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Capovilla spirits are truly labors of love. The Bassano bottling consists of pommace from a variety of grapes from Vicenza. The secret to the rich, broad flavors is the rare still that Vittorio Gianni Capovilla uses. Called a bain-marie still, it heats the pommace at low temperatures to maintain the grape flavors and not create the offensive, alcoholic tones that mars many more commercial Grappa productions. We are extremely happy that Jan d'Amore has decided to import these spirits, and strongly recommend that Grappa and Eau-de-vie fans try them. JR
This is a single variety grappa bottling featuring the wonderfully aromatic "Uva Moscota Fior d'Arancio." Vittorio Gianni Capovilla uses his rare bain-marie still to slowly distill and preserve the lively honey and citrus qualities of the grape. Grappa fans will note the extreme purity and freshness of the spirit and applaud Jan d'Amore for bringing it to the American market. John Rankin
The 2000 Bacco fully exudes the traditional Château de Briat house style: decadent, yet complex and structured, with a focus on new oak. Again, from the diary of John Rankin: On the nose it is luscious with sweet caramel, the chewy soft kind, and orange zest rising from the glass. On the palate it is rich and silky – very drinkable – with a touch of spice and a sugary milk chocolate finish. With this flavor profile and the château’s affinity for new oak, this would be a fantastic crossover spirit for Bourbon lovers! Tim Gagnon
Dudognon makes Cognac completely differently than large Cognac houses. The grapes all come from the estate vineyards around the house in Grande Champagne. There are no additions made to the spirit, such as the caramel coloring commonly used by the large producers. The distillation is controlled by human hand, and not a computer. The resulting spirits are light and full of finesse, but also quite complex and long. JR
The Dupont estate has been producing Calvados, cider, and cheese since it was founded in 1890. Their orchards are planted to thirteen varieties in chalky, marl-heavy soils and no pesticides or herbicides are used at any time. Their Vieille Reserve is a blend of twice-distilled Calvados, of which the youngest is 5 years old. It is aged in 50% new French oak barrels which lends a softer, more decadent spirit than one might expect from products similar in age. Juicy green apple, sea salt, and caramel (the soft chewy kind) abound on the nose with a touch of walnuts and cinnamon. The palate is also quite round and luscious with more caramel backed by baked apple, vanilla, black pepper, and tart tatin that lead into a salty, mineral-laden finish. A delicious Calvados for a great price! Tim Gagnon
Guillon-Painturaud's VSOP is a fantastic 15 year old Cognac that punches way above its price point. This spirit is all about fresh orange and sweet marmalade fruits with plenty of cut. We are happy to be able to carry this independent producer's fantastic Cognac, and the 15 hectare estate that can trace its history back to 1610 is an exciting find. JR
Our Chambers Street selection of Calvados was distilled in 2002 and was aged in a barrel that previously held cider and Pommeau (cider and Calvados blended together). From the diary of John Rankin: The barrel that we bought has candied apple and toffee cream flavors and is surprisingly juicy and fruit-forward, even with a fair amount of age and alcohol percentage. It shows the influence of Pommeau and cider more than barrel, along with richness and a long finish of exotic citrus and dark-toned flowers. Tim Gagnon
The Marolo Milla is a liqueur made from and infusion of Chamomile flowers in grappa. Perfumed on the nose and lightly sweet and silken on the palate, this makes for a mellow, smooth, and soothing after-dinner digestif. John McIlwain
Montreuil is a collaboration between Calvados importer and guru Charles Neal and Patrice Giard – heir to the bucolic Giard estate in the hamlet of Montreuil. Cows (primarily used for their milk) provide the majority of the farm’s revenue, but the property has made quite a name for itself for their library of aged Calvados still in barrel that will be released under the Giard label. The Montreuil label represents barrels averaging 7 years old that provide rich, apple fruit with a touch of wood vanillin and toffee sweetness. A great value for sipping, but also not too dear to use as a stand-in for American applejack in classic cocktails like a Jack Rose:2 ounces apple brandy or calvados, ¾ ounce lime or lemon juice, and ¾ ounce grenadine; served up. John Rankin
