Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate 72%

Produced by: Endangered Species Chocolate
Cocoa content: 72%
Manufacturer website
Rating: A

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently took a trip to Whole Foods and came home with a handful of dark chocolate bars. Tonight's selection is the Supreme Dark Chocolate from Endangered Species Chocolate. My personal preference for dark chocolate is a cocoa percentage in the high 60's to low 70's, and the Supreme Dark falls right in this range at 72%.

The Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate has a rich chocolate flavor. There are roasted notes on the palate reminiscent of roasted peanuts. There is some noticeable bitterness that is well-balanced with the chocolate and roasted notes. There is a faint hint of acidity as well. This chocolate bar has a fairly smooth texture as it melts on the tongue, but with some slight grittiness. The finish is fairly long with some peanut butter notes blended with a touch of bitterness.

This is a well-balanced dark chocolate with some great flavor. I couldn't help but sneak a few extra pieces as I was writing these tasting notes. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scapa 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch

Distillery: Scapa Distillery
Location: Orkney, Scotland
Age: 16 years
Proof: 40% (80 Proof)
Distiller website
Rating: A+

Tonight's tasting is my most recent addition to my scotch collection, the Scapa 16-Year from the Orkney Isles of Scotland. Don't let its island heritage deceive you, however. This single malt is not the typical smoky peat flamethrower like its cousins from Islay and Skye. This is a well-balanced whisky with a distinctive character of its own.

The Scapa is a golden, honey amber in color. The nose detects sweet honey and banana aromas. There is also a whiff of aged tobacco in the background.

The Scapa 16-Year leads with sweet fruit on the palate, with flavors of sweet cherry and banana. There is some smoke and peatiness but it is here as a complimentary note; not the lead player like many other island malts. Sea salt and oak flavors are also present here in noticable quantities. There is a long, silky-smooth finish that lingers pleasantly for some time.

The Scapa 16-Year Old is smooth, balanced scotch whisky that has something for everyone. Scotch neophytes will enjoy the smooth sweetness. Connoisseurs will enjoy the balance and complexity. And those who like to mix with club soda or ginger ale should find a good mixing scotch here as well. The Scapa plays out like a musical chord with sweetness playing the lead and peat, salt and oak singing harmony. If you're looking for a high-end single malt to invest in for your collection, your money will be well spent on this 16 year old masterpiece.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Green & Black's Dark 70% Chocolate

Produced by: Green & Black's Chocolate Limited
Cocoa content: 70%
Manufacturer website
Rating: B

I recently made a trip to Whole Foods and came home with a selection of chocolate bars that I am excited to review here. First up is Green and Black's Dark 70%. While their chocolates are relatively easy to find, for one reason or another I have yet to try anything from Green & Blacks until now.

The Dark 70% is a smooth melting chocolate on the tongue with a soft, creamy texture. The dominant flavor of this chocolate is a tart fruitiness, reminding me very strongly of fried plantains. There are also notes of cherry and lemonade. In addition, I pick up a faint background note of roast coffee bitterness that lingers as some of the acidity fades.

The biggest shortcoming for this chocolate bar is that for all the unique flavors on the palate, it seemed like the actual chocolate flavor was hidden. Regardless, the Green and Black's Dark 70% was an interesting chocolate that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Samuel Adams Imperial Series Double Bock

Brewer: The Boston Beer Company
Style: Double Bock
Location: Boston, MA
Brewer Homepage
Rating: B+

The Samuel Adams Double Bock is deep tobacco brown with a tan head. The lead aroma is sweet maltiness. This is complimented by a slightly tart, winy character.

The Double Bock has a powerful bready malt flavor.There are also bitter hops notes, and some residual sweetness. In the background I detect some sweet spice and a squirt of citrus.  The mouthfeel shows a hint of syrupiness without being too heavy. There is a crisp finish that has lingering sweetness as well as some hoppiness.

There is some definite potential for aging with this beer. Beers with high alcohol and residual sugar tend to stand the test of time fairly well. The Sam Adams Double Bock has quite a bit of complexity that seems a bit muted by the powerful, sweet malt. I plan to check back in a year or two to see how this beer ages. My one complaint here is that there is no vintage, or even a "bottled on" date on this bottle. Samuel Adams suggests right on the bottle that the Double Bock can be aged, so it's disappointing that we don't know how old the beer is.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Firestone Vineyard 2007 Gewurztraminer

Vineyard: Firestone Vineyard
Varietal: Gewurztraminer
Vintage: 2007
Vineyard Website
Rating: A-

Some friends came over for dinner tonight and were kind enough to bring over a bottle of the Firestone Vineyard 2007 Gewurztraminer. To the best of my recollection, this was my first experience with Firestone Vineyard, and I was quite impressed with this wine.

