Brand: Virgil’s Bavarian Nutmeg
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Container: 500 ml brown glass bottle
Sold in packs of: Single
Date Reviewed: September 7, 2015
Color: Dark brown
Sweetener: Cane sugar
Nose: Nutmeg, sweet anise
Fizz: Small bubbles
Flavor notes: Nutmeg, sweet anise, caramel, mild mint
Commentary: Pours with a decent head, though it bubbles off quickly. The nose is heavy on the nutmeg, but there is also a strong anise component that blunts the sharper citrus edge produced by raw nutmeg alone. The flavor mostly follows the nose – nutmeg is predominant, with sweet anise mixing in. Few other flavors are strongly noticeable, but there are notes of caramel towards the back of the tongue and a mild but sweet mint aspect, especially towards the bottom of the glass. Bubbles are small but provide a solid fizz. The root beer has a medium body, certainly not watery but by no means strongly rich.
Summary: The regular Virgil’s root beer was one of my favorites in the early history of this blog, so I had high hopes for the Bavarian Nutmeg edition. The notable use of nutmeg (and minimal use of wintergreen) was definitely one thing that stood Virgil’s apart from a lot of other root beers, particularly the widely-available brands. To a large extent, you get from this edition what you get from regular Virgil’s but with nutmeg taking over for several of the other spices. Neither cinnamon nor cloves were noticeably present here – instead, you get a lot of nutmeg with sweet anise sanding off its sharper edges. This isn’t a complaint – being excited to find a Bavarian Nutmeg edition root beer and then complaining it was too heavy on the nutmeg would make me a pretty serious jerk – but just a factual (or anyway experiential) note of comparison. You do have to like nutmeg to enjoy this root beer, that’s for certain. Of course, we could argue about the extent to which this tastes like a root beer at all – even allowing for a pretty wide latitude in spicing, if this one didn’t go as heavy on the anise as it did it would be close to unrecognizable, arguably tasting as much like a pumpkin spice soda as anything. If wintergreen is mild in regular Virgil’s, here it’s practically nonexistent – the mild hint of mint that is present only shows up later in the glass and then only slightly. Once again, I don’t think I would term these complaints, but it’s definitely a different experience. I’m still inclined to score this pretty well – Virgil’s does a pretty good job with both its sweetness and fizz, both strong without being overpowering, and after all, my main complaint with regular Virgil’s is that it tried to have too MANY different flavors. But I did find myself wishing for a little extra kick that never quite came.