Spirits and Lovers
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Luckily, a bottle of something strong and restorative is always a most welcome present. Here, we've selected some of our favourite spirits gifts of the year. And if you're looking for something a little less boozy?
Take a look at our expertly chosen guides to gifts for men and gifts for her. An ideal choice for special occasions, Hibiki's unique blend is both rich and fruity, the perfect complement to your festive celebrations. At Selfridges. The bottle is also just as impressive as the flavour, crafted using traditional Mexican unfired clay methods for a stunning result that is probably more suited to a mantlepiece than a drinks cabinet.
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The ultimate gift for that person who always orders tequila shots, no matter what the occasion. At masterofmalt. The ultimate indulgence, Hennessy's Paradis Rare Cognac is blended from of the finest eaux-de-vie that have each been aged for up to years. As you'd expect, the result is an exceptional Cognac that has notes of florals, honey, spices and truffle.
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At Harrods. Whether you choose to believe its mythical origins or not, no one can deny that this is an excellent vodka that boasts crisp notes of aniseed and nutty, salted butter. A deep, aromatic gin from the Scotland, Theodore Pictish Gin blends a an array of botanicals that include honey, ginger and lavender, to name a few. Deliciously sweet, but not too sickly, Plantation's XO blend combines of some of the best Barbadian rums and then ages them in both Barbados and then Cognac for up to 20 years in total. The result?
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A sophisticated flavour that has notes of cinnamon, chocolate, coconut, toffee, cherry and nutmeg. At Harvey Nichols.
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Each bottle is aged for at least two years in American white-oak barrels, infusing it with sweet notes of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruits for a truly exquisite tequila. At thewhiskyexchange. More complex, higher mass molecules may never reach the rim of taller glasses. Tall tulips raise the concentration of ethanol compared to character aromas. Tulip glasses are best for evaluating spirits. Evaporative science clearly demonstrates that tulips are too tall for many aromas to reach the rim, too narrow to swirl, and tiny rims concentrate the one thing you do not need to smell, anesthetic ethanol.
The tulip is the best shape because that is what the blenders use. The result, is a significant, proven change in the aroma profile, as this much water releases some aromas and inhibits others. Who drinks their whisky mixed half spirit, half water? Not the public. An early significant test of the tulip glass occurred in the s when the scotch industry decided to expand to the USA. Scotch whisky ambassadors were not prepared for the initial rejection by Americans had who converted to drinking mixed cocktails of fruit juice, sodas, and adding ice to disguise nasty, poor quality, illegally manufactured spirits available during the 13 year-long prohibition period.
The American nose simply could not handle the pungency of whisky, straight, in a tiny glass which concentrated strong ethanol right at the rim opening.
The Scots, Brits, French and other Europeans had been drinking spirits straight for centuries. At least with the tumbler, but without ice and water, the drinker has a chance to get his nose in the glass and smell spirit aromas. Research proves the tumbler to be a better glass than a tulip for delivering aromas of straight spirits. By solving ethanol issues, Americans could drink scotch comfortably, joining the exclusive, if somewhat snobbish fraternity of elite scotch drinkers. Drinking scotch in America was a signal to all that the successful, upwardly mobile American businessman had finally arrived as a conquering elite, and it spread like wildfire as scotch sales soared to new heights.
This highly successful marketing experiment is largely responsible for the popularity of scotch and the tulip glass in America. But here is what actually happens. How does the nose react to four or more good whiffs number may vary of concentrated ethanol from a tulip glass? The vast majority of olfactory sensors are occupied with ethanol molecules, and suddenly, with no warning, the drinker begins to search more diligently for a recognizable aroma. Oh yeah, how about caramel searches for caramel. How about honey searches for honey.
How about oak searches for oak. It becomes more desperate the further down the list, and wishing for that specific aroma may make it so. But does he really find it?
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What happens when they go nose-blind? Studies show that by the second flight of a competition using tulip glasses, ethanol anesthesia nose-blindness of at least one judge in any panel is readily apparent. For sure, if sample 4 was compromised, you can bet that 1, 2, and 3 and the whole damned flight probably were as well.
Tulip glasses are not fair to spirits competition entrants who pay to play, or consumers who use ratings to purchase spirits.
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Interviewing hundreds of judges and evaluators who exhibited the visual and behavioral tip-offs, many were found to be affected by ethanol anesthesia, yet all were strongly adamant their sense of smell was functioning at peak. That is the point after all, that ethanol anesthesia is painless, appearing with no warning signals and auto-compensation is mostly sub-conscious at-the-ready to solve problematical situations.
Pick another glass next time, or allow longer cooling off periods between samples 5 minutes is a barely acceptable recovery time for the epithelium to bathe in a fresh flush of mucous, wiping the receptors clean for another go. With the rise in popularity of craft distilling, there are thousands of new spirits available, and, as with wine, small production, exceptionally well-made spirits are going to command the highest price. How can anyone willing to shell out hundreds of bucks for a bottle possibly want to experience it in a tulip vessel which hides its subtleties behind concentrated ethanol?
Even worse, those who drink cask strength spirits will have no idea of the sensory price they paid for drinking from a tulip, particularly if the spirit was a rare collectible.
Chapter 5, The Lovers
A martini glass or tumbler delivers more aroma and dissipates ethanol, and an engineered glass is a vast improvement. Why Sensory Science is Important to the Spirits Industry Research has proven beyond a doubt that sensory science has something to say to those who delve deeper into the tastes and aromas of good spirits. Much the same as the surge in the popularity of wine during the s, the public is awakening to the flavors of the spirits industry.
One difference in the spirits cycle is that sensory science has evolved significantly since the surge in the wine cycle, and today plays a much more important role as manufacturers depend more on sensory analysis than ever before. Applying many lessons learned from the wine cycle, the spirits cycle has become significantly shorter. Many distributors and distillers in the spirits industry are attempting to embrace sensory science by hiring independent sensory analysts to evaluate tastes and aromas of blends, new spirits, different aging processes, barrel wood, and many other attributes which could turn profitable.
A few companies have established their own sensory departments, staffed with professionally trained evaluators. The oddity is that the vast majority still depend on the tulip glass as their main diagnostic tool without assessing the its validity as a diagnostic vessel. Again, the obvious is overlooked. If the general mindset of the spirits industry is to perpetuate the tradition of the tulip glass, they will most certainly find themselves at some point rightly accused of ignoring science or hiding the truth.
The sane and logical alternative is to explore nosing and evaluation of spirits beginning with basic sensory evaluation techniques and back off from blind support of a non-functional vessel which performs poorly for sensory evaluation. Just walk away from the issue. Tradition dies hard, and some will change, many will not. At least when the sensory detriments of the tulip are finally and fully recognized by the general public, the industry will have had a chance to divorce themselves from criticism for perpetuating the myth of a functional membership badge.
Let the tulip go the same way as the shot glass, the tiny 4 oz wine glass, and cutesy stemmed cordials. As far as the public is concerned, the enlightened few who trust science feel they have been led deep into the forest and abandoned, with the only one way out — to accept the industry supported meme of the tulip glass. Most spirits competitions are making a strong effort to provide truth to the public by judging, evaluating, and rating spirits in an engineered vessel which at the very least, unmasks aromas for all to evaluate.