Booze Review – Hush Spiced Apple Moonshine


Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Several weeks ago, we received an email from Hush Moonshine asking if we’d like to sample some of their product for a possible review. While Moonshine isn’t something that we normally drink, when I noticed that Hush makes a Spiced Apple version, I just had to give it a try. You see, I’m a huge fan of FX’s Justified, and without a doubt, the best villain on the show was Mags Bennett, a marijuana dealer in Harlan County who was famous for her Apple Pie Moonshine (if you’re a fan of the show, then you know that Mags makes some killer hooch. Sometimes literally). Here’s hoping that the Hush Spiced Apple Moonshine is only lethal from a deliciousness perspective!

Before we get to our review, below are a few words about Hush Moonshine and their Spiced Apple expression taken directly from their website:

Keeping a secret can be difficult, and when it is a juicy secret it might be near impossible. It takes a great deal of willpower and determination, not to want to tell someone what you just heard.

The moonshine business was built on confidence, loyalty and the ability to keep secrets. The most successful Shiners surrounded themselves and their operations with trusted family, friends and associates.

Our Moonshine production is not a criminal activity. We create our product from scratch with a trustworthy distiller and the best flavorists. Hush Moonshine is simply the smoothest un-aged corn whiskey on the market. We utilize a “Secret” refining method that eliminates any and all impurities from distillation. 

Our Spiced Apple is made from clear, grain spirit fused together with genuine apple and cinnamon flavors. It has a slightly warm, spicy aroma with hints of ginger and cloves. Notes of sweet, crisp apples and citrus predominate, and are complemented by a subtle, cinnamon undertone. The warming finish is well-balanced and smooth.

And now for our impressions of this boozy concoction…

  • ABV: 40%
  • Appearance: Looks like slightly cloudy apple juice.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Smells just like a Tastykake French Apple Pie, i.e. apples, raisins, and even a bit of that white sugary frosting.
    • G-LO: On the nose, this is straight up apple pie, i.e.  baked apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, and maybe even some flaky, buttery crust too!
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Starts off sugary sweet as expected but then gets very spicy. Kind of like eating an apple pie with a Red Hot chaser.
    • G-LO: Syrupy sweet mouthfeel. There is lots more Red Hot or Hot Tamale type cinnamon heat than I was expecting. The apple pie flavor is there, but it takes a backseat to the cinnamon. The syrupy sweetness lingers into the aftertaste, but not in a bad way.

The Verdict

While Hush Moonshine is not something that we would drink all the time, we definitely enjoyed it. This is much better than the Ole Smoky Tennessee Apple Pie Moonshine that Limpd bought in Gatlinburg last year. That stuff was way too low in ABV and way over the top as far as sweetness goes. If Apple Pie flavored moonshine is your thing, then you should definitely give this a try.

___________________________________________________

Many thanks to the good people at Hush Moonshine for sending us this very generous sample!

Beer Review – The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest


Old Mecktoberfest

The other day, I found myself on a layover in Charlotte, NC. I had about an hour to change terminals and grab dinner. Just outside my gate, I found the Carolina Beer Co. and grabbed a 22oz Mecktoberfest on tap. While not a big fan of the Märzen style, I thought since it was the season, and since I would probably not get a chance to try something from the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery anytime soon, why not? The OMB is the brainchild of John Marrino, a former advanced water treatment exec who noticed the absence of a brewer in Charlotte and sought to rectify the problem. Opened in 2009, OMB provides the Charlotte area with fresh, German-style beer. The Mecktoberfest is one of a line-up of seven mostly seasonal beers in the style of Altbiers, Bocks and Maibocks.

What they say…

A classic Maerzen style amber lager.  The original Oktoberfest Bier and quintessential Ueberseasonal.  Rich and malty up front, which transitions to a smooth, satisfying finish courtesy of the noble Bavarian hops and a flavor profile produced by an outstanding  yeast strain from the oldest brewery in the world.  If there were a season for beer, fall would be it.  And for beer season, nothing beats Mecktoberfest!.

