Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Evening Of Scotch & Chocolate

The spread - photography by George Gensler

This event went down Friday March 1, 2013 and it was a tremendous success and a great time.

Two remarkable blog posts chronicle this event from the perspective of the blogger's table in the rear of the room where some real fun was going on:

Allison Patel's remarkable set of epiphanies and very interesting observations:

and Susannah Skiver Barton's epicurean perspective and razor sharp tasting notes: 

As for me - I can't do much better than to paste the comment I added to the bottom of Allison's blog post:

"OMG – you got so much out that event, Allison (a whole lot more than I did – but perhaps that’s to be expected). Thanks so much for sharing your deep insights. Perhaps modestly you forget to mention the peak emotional moment of the night: When I saw that there was going to be adequate time I pulled out a bottle of Brenne. Allison cautions the house that Brenne is a delicate flavor and that it’s actually not such a good idea to serve it after Ardbeg Uigeadail (a titanic heavily sherried peat MONSTER at cask strength – perhaps one of the most richly flavored whiskies in the world – a palate killer) and right before Balcones Brimstone – an even more titanic palate buster. But Brenne STOLE THE SHOW. The room exploded with excitement. Not just about the story, and about the beautiful woman who had created the brand sitting in their midst, but about how incredible the whisky tasted and how incredibly well it paired with Pacari 65% Manabi. It was a delicious and, frankly unanticipated pairing success. It was a spur of the moment thing – I hadn’t even tried it going in – but the lovely creamy floral bubble-gum esters and apricot tangerine citrus flavors locked in a sensuous French kiss with the luscious dark alkaline sweet of the rich dark Ecuadorian chocolate. Half a dozen people demanded on the spot to know where they could buy this astoundingly silky feminine and succulent drammage. Deep personal secret – of the two bottles I had on hand, I had selfishly chosen to share the cask #264 and keep the cask #257 to myself because in typical “color-ist” fashion I thought the #264, being a shade lighter, wouldn’t be as delicious. As amazing as the cask #257 is however, I think cask #264 might be even better. It was astounding. Anyway – the whole event was a huge success – but you guys were really having the time of your life at that back table with Clay. The rule clearly is: “having Chocolate? Bring Clay”. I’m jealous! I was too busy blathering on – and I missed some of the best fun at that back table with you guys!"

Here follows the blog post as originally posted on January 30, 2013 announcing the upcoming event which went down March 1st:

I've been preparing for months for my first public pro whisky event - a chocolate whisky pairing event with Pacari chocolate and some of my favorite drams to be held at The Morgan Library's Dining Room March 1st. The pairings went through a rigorous testing procedure to see what, in technical terms: "tasted good". The gist is that good whisky and high cacao dark chocolate have strong flavors. Many pairings of them can be dissonant, distracting, or just "ok". Some, rather unusual ones, however, can be genius. I wrote a bit in a previous post about the process of finding winners:

Chocolate importer / expert Francisco X. Vivar helped flesh out the concept and is providing material support and expertise for this event. He will be a "celebrity presence" at the event as well.

Pacari Chocolate's Francisco X. Vivar helps explore the concept.

There were additional sessions, including one with Susannah Skiver Barton, of the epicurean food and whisky blog and her husband Sanjay

Susannah Skiver Barton & Sanjay Barton working hard.

The spread. It's for research.
Susannah provided excellent and detailed feedback. She had a real impact on the selections.

I sadly didn't take pictures of the meeting where I demonstrated the selected pairings for key staffers of Restaurant Associates - the company that runs The Morgan Dining Room - the venue for the event. It was wonderful. At the conclusion, rapidly cleaning up, I took the unusual (read "desperate") step of vatting the dregs of all the selections except Hedonism. They were left to marry for a week. Tasting notes of this odd accidental vatting are posted on

Vatting all of them. Genius or idiocy?

The event is listed on - the essential resource for finding out about whisky events in NYC. The posted listing on nycwhisky reads as follows:

Notice - The event is currently SOLD OUT.

