Subtlety of Spirits

Posted on 08.22.09 9:20PM under Spirits

Obviously, I am mainly a beer guy.

But even the devout occasionally stray from the true path. In my case, that means I sometimes drink alcohols other than those as a first derivative of grain. Every now and then, there’s a partially finished bottle of wine that requires some attention the following day. But more than that, the spirits are known to attract my attention. Most spirits are at least a second derivative of grain…

Back in the Busch Light days, I was a big Scotch fan. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a bottle of single malt in my house. Lately, I’m more of a Rum drinker. I like the sweetness left behind by the chosen form of cane sugar, however subtle it is.

In fact, each spirit has its own flavor reminiscent of the source fermentable, or the process bringing it from the still to the bottle.

Not that long ago, we got a bottle of Tequila for making Margaritas. Tequila has a rare distinction of being a form of alcohol that I actually do not like very much. Something about the distinctive tequila flavor is just not in line with my tastes.

Then we got a bottle of vodka, made from grapes. Gluten free, you know. Interesting idea. Basically distilled wine, which I always thought of as Brandy. But anyway, it has its own vodka flavor – basically neutral, but a hint of that astringent grapey flavor. Unfortunately, I don’t have a plain old grain vodka to compare it to, or even a potato vodka. But bottom line is there’s that vodka flavor to it. This one in particular is very clean. But in the end it is basic booze, really. Yet it finds my favor to a certain, but boring, extent.

But then I recently got a bottle of Bourbon for my Birthday. And it is amazing the assertive presence of charcoal and wood and pitch and raw age that makes itself known in the members of this branch of the family of spirits. Quite nice – in your face – American through and through.

Then I came around full circle, and had a little dose of the latest craft distilled Rum in my decanter. It was amazing the contrast with the Bourbon. So much less smoky woodiness, and a bit smoother, with plenty of hints of sweetness.

It occurs to me that only by having had all the different spirits, paying attention to each, could a person really distinguish between them all. It is a fun project I’m about to engage to sample the various spirits and find my favorite things about each one, hoping to hone in on a clear favorite. The IPA of the spirit world. Right now I’m thinking it’s between dark rum and something in the whisky family. I might just have to choose them both, sort of an IPA and Stout of the spirit world.

Watch out, I just might morph into a spirit and beer blog. As if I am some sort of Lew Bryson. Maybe I can become Joe 750 (ml). It’s ambiguous – am I talking about a big bottle of Allagash beer or a small bottle of Berkshire Mountain Distillery’s rum?

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