To begin with it was there, on the shelf, in my local store, and in a 350ml bottle too, making it both accessible & affordable – increasingly important factors in the current economic climate.
Further, my St Remy VSOP Brandy, initially purchased for an WSET course back in 2019, was nearing it’s end. I found the brandy world shared – like whiskey – a set of rules & regulations governing it’s production – as well as a long history – plus barrel ageing too & I enjoyed the drinking experience, encouraging me to explore more.
Tesco Napoleon appeared a shade darker than my St Remy, suggestive of extra caramel, a permissible added ingredient for the category – just like whiskey.
Quite a shy nose – not very aromatic for me – soft sweet winey elements are all I got.
Smooth, soft mouthfeel, easy on the palate.
Dark notes of burnt caramel & a tingling warmth surfaced on the finish giving Tesco Napoleon a bit of a lift.
Lacked any hints of oakiness I enjoyed with St Remy.
After sampling Tesco Napoleon I read the label – Mellow And Smooth Taste – it says.
Doing the Wine & Spirit Education Trust – WSET – Level 2 Spirits Course a few years ago opened my palate to spirit categories I hadn’t appreciated before.
Brandy being one of them.
This St Rémy bottle is a leftover from that course.
You have to taste a variety of spirits to pick out the characteristics of each category.
It looks like a whiskey.
The nose is sweet & fruity.
Soft, smooth & mellow on the palate.
Finishes with a gentle oaky spice.
An easy approachable drinker to sit back & mull over – if it wasn’t for the phylloxera epidemic of the 1860’s that wiped out most of the grapevines worldwide – could brandy have been as big as whiskey?
I first became acquainted with Mezcal doing a Level 2 Spirits Award at the WSET – Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
There is long and proud tradition of spirit production in Mexico that parallels that of whiskey manufacture in Ireland or Scotland. There are rules & regulations to get any spirit geek excited – and it certainly helps I was hooked immediately by the rich & complex flavours contained within the Mezcals I tasted.
Terroir is key to Mezcal.
Geographically protected to certain regions within Mexico & made with varietals of the long lived agave plant, Mezcal is the artisanal based small scale product to the mass produced sister spirit Tequila.
The 2 Mezcal Amores sent showcased the results of 2 different varietals of agave with the same production methods.
Joven in both these expressions means unaged.
With a spirit as pure and unadulterated as Mexcal – no ageing is required.
Espadín Amores – as suggested in the name – is made from the Espadín agave which must be used to make Tequila – but Mezcal can use any variety of agave.
There is no harsh abrasiveness to this spirit.
It gently warms & caresses both the nose & palate with a richness of flavours.
A gentle soft sweetness combined with hints of leather or even tobacco from the roasting used to prepare the agave swirl around in the mouth in a comforting snug.
Lip smackingly enjoyable.
Cupreata Amores was even better!
Made from the Cupreata agave which matures for 8 to 13 years before being harvested. This mezcal possessed a deeper – even darker – cornucopia of complexity to hook me in even further to the charms of this Mexican spirit.
There was a contrast to the almost muscovado dark sweetness at the start to a warming stewed note at the end.
Wild yeasts are used in fermenting – much like the popular Brett yeasts of craft beer fame – but without the sour tart results – funky perhaps – but not overpowering – just well balanced & enticing.
I had to have more!
No wonder there is a fan club as fanatical as whiskey has for this fabulous spirit.
I was supposed to be revising for an exam – but the Teeling Small Batch on the Aer Lingus flight only reacquainted myself with this lovely little blend & provided a taster for what was unknowingly to come.
After checking into the city centre hotel – a quick read over the course book – it was out for a wander to visit the Whiskey Jar pub.
The promise of 400+ whiskies to whet my appetite accompanied by a tasty pie for the late Sunday afternoon lunch sounded too good to miss.
On entering I was taken aback!
Gathered in the pub were a clutch of whiskey companies displaying their wares.
A small cover charge – along with a tasting glass – had me at the first stall.