This Gewurztraminer is golden honey yellow in color. The nose has citrus and herbal notes, with a hint of fruity sweetness.

The Firestone Gewurztraminer has a tangy citrus acidity and a juicy mouthfeel. Soft herbal notes and spiciness compliment the citrus. There is a hint of honey-sweetness as well. The finish has a pleasant juiciness with some lingering spice. Overall, this is a very drinkable wine that even those who shy away from Gewurztraminers should enjoy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Truro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

Vineyard: Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard Website
Rating: C

The Truro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is a very light, almost clear straw color with a slight green hue. The nose has a strong floral aroma with hints of melon and citrus.

On the palate, the floral notes again take the lead. There are undertones of cantaloupe and green peppers. I pick up a strong alcohol taste that doesn't seem to combine well with the strong floral character. The mouthfeel is thin and watery. The finish was surprisingly long and the floral notes seemed to come into balance with the melon flavors after a second or two.

A few side notes on this one: There was no vintage indicated on the bottle, but I have been sitting on this one for about a year, so my guess is the majority is from the 2007 harvest. Also, I am just not a big fan of Sauvignon Blancs with a strong floral flavor. If this is your cup of tea, then you will probably enjoy this wine a lot more than my rating would lead you to believe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Harpoon Winter Warmer

Brewery: Harpoon Brewery
Style: Spiced Ale
Location: Boston, MA
Brewer Homepage
Rating: B

There's nothing like sipping a spiced beer while watching the snow fall. To me, Harpoon Winter Warmer just tastes like Christmas.

Winter Warmer is a deep, rosy amber color with a golden head. The nose picks up aromatic cinnamon and nutmeg with some sweetness, like a pumpkin pie baking in the oven.

Winter Warmer's lead note is a smooth malt flavor. There are cinnamon and nutmeg spice notes on the palate, but they are not overpowering as the aroma may lead you to believe. The spices play a complimentary role to the malt. There are some bitter hops up front that fade rather quickly. There is a moderate-length finish that is highlighted by the spices with a touch of sweetness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark Chocolate

Produced by: Alfred Ritter GMBH & Co
Cocoa content: 71%
Manufacturer website
Rating: B+

I've been familiar with Ritter Sport mainly from their various filled milk chocolate bars. It wasn't until recently that I discovered they also make dark chocolates. I've had some good experience with Ritter Sport's milk chocolates, so I was curious to give the dark chocolate a try.

The Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark Chocolate has a rich, deep chocolate flavor. There are some roasted notes and very slight bitterness. I can also detect a faint hint of citrus, although there is little acidity to note. This chocolate does seem to taste sweeter than I would expect from a chocolate with a 71% cocoa content. Chewing the chocolate bar brings a sweet coconut flavor to the forefront.

The Ritter Sport has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. There is a moderate-length finish that is creamy and chocolaty. The Ritter Sport is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it does that trick rather well. This has a straight-ahead chocolate flavor that anyone who has ever snacked on a handful of chocolate chips can appreciate.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter

Brewery: Otter Creek Brewing
Style: Porter
Location: Middlebury, VT
Brewer Homepage
Rating: A

Otter Creek has long been one of my favorite breweries. Their Stovepipe Porter is one of the main reasons why. I love drinking porters in the wintertime, and the Stovepipe Porter is my go-to choice for a easy to drink porter.

Stovepipe Porter is a deep brown-black, which is nearly opaque when poured into a pint glass. The head is a dark tan. The nose is balanced between roasted notes and fruity hops, similar to a coffee with high acidity.

The Stovepipe Porter has a creamy mouthfeel without being too heavy. There is a deep roasted malt flavor that plays the lead here. A tart, hoppy zing as well as some herbal notes and a hint of spiciness compliment the roast. The finish tails off rather quickly, but the bitter hops and roasted notes remind me of a good espresso or dark chocolate.

All-in-all the Stovepipe Porter has some big flavor, but still manages to be smooth and drinkable without being too heavy. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch

Distillery: Laphroaig Distillery
Location: Islay, Scotland
Proof: 48% (96 Proof)
Distiller Homepage
Rating: B+

Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a scotch whisky that has been moved into smaller quarter-casks partway through the maturation process to finish aging. By maturing in smaller barrels, there is greater surface area for the whisky to be in contact with the wood. This is intended to amplify the characteristics that wood typically imparts on the aging whisky, such as smoothness and sweetness.

Laphroiag Quarter Cask has a golden color reminiscent of an oak-aged Chardonnay. As it is not chill-filtered, it becomes hazy with the addition of cold water or a few ice cubes. (Side note - While many prefer to taste their scotches neat with a splash of water, I prefer mine undiluted over a couple of ice cubes. I enjoy the evolution as the scotch travels through a range of dilution and temperature levels.) The nose is dominated by the typical peat smoke aroma of an Islay malt, with a healthy dose of oak mixed in. Also detectable is a hint of the salt-air seashore aroma that the coastal Islay distilleries frequently exhibit.

