TOTC09: The Beauty of Tasting Rooms
While the sessions at Tales of the Cocktail are wonderfully interesting and informative, another big draw at TOTC are the tasting rooms. At any given time over the course of the day, there are usually 3-4 rooms running simultaneously, and there are usually at least 3 sessions per day per room. So when you do the math, there ended up being about 40 different tasting rooms over the course of the event. Of course, not every tasting room is dedicated to one individual brand, either. There was a cognac tasting room, a scotch tasting room, and so on.
So here are some of the new (or particularly noteworthy) things I tried at Tales:
Martin Miller’s Gin is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and Martin Miller himself was on-hand to tell their story. Martin Miller’s is distilled in England, then bottled in Iceland with very soft, unfiltered water. The argument is that the particularly soft, glacial water gives a particularly soft, sweet mouthfeel to the gin. I’m not 100% sure I’m sold on that, but I definitely enjoyed my first tastes, and I look forward to tasting more of both blends of Martin Miller’s (the traditional bottling at 40% ABV and the slightly spicier Westbourne at 45.2% ABV), and getting them into some cocktails of my own.
Xante is new to the US, having been around in Europe for some time. It’s a liqueur composed of cognac and Belgian pears – sweet, with hints of vanilla. I sampled it neat, and the pear flavor is very nice, so I look forward to playing with it in a few cocktails.
Ty Ku is an Asian liqueur blended of soju (a distilled spirit made from rice or barley, native to Korea), citrus, melon, teas and botanicals. It’s an interesting flavor – definitely citrusy and sweet, with a touch of ginger, too. Again, I only sampled it neat, so I’m looking forward to doing some mixing with it. Ty Ku also produces a sake, which I’m anxious to try.
Pierre Ferrand is good cognac, plain and simple. I tasted the Ambre, which is light and balanced, as well as the Reserve, which is aged longer, producing a richer taste. Not even sure I want to mix with these… maybe just sip on them by a fire.
Cointreau Noir is the first variation of the famous orange liqueur ever released. It starts with the traditional Cointreau (an orange liqueur) and blends it with Remy Martin cognac. The result is a sweet, nutty flavor, and I’m told that it’s really meant to be sipped (though I’m going to play around with mixing it anyway, as soon as I get ahold of a bottle of my own!)
Averna Sambuca agli Agrumi is a citrus-infused sambuca. Sambuca has always been one of my favorite digestifs, particularly enjoyable after a large meal. This particular variety was still clearly sambuca (have on the anise, which I love), but with a nice citrus infusion (I picked up most on notes of grapefruit). In my mind, plain sambuca is perfect the way it is, but the citrus sambuca from Averna was a nice change of pace (particularly in the summer).
Of course, that’s only a fraction of what I tasted, and doesn’t even begin to touch on all of the actual cocktails that followed. One step at a time though! Rest assured, there’s much more to come.