Moscato – Barefoot Cellars (Modesto, CA, USA)

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  • My Rating: B-

Moscato (NV) – Barefoot Cellars, 8.5% ABV – 750ml., (Modesto, CA, USA)

  • owned by E&J Gallo Winery since 2005, the largest winery in the world (gallo.com[I take it to mean they produce the highest volume compared to any company]
  • 2011 Class Champion in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition USA

On the back label:

“Barefoot Moscato is a sweet wine with hints of delicious mouth-watering juicy peach and apricot flavours. Notes of lemon and orange citrus compliment a crisp refreshing finish. Barefoot Moscato is perfect with spicy Asian cuisine, light desserts, fresh fruits, and mild cheeses.”

  • Style: (Moscato) White Wine
  • Taste: Bright peach-apricot apple fruity medium sweet wine
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $10 – 750ml., sometime in 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: not quite; but good for non-drinkers

Visual: Nicely packaged with a simple yet effective label + synthetic cork. Pours clear light golden yellow with some tiny bubbles in the initial pour.

Nose: faint apple and surprisingly, minor alcohol detection (unimpressive) (lvl-2)-pungency

Attack: incoming sweet apple fruitiness

Mid-palate: (lvl-6)-fruity sweetness, alcohol bitterness, medium tangy, (MAIN) peach/apricot, pear/apple

Finish: residual fruity sugars (not cloying), light tart, fruity crisp yet short/succinct finish.

Summary: It has an extremely approachable and lively fruit orchard fruit character. Although it doesn’t have much length, carry or complexity, it’s drinkability and inexpensive price tag mean that I would recommend you to try it at least once.

Rain Organics Vodka (Frankfort, KY, USA)

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  • My Rating: A

Rain Organics Vodka, 40% ABV – 750ml., (Frankfort, KY, USA)

  • produced in Kentucky, also where most of world’s Bourbon is made (which is made from at least 51% corn)

on the back label:

“Rain is handmade from organic white corn and is distilled 7 times for exceptional taste and smoothness. Rain is all natural…Rain Renews.”

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  • Style: (corn) Vodka
  • Taste: creamy buttery popcorn with minerality
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores (no longer available, 3/2014)
  • How much: $50 – 750ml., sometime in 2011 (?)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to mixologists: yes

Visual: Bottled in a unique-looking and partially frosted glass, which is pleasing to pour as well as to put on your liquor shelf. Topped with a plastic + synthetic cork stopper. Pours crystal clear with tiny droplets clinging to the side of the glass when swirled.

Nose: buttery (almost like popcorn), light-med nasal tingliness, light-med SOFT nasal burn. (Rating: A)

Sensations: silky texture -> (lvl-3) sweetness -> soft/rounded med-high throat warmth -> dry spicy finish

Flavours: simple syrup, buttered popcorn, minerality, plasticky

Summary: This vodka has an extremely unique buttery taste compared to grain/potato vodkas. Supremely smooth with just enough warmth and sweetness, this would be an excellent mixer and sipper.

Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream (Dublin, Ireland)

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  • My Rating: D+

Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream, 17% ABV – 750ml., (Dublin, Ireland)

on the back label:

“Baileys with a hint of mint chocolate is crafted with care from fresh Irish cream, the finest spirits and Irish whiskey”

Ingredients: cream, sugar, alcohol, maltodextrin, modified milk ingredients, natural and artificial flavours, Irish whiskey, colour, glycerol monostearate, sodium citrate.

  • Style: (mint chocolate) Flavoured Irish Cream
  • Taste: creamy sweet milked Irish whiskey with mild chocolate subtle mint
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores (no longer available, 3/2014)
  • How much: $29 – 750ml., sometime in 2010 (?)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to mixologists: nah, it’s nothing special

Visual: (Note, this is already way, way beyond it’s best before date of 11/2011, but what the hell, in the name of Science! Actually in the name of never buying another cream liqueur ever again.Pours milky light brown, thicker than milk viscosity.

Nose: a pleasant sweet milky cream with a faint dose of whiskey (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: thick and creamy viscosity

Mid-palate: quickly detected med-high alcoholic heat -> (lvl-8)-sweetness + alcohol bitterness, (MAIN) Irish whiskey, creamy milk, but slightly chunky, chocolate

Finish: mild minty finish with alcoholic detection and aggressive warmth.

Summary: As a sipper, I find the Irish whiskey part to be overbearing with its excessive heat, especially up front-to-mid. The ‘mint chocolate’ aspect is doesn’t quite shine through, but it is a decent twist if you are already sick of regular Baileys. I can’t say I would buy this again as it took me 3 years to finally finish this. Please note that YOU SHOULD THROW OUT OLD CREAM LIQUEURS as they have cream in them, and they SHOULD BE REFRIGERATED AFTER OPENING. (I sure hope I don’t get sick..)

In a cocktail: 50/50 coffee + baileys + whipped cream. The heat of the Irish whiskey again is prominent and doesn’t quite equal a smooth drink.

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Passion Fruit Wine Spritz – Pomula (Wellington, South Africa)

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  • My Rating: C-

Pomula Passion Fruit Wine Spritz, 5.5% ABV – 750ml., (Wellington, South Africa)

on the back label:

“POMULA Wine Spritz is a  blend of crisp white wine, fruit juice and yellow passion fruit flavours. This intriguing combination results in a delightfully aromatic wine with juicy citrus and tropical fruit flavours, that is perfect for any occasion”

Ingredients: wine, fruit juice, water, grape concentrate, flavours, carbon dioxide.

