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phlip

New Noilly Prat

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Have we all gotten to enjoy the new formula Noilly Pratt Dry? We had a release party at my establishment months ago with the NP Master Mixologist who was a very nice fellow and a bunch of press people to celebrate the launch of the new packaging and formula. During the course of the event the NP Mixologist asked me which version I prefered the old formula or the new. I replied, "which do you prefer?" I was in the process of making two gin martintis, one old formula one new. He tasted them blind and preferred the old. When made aware he stated his preference fof a 2 to 1 build rather than the 3 to 1 of yours truly. I ablidged him a second try to his proportional preference and.... You guessed it he chose the old agian. Now don't get me wrong I think the new formula is a nice product and will serve fine as a cocktail ingrediant. The problem? The what 20 or 30 cocktial recipes I specified Noilly Pratt dry for. These drinks no longer taste the same. Can someone say thank heavens Dolin is now available in NYC to grace the well. This is not Europe. This is the US where Noilly Pratt is lucky if most places even wave the bottle of vermouth at their martini. Creating a more complex flavor forward product for the US market was pure genius on the part of the NP team. I think they are likely to alienate those who relied on it( who also help get people who don't know they like vermouth to drink vermouth) and further alienate those who already would prefer olive brine over vermouth to make there 4 ounces of grey goose palatable.

But the new packaging is nice at least.

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Wait. Are they introducing a new product alongside the old product? Or replacing the old product with a new formulation?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Wait.  Are they introducing a new product alongside the old product?  Or replacing the old product with a new formulation?

Replacing what we currently have with what has been labeled an "original" formula. I'm not impressed by it one little bit.

-allex

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Why on earth would they stop shipping the old one, which has been a cocktailian staple for years and years and years? I can see bringing out a different one in addition to the formerly standard formula. But this is just not good business sense. The "New Coke" of vermouth?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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my understanding is that the origional formula is intended to be slightly more bitter and aged differently. probably longer before its release but then it gets trapped in the system so who knows...

i'd say the product probably changes with age. and who knows if we are used to a fresher or older product. due to how they make it, the wines probably show some terroir and then there is the post fermentation terroir from the season it ages "rain water" style. i think the product is only meant to be consistent by a certain margin. if they put a vintage date and a production time line on the bottle, i bet people would respect the differences.

i'd say the fruit character of dolin puts it in a different league.

i hate when vintages change on wines i deal with that are supposed to be super consistent year to year. that short term period of extra aging often makes a huge difference. this is the last month i can get some 05 barrique nero d'avola. the 06 is available but i'm not gonna pick it up until probably august because its just not ready. now i need to find something else in the mean time... in the world of nuance i doubt even vermouth escapes this phenomenon.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Thats what I don't understand Sam. They probably didn't even realize it was a staple. we are just the stupid US market I suppose.

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Wow that's frustrating, hopefully I can get a case of old formula before the switch hits locally; finally a reason to be glad cocktail ingredients trickle slowly to Texas!


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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First Campari, and now this...

I wasn't aware of any change until reading this thread, and haven't seen the new bottles at retail yet. Time for another blind taste test, and to stock up on the old formula if the new one is found to be wanting.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Slight correction, jmfangio...

First Campari,

and THEN Zacapa 23...

and NOW this...

;-)


-James

My new book is, "Destination: Cocktails", from Santa Monica Press! http://www.destinationcocktails.com

Please see http://www.tydirium.net for information on all of my books, including "Tiki Road Trip", and "Big Stone Head", plus my global travelogues, and more!

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Slight correction, jmfangio...

First Campari,

and THEN Zacapa 23...

and NOW this...

;-)

what happened to Zacapa 23....??

it dissapeared on my store shelves, i went with Zaya, and am enjoying, but Zacapa's available again..was planning to buy when done with the Zaya...

is it different?

'splain please...

as for campari, i am afraid i came toolate to the Negoni "party" and have only known the "new"..now i am longing to find an old one...

as for noilly..will run tothe store and buy up some "original" before its gone...

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I had a chance to try some of the new NP at Death & Company last night. It's actually a very nice product with a lot of interesting potential. That's not the issue -- which is nice, because it so often is the issue (cf. Zacapa 23 turning into the inferior Zacapa Solera). The problem is simply that we'll no longer be able to get the old formula, so all the drinks will not be different -- not necessarily bad, but different. As Phil said, and I agree: "Drinking a Tanqueray and Noilly Pratt Martini with a dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist is a pretty big and important part of my life, and now it doesn't taste the same anymore." What I honestly don't get is why they wouldn't make this new "throwback" formulation NP's version of "Antica Formula" and have both on the market. They're really quite different.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I said Beefeater Sam.

