Bee-leave it or not
So anyone serious about making a GOOD mead (not a 5 month rot-gut sweet 5th century beverage) has read most of the books out there on mead making...and as you have surely read the brewmaster should use a nice light honey. HOG WASH. What I am about to tell you may shock you (snicker snicker). Dark honeys make a nicer drier mead.....in my all knowing opinion (:)) Largely in part due to fructose. Darker honeys (GENERALY) have a greater fructose/glucose combo. In my experience fermantaion happens a greater prolonged rate with these darker honeys and tends to be very nice in about 15 months. In addition, (this is really going to piss the hippies off) try using burned honey, like the stuff you get when you are melting cappings and forget the heat was on becase you were drinking too much mead. Ooops guess I'll have to make another batch.
Seriously, I have been enjoying experimenting with burned honey meads. I accidently left a few jars of nice light clover in a car for half the summer. They looked like buckwheat. The following recipe yielded a remarkable mead:
5 Gal batch
8lbs Accidently burnt clover honey.
Boil 3 1/2 gal water
2 grapefruit peeled and mushed
1 packed Pasture Champane yeast
Pour honey in primary, pour water over honey, mix without burning yourself, add grapefruit, add cool water to complete 5 gal. pitch yeast when temp is at 85 degrees or so. Air lock, rerack after two weeks again at 6 weeks, again at 12 weeks, bottle at 4-5 months, age in a cool cellar for 10 to 18 months
I know you don't believe me but just try it. And if you really aren't into longterm mead bondage it will be very drinkable after 8 months from brewing.
I think my best mead comes from my dark honey too, however I don't think I will ever be able to let it set that long before it gets drank.
Well, that may not be totally correct. I do have some that is about four years old, it is a little dry and not really to my liking. Had it been sweeter it would have been gone.
Actually, I've read that a prominent mead-maker (don't remember who) reports that golden-rod, or as I might call it: golden-sock, honey makes the best mead. I have yet to try it since they don't produce a surplus of it, just a surplus of gym-sock smell.
I would think it has less to do with the fructose/glucose ratio, (fall honeys typically crystallize quicker, indicating more glucose) and more to do with the strength of the flavor. Dark honey is stronger flavor, and therefore more of that flavor will be translated through the fermentation process. Same thing with carmalized (burnt) honey. If you use a mild honey you will end up with a flavorless mead.
Well its not just the flavor that is inproved with the burnt and darker honey. I have made several pyments with a light clover honey of my own make, as well as many ciders and braggots. All of my friends and tasters say that they all come out with a very distinct after taste that is not all desirable. Differents processes were used in these different meads along with several different types of yeast. The common donominator is the clover honey that leads to the not so pleasant after tast. I have found that with the darker and burned honey this after taste is eliminated and each meads character is more pronounced.
At anyrate, like keeping bees, mead making is something that takes time and experience. I reckon by the time I'm 95 I'll be a decent mead maker...........just hope my liver hangs in there.