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  1. Hofland Original Bitters

    Herbal/Spice Liqueurs — Netherlands, Netherlands

    Tasted April 21, 2021
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
  2. Hofland Meesterbitters

    Amaro — Netherlands

    Tasted April 21, 2021
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Let's be clear here, Meesterbitters is extremely similar to Jagermeister to the point that if you don't want to be charitable, you can almost think of it as an off-brand Jager substitute. But I'll be honest, I think there are enough serious distinctions here that there's reasons to favor one over the other depending on the situation. Let's begin with the aroma. Meesterbitters smells much earthier, somehow "murkier" than Jager. There is still a distinct anise smell but whereas Jager smells like a botanical sweet syrup, Meesterbitters smells more like a bitter liqueur. It's decidedly less sweet and more grounded. Perhaps even rougher around the edges, emphasizing it's medicinal and root-based notes. This translates into the palate as well. Whereas Jager packs a sweet punch, Meesterbitters is more upfront with a spicy ginger, anise and earthy root taste. The bitterness comes from the very start and lingers. It isn't as well balanced as Jagermeister is but on the other hand the sweetness helps ameliorate the herbal, root and medicinal notes rather than packing the sweet punch of Jager. Whereas one can describe Jager as being syrupy, Meesterbitters almost reminds me of angostura bitters. Even the finish feels like the tannic from a more bitter wine compared to Jager's smoother finish. So here's the deal: for those that find Jagermeister to just be too sweet, syrup like and overly medicinal, Meesterbitters is a fine alternative focusing more on the earthy and root notes with more subdued medicinal tastes. Personally I'd drink Meesterbitters as a digestif after a heavy meal and experiment with it on more muted cocktails were I don't want to make it overly sweet. For more casual drinking where I'm focused on the flavor, Jagermeister has a lot more to offer and in the right hands it can do more work in a cocktail requiring subtlety and sweetness.
  3. Monaco Tequila Lime Crush

    Ready to Drink — USA

    Tasted April 21, 2021
    2.75
    2.75 out of 5 stars
    Another of Monaco's better RTD's this just straight up tastes like a well margarita. I'm not going to lie, it tastes better than some margaritas I've had at shoddier restaurants and dive bars. Hell it may even outdo some of the more basic margarita mixes on the market. I don't have too much else to say about this one. It mostly smells like lime and other citrus with faint whiffs of tequila. And it tastes like a margarita made from cheap but passable ingredients. Like any Monaco cocktail it is very sweet and artificial tasting. But for the price point and 9% ABV that's to be expected and that it's drinkable while only being somewhat cloying is incredible. I recommend drinking this one on the rocks to cool some of the more syrupy undertones. As far as cheap RTDs go this is pretty damn good. By the way, this has been lightly carbonated. I enjoy carbonated drinks and it doesn't really mess with the flavors. If anything it makes this a bit snappier but figured it was worth noting here.
  4. Tanqueray London Dry Gin (47.3%)

    London Dry Gin — Scotland

    Tasted April 21, 2021
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    I have a huge respect for the history and simplicity of Tanqueray. It's speculated it's made with as little as four botanicals and given it's straightforward taste that's easy to believe. But don't mistake straightforward for being boring--this is quite a bold spirit that asserts it's presence. At 47% ABV it packs a punch and it has juniper front and center. Newer gins will let other botanicals take the lead or lean into citrus. Tanqueray doesn't bother. It's the epitome of London Dry Gin. You wanted gin so that means juniper. Nothing more. Nothing less. Well that's not quite right. There is the smell of coriander and other spices, though they all take a backseat to the aggressive juniper smell. I've never tasted or smelled angelica root so I can't vouch for it. I personally couldn't pick up licorice on the nose. The taste is pretty much the nose. Juniper will bombard your senses with coriander making an appearance in the back. At the finish you get some citrusy pith and licorice. It stays in the mouth for quite some time and it has a very pleasant oily characteristic to it. This is very dry indeed. No citrusy sweetness to save you from the juniper! Personally I think Tanqueray defines what a gin tastes like. All other gins define themselves against it, sometimes literally! Seriously, the new wave of gins are actively trying to be the opposite of Tanqueray. But this stuff is delicious, makes some mean gin and tonics and is just an essential for any bar. An absolute delight and it's great to see a recipe with such a rich history is still being produced into the 21st century.
  5. Absolut Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Sweden

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    What a pleasant nose! There's just the faintest hints of wheat carelessly mingling in the background and a nice sweetness. Almost like a few drops of vanilla were added. If you search really hard you get a bit of a peppery spice. It's a very gentle aroma. It's thus completely surprising that it has quite a few flavors going on! Along with the wheat of the nose there are these gentle whispers of vanilla and custard. It's so, so good! My only gripe is that the finish comes abruptly and punctures the experience unceremoniously. It's a sudden bitterness. Maybe even pepperiness that doesn't fit the rest of the experience. It's more on the watery side as far as wheat vodkas go and as far as cheap vodkas go, this is both extremely enjoyable with minimal burn. The bitterness at the end is a tad potent and unpleasant but not enough to take away from what is a great vodka.
  6. Monaco Mango Peach

    Ready to Drink — USA

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    2.75
    2.75 out of 5 stars
    Okay I am impressed with this one. It tastes like ripe mango mixed with cheap peach puree. The kind of puree you get at brunch places bottomless mimosas. Unlike some other Monaco offerings this isn't cloying sweet. Yes it's still a sugar rush but not to the point where it overwhelms the palate. I was able to finish the can without diluting it with club soda. Did I mention it's decently carbonated as well? And you get two shots in a can! What's not to like? There's no way around this. Monaco doesn't offer classy, high quality RTD's. But this is a great way to quickly get on a buzz without being overwhelmed by sugars. It does taste artificial but not in an off-putting way.
  7. Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee

