver tequila is not aged.

After a trip to Mexico in 2018, Nick Jonas (musician/actor) and John Varvatos (of men’s fashion) were inspired to develop a Tequila brand, and from this sprung the Villa One brand which they created with the Stoli group. The master distiller is Arturo Fuentes, who has three decades of making cognacs, champagnes, and barrel-aged tequilas.

Jonas and Varvatos are more than just figure heads for the brand, but are involved in the production and design decisions for the brand. Varvatos designed the bottle and stopper - a heavy, metal stopper. I must say, it’s very enjoyable to uncork and pour.

This is available throughout the USA as well as Ontario, BC, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (all $70) and Alberta ($50).


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

Rich spicy aromas mingle with a light creamy spirit and a nice little bit of minerality that come through on the nose. It’s very polished – clean and pure and quite focused on the core flavours – lemon peel, terrific spiciness, dried peppers, white peppercorns, a bit of earth, and a touch of a sweet vanilla-like aroma. There is even the lightest touch of smoke. The palate has a nice vegetal characteristic, fresh orange, lots of spice, and it is surprisingly soft after a big and dominant nose. There is a really nice complexity to this – you might not notice at first, it’s a bit subtle. Terrific.  The finish is spicy, with light notes of vanilla, tobacco, and pepper.

 Great on its own and perfect for upscale mixing.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.