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 6:00pm
The Morgan Dining Room is delighted to present an evening of chocolate whisky pairing featuring award-winning gourmet Ecuadorian dark chocolate from Pacari and a carefully selected selection of fine whiskies curated and presented by Josh Feldman, blogger of The Coopered Tot
Friday, March 1st from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
The pairings are:

  • Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or – paired with Pacari Piura 70% regional varietal
  • Compass Box Hedonism – paired with Pacari Lemongrass
  • Glendronach 15 "The Revival" - paired with Pacari 65% Manabi regional varietal
  • Aberlouer A'Bunadh – paired with Pacari 65% Manabi regional varietal
  • Ardbeg Uigeadail – paired with Pacari Salt & Nibs
  • Balcones Brimstone – paired with Pacari Fig
This tasting takes place in an intimate venue in a historic New York City landmark. It will take place as a symposium and exploration with free exchange of impressions and experiences.
There is a fee for this event: $65 if reserved by February 20, $75 beginning February 21. Sales tax and staffing fee additional.
For reservations or inquiries please call 212-685-0008 x589
The Morgan Dining Room is located inside The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue, New York City

This event should be a TON of fun. If you are going to be in NYC March 1st - come on by and catch my act.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tasting Mackmyra deeply: The IWSC European Distiller Of The Year

Mackmyra, the innovative Swedish distillery created by a group of friends following their dream at the end of the 20th century, is the IWSC's European distiller of the year for 2012. (Innovative Irish distillery Cooley had been the prior winner of that award for 4 consecutive years). Personally, I wasn't surprised in the least. I had just been tasting some of Mackmyra's Special releases and private cask expressions and had been thrilling to the rich and varied ways the unique flavor profile Master Blender / Master Distiller Angela D'Orazio had crafted - floral, piney, & mineral - had been manifested in stunning and august ways. It is extremely impressive how Mackmyra has crafted a completely new and unique flavor profile and is now taking this profile to elegant and refined heights. Part of this story is the uniquely Swedish ingredients that are used - including the use of juniper twigs in the fuel for drying malt, Swedish barley in the mash, Swedish oak contributing to the barrel management mix, and some barrels aging in Bodas mine - below ground level. Mine aging is cool aging - which is a way of keeping whisky warm in the cold Swedish winter. But Swedish aging is cold climate aging and that goes against the grain of other young whiskies making a stir lately which feature high temperature maturation such as Balcones in Texas, Amrut in India, and Kavalan in Taiwan. Cold climate aging produces a more delicate spirit. Given that most of the Mackmyra expressions reviewed here are around 5 years old, keep that in mind.

Angela D'Orazio - creative vision behind Mackmyra - with the IWSC Trophy

Yet, this award news may have caused some people in the USA to scratch their heads. The only expression for sale here is Mackmyra The First - a tasty, but decided light dram. It isn't the flavor dense monster that usually inspires major accolades and awards. (This link goes to my prior review of The First). The First had taken a while to show its charms to me. It takes time to bloom in the glass, and even then its charms are subtle. Yet these charms are deep (read that review linked above - it's about quiet gentle beauty), and it gets under your skin with time. The First has evolved into a beloved dram. Fortunately (for me) I had had the opportunity to meet with Jonathan Luks - Mackmyra's Country Manager for the USA and had obtained some samples of some exciting other expressions to flesh out my understanding of what they are doing (full tasting notes follow immediately below).

Jonathan Luks - Country Manager

Jonathan and I had a wide ranging conversation which has some very important implications for all American whisky enthusiasts - concerning an idiotic US trade restriction. And there's something concrete you can do about it right now. I had assumed that Luks was meeting with me in part to tell me about new expressions coming to the United States. But that isn't the case at all. There are no current plans to import new expressions to the US - and I was quite surprised to learn the reason: bottle size. Mackmyra bottles at the European and world standard of 70cl (700ml). The US forbids import and sale of bottles at this size. The US only allows certain specified increments of 1 Liter. Because our old size was 1/5th gallon and this is close to 750ml, so 750ml is our standard whisky bottle size. The First happens to be the airline duty free market expression for Mackmyra - so they already had a 1 liter bottling of it in production. Thus this is the only bottling they do that is legal for sale in the USA. They are not willing to take on the cost and expense of a special 750ml bottling for the USA market because the cost of retooling is high, plus demand for their juice is plenty high elsewhere, where they can sell the 70cl bottles they already make. Suddenly the fact that interesting single cask bottlings are rare in the USA became obvious. All those fascinating German, Belgian, and UK bottlings are 70cl! As it turns out there is now a petition on to change this rule. It reads as follows:

"we petition the obama administration to:

allow for 700ml (and other sized) bottles of distilled spirits to be imported for sale into the United States.

