Recent flavor/aroma change to Martini & Rossi Extra Dry?

#1

My wife mixed up a round of Martinis the other day for us and she commented on the aroma of the bottle of vermouth when she opened it. She said it was “extra vermouthy.” I had the ballgame on the radio and didn’t pay that much attention to the remark. On my first sip, I asked if she made our usual ratio (~4-1) or went wetter. She said it was the same.

So I checked out the bottle. It was opened just minutes before, and the aroma and taste were definitely off/different than what I am used to from Martini Extra Dry. I had another new bottle (.375 ml) in the fridge, so I cracked that one open too and it was the same: much more floral and sweeter than usual. Since then I have tried one more bottle in the larger liter packaging (from a different store), and it was different than what I am used to as well. While visiting the inlaws a week ago I opened a bottle that I had stashed (unopened) half a year ago in the pantry for emergencies at their house and it was spot on what we are used to.

We alternate between Martini and Noilly Prat every few months and probably use a .375 ml in the house every week and a half or so. It was noticeable enough to change our ratio when using the Martini Extra Dry. This may not have hit a bar that buys a case or more of the stuff for pricing reasons but for personal use a bottle at a time off the shelf at a liquor store, I am noticing a change.

Curious if any picky Martini drinkers have noticed a change over the last few weeks to a month with their products?

#2

I cannot corroborate because I do not care for that Martini & Rossi product. However, I have had sporadic troubles with “cooked” vermouths that sat around too long in a warehouse and/or got literally cooked in a too-warm environment. The dry vermouths are generally considered the most fragile, but that’s hard to qualify. Damage could be limited to a few bottles at a retailer or affect an entire shipment, depending when it occurred. My most recent experience was a bunch of cooked Gran Lusso floating around NYC.

#3

If the vermouths were really cooked, I guess you’d have noticed it straight away - although tolerance to oxydation varies wildly, of course. A cooked Extra Dry is really not a nice thing…

If the third bottle, bought in a different store at a different time, was really similar, this would point to a change in formula. I’m not aware of any but then again I have no idea what the Extra Dry from Martini tastes like in the US. Or you could just have had a lot of bad luck and the same provider sold the same cooked batch to both stores.

As a side-note, cooked ‘fresh’ unopened bottles straight from the warehouse is a real problem. Last February I lead a tasting of 20 references and 4 of them were noticeably tainted. That’s insane.

#4

I have encountered similar “cooking” when I was in the wine biz back home in Texas. That was my first thought and why I tried a different store for the next batch to no avail.

Either way, damage or change in formula can really mess with a regular martini drinker. It certainly isn’t the house favorite even when it is untainted. In a pinch it is often the easiest and closest at a local store that doesn’t carry the other dry brands. In my case, the Target by my building carries it and nothing else. If it comes down to a Martini Martini or no Martini at all I pick the former. I haven’t seen the Extra Dry behind a bar in years but I would never call for it if I had the option.