I found the Mecktoberfest to have the following characteristics…

  • Appearance: Nice golden-orange color with a quickly reducing foam and lots of legs.
  • Aroma: Mostly dough and malt with a little hops and citrus
  • Taste: Not overly carbonated but still fizzy with a fair amount of sweetness on the tongue followed by some citrus zest and a little tang ending with a mild bitterness.
  • ABV: 5.4%

The Mecktoberfest was very easy drinking … had I a longer layover, this might have been a dangerous stop with another 22oz glass or two (or three) on the horizon. I’m still not a fan of the Märzen style, but the quality of this attempt really came through in the finished product. Now, I wish I found myself with a little time in Charlotte to try the OMB’s Bauern Bock (the Thanksgiving release) or the Yule Bock (at Christmas).

Whisky Review – SIA Scotch Whisky


SIA Scotch Whisky

We’ve all had our “Aha!” moment with whisky at some point in our lives. For me it probably happened via a sip of Maker’s Mark or Johnnie Walker Black way back in my misspent youth. For Carin Luna-Ostaseski, the founder of SIA Scotch Whisky, her “Aha!” moment occurred via a sip of Oban 14 (that’s a pretty solid start if you ask me!). While my “Aha!” moment led to a never ending whisky journey that eventually led to me sharing my non-sensical and booze infused ramblings with you on our little corner of the blogosphere, Carin’s “Aha!” moment eventually led her to working with Douglas Laing & Company to develop a blended Scotch whisky that would “appeal to a modern palate” (a gateway whisky perhaps?).

Below are a few words about SIA taken directly from their website:

SIA (pronounced “SEE-a”)  is a new, fresh and exciting Scotch Whisky created specifically to appeal to a modern palate. The striking amber color of clover honey, SIA awakens the nose with citrus and spice and opens the palate with the smoky vanilla crunch of a crème brulée. The finish is long, smooth and refreshing with hints of hazelnut and toffee.

SIA is distilled in Scotland and matured, blended and bottled by third-generation crafters Douglas Laing & Co., Ltd. from a perfectly balanced blend of Speyside, Highlands and Islay malts. SIA is imported by Spirit Imports, Inc.  SIA is 43% Alcohol by Volume/86 Proof.

As many people have inquired, the name SIA means “six” in Scottish Gaelic, which happens to be the founder’s favorite number.

And now for our impressions of this blended Scotch whisky…

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, founder of SIA Scotch Whisky

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, founder of SIA Scotch Whisky

  • ABV: 43%
  • Appearance: Pale golden color.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Alcohol, brine and pipe tobacco followed by a little bit of butterscotch.
    • G-LO: A wee bit of alcohol intensity that subsides quickly. Once you work past that, I’m getting lots of fruitiness of the green pear or green apple variety. Also getting vanilla, toasted almonds, grass, and a very light hint of peat way off in the distance.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: A little sweet with spun sugar and some cake batter followed by a mild, spicy heat that continues well into the nice, long finish. The finish has a little bit of sea spray and just the smallest amount of peat.
    • G-LO: Very smooth with just a touch of alcohol burn at the onset. The vanilla and lightly spiced apple/pear are there at the onset. As you approach the middle, a bit of light cinnamon and clove spiciness makes an appearance. At the finish, you get a hint of smokiness that is backed by the lightly spiced fruit. The flavors linger for quite a while with a bit of herbal notes coming through in the aftertaste.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: This was a very nice whisky. At an ABV of 43%, I thought it might be too “soft” but there was so many flavors and so much balance that I didn’t notice the lower ABV. This was easy drinking and made me regret my limited sample size. Well done!
  • G-LO: I love trying a new whisky with zero expectations. Although I had heard of SIA before, I had absolutely no preconceived notions with regards to how I thought it would taste. So did I like it? Yes I did! SIA is very well balanced and very easy drinking. While it may not be the most complex blended whisky that I’ve ever tried, it has a great deal of character, and I definitely recommend giving it a try.

____________________________________________________

Many thanks to Carin Luna-Ostaseski of SIA Whisky for sending us these very generous samples!