According to the "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27, Section 5.47a, Metric standards of fill", only certain bottle sizes of distilled spirits are allowed to be imported into the United States. For example, that Section prohibits 700ml bottles, which is the standard bottle size for distilled spirits in most of the rest of the world. This prohibition reduces consumer choice because not all distilleries are willing to accommodate the 750ml bottle size required for importation into the United States. Furthermore, this prohibition increases the consumer costs, because distilled spirits have to be bottled specially for the US market. We are petitioning to have this regulation relaxed to allow for additional bottle sizes of distilled spirits to be imported into the United States."

You must register on the White House site to sign the petition - but it only takes a minute. I urge all US citizens reading this to do so.

An excellent blog post on the topic of US bottle size regulations is

To make matters worse, shipping regulations, always difficult in many States in the USA, have become even more complicated for the few of us who live in States where we can legally receive shipments from overseas. The UK has just classified whisky as "a dangerous substance" for shipping purposes. Gal Granov blogged about this today on Whisky Israel:

Part of why I'm so enthusiastic about changing these rules is the beauty of these Mackmyra expressions that you simply cannot buy in the USA:

Bruks (right), then Special 08, (2nd from right) then Special 06.

Brukswhisky 41.4% abv.

This is the entry level expression. Given that I already craved more richness from The First I was expecting to be disappointed in Brukswhisky. I wasn't.

Color: Pale yellow, Chardonnay

Nose: light vanilla orchid florals, juicyfruit gum, chalk mineral, lime pith, and a Sauvignon Blanc acid note.

Palate: entry is very light and has grassy sweet and berry tart in equal measure. Initially a tad thin. Spirit heat, grain, and a gentle musky dusky note, full of fruits and skins, that's rather nice. It's very young and light whisky - but it has a measure of elegance and tasty drinkability very close to on par with The First. A lovely light and fairly dry dram that's right for before dinner or hot weather.


Mackmyra Special 06 46.8% abv. "Summer Meadow"

Aged in both ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks.

Color: pale straw

Nose: Deceptively sweet and light at first sniff, there are depths which unfold and lure you in. The dominant impression is floral pear. The floral aspect is a light heathery baby's breath with powdery notes of talcum and deeper roses and even plum skin further off. The pear is a big swelling freshly cut green Anjou with sweetness, tartness, and rich estery perfume all the way home. Deeper down, where the roses lurk, are hints of flinty mineral and animal warmth in the musky traces. The gentleness invites you to nose deeper and as the aroma builds it keeps iterating in complexity. Lanolin and ambergris, raspberry, and mountain thimbleberry. Rose hips and white currant. There is also an animal aspect to the muskiness that melds with the sweet fruity floral to yield a pheramonic thrill that's almost sexual. I've never had this experience before. This is a luscious and unusual nose - yet one clearly kin to the "regular" Mackmyra expressions.

The palate entry is light as a feather and balanced between acid and sweet like a white wine. Asian pear, honeysuckle, pear and gooseberry flavors yield to gypsum rock and Chenin Blanc. The finish is similarly light: mineral, berry and slightly herbal- like you've quaffed a well made French 75. It is a nice palate, but can't quite live up to the glory of the nose.

Add a couple of drops of water, however, and watch out. The palate's shyness unleashes a stinging raspberry zinger of enriched mouth feel, up front sweetness, mid-palate spicy heat. The floral juicy pear stays intact and the mineral note creeps up and you get enough intensity that it becomes a clinic on the Mackmyra flavor profile: floral, berry, acid, mineral: wine-like and refined. It's glorious.


Mackmyra Special 08 46% abv. "Handpicked"

From the web site: "This whisky is made from our Elegant recipe that has been matured on a mix of bourbon casks, sherry casks and casks made of new Swedish and American oak and finished on French Sauternes cask."

Color: Pale Gold

Nose: Intensely floral and berried: Strawberries, lilacs, lilies, some lemon-orange citrus, distant roses, and a bit of Juicyfruit gum. Powdered mineral (talc or gypsum) and some salty musk lurk underneath. Like the Special '06 - it's feminine, luscious, and very sexy.

