I’d like to talk about the best liqueur I’ve had from Vietnam. By definition, it’s also the worst liqueur I’ve had from Vietnam. I have no idea what I can actually tell anybody about it beyond that it’s called SIMSO’N. Generally Myrtle liqueurs come from Sardinia, but apparently there’s a place in Vietnam where the Myrtle fruit grows well and liquor is made by combining it with yeast and alcohol. Or perhaps it ferments. It’s not quite clear from the bottle.
Those playing along at home can attempt to follow along at their website. Attempting to translate via Google Translate gives me a “failure because of a server error.” The pictures sure look pretty, though! Have no fear, there’s a drop-down at the top that lets one select the English translation. Sadly, it leads to a 404 page. They do, however, have an incredibly interesting twitter account.
M had a taste of the stuff from the bottle. Got exactly two responses:
“It tastes like dirt.”
“Now I’m never going to get that flavor out of my mouth!”
So, there you go! I don’t think it’s quite that bad, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. It had a lot of the same characteristics of a good sloe gin along with a strange earthiness. There’s a mild sweetness, a lot of earth on the front-palate, with a bit of a berry/soil finish, some astringency, and a little bit of bitterness. Aromas are all over the place, with chocolate, allspice, loam, and juniper. The juniper, a flavor I usually like, set of my biological alarms in the direction of “this tastes like a poison” rather than “this is a flavor I enjoy.” I did enjoy it, but there’s definitely something odd going on in the bottle that’s not familiar to my palate.
So that’s how the liqueur drinks neat. Not bad, but not something I’m likely to see out going forward. Given the similarity to sloe gin, I made a sloe gin fizz with it, and I think the result was rather remarkable. It was somewhat more dry than a good sloe gin fizz, and had a lot more richness and complexity. The juniper character really comes out in a pleasant way in this format and there’s just enough sweetness to balance out the acidity from the lemon juice. I didn’t try any other preparations, but this one is worth a shot if you stumble across the stuff.