Beer Review – Anchor Big Leaf Maple


Anchor Big Leaf Maple Ale

Ahhhhh Autumn! Kids are back in school. Shorter days and longer nights, i.e. the end of daylight savings time. The NFL and NHL are back in session. Halloween and Thanksgiving. All of that stuff is great, but since Craft Beer is a muy importante subject on this here blog, our attention is laser focused on the latest and greatest fall beer releases.

Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple Autumnal Red is one such beer, and I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am to see that the word pumpkin is nowhere to be seen on the label. While I am not completely opposed to a pumpkin beer every now and again, it’s far from my favorite beer style, so if I stumble upon a fall beer that doesn’t say pumpkin on the label, you can rest assured that I’m going to give that beer a try!

Below is a video about the Big Leaf Maple taken directly from the Anchor Brewing website:

Now that you know a bit more about this beer, let’s make like a kid with a huge pile of freshly raked leaves and dive on in to this review…

  • Appearance: Slightly cloudy, ruddy orange-red color. Thick off-white foam that climbs to about an inch and then dissipates really slowly leaving lots of sticky lacing and settling down to a thin layer that covers the top of the beer.
  • Aroma: As expected, there are oodles of sweet notes coming off this beer. I know the label says “maple”, but to me it’s more of a caramel thing, with some orange marmalade coming through too. There’s a hint of hoppy goodness in there too, but it’s pretty darn subtle.
  • Taste: Velvety smooth texture with an almost creamy carbonation. Not as overly sweet as the nose would suggest. The flavors are caramel flavored malt with a mild bitterness playing background to lend some balance. Not much in the way of flavor transitions with this beer. Straight ahead and easy drinking is how I would describe it.
  • ABV: 6%

In case you couldn’t tell from my tasting notes up above, I really enjoyed Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple. It’s not too sweet, nor is it too bitter. It’s also infinitely quaffable. And as an added bonus, the Big Leaf Maple is an Autumn only Craft Beer release that has absolutely nothing to do with the word pumpkin. That makes me happy. Once again, bravo Anchor!

Poppin’ a Few Pils with G-LO…


The other day, G-LO called to say that he had a couple of Pilsners and wanted to get my impressions of them. While I am not necessarily a fan of Pilsners, I am also not one to turn down an opportunity to duck out of the house … er … to do some in-depth research for the blog, so I quickly headed over for our session. G-LO had picked up four pilsners: The Wright Pils from Great Lakes Brewing Company, the Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing, the Prima Pils from Victory Brewing Company, and the Mama’s Yella Pils from Oskar Blues Brewery.

In reviewing the four pilsners, I found them to have the following characteristics…

Pilsner

The Wright Pils

Scrimshaw Pilsner

Prima Pils Mama’s Yella Pils

Appearance

Yellow Straw with minimal foam

A little darker with more foam and lacing

Lighter than the Wright Pils

About the same as the Wright Pils with more foam and lacing

Aroma

Smells like a typical beer; a little malt and then not much else

Kind of funky; like a glass filled with wet wheat bread and almost no sweetness

Not much in the way of dough or sweetness but more hops

Not quite as fragrant as the Prima Pils but a little more than the first two

Taste

Thin and watery with a doughy sweetness and hints of citrus and hops

Totally different than I was expecting with an almost Belgian quality to it

Nice mouthfeel; not as thin as the Wright Pils and more like a Pilsner than the Scrimshaw. A nice blend of malt and hops.

Good mouthfeel; fizzy with a nice balance of flavors

ABV 5.3% 4.7% 5.3%

5.3%

Final thoughts…

  • The Wright Pils was a respectable entrant but left me wanting a little more. It was good but not great; respectable but unremarkable.
  • The Scrimshaw was an entirely different entrant; it is almost a German wheat beer with big hits of citrus and coriander. It was not a Pilsner.
  • The Mama’s Yella Pils is a favorite of mine as it comes in a can which makes it pool club portable and is readily available in Southern NJ (especially in the sample pack with the Old Chub).
  • I saved my impressions of the Prima Pils for last. This is by far the best of the four that I tasted, and it might be the best Pilsner that I have ever tasted.