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I had a chance to try some of the new NP at Death & Company last night.  It's actually a very nice product with a lot of interesting potential.  That's not the issue -- which is nice, because it so often is the issue (cf. Zacapa 23 turning into the inferior Zacapa Solera).  The problem is simply that we'll no longer be able to get the old formula, so all the drinks will not be different -- not necessarily bad, but different.  As Phil said, and I agree: "Drinking a Tanqueray and Noilly Pratt Martini with a dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist is a pretty big and important part of my life, and now it doesn't taste the same anymore."  What I honestly don't get is why they wouldn't make this new "throwback" formulation NP's version of "Antica Formula" and have both on the market.  They're really quite different.

so i dont' think you can really have an antica formula. in my understanding the noilly production process is so elaborate that the only way they did deviate is the aging of the wine and one particularly bitter botanical...

when you enjoy single barrel bourbon you embrace a certain uniqueness. anything in the vermouth alcohol range and made from something volatile like wine will also be unique. i really wish some producers used born on dates. i'm sure i could find ancient inventories of noilly prat all over boston that might be easily differentiated from each other in a blind taste test.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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I said Beefeater Sam.

I stand corrected. Both, it must be said, make an excellent Martini.

so i dont' think you can really have an antica formula.  in my understanding the noilly production process is so elaborate that the only way they did deviate is the aging of the wine and one particularly bitter botanical...

Interesting. What is your source for this information?

From what I have been able to gather from their web site, the aging process is somewhat complicated (separate aging of varietals first in gigantic barrels indoors for 8 months, then in smaller oak casks outdoors for 12 months, then another 6 months indoors, then they're blended together and aromatized) but by no means impenetrable. Regardless, I have my doubts as to whether any changes they may have made to this process were responsible for very many the differences I tasted. After the wines are blended, NP's site says that they add raspberry and lemon fruit liqueurs (!) and fortify the wine with various mistelles (partially fermented or unfermented grape juice with alcohol). The final step is infusing their botanicals for 3 weeks and resting the fortified and aromatized wine for 6 weeks before bottling. In consideration of the fact that the easily perceived differences all seem to be herbal in nature, I have to believe it would not be difficult for them to do parallel production of "old" and "new" NP starting with the same base stock of aged, blended wine.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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i talked to the noilly guy at TOTC. he gave me a bottle of the new version which he claimed was just exactly the same as what the euros drink. maybe demand is increasing and to increase production they had to use one process. i don't feel too compelled to do a comparative tasting. i just accept that these things change all the time.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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what happened to Zacapa 23....??

it dissapeared on my store shelves, i went with Zaya, and am enjoying, but Zacapa's available again..was planning to buy when done with the Zaya...

is it different?

'splain please...

Yes, please.

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I haven't tried the new American version of Noilly Dry yet. I have seen the Noilly Sweet in the new bottles, so I imagine it is right around the corner.

I'm curious, but to be honest I don't really care that much. It's Bacardi, fer cripes sake. I'd rather not buy anything from them if I don't have to.

I've been using Dolin Dry for about a year now and have enjoyed how it works in about every cocktail I've tried it in.

...And Eric Seed doesn't even pay me to say that...

I am curious though what reactions anyone has gotten when substituting the Dolin Dry for other Dry Vermouths. Or if you have hints for cocktails where it doesn't seem to work well.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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There's an article about the new Noilly Prat in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, and the author is not pleased.

Martini drinkers are conservatives. Not necessarily politically, but in temperament: They abjure fad and fashion in drink, hewing to the Platonic form of the cocktail. They would stand athwart history yelling Stop -- if yelling weren't inconsistent with the proper comportment of a Martini drinker. They dislike change. It is with some trepidation, then, that I bring what is almost certain to be received as appalling news: Noilly Prat, the dry vermouth considered by many devotees to be the only choice for a well-made Martini, is changing its U.S. formula.

"Noilly Prat is a necessary component of a dry martini," wrote the novelist and Martini connoisseur W. Somerset Maugham in 1958. He gave the French vermouth such a formidable endorsement that the company would, for years, devote full-page magazine advertisements to quoting his claim that, without Noilly Prat, "you can make a side car, a gimlet, a white lady, or a gin and bitters, but you cannot make a dry martini."

I haven't seen the new formula show up here, so I'm still neutral on this.

