Saturday, March 27, 2010

Top Ten Rums

Kaiser Penguin is running an interesting post on top ten rums everyone should have in their collection.

I'm not a rum expert by any means, but I've made it a point to get out there and try some of the better examples. Here's my list of the best ones that I've tried so far:

1. El Dorado 15 year (Guyana)
2. El Dorado 5 year (Guyana)
3. Appleton Estate V/X (Jamaica)
4. Appleton Estate Extra 12 year (Jamaica)
5. Coruba Dark (Jamaica)
6. Santa Teresa 1796 (Venezuela)
7. Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 year (Guatemala)
8. Lemon Hart 151 (Guyana)
9. Cruzan Single Barrel (St. Croix)
10. Mount Gay Sugar Cane (Barbados)

With regards to some of the other rums mentioned in Rick's post, I found it interesting that Kraken and Old New Orleans spiced rums seem to get a lot of respect from the experts. Smith and Cross (from Haus Alpenz) a Navy Strength pot-still rum from Jamaica also got a lot of votes and I will definitely pick up a bottle to try. Despite many tries, I just cannot muster any love for J. Wray and Nephew overproof rum. It's estery and exotic with a lot of fresh cut pear aromas, but I just don't care for it and I find that it overpowers everything that it's used in. Another popular one was Clement VSOP (Martinique). I have a bottle and like it, but when tasted among the other rums it has a distinct sulphurous aroma that puts it out of my top ten.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some Czech Pilsners

I was first introduced to Czech Pilsners by way of Pilsner Urquell during my college years. Back then, Trader Joe's used to carry it in "hornets", or 22 oz. bottles. It was a standard at my roommate Rob's house and quick became one of our must-haves in our early days of connoisseurship. I got the chance post-college to visit the Pilsener Urquell brewery in Pilsen and was able to taste the beer fresh, prior to filtration - a real treat.

Over the years, I've tried a few different beers from the Czech Republic and decided it would be fun to taste a few of the more famous brews comparatively. For this tasting, I've assembled: Pilsner Urquell (Pilsen), Staropramen (Prague) and Budweiser Budvar (a.k.a. Czechvar from České Budějovice).

The beers were tasted blind in Riedel Vinum port glasses. Following are my tasting notes and scoring:

#1) Pilsner Urquell, 91 points
color - medium gold
nose - medium maltiness with some cereal grain and light hops
taste - Nice bright hoppiness with a pleasant bitter finish
finish - fairly long and bitter

#2) Czechvar, 89 points
color - the lightest of the group. Yellowish gold.
nose - appetizing with bitter hoppiness. Delicate.
taste - light on the palate and in flavors. Delicate malt and hops. Not much bitterness, but not much anything. With extended tasting, some honey and flowery notes emerge.
finish - medium-short.

#3) Staropramen, 86 points
color - darkest of the group. Golden amber.
nose - Richer and more malty than the Czechvar.
taste - Rich, with some maltiness and and bitter hops. Some off, metallic notes.
finish - medium length.

Final Notes - Pilsner Urquell remains the standard among Czech Pilsners and is the "original" Pilsner, dating back to 1842. Czechvar, one of my other regular favorites is definitely a lighter style and is perfect for a hot afternoon with its crisp, clean flavors. Staropramen is a good beer, and I enjoy it on its own, but in the comparative tasting, that ominpresent metallic note knocked it down a few points.