Many thanks to my man G-LO for taking time out of his busy day to further my education. I will need to return the favor. Perhaps a pumpkin beer-off?

Booze News Flash: Purple Valley Imports Releases Mahon Gin in the USA


Below is a press release from our good friend Raj Sabarwhal of Purple Valley Imports about a delicious Gin that they have just started selling in the US…

Mahon Gin

Click the pic to read about our #WhiskyRetreat with Raj…

Purple Valley Imports Introduces Mahon Gin from Spain.

Arriving in America for the first time Mahon Gin is one of only 3 Geographically Designated Gins in the world. First produced in 1708 to satisfy the British navy that was stationed on the island of Menorca, Mahon Gin is still produced using the original recipe.

In the early part of the 18th Century, the island of Menorca was a British Naval Port as part of the defense against Napoleon. MAHÓN GIN was first introduced in 1708 to satisfy the thirst of the British Navy, after which Gin became a wildly popular island drink, still to this day.

Produced in small batches, using centuries’ old wood fired copper stills and a long held secret botanicals recipe by the owning Pons family, MAHÓN GIN has become an iconic Mediterranean spirit, and a standard for distinctive world class craft Gin.

TASTING NOTES

  • COLOR: Clear with a platinum cast.
  • NOSE: Deeply floral evoking lemongrass, verbena and dusty cedar, redolent of freshly cut flowers.
  • PALATE: Starts off with juniper, then distinctively floral with subtle spice and lemon zest undertones. Shows lovely silkiness and complexity on the mid-palate. FINISH: long lingering and rich, yet balanced with great freshness.
  • COMMENTS: Uniquely distinctive and delicious, as stunning as is the island of Menorca. This artfully composed Gin makes beautiful G&T’s, and shines in craft cocktails. TERRIFIC GIN….

The first shipment of 1200 bottles arrives September 15th and will be available in select markets. Bottled in traditional 1 liter caneta style bottles Mahon Gin has an SRP of $47.99.

About Purple Valley Imports – PVI Global is a small independent business specializing in world class small craft distilled spirits from around the world. Three times awarded Whisky Importer of the Year, PVI Global has distribution in 36 States.

The Limpd Crew Raids the 2014 Philadelphia Vendy Awards!


 

More Photos

A few months ago (on June 14th to be more specific), I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards at Penn Treaty Park. The Vendys are Philadelphia’s effort to reward the culinary prowess of the under-appreciated lunch trucks that serve the needs of the Delaware Valley. While acknowledging their work, the event raises both money and awareness for The Food Trust. We had trucks that offered sliders, tacos, fried cheese curds and desserts. There were savory pies, pork cheeks and mac and cheese. They offered handmade ice cream, cupcakes and crepes. And, of course, we had a choice of beverages (Grown Up Sodas for the kiddies and Sam Adams beer and Angry Orchard cider for the adults).

I was joined on this excursion by my significant other and the urchins. As we approached the park, my oldest kept questioning why I had received an invite to the event. Despite my repeated attempts to explain that I am an esteemed member of the media, she continued to harangue me and then egged on the boys. Anyway, I approached the media tent and we received our wristbands and then had at it. This was a little bit like banding a family of wolverines and then observing their eating habits. I half expected to see a National Geographic film crew following us and then hearing Morgan Freeman narrating the special that captured our afternoon.

The Trucks

We quickly scanned the layout and made our way to the shortest lines. With three hungry urchins, the Bonjour Creperie truck was our first stop. There, we made short work of the Smores and Strawberry crepes. It was all I could do to keep them from eating the plates so we then moved on to the Eating Light tent for some flavored water and gummy vitamins. Next up was the Smokin’ Tacos Truck. A delicious mac & cheese with pork and then a brisket taco (complete with a wedge of lime). At this point, I explained the purpose of the lime and the boys began to add a few drops like old pros. The tacos were fantastic.

