Tied up in a Knot

I’m veering off the wine trail this week to take a look at two interesting — and tasty — beverages from Europe that will lend a flair to any mixologist’s repertoire.

I’m not the kind of consumer of liquor that goes for the complicated concoctions that require a science degree to prepare. Most of the hard stuff I drink usually comes with a single mixer — cola, club soda, fruit juice — or on the rocks by itself.

I’ve sampled a wide range of Scotch and tried most of the major American-made whiskeys, but Irish whiskey has never been a major interest.

Sure, I have tried the national brands — Jameson’s and Bushmill’s are decent — but in my limited exposure, I’ve not tasted any other Irish spirit like the Knot, a 100-proof bombshell from the William Grant & Sons distillery, which also produces two legendary Scotch whiskeys — Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

The Knot is delightful. There’s a hint of honey on the nose and on the tongue.

You can taste the whiskey, but it’s smooth. No rough edges and the aftertaste lingers delightfully in the back of my mouth.

The Knot ($28) has a creamy finish. There’s a shot of vanilla, too. That’s probably helped along by aging in wooden barrels or casks.

There’s a series of funny videos, part of an tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign, that guide imbibers on the proper approach to The Knot. Basically, the Knot is meant to be enjoyed straight, from a shot glass without a lot of shenanigans or fanfare.The videos, which may be inappropriate for youngsters, are posted online at youtube. I wouldn’t open them at work.

It may be blasphemy, but I enjoyed the Knot better from a snifter, which helped focus the aroma. And, the whiskey was also quite nice on the rocks with club soda. I bet it would make a killer Irish coffee, too.

From Ireland to Sicily in a Bottle

I learned about the Knot from an acquaintance from the wine industry who had switched jobs and now works in the spirits trade. She also sent me a sample of an Italian blood orange liqueur called Solerno.

The Solerno is dynamite if you like the taste of blood oranges as much as I do.

The bittersweet, red juice of a ripe blood orange is out of this world, to my taste buds. I love the fresh-squeezed juice by itself or in a screwdriver, which would be even better with the addition of some Solerno. A shot in a glass of lemonade or limeade would be interesting, too.

In addition to sanguinello oranges, there are also lemons in the Solerno that give it a nice tang. The scent is heavy with blood orange aromas. You can taste all of the fruit, from the rind and pith to the luscious juice.

Sonoma Comes to SF 

Instead of driving into wine country, check out the Sonoma in the City tasting at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on Tuesday July 12. More than 100 wineries representing the diversity of Sonoma County will be pouring from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $55-$100, available online and at the door.

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