Saturday Booze Recommendation? – the Velvet Jones edition
Me: “What’s the smallest bottle you have? A pint? Okay, I’ll take a pint.”
Liquor Store Clerk: “I’m surprised the plastic bottle doesn’t melt given what’s inside it.”
Nate is a fan of whiskey and, as such, made a recommendation. However, as he didn’t exactly sell his recommendation, I put it off for a while. But being a man of the people, I decided to give it a whirl. And that is how I came to imbibe the three year old Canadian Whiskey known as Black Velvet.
How does one describe Black Velvet, distilled under the strict auspices of the Canadian government? Normally when reviewing booze, one opts for words such as oak, vanilla, caramel, and leather–words that suggest rugged deliciousness and flavor notes. It is also important to make mention of the nose, the scents that rise out of the glass and tickle the olfactory glands, so here goes. Black Velvet produces a formidable aroma, one that stings the nostrils. It smells of hot, cheap alcohol; of reckless abandon and regret. On the tongue, it transforms into a piquant blend of gasoline, old Sugar Daddies, and, for the sake of authentic alcohol flavor, a drop of vanilla extract.
I endured Black Velvet in three ways. First, I poured out a meager amount, added a drop of water, and went neat. Surprisingly, it did not destroy my mouth or throat. Perhaps my expectations being sufficiently low, I was surprised at its drinkability. Sure, sure, my first glass of neat Black Velvet was also my last, but I neither went blind nor collapsed, so that is a plus. For my second pass, I mixed it with ginger beer. For the third, I followed this “aged” “whiskey” to its logical conclusion and mixed it with a Coke, full of natural high fructose corn syrup goodness, that someone left at my house seven or eight months ago. Both cocktails were pleasantly devoid of even the slightest hint of Black Velvet flavor. For that, it gets another plus. Finally, as it comes in a plastic bottle, if you imbibe Black Velvet with friends, get wicked smashed, and someone decides to wicked smash the bottle over your head, you are unlikely to suffer a head injury.
For those keeping score, here’s how Black Velvet fares:
Pros: the aforementioned bottle-smashing weakness, price, its vodka-esque ability to fade into the background of whatever it’s mixed with
Cons: the nose and flavor
So would I recommend Black Velvet? Hell no. But I will concede that it does serve two purposes. It contains alcohol, so drinking it will at least produce results. It’s also not so terrible that one would feel guilty serving it to guests that one isn’t particularly fond of. For that next Christmas party or drunken river rafting adventure with a mixed crowd, it’s a fairly obvious choice. Or at least not a horrible choice. Perhaps a questionable choice, but one that won’t, in and of itself, leave you full of shame. That part comes after you drink too much of the “fine” Canadian “Whiskey” that is Black Velvet. Stated more simply, Black Velvet earns a D. Much as D is for diploma, it’s also for drunk, but not for delicious.