Next, we turned our attention to The Cow & the Curd truck but quickly abandoned that effort as the line was at least fifty deep (and would stay that way for the rest of the afternoon). I’m not sure what they were giving away, but by the size of the crowd, I thought it might have been some cold hard cash. I never got the fried cheese curds (judging by the heaping plates and happy faces, this was our loss) and we moved across the park to the Cheese E. Wagon truck. There, we had a pork quesadilla and some ice cream at the Curbside Creamery truck and then we found some chairs to set up camp.

The chairs were strategically surrounded by the stage, Jimmy’s Cupcakes, The Pie Stand, and the Brotherly Grub (and a display from Martin’s potato rolls who gave out stress balls shaped like slices of bread). Our first go round, involved me taking my children by the hand (well, aren’t they shy!) and asking them what they would like from each truck. My better half and I then took turns waiting in the line for the Pie Stand (the only real line of the day for us).

Sandwich Boards

Jimmy’s Cupcakes had an ice cream sandwich, comprised of a salted toffee brownie and vanilla ice cream and two cupcakes: the Lebron James, a vanilla cupcake with key lime glaze and raspberry icing and the James Cameron, a vegan banana cupcake with maple cream and a ganache drizzle. Needless to say, the kids balked at the idea of anything fruit-filled or vegan and found the ice cream sandwich much more to their liking. Brotherly Grub (not even an entrant in the event) offered a pulled pork slider with pickled pink onions and chipotle aioli on a mini Martin’s potato roll bun. The Pie Stand offered savory pies (Shepherd’s Pie, Coq Au Vin and a BBQ Rib). The desserts from Jimmy’s and the pulled pork sliders from the Brotherly Grub were quickly demolished and then I took my turn in the line for The Pie Stand.

This is where I would insert my only complaint (if I am allowed to complain about such a great event). Each truck was slotted a time to bring platters to the judges’ table. I would have expected the judges to have tasted all of the food prior to the event. Instead, the various trucks were given a warning that they were to prepare their best and take it to the judges’ table. This lead to an awkwardly long line at The Pie Stand (and I am sure other vendors as well) as the truck was virtually abandoned while the gourmands took their potential winners to the judges table. I waited over 25 minutes in a line that did not move in front of a truck that was unattended. I’m not sure why I did this but I was so close to the front of the line that I didn’t want to give up my spot. And, I fear my Pavlovian response had kicked in and I was now powerless until the food came.

So, while I waited, my better half ran around checking out other trucks and when I inquired about the urchins (who, I imagined, were waiting patiently near the bandstand), I came to find that all of their feigned shyness had melted away and they were helping themselves at each truck (even the not-quite-six year old was running up to Jimmy’s Cupcakes to get his own ice cream sandwich).

With this stage of the judging over, The Pie Stand (the overall judges’ favorite and winner of the 2014 Vendy Cup) was now fully attended and out came two great samples. The Shepherd’s Pie and the Coq Au Vin. Both were met with a level of appreciation that exceeded the level of anticipation.  My next stop was The Whirly Pig where I got the last sample of the potted pork & duck confit riquettes and a healthy portion of the braised pork cheek. The urchins passed on the pork cheek (their loss as it was quite tasty).

With the samples demolished, we headed back to The Cow & the Curd stand. Regrettably, the line was no shorter than an hour earlier and we were running out of time. A quick stop at the Oink & Moo Philly BBQ for a chipotle chicken taco and BBQ brisket and pulled pork sliders (boy, there was a lot of pork served at the event). Our final stop was a return to the Smokin’ Tacos Truck (my oldest boy, now an aficionado, remarks “what no lime?” when the taco sample is presented). The Food

Then, as the day was coming to a close, we took one last look at The Cow & the Curd truck, handed in our ballots and made our way home.

Vendys Ballot

This year’s winners were:

  • The Vendy Cup Winner: The Pie Stand
  • People’s Choice: The Cow & the Curd
  • Rookie of the Year: Oink & Moo BBQ Philly
  • Best Dessert: Bonjour Creperie

 _________________________________________________________

Many thanks to the folks at Food Shelter PR for providing us with press passes, and I (probably we, now that the urchins have had a taste of the good life) look forward to the 2015 Vendy Awards.