The palate entry is extremely light yet beguilingly floral, sweet and perfumed. There's a potent spicy spirit kick and a jolt of acid and berry flavor at mid palate with rose hips, white grape, white wine, and a hint of patchouli. Then rock dust, and juniper scented herbal bitters gradually wax. The finish is light and gentle with malty juicyfruit glow and faint berry.

Adding a few drops of water increases the flavor amplitude and slightly thickens the mouth feel. Spicy zinginess and fruit acids redolent of rose hips and blueberries enliven the otherwise shy mid-palate. Floral perfume, rose hips, white pepper, white wine, talc, and and broad and easy finish with juicyfruit gum turning to juniper pale malty glow.

It's another stunning tour de force of characteristic Mackmyra flavors: delicious, feminine, and unusual. Somehow delicate and light while being fresh, and acidic enough to set your mouth buzzing.


Mackmyra Begnt B1 49.8% 5ar

I asked: "The sample labeled "Begnt B1 49.8% 5ar" is what? Was that the private cask?"

Luks replied: "It means that it’s a sample of our private cask program named Mackmyra Reserve. You customize your own whisky and have different options regarding, oak type, recipe, name, warehouse etc. I enclose info about our latest and most popular potion, the gravity cask. We have very limited info on our English website regarding the cask program because we haven’t launch this outside of Sweden yet but we working on it.
This sample is from our elegant (not smoky) recipe on a bourbon cask. Its five years old and the alcohol is 49,8 %"

Color: Light Amber with golden notes.

Nose: Floral estery white pear Toffee, sultanas, mild olorosso sherry? floral Strawberry jam? sour berry, roses, and rich underlying bourbon, and earthy musky animal.

Huge opening. Toffee, honey, white grape, white pear, white tea, toffee and oak. Delicate at the turn. Strawberry, white currant, more flowery and acidic white grape. Oak in the turn and juniper berry, cedar, white wine and cherry malt glow in the finish.

Begnt is another delicious dram and is a stunning example of the flavor complexity of the underlying distillate and the sweet impact simple ex-Bourbon cask aging .


Elesvek Forlagvad (left), Begnt (second from left)

Mackmyra 69r Elesvek Forlagvad 57% abv.

Of this Luks says: "This sample is our pre-matured recipe which means that we have stored the whisky first in 200 liter barrels for three years and then we put the whisky into a virgin Swedish oak cask. This is also our unpeated recipe"

Color: rich coppery amber with henna glints

Elesvek Forlagvad 57%
Nose: Warm, complex and rich with a big floral rosy perfume swirled with strawberry acid, bourbon (and bourbon's apricot citrus), blueberries, honey, hazelnut, cocoa, juniper, and estery Spey fruity notes of white pear and green melon. Luscious and complex: a thicket to luxuriate in and take time to tease out. The admixing cocoa and berry toffee reads "sherried" even though the notes say nothing of it.

The entry is sweet and rich too. Toffee, strawberry, bourbon-cognac citrus sweet radiate in the opening. The midpalate is drying, leaner and more restrained, but blooms with herbal and mineral sophisticated notes, sandalwood oak perfume, radiant heat (this is 57%). The turn to the finish is remarkable gentle, cherry flavored and malty. There is effusive and well balanced oak mixing with the radiant berry scented cherry malt glow in the finish. This is an elegant panther: lean, elegant, and yet powerful and lush at all phases of the game.

A few drops of water ups the radiance of the berry flavors and increases the youthful acidity, both in the nose and the palate. The strawberry quality becomes darkly vinous - sherried. The sherry flavors are fantastic played against the Mackmyra flavor profile notes of acidic berry, juniper, floral vanilla oak and white wine minerality. Glorious.


In Sum...

Whisky is famously just barley, water, yeast, wood and time. Mackmyra takes Swedish versions of these, adds the conifer flavors of the far North via juniper twigs and the result of these novel ingredients is a novel flavor profile that meaningfully expands the whisky canon. This flavor profile has austere aspects (mineral, acid, and lightness), but it also has bewitching beautify (floral, berry, sexual musk).  The impressive thing for me - in tasting these - all examples of the "elegant" or unpeated variety of Mackmyra - is how varied and interesting this single distillate has been made via a variety of barrel management and handling practices. The careful and deliberate crafting here is evident.

