Tasting and Review – ‘Belmont and Brownies’ with The Spirit Specialist
As you may have seen a couple of months ago we attended the ‘Roaring Twenties’ with The Spirit Specialist. We adored how intimate that evening was, as well as the fun of being able to hear the other participants reactions and tasting notes, so we signed up for his Belmont and Brownies evening.
Belmont and Brownies …
This tasting was a little different to the Roaring Twenties as each whisky was paired with a brownie. Made by Momma Brown’s these brownies are local to Ben’s shop in Howden. We were also treated to a joint presentation from Ben and the family that runs Belmont Farm in Virginia. Chuck and his daughter Chrystal presented each whiskey, as well as regaling us with funny tales of Chuck’s history in the American Air force, and his experience making whiskies and bourbons.
Chuck is very much one of the worlds livelier characters. The introduction for the tasting featured a short video, where Chuck took us around his farm detailing their process from crop all the way to bottling. At one point he is talking about their water filtration process where – bear with me here! – on a first video shoot, he was able to rattle of eight or nine different stages of their water filtration process in one breathe! It was definitely a sight to behold. Ben later asked him about a rumour he had heard regarding electrifying a cask of their spirit. This was indeed true, as it was part of a Discovery Channel show called Moonshiners. Chuck confirms that they were trying to speed up the ageing process, and you can in-fact buy this stuff – although not from Belmont Farm.
So what about the whiskies …
What did we taste …
Virginia Whiskey – 43% ABV
Nose: marzipan, apples, vanilla and honeycomb
Palate: very smooth, apples, vanilla and brown sugar – almost like apple crumble
Finish: light pepper from the applewood casks
What a way to start the evening. The Belmont Farm Virginia Whiskey (trademarked, we might add!) is matured in local applewood casks. Due to the strict bourbon regulations, this technically rules it out from being classed as a bourbon.
This is a great whiskey – very smooth, fruity, fresh, and most importantly drinkable! The mash percentage is 51% corn and 24.5% barley and wheat. These leads to a very well rounded, and rich texture. The applewood casks provide an undertone of pepper which helps keep the drink honest. We got the feeling that this would make a wonderful base for an Old Fashioned cocktail.
It went really well with the espresso browning pairing. Rich and moist the coffee wasn’t overpowering, helping to highlight the fruity notes of the whiskey.
Bonded Virginia Whisky 6 y/o – 50%
Nose: vanilla, orange, buttery and tobacco
Palate: nutmeg, orange oil, buttercream, dark chocolate, wood and tobacco
Finish: peppery, tobacco smoke and more orange – a nice alcohol punch
This whiskey has the same mash make up as the Virginia Whiskey – however, this is finished in ex-bourbon casks for roughly the last 24 months of its ageing.
Slightly more robust on the palate, it packs a real punch with it being at cask strength. A more complicated tasting profile, with a strong body, really bringing through the elements of spice, tobacco, and underlying notes of nuts.
Paired with the delicious maple and pecan brownie.
Straight Bourbon 3 y/o – 46% ABV
Nose: buttery caramel, honey, some coco and apple
Palate: rich, hints of nut, caramel, vanilla, peppery woodyness, can tell there is an intense char from the barrel
Finish: creamy, rye spice, lovely mouth coating, lots of brown sugar, it continues to develop with time
We will be the first to say that we used to pass bourbon off as scotch’s little brother, and didn’t really pay much attention to it. HOWVER, we have lately opened our eyes and are fully on the pathway to conversion!
Full disclosure – we have already ordered a bottle of this from Ben – which hopefully indicates just how fabulous this is. Once again this has the same mash make up as the other two. Honey is balanced by the nuttiness, with full body, and a creamy mouth feel.
The Fig and Walnut brownie was delicious also – not the biggest fan of figs, but the sweetness of the fruit matched really well with the honey from the bourbon.
American Single Malt 3 year old – 43% ABV
Nose: honey, leather, malt, hay
Palate: smooth, malty like a breakfast cereal in milk, citrus follows with hints of vanilla
Finish: nutty, pepper spice, light notes of jam, lingers on the tongue, a lovely long finish
As a single malt my interest is immediately peaked. American single malt whiskies are rare – any recommendations are gratefully received! A young whiskey at only three years old, however it carries more like a 10 – 12 y/o – an absolute testament to the skill of Chuck & Co.
A wider flavour profile that the others. Malt is met with hints of fruit, honey, and balance by spice from the casks.Paired with the Raspberry and Pistachio brownie as well this is a great penultimate dram.
In the immortal words of Bob Ross we also had a happy little accident with this one as well but more on that later. We have put our names on the waiting list for one when there is stock again and we can’t wait!
Butterscotch Whisky – 40% ABV
Nose: butterscotch, toffee, cream and honeycomb
Palate: Werthers original, sticky toffee pudding
Finish: creamy butterscotch, great mouth coating, lovely sweetness
This was definitely a fun dram! Think butterscotch angel delight pudding. A very sweet whiskey with a flavour profile similar to a liqueur but without the tackiness. This would make a wonderful post dinner drink as a replacement for Limoncello.
Momma Brown’s did a wonderful job with the 85% dark chocolate brownie also. Balancing such a sweet drink with a typically sweet baked rectangle of joy is tough but this was perfect!
So onto that little accident … whilst switching between drams to compare I inadvertently mixed the single malt with the butterscotch whiskey. The spicy maltiness from the single malt levelled the sweetness -. it totally worked!
Tastings with The Spirit Specialist …
Chuck is very passionate about his whiskies and you can’t help but get carried away with his enthusiasm. The .craftsmanship and care that has gone into each of these expressions is clear to see. His stories from himself and Chrystal were great bringing us all on a journey with them. A real treat getting to see the truly family vibes of this distillery.
If you are ever that way I strongly encourage you to go and visit I know we are certainly going to try as they are only around 70 miles outside of Washington DC.
We’re going to be keeping our eyes peeled on the Spirit Specialist website for more upcoming tastings – so far we’re two for two being brilliant evenings!