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keepitlow
11-27-2009, 09:40 PM
Was first introduced to mead in Scotland back in 1996. I tried Moniack mead from Inverness and found it to be a wonderful drink. Thereafter was on a mission to try and find something like it in the US of A. Alas nothing was much good back in the 1990's. the Moniack was made from caramelized heather honey, dark, sweetish and smooth.

The US mead was pale, off tasting and not very good. Chaucer and some other guy making Vandal gold was so- so. The rest of the US meads were sent straight down the drain back then. I did find some meads in Germany and Poland that came close or equal to Moniack, but nothing in the US.

I used to have Moniack shipped to me from Canada by the case. Didn't know if it was legal, but always arrived fine. then lost my contact and Moniack ran dry at home. I gave up meads and just lost interest after that.

Fast forward to 11/24/09. I was cleaning out the garage and what did I find? Two bottles of old Moniack mead from the late 1990's. I broke one open for thanksgiving and it was still very nice. After a day it got a little sharp from the air, so we finished it up quick.

How has things changed with dark sweet meeds in the USA since that 1990's? Are they making anything at all comparable to the European meads? Or are US meads still pretty much low grade? And for that matter, I wonder how Moniack has faired. I see they have changed their bottle to an ugly flask shape from the nice faceted bottle. Wonder if the younger generation has taken the reigns at Moniack and are still making the same old brew or not?

Thanks

Dan

Smarrikåka
11-27-2009, 10:35 PM
A US mead I tasted in that category of mead that was extremely good is called Sweet Desire. It's produced in Chicago, not sure how easy it would be to get hold of it elsewhere. Just about any prize winner in Mazer cup or IMF in the dessert mead category should be great though.

AToE
11-28-2009, 04:04 AM
I'm just going to say that I had a similarily hard time finding good mead, so I set out to make it.

Go for it. Do some research into that recipe you love, get the supplies, post every step here to get help from seriously well experience people, and you'll never run dry.:)

akueck
11-28-2009, 04:33 AM
I'm not very up on mead history past a few years ago, but suffice it to say that the landscape of mead in the US has changed a lot over the last 10 years. Check out the main page here (outside the forum) and you'll find info on many meaderies around the world. If you can't find mead near you, ask for it. Create the demand and the supply will follow. ;D

wayneb
11-29-2009, 05:21 PM
For your reference, Sweet Desire is made by the Wild Blossom meadery in Chicago and it has limited distribution in other parts of the country. It is a superlative sweet mead and took home a Gold Medal from the International Mead Festival a couple of years back. It is one of my personal favorites in that style, sweet, sack strength, and fermented/aged in a bourbon barrel. I talked with Greg (their meadmaker) at length during that competition and he knows his stuff. One other bit of Wild Blossom trivia - their old assistant meadmaker, Wally, has since moved to the Denver metro area and now works at Stomp Them Grapes, where he occasionally teaches a novice meadmaking class. Sweet Desire isn't cheap, at nearly $30/bottle, but it is significantly more affordable than many premium dessert-style grape wines.

If you can't find Wild Blossom products, you might consider picking up some Sweet Melissa from Medovina meadery in Niwot, CO. I'm pretty sure that they will ship to most US states.

Finally if you have re-established your "Canadian Connection" (and they simply can't get the Moniack any longer), look for Intermiel products. They're making some fine meads, as well as maple liqueurs.

Anyway, what your looking for is particularly difficult to find here in North America since we don't have an equivalent for the heather honey. However, there are lots of good, aged sweet meads on the market both from US ands Canadian suppliers now, that either didn't exist 10 years ago or weren't as widely distributed as they are today.

keepitlow
11-30-2009, 12:55 AM
Thanks Wayne.

What is so great about heather honey? Is it that much different from US honey?

The Polish and Germans make a similar dark mead as well. Why don't the US meaderies make this style of mead?

This is a sample of the color of what we are talking about.

And finally, what the hell is wrong with Monicak? Why don't they sell it in the US of A?

http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv219/keepitlow456/moniack-1.jpg

BTW, as for cost? I was paying about $12 a bottle back then. I understand it sells for about $19 now in Canada, but not sure.

Smarrikåka
11-30-2009, 02:34 AM
Though heather is a dark honey, the darkness comes primarily from the amount of residual honey in the mead (the stuff that makes it sweet). A Polish Poltorak, which is the darkest and sweetest kind of mead you will find in Poland is made from 2/3 honey, and 1/3 water. I imagine Monicak would be around the level of a Dwoiniak 1/2 honey, 1/2 water (though I don't know for sure, but with the prices you are quoting, I see it as impossible that it'd consist of as much as 2/3 honey and that the dark nature of heather honey will bring some extra darkness to it). Why isn't this more popular to make in USA? I'd say there are several reasons. 1. They require lots of honey. 2. There may not be sufficient demand to complete full tank batches of it (Because even though it might hold great appeal, it's quite heavy to drink in larger quantity and is also pricy. the Polish meads are severally underpriced, as is Monicak most likely). 3. They are already imported from Poland, and again, it's very difficult to compete in terms of price. 4. They also tend to have been aged for a long time.

That said there are some excellent US dessert meads. The Sweet Desire, mentioned, you should really try out if you get a chance. Midnight Mead from Mountain Meadows may be worth checking out too, it's currently out of stock, but will probably be back soon.

as for heather honey and US honeies. I imagine Avocado Blossom might be one of the most similar US honies to Heather, though I haven't had the chance to ever tasting the two side by side. But you don't need Heather honey to make that type of mead, even though it certainly makes for a very excellent varietal for dessert mead.

As for you last question, it's possible that not enough Monicak is made for them to be able to export it to the US. But you could always write them and ask.

wayneb
11-30-2009, 02:46 AM
Additionally to that from the honey itself, quite a bit of the color in these aged sack meads comes also from the storage container - many times they are aged in oak for years before bottling. US meaderies do make that color mead, but it tends to take more time and care to produce so it is often only available in small lots.

Heather honey isn't necessarily "great," but it is different. In fact I've had some dry heather mead that I'd just as soon have used as paint solvent - so different isn't necessarily always better. However I think that the producers of Moniack use heather honey primarily because it is locally available for them, and the somewhat unique flavor from the heather blooms then makes their product instantly identifiable - and of course it is sweet, so the intensity of the heather is balanced to a certain extent by that sweetness.

keepitlow
11-30-2009, 09:58 AM
Thanks for ALL the great feedback.

I ordered a sample of Sweet Desire. Very pricey stuff. The Moniack was in 750ml bottles. the SD is 500.

Who sells Polish mead in the US?

wayneb
11-30-2009, 11:35 AM
Who sells Polish mead in the US?

The majority of Polish meads are imported and distributed by Stawski Imports in the US, and they are also in Chicago. They are distributor/wholesalers, though, and do no retail sales. If you live in a state with mead on liquor store shelves, you might contact them and ask who the local distributor is - that way you can find out who stocks them at retail. However, pretty much any larger liquor or wine store in any US city with more than a token Polish-American community sells Polish mead. My personal favorite (and the one that I'd recommend you try first, based on your preferences) is Jadwiga.

Let us know what you think of the Sweet Desire when you get to taste it!