Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just A Dash Of Liquid Courage: #2

Personally, I'm a big fan of mead. Unfortunately, the stuff is almost unheard of in this country here, quaint little New Zealand. So, I usually brew my own stuff. However, I was pleasantly surprised during a trip through the store when I found this particular bottle. So, I figured I'd try it out.

You might want to know that meads are particularly touchy when it comes to brewing them, though, pretty much like wines. Very subtle differences in the brewing methods can cause entirely different flavors, and so to get a really good mead is difficult. While it's not a bad drink in itself, I'm rather turned off from it by the off-flavors present.

Alchemy 1st Night Manuka 'Honey Wine' (Actually a mead)
750mL bottle at 11.5% ABV
Appearance: 7.5/10 (B-)
Though rich and golden in color, this mead is perhaps a little darker than is expected for such a drink. I expect it to be quite sweet, from the way it clings to the glass.
Aroma/Nose: 6.5/10 (C)
Though mild and thoroughly pleasant, this drink has an unusual smell that is difficult to pick up, of honeycomb and oak. It's a smell that I can only truly describe as being like sweet honeycomb stuffed into a dirty sock.
Mouthfeel: 7/10 (C+)
A little prickly and rather thin for something so sweet, the sensation of this drink on the tongue is mediocre, at best. It gains a bonus for a nice, throat-warming tail, though, without being harsh.
Flavor: 7/10 (C+)
Though sweeter than most dessert wines, this drink is still much less cloying than expected from a product made of honey, even with a hint of tanginess, and has the particularly unique flavor of manuka over the surface with fruity hints of apricot and cherry, underlined with a woody aftertone. I am unsure if I like it or not.
Overview: 7/10 (C+)
I suppose for a country that's never had any other experience with mead, it's surprisingly good for a first time product. It may not, however, be to everyone's tastes. From the flavors, I'm guessing they used a yeast strain intended for grape wine. Mead usually turns out better with an ale yeast, though.

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