This exquisitely clear apple brandy comes in one of the cutest printed packages in the store, but that shouldn’t be the only reason for you to buy it. The fact is that this is one of the most delicious ways to experience New York’s abundant apple crop’s flavors. The apples growing on Neversink’s organic farm were selected for their high acid and high tannic character (not great for eating, but essential to creating delicious ciders and spirits). The mash is then twice distilled which makes for a bright, delicate spirit that truly showcases the quality of the raw ingredients used. In Europe, brandies like this are enjoyed neat after dinner but current cocktail creators are experimenting with all sorts of uses: the most simple being a touch of sugar and a squeeze of citrus for an apple-infused take on a Sour. Tim Gagnon
Orchard Hill was started in 2005 by all-around spirits guru, Karl du Hoffman, in the Hudson Valley town of New Hampton, NY. They focus on two products here - cider and pommeau - and we were thrilled to be able to get our hands on the latter. Inspired by the famed Normandy elixir of calvados and non-alcoholic sweet cider, Karl wanted to make a product that was true to the apples of the Hudson Valley yet echoed centuries of pommeau production in France. Aptly named Ten66 after the Norman Invasion of England in the year 1066, this is a blend of 3-10 year-old apple brandy and cider of various vintages from 2005-2012 that have been aged in used French oak barrels from wineries on Long Island (that held Merlot or Chardonnay in their previous life). Apple butter, apple cobbler, caramel, toasted nutmeg, and baked cherry come to mind on the nose which hint at what is found on the palate. It is juicy with deeper notes of caramel and spice. This is delicious served slightly chilled as an aperitif but would be equally good with a cheese course after dinner! Tim Gagnon
Located in the heart of Cognac's premier cru "Grand Champagne," the Beau family has a long history of making exceptional artisan Cognacs. The Beaus use old wooden barrels and a majority of Ugni Blanc to facilitate a clear expression of terroir. This creates an absolutely lovely spirit that has been aged an average of thirty years, well over the requirements to label "Hors d'Age." The perfect after-dinner drink with a balance of dried fruit and very nice minerality. JR
This Armagnac shows a vibrant orange color with hints of caramel. Tastes mature, but even after 24 years in cask there is a grippy quality and some citrus-toned fruit. This is an excellent introduction to vintage Armagnac and a fabulous value. John Rankin
This is the best value traditional Armagnac that we have found. Pellehaut combines the traditional rich Ugni Blanc with some Folle Blanche for a delightful floral lift. JR
Berry Brothers and Rudd have 300 years of experience in London’s wine and spirit trade, so when we heard that they were behind a new gin brand we were intrigued. Billed as “the last word in gin for a Dry Martini,” our first reaction was skepticism. After tasting we believed the hype. This is a boldly juniper flavored gin, but also seems to be a bit more refined than the classic Tanqueray. As advertised, dry martinis are crisp with a spicy character and classic gin cocktails like a Negroni truly shine. John Rankin
Todd Hardie began his career in beekeeping almost 50 years ago in Hardwick, Vermont, in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. This part of the state is an agricultural hotbed focused on honey, milk, cheese, grains, and herbs with a strong focus on community and respect for the earth. With family distilling roots going back to the 1800s (John and William Hardie of Edinburgh started distilling whiskey in 1857, and the company still produces whiskey today), it’s no wonder that the current generation of Hardies began crafting artisanal spirits in this corner of the world. The Barr Hill Gin contains one notable ingredient that truly sets this spirit apart: raw honey. The raw honey is added just before bottling giving it a uniquely wild, floral nose that changes with each batch as the season dictates where the bees collect their pollen and propolis. It is a touch sweet and the juniper is well-integrated which makes this a unique crossover spirit for those unfamiliar with gin and a new frontier for those already initiated. Tim Gagnon
A recent arrival to the US market! Named for the rural area outside of London in where the distillery is located, Cotswolds Gin went into production in 2014. Nine botanicals undergo 18-hour maceration in a base distillate of wheat and these include juniper, coriander, bay, fresh citrus peel, and black pepper, among others. It is beautifully aromatic – juniper heavy, with cool overtones of balsam, mint, rosemary, cucumber, and lime – but maintains a classic, dry profile on the palate with added lift seemingly from the fresh citrus peel. Green herbs and black pepper creep in on the finish. Very balanced and long, this makes a killer Martini, and it is also un-chillfiltered so it clouds up when cold! Tim Gagnon
