Imbibe Hour


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hitting a brief imbibing run while in Maine, brings a lot of fun, and a big lift to the spirit

One thing about being on vacation is about relaxing. Nothing spells relaxing than having a nice good drink. I had been driving up to Maine from DC hitting a few beer places such as Portsmouth Brewery along the way, but a lazy Sunday provided an opportunity that was unexpected, having settled in and gotten comfortable with the in-laws.

Spending time with extended family, we went on a little farm tour for eating and drinking. Not giving a care in the world, sitting down in the back seat, I was allowed to let my mind just wander and think back as to what we would see and more importantly taste. Here I was truly not in the drivers seat, I was truly a lazy spectator with no expectations. Luckily I was going to find myself surprised.

Our first stop was Savage Oakes winery in Union Maine. As the list of tasting items was provided some items looked interesting and expected.
I get very suspicious of many small wineries, particularly ones that focus on fruit production and addition with their wines. For the most part it's catering to a different area, and the wine is usually not something I care for. Some of this was here, but not entirely.

The first wine I tasted though was George River, a sweet off-dry white made from Cayuga grapes. I expected typical sweetness, but also a sense of just bubblegum candy. What I got was anything but. My nose was immediately transported to sweet Rieslings and Gew├╝rztraminer like style. Bursting with ripe sweet melon, but not cloying or sticky, even a body like a simple Pinot Grigio made for one enjoyable first sip, and quaff.

I'll cut to the chase. It was the best wine they offered for tasting. I turned to my wife and said this one is really good what do you think and she loved it even more. I am not much of a white wine sweet drinker but this one was plenty good enough for me, fancying my Alsacian Reisling and German Gweurz palate. Mentioning it to the store staff what I felt they said it was their best seller.

So much for not getting a good imbibe drink while in an obscure place. But like they say, but wait there's more.

My always entertaining hosts though were not done. There was another winery we were going to go to, but more importantly... they made spirits. It was here where I found a real treasure.

Sweetgrass Farm Winery and Distillery is located in Union Maine as well, not too far from where we were.

As the tasting list was provided, you could have 6 items, and I quickly dove into the four spirits which were Back River Gin, Cranberry Gin, Three Crow Rum, and Apple Brandy.

Back River Gin is London Dry in style but is added with the one ingredient essential to Maine and it's identity, that being Maine blueberries. Juniper in smell, with a fruity finish this was a real neat tasting gin. Dry with a real sharp finish, then finishing with a unique fruityness.

Cranberry gin was much like it's older Back River brother. Orange like and off pink in color, the cranberry gin had similar hallmarks but had an interesting mild carbonation feel, and had a finish tasting like very tight fizzy Italian orange soda.

The apple brandy I was quite curious about having enjoyed Tom's Foolery from Ohio. It did not disappoint either, taking a cue from a simple Calvados. Butter and cinnamon on the nose, light textured bringing the same notes from the nose to the palate.

All was going fine and well but there was one item here that stood out high and mighty and stories tall above the rest.

Described by the distillery, Three Crow Rum is a distilled rum made with top grade cane molasses fermented and distilled during the cold Maine winter for ultra smooth rum, aged in bourbon barrels.

First nose on this is an incredibly toasty brown sugar, literally browned and not burnt. The bouquet is complemented nonetheless with so much going on, hints of caramel, a huge nose of butter and butterscotch in particular and maple sugar, and buttered toasted whole wheat bread.

While the palate seemed a little thin, all the great notes on the nose come through in the taste not to be missed with so much variation, and an incredible buttery oak sensation on the finish.

I quickly snatched up two bottles of this, and if I knew I wasn't going to be bringing back many bottles of beer, I probably would have bought tonnes of this stuff. Nevertheless, gin, rum, and wine were all bought along a good event called Maine open farm days. I just wish more farmers could grow stuff like this more often. ;)

To see more check out my review below.

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