It wasn’t just whisky at the Edinburgh Fringe [Blog], and with a trend seen at similar events, alternative spirits also featured.
First up, mezcal & tequila. A reminder: All tequila is a type of mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.
Codigo 1530 Rosa Blanco Ob. Tequila 35%
This is Codigo Blanco with a one month finish in uncharred ex-Napa Cabernet wine barrels, hence the pink hue.
- C: Though I’m struggling with the palate shift after what’s gone before [blog], this is soft easy tequila and I like the wine direction.
Scores 79 points
Gem & Bolt Mezcal with Damiana Ob. 44% MR3.5/5
MoM: ‘The name comes from a story of how Mezcal came to be: a lightning bolt struck an agave piña, which roasted and fermented the sugars and created Mezcal.’
Made using espadín agave, what makes Gem & Bolt stand out say its two founders is “DAMIANA. DAMIANA. DAMIANA.” They go on to explain “It’s a perfect love affair between agave and damiana—both such powerful and noble plants. Neither overpowering the other, but a really incredible harmony between the two.” Forbes
Damiana is a herb native to Mexico and is believed to possess many healing properties.
- N: A funky sweaty one bringing ranch dressing, lemonade, shower eucalyptus, cucumber, some Thai spices and pickled onion Monster Munch. That cucumber note mixed with some sweaty weirdness I’ve experienced before in Del Maguey’s San Luis del Rio 47% [notes to follow some time soon].
- T: Allotment chemicals, a dollop of farm manure and rotting vegetal matter – distillate-led key notes that wouldn’t hurt a few of the following rums.
- F: Little things hang around. Concludes candidly with cloves and herbs – that’ll be the damiana then.
- C: Full of character, clairin-like.
Scores 84 points
And now for a pair of Armagnac:
Marquis de Montesquieu Reserve  Ob. 40%
An aged 5yo apparently.
- N: A budget/supermarket nose.
- T: Soft and uneventful yet with no obvious flaws.
- F: ,… flowing effortlessly into the finish
- C: Fodder.
Scores 75 points
Marquis de Montesquieu 1989  Ob. Millesime 44.7% website
- N: That’s more like it. Initially there’s a pleasing vista with a marked sweet-sour balance. Though slow to open, a shopping list does start to emerge. Indeed, complexity on the nose grows & grows.
- T: Pleasing with some depth and a decent chewy form that develops on vivid sweet-bitter fruits – dried & candy fruits.
- F: Long and lingering.
- C: Very good, and likely to improve with more time to open up.
Scores 86 points
… and wrapping things up in Edinburgh with a rum flight
- N: Light-sweet vegetal industrial rum from Martinique.
- T: A weird waxiness begins proceedings but the vegetal complex that develops is quite something, along the lines of dried nettles, burgers, mince pies and vegetal Christmas cake.
- F: A long drawn out conclusion speaks of vegetal paraffin notes. Some sweetness just about hangs on in there.
- C: The quality appears to be good, the fun factor less so.
Scores 84 points
Foursquare Premise 10yo Mark VIII  Ob. Exceptional Cask Selection 46% RSB88
Ex-bourbon & ex-sherry matured.
- N: There’s something very distinct and familiar here, and then I got it. It’s very like a bottle of 1964 Carsebridge [WB] I’m enjoying at the moment, and this particularly grain-like sherry cask profile ensues.
- T: Same again, like an old sherry-cask grain. As ‘exceptional’ as the casks are, the vegetal spirit complex that Luca Gargano speaks of is fairly masked. The imbalance aside, the result is still rather excellent.
- F: Short, lifting off with some old vanilla.
- C: £47 is tempting for rum from these high-calibre casks.
Scores 85 points
Apparently, this has been the more popular of the two Foursquare’s at the Fringe.
- N: The resemblances to sherry-matured grain whisky continue. The casks dominate once again and are more resinous. With a little fruitiness there is also a little sawdust.
- T: Firm/strong sugary, oaky arrival with some fudge & chocolate into a long unravel.
- F: Pleasing [oaky] bitter [spirity] vegetal notes.
- C: Should we mind too much that when the casks are this good, the spirit is merely a vehicle? This has more body, more bite and more action, though I subjectively preferred the subtlety & sublimely of the Premise.
Scores 86 points
Monymusk 2003/2018 14yo Adelphi cask #JM2 [346 bts] 58.8% MoM
- N: Armagnac-infused slick runny vanilla varnish – corn-like with the juice of plums & cherries. Adding water brings a blossoming. Wowee, this is serious rum.
- T: The excellence continues. The slick bitter-sweet balance is just so, making the Cadenhead’s 1842 Caribbean Rum I have just finished [notes to follow], seem clunky.
- F: Sweet meaty putty into the finish. Amazingly well aged.
- C: What a cask! Top flight rum.
Scores 90 points