Review: Great Women Spirits – Walewska Vodka, Lovelace Gin, and Agnesi Brandy
I guess this was inevitable: One of the biggest wine producers in California, Francis Ford Coppola, decided to make spirits, too. Three of them, in fact, all named after famous women of history, a nod to the many great women that have impacted Coppola’s life and career.
The spirits include a vodka, gin, and brandy — bottled under the Great Women Spirits brand — and all have a California connection (the water used to proof the spirits is from Napa). We tasted them all. Thoughts follow.
All are bottled at 80 proof.
The Countess Walewska Premium Vodka – Named for a Napoleonic era “patriot” from Poland; made using Idaho potatoes in a California-located pot still. Quite a tough vodka, made from potatoes. Earthy, almost leathery up top, with a nose of coal dust and mud. Dirty, with lots of dusty, dried herbs, and a mushroom finish. There’s little sweetness, but little bite, either. The ultimate impact is restrained and, well, boring. Hugely disappointing for potato vodka, particularly at this price. Reviewed: Batch #001. C+ / $50
Ada Lovelace Gin – Named after the “first computer programmer,” who was born in 1815. Unknown grain spirit, but pot distilled in California, infused with 10 botanicals from Napa: rose petals, Meyer lemon peel, juniper, and seven mystery items. Brisk nose, with lots of astringency and heat, but quite earthy, with a leathery core. This is heavily evident on the palate, which keeps any hints of roses and lemons hidden beneath a slab of rawhide, plus notes of green beans, tobacco, and just a hint of spice. Very vegetal and earthy, which makes mixing tough. B- / $50
Maria Gaetana Agnesi 1799 American Brandy 5 Years Old – Named for an 18th century mathematician, philosopher, and theologian (who died in 1799). This brandy is a bit short of 219 years old, though, made in California by a brandy producer, from a blend of 2012 Dolcetto grapes from Russian River Valley and 2009 French Colombard grapes from the Central Valley. It definitely shows its youth; the nose is rustic, though approachable, and it finds room for notes of banana, clove, blackened sugar, and barrel char. The palate stays closely in line, with light sweetness opening the door, but quickly finding itself displaced by indistinct ethanol notes, vague barrel char, and simple caramel notes. Brandy-adjacent in its approach, it’s quite rough around the edges, but nods at France with its gentle raisin and spice notes, which tend to linger on the finish. B / $60