Moving on from apricots, but still staying with eau de vies. Blood oranges have become kind of a trend fruit for European distillers. As a preview for a bigger article, I like to present the stunning Spiritus Rex Bloody O blood orange eau de vie to you. It is the successor of the enigmatic Stählemühle Moro eau de vie. Apart from that, the article also features a great bourbon. Of course, there is also a cocktail: In this case, I chose a Manhattan variation to showcase the special citrus eau de vie.
The blood oranges for the Spiritus Rex Bloody O grow on the slopes of the Etna mountain. The fruits are macerated hot, followed by a gentle distillation. While this alone would be special enough, on top of that the original recipe comes from Christoph Keller. Matthias Sievert and his Spiritus Rex distillery more or less are the official successor of the Stählemühle distillery. However, Mr. Sievert interprets the eau de vies in his own style. Sure, there are replacements for some Stählemühle eau de vies, but at the same time he has given the spirits a new, more modern look.
Blood oranges in perfection
It is hard to describe in words how perfect the Bloody O converts the taste of a blood orange into a distilled spirit. You can find multiplex blood orange and other orange notes in the bouquet and flavour. While those orange notes are accompanied by a whiff of orange flowers, in the taste there are more darker citrus notes with a hint of tannins. For me this might just be the best blood orange eau de vie you can currently buy. However, we will find out if this is true, when trying 14 different blood orange spirits in an upcoming article.
A famous name
However, on the bourbon for the Manhattan variation: The Yellow Stone Bourbon not only pays tribute to the oldest national park, but also to a big former brand, founded by Jacob Beam. For the revival of the Yellow Stone bourbon, the mashbill mostly consists of corn with additional rye and barley. Since the current Limestone Branch Distillery is still young, the Select is a sourced bourbon. The whisky consists of a blend of four and seven-year-old spirits and the whiskey is bottled at 47 % ABV.
Smooth, but complex
Well, of course given the choice I would always go for a truly craft American whiskey from a small distillery. However, there also are exceptionally good sourced whiskeys out there. This is also the case with the Yellowstone Select Bourbon. It is mellow, but yet complex with notes of plums and spices. It is quite “rye forward” without getting to rough around the edges. The Select is not as multilayered as other finished bourbons, but it tastes like a drinking strength bourbon should taste like!
Accompanying cherries and plums
Mixing with a premium eau de vie like the Spiritus Rex Bloody O of course is challenging. You should appreciate the spirit, but at the same time create something “bigger” by pairing it with other flavours. This is why I chose the Manhattan cocktail for a base recipe. Some recipes for it call for the addition of Maraschino or Curacao liqueurs. So, I thought an addition of blood orange flavour might fit it nicely. I used Byrrh instead of regular sweet vermouth, because I wanted to twist the recipe a bit more and because I thought that the quinine notes of the Byrrh seemed to go well with the tannins of the blood orange eau de vie. Instead of the spicy Angostura Bitters I opted for the more floral Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters.
1,5 cl Spiritus Rex Bloddy O
3 cl Byrrh Quinquina
½ oz Spiritus Rex Bloddy O
1 oz Byrrh Quinquina
Stir – strain – chilled Cocktail glass;
Garnish: Blood orange wheel;
Song: The Barr Brothers – Kompromat;
The “Kompromat” starts off with the familiar Manhattan taste. However, it only takes a second for the blood oranges notes to come trough. The cherry notes of the Byrrh really work well with the eau de vie and the bourbon. The lavender bitters just add subtle notes in the backround of the taste.
*The fact that I received a product reviewed in this article for free, did not – in any way – influence the rating of said product. The bourbon was provided by Perola.