SPIRITS TREND: RUM ON THE RISE
Somewhere between the industry's obsession with craft agave and never ending love affair with whisky, rum has managed to garner much deserved attention. Buyers and imbibers alike are realizing the depth and diversity of rum and its ability to rival its grain based counterparts in complexity. Once the most important internationally traded spirit, rum has spent far too long covered up in overly fruity cocktails and sugary mixers. 2015 has seen a big push to educate the trade about the history, styles and wide flavor profile of rum. Now more than ever people are looking to this sugarcane-based, and often low priced spirit as a sophisticated sipper and craft cocktail ingredient.
ULTIMATE WINE CHALLENGE 2015 CHAIRMAN'S TROPHY SPOTLIGHT:
PACIFIC COAST HARD APPLE CIDER 93 POINTS $8.88 22oz.
The Cider Brothers www.ciderbrothers.com are frontrunners in the American cider resurgence, bringing an artisan winemaking approach to this patriotic drink. From careful sourcing of their base materials to thorough attention to detail of the entire process, Michael & Paul Scotto (who has a background in winemaking), strive to create products that meet their own drinking standards. Light and crisp, with a core of pure apple flavor and balanced acidity are the attributes that make this cider simple and great. We look forward to more from these brothers who are leading the way in domestic craft cider production.
Tasting Notes: Invigorating nose of candied green apple, white peach, orange blossom, and lemon peel. On the palate there is a delicate bubble, with green apple, lemon, and blossom. The finish is dry, crisp, and refreshing.
SEPTEMBER ULTIMATE WINE CHALLENGE PERSONALITY: TARA THOMAS
Tara Q. Thomas has been an integral part of the UWC judging panel for years, bringing her expert palate and joyful presence to the competition. While training as a chef her love of wine proved so strong that she was drawn into the beverage industry and has been writing about wine professionally for almost 20 years, currently as the Executive Editor at Wine & Spirits Magazine. When asked why she chooses to come back to judge with us at UWC year after year she says: “I taste with UWC because it's run by a great group of people who treat their tasters with respect and integrity. The tastings are well organized, exceptionally reasonable in size and duration, and the tasters they attract are also high-quality.” As one of our top tasters, Tara typifies the masterful palates that make up our panels.
ULTIMATE SPIRITS CHALLENGE 2015 CHAIRMAN'S TROPHY SPOTLIGHT:
VAN GOGH DUTCH CARAMEL VODKA 94 POINTS $27.
With so many flavored vodkas on the market it is refreshing to find one that pinpoints a classic and universally loved flavor. The clean yet indulgent richness of Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka goes through a double infusion process at their distillery in the Netherlands to achieve the depth of flavor and characteristic velvety texture. Our highest scoring flavored vodka in USC 2015 and recipient of the Chairman's Trophy, it also received a Great Value award for its outstanding low price.
Tasting Notes: The immediate impact of the bittersweet Dutch caramel influence is what makes this a pinnacle achievement in astute flavoring. A benchmark flavored vodka.
BEVERAGE TREND: CIDER CRAZE
Over the last few years both domestic and international cideries have been upping their game to bring back what was once an incredibly popular beverage. Much like wine, and in fact technically an apple wine, cider expresses the terroir and traditions of where it comes from. With the first ever cider only bar opening in New York City earlier this year, 2015 marks the return to the public eye for quality driven ciders. Large companies have also jumped on the apple cart, offering their versions of hard cider for the masses. With so many styles from bone dry to luscious ice ciders, the industry is embracing this beverage category as a delicious addition to tasting menus and everyday food pairings.