At first taste, there is quite a fiery sensation on the tongue owing to the high proof. This sensation softens up quite nicely for me as my ice melts. All the typical Laphroaig flavor is here in spades, with strong smoky peatiness leading the way. The other strong note is the oak flavor, which is unusually distinct compared to most Islay scotches. Other notable bit players are a seaweed saltiness and a hint of sweet vanilla. The Laphroaig Quarter Cask has a very long finish where the saltiness and sweetness really start to shine through.

By way of comparison, the Quarter Cask is definitely smoother than a young 10-12 year old malt. No doubt the extra contact with the oak barrel makes a notable difference. Still, extra surface area is not an alternative to extra time in the barrel (I know; I've had the great pleasure of sampling the 30-year old Laphroaig - best scotch I've ever had by a mile). I find that some of the more subtle tones of the whisky can be a bit buried behind the strong oakiness in this malt.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate

Distributed by: Mars Snackfood US
Cocoa content: Unknown (reportedly 50-60% per one source)
Manufacturer website
Rating: C+

I'm working late tonight, so today's tasting will be family-friendly. The hospital gift shop doesn't have a huge selection, and I settled on this chocolate bar as one of the few intriguing options. This is the small single bar that has no "% Cacao" designation, although Dove does make some bars with a designated Cacao percentage.

True to its billing, and typical of most Dove chocolate, this chocolate is velvety smooth as it melts on the tongue. The flavor at first reminds me of a cup of hot chocolate. There is quite a bit of sweetness, like a marshmallow dipped in cocoa. There is a fleeting hint of some roasted flavor, but otherwise there isn't much going on here. There is virtually no bitterness or acidity to note. It seems like any potential complex chocolate flavors have been drowned out by the sweetness.

To be fair, this chocolate bar is in no way marketed to the connoiseur. Most people who enjoy milk chocolate should enjoy this bar, and will enjoy the health benefits that are attributed to dark chocolate as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Long Trail Double Bag

Brewery: Long Trail Brewing Co.
Style: Alt
Location: Bridgewater Corners, VT
Brewer Homepage
Rating: A-

Double Bag is a potent brew at 7.2% alcohol, but it is very well-balanced. Drink this one in moderation, because it can really sneak up on you.

Double Bag is a slightly hazy in the glass with a deep amber color. To me, the aroma of this beer reminds me of walking through a brewery. The nose is sweet and malty with a touch of hops.

On the palate, there is a sweetness that comes to the front. There is a touch of bitterness and a hoppy tang that is a a bit subdued, but acts as a nice undertone to the sweetness. The sweetness and hops then start to fade, leaving a nice malty finish.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harpoon IPA

Brewery: Harpoon Brewery
Style: India Pale Ale
Location: Boston, MA
Brewer Homepage
Rating: A

At the intersection of hoppiness and drinkability we find Harpoon IPA. To many New Englanders (including myself), this is the gold standard to which all IPA's are compared. On a personal note, this was the beer that introduced me to the world of microbrews. I never really enjoyed beer until I realized that beer could have such distinctive flavor.

In the glass, Harpoon IPA has a golden-copper color. Fine, prosecco-like bubbles continue to rise long after the beer has been poured. The nose has a powerful hop-flower aroma.

On the palate hops again takes the center stage. Bitter hops are well balanced with floral/fruity notes. There is a long, crisp finish as the hops slowly fade away. There is a pleasant, almost fizzy mouthfeel that really compliments the crisp hops notes. Despite the dominant hops character of this beer, the bitterness never gets to the point where it affects the drinkability. This is a perfect beer for a warm summer day.

Please feel free to share your own tasting notes for this beer in the comments section below.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This blog has been a pet idea of mine that I've been kicking around for years. I've jotted down tasting notes on and off over the years for cigars, beer, whisky, wine and so on. My goal on this blog is to share these with you, and then provide you with the opportunity to share your own thoughts in the comments.

Let me share my tastes so you know what you can expect to see here. As far as beer goes, I'm a big fan of porters, barleywines and IPA's. For scotches, I like them peaty and smoky. I'd say about 2/3 of my single-malt collection is from Islay. For wines, I like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling on the white side and Zinfandel on the red side. I've been known to dabble in the occasional port and eiswein as well. I don't smoke cigars as much as I used to, but I hope to get one in every now and then. Also, expect to see some dark chocolate, bourbon, and a few random surprises pop up here and there.

Even though I will be giving all my entries a score from 1 to 5, my goal here is not to be a "beer snob". Everything I post is purely subjective based on my personal tastes. If I give a low score for one of your favorites, then hop into the comments and tell us why you like it. My goal is to stir up conversation, not controversy.

Let the tastings begin...