Wine Clubs

Review of Herzog Limited Edition Lodi Zinfandel 2003, WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey and Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky.


By Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon


Washington Jewish Week  August 27, 2015


herzog wine cellarsFor those who enjoy wine on a regular basis, belonging to a wine club is an excellent way to keep an adequate supply on hand. Many wineries run them. The wines are customarily selected especially for subscribers and provide discounts, early releases, special events and often a variety or blend that may not be available to the general public. For the much more limited kosher market, private wine clubs are currently run out of CA by the Hagafen Cellars in Napa, the Covenant Winery in Berkeley, and the Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard. All outstanding producers of kosher wine with worthwhile wine clubs.

Besides winery-run wine clubs, there is also a well-trodden path for online retailers, subscription fulfillment companies, and even media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Again, the kosher market is much more limited, though and similar operations have some options. Brick-n-mortar retailers have also joined this trend with bundles of selected wines with special pricing, wine tasting events, and by establishing their own membership based wine clubs. There will soon be a local kosher option through Moti’s Market in Rockville, Maryland…more about that very soon!

We recently enjoyed a wonderful example of a wine-club exclusive bottling of kosher wine with the Herzog Limited Edition Lodi Zinfandel 2003. Recently opened, it displayed rich and spicy red fruit aromas and a balanced structure that belied its age. It was still fruity and showed the characteristic dark and red fruit flavors, pepper, anise and spiciness with hints of oak in the unexpectedly lengthy finish. Certainly mellower than younger Zins and also lacking any burn despite its 14.5% alcohol, it was a delightful surprise and further evidence that consumers can truly benefit when the winemaker delivers a distinctive selection.

Spirits-wise, with the High Holidays rapidly approaching, we thought it useful to remind ourselves that some things in life should not be taken too seriously, and booze is certainly one of those things. So we thought we would once again consider two great, if otherwise inconveniently named spirits.

While American Jews do not often agree on ideological and religious matters, we can all agree, at least, that our tradition has never thought well of eating pig. Drinking it, however, may not always be a problem. Here then, we present WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey ($70+) and Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky ($35) for your consideration.

WhistlePig is actually a Canadian import that is bottled on a former dairy farm in Shoreham, Vt. Aged 10 years, WhistlePig is 100 proof (50 percent alcohol by volume) and 100 percent rye whiskey. WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey offers interesting, lively spice notes of mint, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, with dried orange peel, vanilla, toffee, hot chili peppers, caramel, and butterscotch, with a long, dry spicy finish. This is a rich, full and delicious rye whiskey.

Leaving rye for Scotch while sticking with porcine names, Pig’s Nose is a sensational blended Scotch whisky. It is the flagship brand of Alex Nicol’s Spencerfield Spirit Company, the other anchor in the portfolio is called Sheep Dip Blended Malt Whisky. When Nicol left Whyte & Mackay to start his own venture, he took the Pig’s Nose and Sheep Dip brands with him as part of his severance.

The name “Pig’s Nose” is explained on the bottle: “In Gloucestershire ’tis said that our Scotch is ‘as soft and smooth as a Pig’s Nose.’ ” We’ve no idea exactly what that means, but this five-year-old blend of Lowland, Speyside and Islay single malts and grain whiskies is certainly smooth.

It is also wonderfully drinkable – big, rich, and malty with seductive notes of caramel, vanilla, unripe apple and pear, cereal grains (oat and malted barley), golden raisins, dried apple, candied orange peel, orange marmalade, brown sugar, baked honey, a touch of cinnamon, Shiraz-wine-like-black pepper, an acidic touch reminiscent of cider vinegar, and with a slight but pungent whiff of coal smoke. The finish is moderately long and drying, and improves with a splash of water. This is an excellent, if slightly harder-to-find, blended Scotch whisky. L’Chaim!

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