Tag Archives: steve coomes

Casa Noble Joven Review

Casa Noble Joven

 

CasaNoble_JovenFew spirits I’ve tasted—tequila or otherwise—grabbed my attention the way Casa Noble Joven did when I tasted it at the distillery two years ago. Traveling with a press group led by the distillery’s CEO, Pepe Hermosillo, we’d consumed multiple expressions of Casa Noble while there. But this one, packing a 104 proof punch, was simply electrifying.

Not because it was hot or a peppery-boozy tongue lasher, but because at nearly still strength and without any aging, the tequila told the story of the agave from which it came better than any I’d had at that point in my life.

A couple of my peers didn’t agree. They weren’t comfortable with the proof and said Joven overpowered their palates. I thought privately, “You’re missing out! Try it again and get used to it!”

Drinking this way is part of life where I come from in Louisville, Ky. That’s Bourbon Country, where high-proof spirits are preferred by many because that’s where the flavors are. Sure, it takes practice to nose and sip such rocket fuel correctly, but it’s worth it when you taste George T. Stagg 141 proof or a barrel-strength Four Roses.

But Casa Noble Joven didn’t demand such patience. It was—to my palate—immediately drinkable after a few swirls in the glass. Instead of a burn, it felt as if slightly carbonated, a delightful buzzing sensation.

The nose was abundantly fragrant: floral, tropical-fruity and loaded with heaps of roasted agave. It may still be the most inviting tequila I’ve ever nosed. The flavor was lush, laden with sweet agua miel, spicy white pepper and highlands agave minerality. Unlike some of my colleagues, I wanted more and received it in a generous pour from Hermosillo, who smiled in approval.

Two days later, at a tequila dinner in Louisville attended by Hermosillo, I met a liquor store owner who’d bought an entire barrel for his store and was having it bottled. I had to have one. Once acquired, I rationed it out slowly and carefully, treasuring it.

Don’t miss this part: That turned out unnecessary when I made a cocktail with it. Here’s why. Even though I love Joven straight, my standard 2-ounce pour of tequila (any spirit) took over the drink, not the desired effect. Next time I used 1.5 ounces and it was perfect. I’d never had a better margarita.

But wasn’t it too costly at $50 a bottle to use in a cocktail?

Not at 1.5 ounces per pour. When I did the math, I figured out that using Joven to make the ultimate margarita (scratch sour mix only) was actually less expensive than pouring 2 ouncees of Casa Noble’s 80 proof Crystal. Crystal is an exceedingly fine blanco, but its younger brother is even better.

Cannot recommend this one highly enough—if you can find it.

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,About Steve Coomes

Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.


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Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke

steve coomes, ham, hogCongratulations to Tequila Aficionado Contributing Writer, Steve Coomes on his new release, Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke!

“Few things are as timeless and southern as a country ham. Gone are the days of considering it a blue-collar staple that is too often overcooked, squashed between biscuit halves or served swimming in red-eye gravy. Today, country ham has found its place among the finest European cured meats and is served at ritzy restaurants as thinly sliced charcuterie or as a garnish on pricey appetizers. The makings of every country ham are the same—hogs, salt and smoke—but these hams undergo an aging process that is no less demanding, varied and fine-tuned than the process for aging the world’s finest wines. Get the rub on the history of curing pigs in the Country Ham Belt from food writer Steve Coomes, who consults the best in the ham-making business on everything to do with this salty, southern delicacy.”

 

Steve’s book is available in both Kindle and Paperback at Amazon.com, so click here to get it now! 

Read Sharon Thompson’s writeup of Steve’s book in the Lexington Herald Leader here. 

“Coomes takes readers on a journey from the first hog to arrive on American soil to interviews with ham craftmasters and how to cook a ham.

Coomes includes stories from Newsom, Bill Robertson Jr. (Finchville Farms in Finchville); Ronnie and Beth Drennan (Broadbent’s B&B Foods in Kuttawa); Charles Gatton Jr. (Father’s Country Hams in Bremen); Brian Harper (Harper’s in Clinton); June and Leslie Scott (Scott Hams in Greenville); and ham makers in Virginia and Tennessee.”

Find Steve on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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Tequila Penasco Anejo by Steve Coomes

 logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbonThe Ohio Valley’s schizophrenic spring weather has had an unexpectedly positive effect on my home liquor cabinet. Since it’s been too warm for the furnace and too cool for the air conditioner, the house temp has averaged about 75 degrees for two months. And one of the most notable beneficiaries is Tequila Penasco Anejo (the bourbon has benefitted, too!).

 

Sipped somewhere in the mid-70s one evening, the blooming butterscotch and cooked agave nose was brilliant. A good bit more swishing elevated vegetal notes, hints of mint, lemongrass, and aguamiel. Since temperature raises alcohol volatility, I remained wary of vapor burn. Still, walking that fine line between elegant fragrance and fire was worth it.

[Tweet “Blooming butterscotch and cooked agave nose was brilliant on @tequilapenasco”]

 

The flavor of this spirit, rested 14 to 16 months in oak, was bright and brilliant, launching with all the predictable barrel notes of vanilla and light caramel, even touches of chocolate. Held in the mouth, the añejo delivered lush floral notes backed by cinnamon and some straw. After swallowing, that rumor of chocolate reappeared and then dissolved into bruléed sugar, butterscotch and toffee. Given a brief nap in the glass—and trust me, it’s hard to put down—this expression offered up orange peel, wood and again butterscotch, joined by coriander.

