Sauza Hornitos   Corralejo Reposado   Casamigos George Clooney   Conniption Gin  Compass Spice   Compass Box Peat   Compass Box Oak Cross   Suntory  Booker  Mother Earth Gin   Flying pepper vodka   Goslings Rum   Cynar  Dominion Gin   Diplomatico Rum

 This is the drinking entry. After my unusual experience last week on my front lawn in the moonlight it has become increasingly clear that it is Rafe who holds the key to the mystery that surrounds my house. Or rather that lies beneath my house. So I decided I would go to the Penny every evening to see if he might show up. I had, as always, questions to ask him.Some nights Mark was with me, some nights Sherry, but mostly I was drinking alone. If you’re not interested in the drinks in the 69 drinks challenge, you can probably skip the rest of this entry and go straight to the last few lines.

I hate tequila. I believe I mentioned this in an earlier entry when I tried to choke one down (there are four on the list) by having the bartender mix it as a Bloody Mary, which he informed me was called a Bloody Juanita. It was terrible, so I decided to drink the rest of them straight and get it over with quickly. I know, I know, you’re going to tell me I should have had margaritas, but I hate margaritas as well. Sometimes you just have to knock this stuff back like a man and stop complaining.

The Corralejo Reposado was straw colored, due, I guess, to its being aged for four months in a wooden barrel. Four months! Why do they even bother? It wasn’t bad, I’m sure if you’re a tequila drinker it would qualify as a “sipping” spirit. The Sauza Hornitos was awful. Really, I had to clamp down on my gag reflex as I was drinking it. I seriously considered “accidentally” knocking it over, but I got it down. The Casamigos (loosely translated as “group of friends”) George Clooney wasn’t bad at all, so I looked it up when I got home. Here’s the backstory. Evidently George Clooney and his business partner were each building a ranch in Mexico and since the two of them were down there a lot and they were drinking plenty of tequila they decided they would develop their own brand, just because it would be cool. I guess this is the sort of thing you do if you’re a gazillionaire. They came up with a recipe that they liked and had it made by a distillery. The early reviews said it was pretty tame as far as alcohol burn was concerned. Also they made it sweet. This was in 2013; in 2017 they sold the brand for a billion dollars. So the rich get richer, and… well, you know how that saying goes. The Internet informed me that since George sold the brand, the tequila has been made even sweeter and more watered down. And that, my friends, must be why I could actually drink it. It no longer tastes like tequila.

Conniption Gin. This brand is distilled in nearby Durham, so it’s drinking local for me. Gin is one of my go-to drinks, and I’m usually a Tanqueray man. Tanqueray is an old school gin, heavy on the juniper. Nowadays there are lots of artisanal gins, and I usually don’t like them. Each tries to out-botanical the others which leads to flowery, often sweetish efforts with strange medicinal overtones. I’m happy to report that Conniption leans in this direction, but as yet steps back from the line. I liked it.

Compass Spice…Compass Box Peat…Compass Box Oak Cross. Compass Box produces a number of blended scotch whiskies. They have blending facilities in London and store their individual scotch in Scotland. On their website the distiller talks about modern tastes and innovation, which usually means that they’re making mild, sweet whiskeys with little character. The sort of whiskey that the young folk of today might like. The result is certainly drinkable, even though it tends to be bit too much of a kid’s drink for me. I found the Spice and the Oak Cross simply OK, but the Peat version was a true peat bomb. Tons of smoke. I liked it, but it’s too intense for everyday drinking. The odor was so strong the entire end of the bar where I was sitting commented on it.

Suntory is a well-known “scotch” whiskey crafted by the Japanese. As with all the Japanese whiskeys I have tasted since starting the 69 drinks, it’s very nice, has excellent flavors, and is very smooth. But it has no heart. There’s nothing wrong with this whiskey, you could drink it every day for the rest of your life and be perfectly happy, but you would never find yourself in love.

Booker is an American bourbon. It was served to me mistakenly when I thought I was getting Bakers. Eventually we got it straightened out after making a few corrections on the list. Hey, it’s noisy, crowded bar, it’s a wonder mistakes like this don’t happen more than they do. No harm, no foul. Booker is an excellent Kentucky distillery and the bottle is pretty pricey. It’s smooth, maybe a little too smooth for me, but it doesn’t have so much of the dreaded sweetness that I hate. I’d be happy to drink it in the future as long as someone else is buying.

Mother Earth Gin. Another local product, this time out of Kinston, NC. If you put my feet to the fire I’d probably say that I liked it better than the aforementioned Conniption, but it’s really a toss up. The problem with these artisanal products (and many others) is that they’re too damn expensive.

Flying Pepper Vodka. Another local artisanal, this time vodka. It’s produced in Pittsboro, so close to where I live I could almost walk there. They infuse a local vodka with Tobago peppers which gives the drink a vegetal taste, by which I mean a green pepper taste, without any heat. I’ve been searching for a pepper vodka since I can’t get my regular Stoli Pepper anywhere around here in the ABC stores. These days there are many bottles labeled pepper, but they all turn out to be green peppers rather than black pepper, the kind that’s in your kitchen pepper grinder. And why anyone would want to impart the green taste with none, or very little, of the heat is beyond me. I tasted this straight and then in a Bloody Mary and neither did much at all for me.

Dominion Gin. I have no memory of drinking this and the Internet fails me. I guess it was pretty good, otherwise I would have noted disliking it.

Cynar. This is a digestive like Fernet Branca, which I mentioned several blogs ago. (Fun Fact to Know and Tell: After publishing that entry I read that the Fernet Branca producers are the largest saffron consumers in the world.) Cynar is made from artichokes and is the same sort of bitter as the Fernet. I like the taste and it certainly isn’t sweet. It’s kind of a weird color.

Diplimatico Rum. Diplimatico distills a number of rums, and I’m not sure which version this was. Next time I’m in the Penny I’ll look at the label. I thought it was very good. My server, another big guy with a beard, told me that it used to be impossible to get in this area until he convinced the ABC stores to stock it. Then you could only buy it by the case, but now it sells so well you can buy it by the single bottle. It’s heartwarming stories such as this that keep me on my grueling quest for the legendary 69 drinks.

Seven days, 14 drinks, and no Rafe. No one in the Penny had seen him for weeks, maybe months. I know he must be around, remember, I saw him last week outside my house on a moonlit night.

Didn’t I?





One thought on “Thirty

  1. Allen thanks for the drink review, I took some notes to save myself the time and money for exploring on my own. My son knows I am looking at small batch bourbon for sipping. He bought Willett pot still reserve 94 proof. It’s a Ky whiskey. Very attractive bottle. They won an award sometime back, sounded promising. Then I read the ‘nose’ is vanilla lemon cake and the ‘palate’ is caramel, vanilla, spices and citrus! So its in the china cabinet unopened! Too bad its cost somewhere between $50 – $60. Everything is foo foo these days. As you said syrupy sweet, fruity and medicinal over tones! yuck! I think I’ll just buy some Old Taylor and be done with it


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s