The conclusions, for me, are these: 1) Mackmyra is a dynamic and interesting distillery to watch. The unique flavors are distinctive and mesmerizing 2) Angela D'Orazio is a gifted distiller and blender with a terrific palate. 3) The USA is the poorer for our 750ml import restriction for whisky because it is a barrier that keeps interesting new whiskies like these out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dewars 12 vs Johnnie Walker Black - Beauty or Poise

Dewar's 12 is one of the "101 Whiskies You Must Try Before You Die" according to Ian Buxton - and it turns out to have something compelling to offer. But I didn't, until recently. Why? I'm guilty of "entry-level preconception". It goes something like this: ten years ago I'm on a long flight. The airline cart only has a couple of whiskies on offer and Dewar's White Label is the one I pick. I spend the next hour trying to dig out some malt satisfaction drinking it neat - and fail and bitterly write the entire Dewar's line off. The Dewar's brand became conflated with the shortcomings of the entry level offering which is really just meant for mixing. If I had had Johnnie Walker Red Label that evening instead I might have written off the whole Johnnie Walker family too, I guess.

Buxton makes the point in "101 Whiskies" that Dewar's has upped its game under current management.  I took his word for it.  I had already decided to give Dewar's 12 a whirl and had tasted a dram. I found its nose beguiling. Later that day I attended a lovely dinner party at my friend Gurinder's house. As the evening wore down a bottle of Aberfeldy 12 came out. Lo and behold, here was that same beguiling nose, with an added richness to boot. Honey and heather with some lovely soft pineapple-apricot fruity nature. The concordance between the Aberfeldy and the Dewar's 12 was striking. In fact - that's the main "problem". Over on there was a thread a couple of years ago titled "Johnny Walker Black or Dewar's 12 yr.". ABV quipped: "I'm pretty happy with both but the Dewar's makes me want to go drink Aberfeldy while the JWB doesn't". Aberfeldy usually goes for around $45 here (NYC) and Dewar's 12 is usually $35. At Shopper's Vineyard now, in the post holiday sale mode, Aberfeldy is $37 and Dewar's 12 is $30. That slim price difference easily justifies the slightly richer Aberfeldy 12 over the Dewar's 12. But both are very good. And there are plenty of times when Dewar's 12 is handy and the rare Aberfeldy 12 isn't. And the question at hand is, if the choice at the bar is Dewar's 12 or Johnny Walker Black - a very likely scenario in this big cold world - what's the choice?

Dewar's 12 (left) Johnnie Walker Black (right)

Dewar's 12 40% abv.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: honey, paraffin, heather, and a whiff of some estery fruity florals: green pear, white melon, baby's breath. It's a light but lovely aroma. It's strikingly like Aberfeldy 12 - but a tad less rich.

Honeyed, sweet, and beguilingly malty on entry, Dewar's 12 strides boldly. The mid-palate adds warm and tasty notes of baked oat cakes with butter and clover honey with a slathering of marmalade that adds candied citrus notes and the waxing verge of citrus pith vegetal bitter. Light, warm, floral and frankly full on decent. The grainy note that marks this a blend shows up at the turn to the finish. It's at the moment where the sweet waxes into wood or bitter notes in many drams. Here, it's malty melding into a younger grain note. The finish that follows is brief, gentle, and warmly malty. After the excellent nose and entry it's not a gourmet experience - but it's not offensive either. This blend succeeds in satisfying my malt whisky monkey bone and is a potent weapon in the arsenal.

*** and a high 3 stars indeed.

Johnnie Walker Black Label 40% abv.

Color: full gold, a hair darker. Doesn't mean much as both products are colored with E150 caramel coloring.

Nose: Gentle floral esters, white melon, toffee, and vanilla perfume with a bit of citrus acid and a pickle note from faint iodine and a whiff of putty peat. Later there are some wood notes and a little hint of mint.

The palate entry is sweet and creamy with malt, toffee and, heather. The mid palate brings a gentle spirit heat but also a solid cereal grain note and bit of peat smoke. The transition to the finish brings in oak vanilla notes and a sense of the wood. Very well integrated, the blend is seamless and doesn't betray an underlying grainy flavor at all.