[Tweet “Lush floral notes backed by cinnamon and some straw in @tequilapenasco”]

logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbon

 

Some spirits lose their body when warm, but not this one. It was full and coated both glass and mouth evenly, always generous and soft to every surface. Vigorous swirling of the golden expression yielded numerous narrow legs lined up and evenly spaced as the Rockettes in action. Think that’s a bit much? Have a look for yourself. (Maybe it was the glass?)

[Tweet “Tequila Penasco Anejo, like a glass full of Rockettes! @tequilapenasco”]

 

Sadly, Tequila Peñasco did not supply any press information, such as what its products cost. A quick web search revealed only the brand’s notoriously wonky website and expired liquor store discount offers for the añejo, but no details. That’s unfortunate given that I’d like to know how it stacks up (at the cash register) against its peers.

 

Suffice it to say, though, if you find it, get it if it fits your budget. It’s a straight-up fine sipper.

 

Follow Penasco online: FacebookTwitter.

 

 

 

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Tequila Penasco Reposado by Steve Coomes

penasco, reposado, tequila, Tequila Penasco Reposado

The quality of tequila pushing into the U.S. market is so high these days that it’s hard to write a really bad review.  It’s easy to be wowed by some more than others, and some, though good, make me question the price point, but I have yet to find one I’d swear off drinking again.

Tequila Peñasco Reposado has extended that winning streak for all the correct reasons:  flavor, aroma and color are all what a reposado is supposed to represent–that perfect balance between a blanco’s vibrancy and that kiss of maturity born of brief barrel rest.

That I liked it this much was particularly surprising given my not-so-favorable reaction to its sibling Tequila Peñasco Plata, an expression I thought fine, but unexciting.  The reposado, however, delivers a 180 as a super-enjoyable sipper.  Every time I’ve drunk it, I’ve always wanted more because it’s so flavorful and easygoing.

[Tweet “What a reposado is supposed to represent. @wordchew @tequilapenasco”]

In just four to six months barrel time, it makes quick friends with the wood, but no inappropriately deep relationships.  Like a new college graduate who shows some maturity gained in his matriculation, this expression displays complexity while maintaining its youthfulness.  Sip it neat or use it in a cocktail–it’s flexible!  Given my druthers, though, I’d choose this neat.

[Tweet “Sip it neat or use it in a cocktail–it’s flexible! @wordchew @tequilapenasco”]

Its light gold tint is alluring and hints accurately of a light body with a clean finish.  On the front of the palate come good wood accents, touches of cinnamon and just a whisper of pepper.  After a few sips I pick up some fruit, wood flavors and even some crème brulée on the exhale.  This is a spirit any novice tequila sipper could enjoy straight.

Aerating and swirling bring out some butterscotch and brown sugar notes, followed by a good dose of vapor, so don’t nose it too closely like I did (and do too often).  Let it rest and the brown sugar returns alongside a scant bit of toasted bread.

[Tweet “A super-enjoyable sipper. @wordchew @tequilapenasco”]

What tingles the tongue up front softens quickly at mid-palate and disappears before reaching the back.   No, it’s not much for finishing, but hey, after less than a half year in the barrel, what do you expect?  Maybe that quick disappearing act is what leaves me so eager for more when I’m finished.

Find Penasco online here.

Follow Penasco on Twitter here.

Follow Penasco on Facebook here.

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.


 

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Herradura Coleccion de la Casa Review By Steve Coomes

herradura, Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

By Steve Coomes, Tequila Aficionado Contributing Writer

In October, I visited Casa Herradura Tequila distillery, in Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico, where I and five spirits writers tasted the new Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado. Aged 11 months in American Oak and finished an additional three months in cognac barrels, the new tequila, released this fall left me both perplexed and intrigued.
After just a few sips, I was challenged to conceive what master distiller Maria Theresa Lara was seeking from the second barrel maturation. Clearly, it wasn’t the common profile of an añejo.

Its tasting notes claim a hint of smoked oak, but it eluded my nose and palate. Agave, however, was well represented, as were some delicate vegetal notes. Though leggy in the glass, the mouthfeel was lean: a quick entry followed by a quick exit. A writer beside me described its finishing as “drying,” which was dead on: neither abrupt and sherry-like, nor lengthy and tequila-like.

Curious about the reposado on which the Cognac Finish was built, I asked if we could taste it, and our hosts happily obliged. The differences were stark. The Cognac Finish lacked most of its cousin’s sweetness and fuller mouthfeel. Where one may imagine a double dose of wood might amp up the vanilla, caramel and cinnamon, all three were somewhat muted.

The trade-off was redolent spice, especially white pepper, an abundance of agave, lightly herbaceous undertones and hints of citrus and pineapple. When we lunched later, its lean profile paired amazingly well with a menu that included raw clams and roasted lamb.

This is a sophisticated tequila, well balanced and nicely structured. It plays no tricks and keeps no secrets. What you get after a few minutes’ rest in the glass is largely what you get 20 minutes later—if you let it rest that long that is. Suggested retail: $89 per 750ml bottle; to be sold in Mexico, United States, El Salvador and Australia.

 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.

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