This is my first and last post of the year. 2014 seems to have slipped away at the IAE south coast branch; not quite as bad as "The Lost Weekend", though. Now, if I was going to write about anything, it would be Maplay.
This is from the US and is made by fermenting and distilling maple syrup, which is then aged. An interesting point for readers is that this is genuine moonshine, i.e. it is illicitly distilled (at least in its country of origin). As such, it has no official bottle, but a picture of spirit can be found below.
Nose: Bright, with some dry, woody notes to start, before moving onto rich and intense maple and nut flavours, as well as hints of vanilla, butterscotch, and cream brule.
Taste: There's a pleasant texture to the spirit, with the alcohol upfront and then a gently unfolding patchwork of sweet confectionery and spice notes, very similar to the nose with the addition of stone fruit and a touch of chocolate and plum jam. The finish is long and lingering, with lots of dry, nutty maple and pecan notes.
Beautifully viscous, with an intriguing dry - almost grainy - woody start. This is followed by the flavour of very dark chocolate (think 95%), then sweeter notes of roasted cashews and pecans, as well as a subtle maple element that is rather delicious. There is also a slight herbal, fruity note throughout, somewhat reminiscent of vermouth.
This is an intriguing drink, which has elements of both a dry and a sweet Manhattan backed up by the complexity of the spirit, which is easily equal to most whiskey versions. Rich spice, vanilla, and cassia are accompanied by hints of cinder toffee, toasted nuts, and that dry, maple element. If you like Manhattans, this is one to try.
A soft and smooth drink with the characteristic bitterness of the drink at the end. The Maplay gives some of the dryness and spice that you would expect from a gin, but also adds a complex sweetness and complements the sweet vermouth very nicely.
Simply superb. This is easily my favourite way to enjoy the spirit. I've been a fan of substituting sugar for maple syrup in whisky Old Fashioneds for a while, but this just takes it one step further. Simple, yet luxurious; the bitters, water, and sugar seem to tease out a whole array of flavours from the Maplay - all of the notes previously referred to come through in a chorus.
As you can guess, I really like the Maplay and it is a shame that, for the moment, it remains unavailable. It is a fascinating spirit with a legion of potential fans out there ready to discover it. My favourite drink was the Old Fashioned.