Now, I like Eric Felten's column, and I love the quotation from Maugham, but I think there's a flaw in his logic in using it to shore up his argument that this is bad news for martini drinkers. If he's correct that this "has been the version sold in Europe all along", then wouldn't this in fact be the formula that Maugham deemed essential?


Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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what happened to Zacapa 23....??

it dissapeared on my store shelves, i went with Zaya, and am enjoying, but Zacapa's available again..was planning to buy when done with the Zaya...

is it different?

'splain please...

Yes, please.

Hi, sorry, I just revisited this thread for the first time in a while.

I don't have a ton of insider info, but the Zacapa 15 and the Zacapa 23 as we knew them have both been replaced with a different blend. Diageo bought the brand, and jacked the price up considerably (used to be about $40 in Chicago, now it is $50 to $60).

Still a nice rum, but there are slight differences in body and flavor.

I have been told (unconfirmed) that the 15-year has been discontinued.

The new bottles indicate the 'solera' process on the bottle, so they are easy to spot (although Zacapa, like many better rum distilleries, have always used the solera process - the old bottles just didn't say so quite so prominently).

Read about solera in detail here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solera


-James

My new book is, "Destination: Cocktails", from Santa Monica Press! http://www.destinationcocktails.com

Please see http://www.tydirium.net for information on all of my books, including "Tiki Road Trip", and "Big Stone Head", plus my global travelogues, and more!

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I haven't seen the new formula show up here, so I'm still neutral on this. 

Now, I like Eric Felten's column, and I love the quotation from Maugham, but I think there's a flaw in his logic in using it to shore up his argument that this is bad news for martini drinkers.  If he's correct that this "has been the version sold in Europe all along", then wouldn't this in fact be the formula that Maugham deemed essential?

jmfangio, I agree with you from a logical point of view, but: in the audio that is appended to the article on the WSJ website, Felten makes explicit what he only hints at in the article, saying that NP has sweetened the Euro version over the years -- so that the contemporary Euro version *wouldn't* be the formula that Maugham deemed essential. (This is about 2/3 or 3/4 through the 6 or 8 minute clip. He doesn't say whether he knows this because NP told him so, or from other sources, or from a taste test between contemporary Euro NP and vintage NP.) He further adds in the audio that he would welcome a more flavorful NP, so long as it remained dry and not sweet. Also in the audio, he recommends Boissiere or Dolin as good subs for the dry NP we've been used to.

Hope this is helpful for those of us who don't want to listen to the audio. I'm sure the old NP will be missed, though perhaps the new one can lend itself to new applications, and we can just use Boissiere or Dolin for Martinis and so on. I really haven't tried any white vermouths beyond NP and M&R -- were there any other existing white vermouths with this sweeter flavor profile that NP is now shipping over?


Edited by Relish (log)

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I wouldn't say that the "new" NP is sweeter than the "old." Perhaps the opposite.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I wouldn't say that the "new" NP is sweeter than the "old."  Perhaps the opposite.

I don't find it significantly sweeter, either, at least not in an actual cocktail. It's definitely fuller-bodied and more assertive. I've been using it for about a year now and find it makes a hell of a Fitty-Fitty and a great Clover Club, but a disappointing 1950s-style ultra-dry Gibson (it doesn't help that Beefeater, my go-to for that style, appears to have been sweetened a little since the recent retirement of Desmond Payne). All this is as one would expect.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I wouldn't say that the "new" NP is sweeter than the "old."  Perhaps the opposite.

I don't find it significantly sweeter, either, at least not in an actual cocktail. It's definitely fuller-bodied and more assertive. I've been using it for about a year now and find it makes a hell of a Fitty-Fitty and a great Clover Club, but a disappointing 1950s-style ultra-dry Gibson (it doesn't help that Beefeater, my go-to for that style, appears to have been sweetened a little since the recent retirement of Desmond Payne). All this is as one would expect.

if enough people are curious enough and want to know exactly what the sugar contents are of the new and the old i could be motivated to perform a little experiment and find out...

but please give these vermouths a little leeway in their acidity. they are made from wine and unless the producers adjust with industrial acids to an exacting PH expect deviation... and because of NPs wine maturing techniques are so bizzare you should expect changes year to year...

i have a feeling that beefeater has not been noticeably sweetened because there are lots of origin control style laws that protect london dry style gin. they can add some sort of trace amount of sugar but my understanding is that its to protect their formula from being reverse engineered... (how i don't know).

from simple PH pen experiments i've done on spirits i've found acidity that i'm pretty sure doesn't come from the distilling process... (acid additives?) maybe i can track down an old generation beefeater and compare its PH to one in the new packaging...


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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