Ancient Orange Mead (2012) Tasting Notes

IMG_5077This one gallon batch from 2012 was my first foray into wine and mead. I followed a very popular recipe that can be found all over the internet. I remember it being a bit harsh at first, but later bottles smoothed out a little and became somewhat enjoyable.

I bottled most of the batch in standard twelve ounce beer bottles. They are all gone. The one bottle left is the only one that was in anything different. It is a quart (or is it liter?) flip top bottle that I bought for this use and has been tied up ever since. I think it is finally time to open it up.

The flip top obviously had a good seal. There was no carbonation pop, but it was stuck in place well enough to still plink a solid sound as I opened it. The orange aroma came out right away. I don’t remember getting so much orange initially, but before even pouring it, the aroma is all over the place.

It poured somewhat clear, though no where near the clarity of the wine kits I’ve been writing about the last couple days. The color is a bit darker, too. This is more gold than yellow. Maybe even a little orange. It reminds me of an un-carbonated version of the Triple Valor I’ve been drinking lately.

Taking a proper sniff from the glass, I still get a lot of orange aroma but it is joined by a bready character. This was fermented with bread yeast, is that where that’s coming from? There isn’t much honey in the aroma, but this was made with cheap grocery store clover honey, not the most characterful honey around. Alcohol is well hidden in all this, though I don’t know how much alcohol is actually in it, the harshness I remember certainly doesn’t come through in the aroma.

Finally taking a sip, I get a mixture of the orange and bread with some sweetness. A sort of orange marmalade character comes out of this combination. Alcohol also now shows itself and the honey does come through in the end.

I get the impression that this is actually very dry, but it somehow tastes sweet. It tastes sweet but it feels dry. It is sort of strange. This is a pretty intense drink that goes all over the place between first being brought up to the mouth and going down the throat. I enjoy it, but I think one glass is probably plenty for a sitting.

Back to the honey in the finish. It is sort of flat and one dimensional on its own. Seems like the honey you’d get in a little foil topped plastic container to dip fast food in. It is lucky there is so much else going on here, because this honey could not carry the show on its own.

After even the honey, there is a burst of cinnamon. The cinnamon was much more intense when this was young. It is much better with the tamer spice. Now it is there to clean things up at the finish without getting in the way.

This mead is a mix of a bunch of interesting elements, I’m not sure that it perfectly comes together, though. I’m glad to have made it, but I don’t plan to repeat it. It gave me a chance to try my hand at mead without much investment of time or money, but now that I’m in, I’ll make some different decisions on future batches.

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