  • Style: (passion fruit) Flavoured White Wine
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Liquor Depot @ Cambie
  • How much: $10 – 750ml., January 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: no, it’s more for casual drinkers

Visual: The back label is almost illegible with its white font on a bright green label. Screw-top cap. Pours light golden yellow with spread out bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.

Nose: A clean tropical fruit Riesling nose, with extra bright passion fruit (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: incoming dense fruitiness with some sugar

Mid-palate: (lvl-4)-fruity sweetness, (MAIN) white grape, club soda, *hint* passion fruit (quickly dissipates), apple

Finish: watery-thin mouthfeel, off-dry club soda palate tingly finish.

Summary: This drinks like a cheap white wine + club soda mixed spritz with some flavouring, which it is at $10. It’s extremely drinkable at 5.5% ABV but you don’t get much in terms of depth or complexity.

Flora Rustica – Upright Brewing (Portland, OR, USA)

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  • My Rating: A-

Flora Rustica – Upright Brewing, 5.1% ABV – 1 pt. 9.4 fl.oz., (Portland, OR, USA)

from ratebeer.com:

“Flora Rustica is a Northwest-style saison that use yarrow (left) and calendula flowers (right) along with a handful of our favorite Oregon grown hops to produce a strongly aromatic beer. It’s very sparking and dry and makes an excellent aperitif as well as an interesting companion for certain foods like herbaceous and bitter salads or strong and fatty fish like mackerel.”

  • Style: (yarrow, calendula flavoured) Saison
  • Taste: Lager-like barley malt sweet citrus-chamomile
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $11 (after 10% off) – 1 pt. 9.4 fl.oz., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: (I saw the two unique ingredients and immediately put it in my shopping basket.) Pours almost clear golden marmalade yellow with a MASSIVE long-lasting head, huge creamy retention, sporadic thick sticky lacing, tons and tons of activity.

Nose: Chamomile-floral light honeyed malts (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: fizzy-tingly mouthfeel, crisp bite

Mid-palate: (lvl-6)-sweetness, (MAIN) lager-barley malt, citrus chamomile, pepper, grassy-straw

Finish: burpy, subtle bitter hops, semi-sweet finish.

Summary: This drinks like a full-bodied lager that has been kicked up several notches. It has an evolved crisp-sweet barley malt profile with subtle floral nuances. Fantastic.

Amarillo – Brouwerij De Molen (Bodegraven, Netherlands)

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  • My Rating: A

Amarillo – Brouwerij De Molen, 9.2% ABV – 33cl., (Bodegraven, Netherlands)

Ingredients: water, pale and caramel barley malts, sladek and saaz hops, dryhopped with amarillo hop, yeast (top fermenting).

  • Style: Imperial IPA
  • Taste: Creamy sweet caramel-toffee malts, with stonefruit/grapefruit bittersweet hops
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $5 (after 10% off) – 33cl., July 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Plain label. Basically, you only know of their awesomeness after you’ve tried one of their beers. Pours translucent caramel brown with a small dissipating creamy head, sticky lacing, decent layer of retention, lots of micro bubbly streams.

Nose: Sweet caramel vanilla malts with just a touch of ocean water fishiness (perhaps my imagination..) (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: creamy-silky yet thick viscosity

Mid-palate: creamy texture, (lvl-8)-fruity sweetness, (MAIN) sweet caramel malts, bright fruity stonefruit/sweet grapefruit hybrid *hint* coriander

Finish: grassy-lemon, fruity malted, soft bitter hopped sweet finish.

Summary: This is a sweet beer, but it has such a creamy texture with a strong malt backbone a soft hopped finish that it balances out blissfully. A top notch De Molen beer.

Tillicum Hopped Cider – Sea Cider (Victoria, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: B-

Tillicum Hopped Cider – Sea Cider , 9.0% ABV – 750ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Greetings friend! ‘Tillicum’ is a friend informal greeting used among some First Nations in the Pacific Northwest. We think it’s the perfect name for our hopped cider, which is best enjoyed informally with friends. A cider infused with a special blend of hops, including fresh hops from our farm, Tillicum provides big, hop-forward aroma and bright citrus flavours to match. To our friends, we raise a glass of Tillicum!”

  • Style: (hopped) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Woody apple-lemon sour hopped cider
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $17 (after 10% off) – 750ml., October 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: yes

Visual: Bottled in a clear bail top bottle. Pours clear golden yellow with initial fizz, no head, a only a few singular active streams.

Nose: woody tangy apple, underlying lemon citrus tang (Smells inviting) (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: tingly-fizzy mouthfeel, incoming sourness

Mid-palate: medium sour-tang, gentle (lvl-4) fruity sweetness, (MAIN) lemon, woody apple, citrus hops

Finish: almost vanilla, semi-sweet fruity hopped apple finish.

Summary: Although not visually pleasing, the flavour profile of fruity apple to a lemon-citrusy hopped finish is quite pleasant.Way better than the local Hoptimized Apple Cider (D) I had a couple of days ago.