Tasting Notes from the Distilleries
Cascade Mountain Gin: A hint of Christmas trees in the nose, and a mild, spicy flavor that washes over your taste buds. This gin from Bendistillery in Oregon has a very clean flavor profile and the juniper berries get a chance to show off.
Classick Bierschnapps: A flowery nose with just a very slight hint of smoke. The flavor profile tells you that it is 80 proof, yet this is a smooth drink. The beer heritage of the spirit comes through in malty tones.
Crater Lake Vodka: Pure and clean, this vodka from Bendistillery is aged for a short period of time in oak barrels. It should catch on with vodka drinkers who like to try new brands.
Germain-Robin Anno Domini 2001: At $350 a bottle, this is obviously a special occasion drink to be shared with the best of friends. Cognac amber color, with an inviting buttery nose. Nuts, vanilla and pepper combine in a highly orchestrated flavor profile. The 2000 vintage was ranked as one of the top five “cognacs” of the century and this one cannot be far behind.
Germain-Robin Grappa Viognier: Vanilla nose that leads to a very smooth palate. There are some nice spices at the end of this drink.
Germain-Robin Single Barrel Colombard Brandy: Golden color and vanilla nose. Lots of oak and a subtle smoky flavor. Is this cognac? How about a single malt Scotch? No, it’s a great American brandy.
Jepson Old Stock Brandy: Made from Colombard grapes, this California brandy is very smooth. The oak combines with floral aromas and hints of vanilla.
Jepson Rare Brandy: A slightly sweet nose and a nice golden color give way to caramel and fruit. There is some wood in the aftertaste and perhaps a hint of smoke.
Jepson Signature Reserve: This 80-proof brandy is a nice amber color. Vanilla nose with pear and apple flavors. It has a silky feel and would go great with a good cigar.
Junipero: This pot still dry gin from Anchor Distilling has a tremendous, full nose and plenty of crisp juniper flavor. Vibrant spices that leave the palate searching for a defining note surround touches of citrus. A memorable martini, for sure.
Mosby Distillato di Prugne Selvaggie: This plum brandy has a very nice nose and full fruit flavor. Perfect alongside a strong cup of coffee.
Mosby Grappa di Traminer: Clear liquid with a slight grape-skin nose. Hints of pepper, almond and vanilla in the flavor profile. This California grappa is pure to its style and a nice ending to a Tyrolean feast.
Mountain Moonshine: This 100-proof product from the West Virginia Distilling Co. starts you thinking about tequila more than bourbon right from the minute you pour it into a glass. It’s clear and has a grassy, agave nose. Hints of oak and pepper come through in the flavor.
Old Potrero Single Malt Whiskey: This pot-stilled rye whiskey weighs in at 123.5 proof, so you get hints of what is to come in the nose. A lovely collaboration of oak and spices comes along with the warming sensation. The rye character is a truly distinctive flavor with a raw edge that makes this whiskey a great drink.
Sierra Nevada Bierschnaps: The nose takes you immediately to the lager tanks at a brew house. The hops are certainly present, but a much spicier aftertaste finishes off the drink. Much lighter in mouthfeel than beer, because the creamy head and carbonation are not a factor.
Rick Lyke is a drinks journalist based in Charlotte, NC.