Head to head, it's a little bit of a conundrum. The Dewars 12 has more wayward spirit heat and more of the unwelcome flavors of not fully matured grain whisky peeking out at the end of the mid-palate and into the finish. Johnnie Walker Black Label enjoys a smoother, better integrated, and more convincingly blended presentation. However, the Dewars has a much lovelier, more richly fragrant nose. It has the sweeter entry and the superior flavor density through the mid-palate. The Dewars' bit of untidiness in the turn and the finish doesn't erase the exhuberant power and sweet thrill of what comes before. On the whole, Dewar's 12, in the current incarnation, is a richer and more involving whisky drinking experience - and I find that, for me, this gives it the edge. It's not a clean cut or across the board win in the least. JWBL is a composed and elegantly black dressed lady with comportment and breeding. Dewars 12 is a sprightly blonde with bouncing curls wearing a beautiful if slightly messy white crochet. Which you'd rather be with is highly dependent on mood. Dewars should be commended for crafting a blend that captures the soul of Aberfeldy. Johnnie Black for crafting a blend so seamless it's not easily apparent precisely which of it's many signature is foremost at all.

Johnnie Walker Black remains a touchstone of value for me. I frequently compare it to other blends and entry level single malts and it usually wins. Here are links to other posts on this blog on the topic:

Johnnie Walker Black Label Versus Chivas Regal
Johnnie Walker Black and Johnnie Walker Red review compared head to head.
Great King St. Artists Blend is a solid effort. Is it a Johnnie Walker Black and Chivas killer?
Glenrothes Select Reserve compared with Johnnie Walker Black Label

Friday, January 11, 2013

Boozeandinfused blog's banana infused Bourbon Old Fashioned.

A few months back G-LO from It's Just The Booze Dancing... blog ( told me about this incredible blog where these nice ladies were geniuses at infusing whiskey (and other spirits) with incredible flavors - which was incredibly easy and fun. Their blog is called

Now G-LO had infused some banana bourbon and that sounded like a good idea to me too. He and I and Alicia, the author of the recipe on boozeandinfused discussed how to do it and then, what you'd do with it. Alicia promised a cocktail recipe. G-LO said he was mainly drinking his straight - but ideas for some very sweet cocktails himself. In the end, however, no formal cocktail recipes came out of it. At first, after I made the bourbon, I had a sip or two - but it didn't blow my socks off by itself. Eventually I came up with the cocktail that follows. I'm not a cocktail guy - so I'll tell you right now, this is a simple whiskey Old Fashioned. Just, it is so delicious that it will make you cry. I had the idea of posting about it after seeing the following cartoon memed all over the place lately:

I ended up replying to a google+ thread that I couldn't abide by the message of this cartoon because I needed to make Manhattans and Old Fashioneds sometimes. Then I gave this recipe and I thought "I should really make this official". I've been meaning to write it down for ages.

Boozeandinfused blog's banana infused bourbon Old Fashioned

It only has 4 ingredients:

  1. The banana bourbon you'll make by following the instructions here:
  2. Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Aphrodite Bitters This is very important. These are amazing, complex, significantly cacao flavored bitters. See
  3. Turbinado Sugar (i.e. raw cane sugar). I used this.
  4. Ice

Preparation Steps

i) About a week or two before you want to have your drink cut up a few ripe bananas into a mason jar. Well cover them with whatever bourbon you choose. I used a 375ml flask of Wild Turkey 101. Allow to infuse for days or weeks. Periodically shake it to agitate.

ii) When done infusing (i.e. when it smells really really good to you) pour the whisky through some doubled up cheesecloth to strain out the solids and then decant back into the original bottle.

iii) take 1 tsp. Turbinado sugar (raw cane sugar - which is brown - but isn't "brown sugar"). I got mine at Trader Joe's. Dissolve in a few tsps of boiling water.

iv) Add a couple of ounces of your home made banana bourbon.

v) Add a few dashes of Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Aphrodite Bitters

vi) Fill with ice cubes, stir well, and enjoy.

This was so buttery rich and delicious I can't even begin to tell you. The sweetness and richness of the cane melds with the banana and bourbon like pecan pie. The cacao flavors of the Aphrodite bitters enriches and reinforces the sweet and rich and adds a needed edge that keeps it from being too sweet or cloying. It's not a chocolate-banana combo flavor like you might be thinking - although both those flavors are present (although in a bit drier form than you'd think). The Aphrodite bitters are subtle and complex - less "chocolate" than cacao nibs and herbs. Seriously. You'll thank me for this later.