Tess on the Town: Test tasting eggnog

When I enlisted the help of my coworkers in an eggnog taste test, I expected a bunch of swilling nog hogs.

I’ve been in enough newsrooms to recognize that most journalists descend on free food like a swarm of locusts. And I say that with the utmost respect.

These nog helpers, though, were decidedly discriminating. They sniffed the bouquet and even swirled it around, as if a stellar quality could be determined in a Dixie cup.

A few in the room even turned up their noses at the mere idea of imbibing, claiming they didn’t really like eggnog. Ha. I don’t believe that. Even second-graders love eggnog.

The eggnogs we tasted were: Shamrock, Graff Dairy, Lucerne, Organic Horizon Light, Southern Comfort (virgin), Meadow Gold and Organic Valley. One caveat: I didn’t intend to include any “light” nogs, but I had a hard time finding regular Horizon. That, in itself, might be a recommendation, because the stores have a hard time keeping on the shelves.

What we came up with in this completely unscientific poll was, a lot of different opinions. But what did emerge was something of a consensus on properties and ingredients, and two clear winners.

First-place winner was Southern Comfort. It got only three more votes than the second-place winner, but the people who listed it No. 1 were enthusiastic about its blend.

Here are comments: “Now, this is what eggnog is supposed to taste like. Perfect consistency and just the right amount of spice. All this one needs is a slurp of hooch and a dollop of whipped cream and it would be as good as homemade,” “deeply spiced and bold,” and “yes, yes, yes.”

Second place winner was a hometown favorite: Graff Dairy. Although some thought it tasted like thick milk, heavy on the eggy, custardy flavor, that’s just the milky understated taste that swayed a bunch of testers to vote for it.

Comments: “The rich taste of eggs dominates in this fresh-tasting nog. It’s thinner than some others, but refreshing, not cloying, to drink.”

Tying at third place were Meadow Gold and Lucerne. Most people mentioned these two as being the closest to what they remember when they were growing up. A comment: “I’d drink it because it’s kind of the preconceived taste of eggnog I have in my head.”

Perceptions of Shamrock and Horizon Light were wildly skewed. They loved it or they hated it.

All agreed that Horizon Light, because it has only 5 percent fat and 140 calories in a half-cup serving, was highly sugared. By comparison, Southern Comfort has 200 calories and 80 percent fat.

Some thought Horizon contained fake sugar, but in fact it uses organic sugar. A few mentioned a weird aftertaste.

Shamrock was described as “light and vanilla-y.” One tester responded only “hell no.”

Last on the winners’ list — I guess that would make it the loser — was Organic Valley. Comments: “Almost a mouth-numbing amount of nutmeg,” and “the spice seemed too … big? Like, the pieces of nutmeg and cinnamon seemed enormous and coarse.”

Votes in absentia: Even though it wasn’t in the running, two people voted for Royal Crest Dairy eggnog, and I was one of them.

Good stuff if you can get it. They offer home delivery of all their dairy products along the Front Range.

STOMACH WARMERS: Palisade is staging its Olde Fashioned Christmas Celebration this weekend.

On Friday, hot cider, hot chocolate, cookies, crumpets and candy canes are on tap. On Saturday, a Soup Challenge and wine-tasting and a separate chili cook-off to benefit the Palisade Fire Department. Christmas tea will be served on Sunday.

For information, see palisadecoc.com.

QUOTE: “My name is Bond ... Santa Bond. I’ll have an eggnog, shaken not stirred.” — Michael (Steve Carell) on “The Office”

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