Dill pickle is tasty...

... but it's even tastier when it's actually tequila which manages to smell of dill, and popcorn, and bubblegum, and grappa.

At a Bibendum tasting a very persuasive chap called Will was holding forth in barnstorming fashion about "the best tequila in the world". I was enjoying a senescent champagne (Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs 95), but so persuasive was he that I tried the El Tesoro Silver, then the Reposado, then the Añejo, and lo, I was converted. Well, converted is too strong a word, since I already like grappa, but certainly I was mightily impressed.

These are complex spirits, with great depth of flavour, and some really quite unusual flavours at that. Dill I have already mentioned, but what about freshly toasted cumin, greenness, and even a muscat grape character? Quite lovely, and all wrapped up in a delicate texture, with no harshness. I wonder if they would go with gherkins....


Pink, Fizzy, and English. Yum

As I may have mentioned, TallAsAVan is no longer Malbecista-in-Chief. These days, it seems, he takes a wider view, if the bottles he left with us on his last visit are a guide.

And so to England, in the shape of Chapel Down Vintage Reserve English Rose (although I Swear I couldn't see a vintage date anywhere on the bottle)

It's a very pretty wine, pale salmon pink, with a slightly sweet nose which hints at sweet spices, in the same way that certain champagnes are spicy. I like the creamy mousse very much, and there is a lovely coppery or mineral flavour in there.

My rather disparaging tasting note says, "not quite the depth of good champagne but v good fizz". This is harsh; it is the best English fizz I've yet tasted, and a definite excellent, 4.


I'm a drink you don't meet every day

It's a malt whisky - except it ain't, yet. Abhainn Dearg, one of the new breed of craft distlleries (trans: small, hand-made, local), have just released a limited quantity of spirit. Legally, it won't be whisky until late in 2011.

I tasted it at McSorley's, straight from a 30 litre oloroso sherry cask. "Spirit of Lewis" is a complex malt, with an interesting back and forth of flavours. The texture is light and airy - not watery, but airy, like good Condrieu. It is also very like grappa, very spirity, but there is also a big whack of honey and nougat, and a little milk chocolate.

The palate is delicate. There's green leafy, cigar, seashells, and plenty of sweetness. With water it moves from grappa towards a malty whisky character. I couldn't find any peat in it. In conclusion it is a good one (good one = 4+), and already very drinkable, especially compared with other new make spirits I have tried.

I tried to describe it to someone, and they said, "so it's like Jura then", but I think a better comparison, assuming a few years in cask, would be to Abunadh.