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Friday, June 21, 2024

Meikakuna Japanese Blended Whisky

Having lived in five different US states and having at least set foot in 40 of them, I can tell you this country's attitude toward alcoholic beverages is anything but uniform. Liquor laws not only vary state to state, but also county to county and town to town.

Some places you can buy any type of alcohol in just about every type of establishment—convenience stores, grocery stores, you name it. In other locales, the only way to get booze is through government-operated "state stores" or "bottle shops." In Utah, they recently raised the alcohol-by-volume limit from 4% to 5% for beer available in grocery stores. And there are still dozens of "dry counties" and "dry communities" throughout America where no alcohol is available at all.

Trader Joe's stores have to abide by the local laws, so naturally there are plenty of TJ's stores that can't sell any alcoholic beverages. Others can only sell beer and wine. Still more can sell whatever booze products they want. Currently, our closest Joe's does indeed carry beer, wine, and hard liquor, so every once in a while, we'll sample something relatively Japanese whisky.

In case you're new here, Sonia tends to gravitate towards Irish whiskey while I consider myself a gin man. I was not particularly enamored with this product, in stark contrast to the delightful Japanese gin reviewed last year, while Sonia liked it nearly as much as her current favorite, Jameson.

We tried this beverage a few different ways. I liked it on the rocks best and Sonia preferred it neat. The whisky poured a yellowish color. On the nose and up front, we detected something lightly fruity and sweet. To me, the body tasted oddly spicy, almost like a muted cinnamon flavor at times. I thought the spices here were somewhat intense and interrupted the otherwise smooth essences of the beverage, but the beautiful wifey didn't seem to mind it.

I've heard this is a Trader Joe's exclusive. Not sure why they don't slap their name on it, but I'm sure they have their reasons. $29.99 for the 750 mL bottle. Probably would not buy again but it was interesting to try, although there's a good chance Sonia will pick up another bottle for herself at some point. Something like 6 out of 10 stars from me for Meikakuna Japanese Blended Whisky. Sonia will go with 8 out of 10.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Trader Joe's Savory Squares

Ah, nice. New crackers. Might as well try 'em. Kosher. Vegan. Gluten free, too, eh? Must be rice-based or something like that. Wait. Nut and seed flour? Tapioca, almond, sunflower seed, flaxseed, and potato-based?? Now this I gotta taste. To be honest, I'm a bit skeptical, but there's no way we're not trying these immediately.

From the moment you open the bag, there's an interesting smell. It's nutty, I'd say...not very cheesy to be honest...and definitely not like your ordinary wheat-based cracker. And the taste? I'm glad I went in with zero expectations, because I think I would have been disappointed if I had been craving a traditional Cheez-It type cracker. I mean, sure, it's an obvious comparison, but I don't find these fascinating alternative crackers to be a substitution for the classic wheat and cheese-based snack. 

I wouldn't say they're better than Cheez-Its. I wouldn't really say they're worse, either. They're just...different. I'm quite puzzled by these other reactions online that say these are "100% a dupe for a Cheez-It." I strongly disagree with that assertion.

These are like wannabe Cheez-Its from a health food store. I grew up with a wheat allergy when I was young. This tastes like the weird, expensive stuff my parents would give me to make me think I wasn't missing out on anything. When my friends would sneak me a taste of the real deal, I knew I was missing out on something.

As I got older, however, items with that health food store kinda vibe really grew on me. As a young adult without access to a Trader Joe's, I found myself craving that alternative stuff but actually buying the name brand wheat-based products simply because they were cheaper and easier to find in regular grocery stores. Now I'm middle-aged and I can buy original Cheez-Its or their alternative flour counterparts whenever I want to.

I'm not usually in the mood for cheesy crackers, but if I got a craving, I'd probably just get traditional Cheez-Its three quarters of the time and something like Trader Joe's Savory Squares the other quarter. Sonia doesn't like the aftertaste of these crackers. She thinks they're a little too bitter. She also thinks the texture is too hard and dense as compared to Cheez-Its and other wheat-based crackers.

$3.99 for the five serving box. I appreciate these crackers for their unique ingredients and pleasant crunchy texture but I don't think they're really my thing in the end. Six out of ten stars from me. Sonia will go with six out of ten as well for Trader Joe's Savory Squares. Let us know what you think of this product down in the comments, particularly if you're on a vegan or gluten-free diet.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

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