    Bitter Liqueurs — Germany

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Is this a gimmick based on a cold brew fad? Probably. But who cares? What matters is if the final product is any good. To that point I followed the instructions in the back of the bottle and put the mini in the freezer and served it ice cold. The aromas are quite peculiar. You have the usual suspects standing out as you'd expect from regular Jager--anise, caramel, an assortment of spices--but there's some interesting things going on as well. It doesn't just smell like Jager plus Coffee. It has a more earthy, "grounded" scent. Whereas regular Jager is a bombardment of scents this feels like they all settled down and found their bearings. It's a bit of a silly description I'm aware but I have no other way to describe it. More interesting than the earthy undertones are a peculiar spicy note. I even looked up to see if any hot peppers had been added. It's quite a potent spicy layer that stands out against the harder to pin down herbal scents. Taste wise the anise leads the charge followed by the plethora of herbals that define a regular Jager shot but then cinnamon and allspice enter the fray along with this bizarre but pleasant flavor. It's the spice note I detected but it doesn't taste spicy. More like wood bark with a kick? I am as confused as you are dear reader. It's a good flavor though. The finish is dominated by cocoa and then the Arabica coffee with the herbal and root flavors of regular Jager complimenting the finish in rather playful ways. I'm legitimately shocked at how good this tastes. Regular Jagermeister is a hard liqueur to work with. You can make some interesting cocktails if you know what you're doing and as a cold shot it's a fun gimmick but you either hate it or love it. This though? It's what I always wanted a Jagershot to be like and I can see myself buying the full 750 mL bottle and keeping it chilled. It works way better than it has any business to. From here on out if I'm doing chilled Jager shots, it's going to be the cold brew version. Cheers!
  8. Starr Blu Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Minnesota, USA

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    What an amazing find and oddball vodka! The nose is almost virtually non-existent. Not even ethanol fumes, just a faint mineral smell. Only after carefully looking for something I could detect a peculiar smell that has been present in spirits charcoal filtered. Couldn't find anything online verifying how it was distilled though. And just to verify it wasn't my sense of smell that was broken I compared it against Tahoe Blue and Smirnoff. Starr Blue had by far the most neutral odor of them all. But here's where things get curious. When you taste it you get actual notes of grapefruit and citrus rind. The finish isn't just of ethanol but a nice peppery taste. I've reviewed plenty of vodkas by now and always felt that when professional reviews mention vodka having any taste besides some sugar or it's base ingredient they were full of it. But this, I am sure of. I'm glad someone else reviewed this and listed the same flavors I noticed because this is a first for me. Its my first encounter with what can be termed a fruity vodka! So how does it compare against Smirnoff and Tahoe Blue? They all had their own distinct tastes but Starr Blu was by far the most neutral, watery and had the least amount of bite between all of them. Whereas Tahoe Blue has that weird almost rum like quality and Smirnoff that sweetness and bitterness of corn, Starr Blue just has the aforementioned flavors. It's less bitter than Smirnoff and while the burn is less severe than Tahoe Blue, it is more unpleasant. It's still a bit of a coarse product than TB but it does stand out just a bit more than Smirnoff does. For the price point this is a mandatory vodka that should be gracing any respectable home bar. I still prefer Tahoe Blue as my favorite affordable vodka. What can I say? I don't quite care for something as watery as Starr Blu. Nonetheless this is an excellent vodka at a mindblowingly great price.
  9. Smirnoff Peppermint Twist

    Flavored Vodka — USA

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    2.75
    2.75 out of 5 stars
    An extremely niche offering, this tastes exactly like those peppermint candies you get from a barbershop turned into vodka form. Minimal burn as I would expect from Smirnoff and it doesn't taste cloying sweet. You wouldn't really drink this neat. More as a useful base for Christmas cocktails. You wouldn't really want this bottle around the entire year but it's an excellent choice for when you need a strong peppermint flavor that is drinkable and doesn't taste like artificial nonsense or too minty.
  10. Veil Gingerbread Vodka

    Flavored Vodka — USA

    Tasted April 20, 2021
    1.5
    1.5 out of 5 stars
    It actually smells quite amazing and on target. Just smelling this recalls pleasant memories of Winter with gingerbread lingering in the air. Granted you can smell the sweeteners and additives so as an experienced drinker I can also smell the headache from next morning but it's so overpoweringly pleasant I still looked forward to drinking this. There is just the faintest glint of ethanol in the smell but you really have to look deep for it. It tastes much more like syrup than flavored vodka though. Seriously, it almost has the texture of watered down syrup, which, in some ways, isn't an inaccurate representation of what this is. It doesn't quite taste like it smells either. I'd say it's closer to vanilla extract, caramel (artificial), simple syrup and Torani Hazelnut with vodka crashing the party at the last minute manifesting itself in a bitter, lingering aftertaste. If I didn't know what it was supposed to be I'd guess the flavor they were going for is caramel toffee and I'd wager I was just given some rather cloying holiday liqueur than a flavored vodka. Aside from the bitter finish there is almost no indication this is an alcoholic beverage. It's impossible to drink this stuff by itself. It's overwhelmingly sweet and sugary. You feel guilty for drinking it because there's no way all that sugar is good for you. I struggled finishing my glass just because of how much of a sugar overload it was. Still, as a mini this works wonders for seamlessly spiking your Starbucks drink and I can see it doing some work baking or for Holiday party mixes. So it has its niche which bumps this up an extra half star. Not terrible but it is quite excessive and decadent, so hard to recommend by itself.
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