GSN Review: Punt e Mes Vermouth

Punt-e-MesPunt e Mes means “point and a half”.  This actually makes sense based on the flavor profile.  It is two parts sweet and one part bitter.  Traditionally, Italian vermouths are a mix of bitter herbs, sweet wine, sugar  and a fortifying distilled alcohol base.  Punt e Mes is a perfect example of the style.  Made by the Carpano family (of Carpano Antica fame) until 2001, this Italian vermouth is now produced by the Fratelli Branca company.

Punt e Mes (32 proof)
Visual: Very dark brown.
Nose: Slightly medicinal in the vein of a Ricola lozenge.
Taste: Quite sweet and yet at the same time, slightly sour and bitter.  The bitterness creeps in towards the end after a large hit of slightly burnt caramel sweetness.  The herbal profile is mild and fairly mellow.
Finish: More sweetness than I prefer.  I’m reminded of cola syrup.
Overall: Better than many Italian vermouths, but somehow lacking a distinct herbal sensibility.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Fratelli Branca

GSN Review: Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

group_anticaVermouth often gets relegated to the back of the bar and literally stays there until the bottle is emptied over a period of months (sometimes years).  Which is a shame, since quality vermouth is a real treat, not to mention crucial to several classic cocktails.

Carpano Antica just happens to be the original sweet Italian vermouth created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786 when he was just 22 years old.  Based in Turin, Italy, he infused over 30 types of herbs and spices in a neutral spirit which he distilled and to which he added white wine.  It was an instant hit, and vermouth has been so ever since.

Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (33 proof)
Visual: Dark brown.
Nose: Low notes of root beer and sweet caramel; high notes of candied orange peel and anise.
Taste: Slightly sweet at first, but the bitter notes accent quickly.  Very even-tempered and botanical.
Finish: A great palate cleanser with a flavor profile reminiscent of a German digestif, in spite of this being an aperitif.  Lingering bitter notes last quite a while.
Overall: This tastes crafted and not at all like inexpensive mass-produced sweet vermouths which often have a burnt caramel flavor which overwhelms everything.  You can drink this neat or with a twist of orange or lemon peel.  Absolutely perfect in a Manhattan.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Fratelli Branca