Ford’s Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford of the 86 Co. (a company founded in 2012 working with different distilleries to create bartender-friendly, well-made, workhorse spirits) and 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers in London. It was intended to be a big step up from the other “well” spirits available on the market but offer a fantastic value. Their recipe uses 9 botanicals starting with the classic base of coriander seed and juniper with bitter orange, lemon, and grapefruit peel balanced by jasmine flower, orris root, angelica root, and cassia root. These are steeped in the base spirit for 15 hours before being distilled ensuring a captivating, aromatic finished spirit. This gin is a wonderful play of exotic and spicy aromas mingling with open floral notes on the nose. The palate is full-bodied and dry with citrus oil and a tantalizing spice. This would be perfect for the home mixologist as it could be the base for numerous cocktails. Tim Gagnon
This bottle represents the Gin obsession of Brooklyn native Steven DeAngelo. His distillery is located in the once industrial, now artisanal, north-Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. Here he uses a still with vacuum technology that allows distillation to occur at a lower temperature. This cooler process results in a gin with surprisingly fresh aromatics and a very bright green coriander note. These flavors are very well expressed in a gin and tonic, but also work well with other herbal spirits like Amaro. John Rankin
This is what I would call a new American classic. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but seemingly pays homage to some London Dry gins that we all know and love, while adding a little something extra. The base spirit is distilled from organic corn, and although all the ingredients aren’t listed, they include crushed juniper berries, lavender, fresh lemon, and orange peels with balancing botanicals of licorice root, angelica root, coriander, and cardamom. On the nose it opens incredibly bright with a citrusy, peppery kick. With time, aromas of blossom, celery, and anise come forward. The palate shows wonderful restraint and allows the roots to balance everything out with a warming cinnamon-like spice, a hint of citrus, and a long, woodsy finish. This would work in almost any gin-based cocktail imaginable (I’d prefer a Martini), and is also fantastic sipped neat. Tim Gagnon
Christian Jensen set out to make perfect, historically correct gins after living in Tokyo. While there he happened upon a gin bar that had an extensive supply of traditional and historical gins that made him curious as to the processes that create such distinctive spirits. Once back in England, he worked with Thames Distillers in London and was able to realize this goal. Alongside his fantastic dry gin, we are happy to showcase his Old Tom gin. These were known in the 1800s to be sweeter, fuller styles of spirits, however Christian was curious as to how economically viable a spirit like this could be during a time when sugar was sold at a premium. After extensive research he found the answer: licorice, a standard component of Old Tom gins during this century. True black licorice contains a component called glycyrrhizin (the sweetening compound derived from licorice root) that is 30 times sweeter than pure sugar. By upping the botanicals during distillation, he was able to create this traditional Old Tom gin. Complex and delicious, Collins drinkers go no further. Tim Gagnon
A fantastic new gin from our friends at Neversink Spirits in Port Chester, NY! Made from a base spirit of apples, wheat, corn, and barley that is distilled in-house; the ingredients include 11 different botanicals. These range from the traditional ingredients of juniper, orris root, and angelica root to provide a bitter, earthy backbone to elderflower, cinnamon, and three types of fresh citrus peel to give it uncompromising lift and freshness. On the nose it is heady and fruit-forward with a botanical persistence and underlying earthy tones. The palate is fuller-bodied and pleasantly viscous with juicy apple character backed by a citrus tang with minerals and a kick of juniper on the finish. This is perfect sipped neat, over ice, and as the basis for many gin cocktails. Tim Gagnon
And now for something completely different… Our friends at New York Distilling under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway are making some of New York’s most delicious gins. The Dorothy Parker, named for the legendarily sharp-tongued wit of New York’s Algonquin Round Table, boasts decidedly American style with un-traditional botanicals like hibiscus and cinnamon. Of course we are talking gin here, so there’s a nice dry juniper kick as well. I think that this makes for a very interesting twist on a gin and tonic. More adventurous home bartenders may want to use it to give the classic gin cocktails a new angle. John Rankin
Allan Katz co-founded the New York Distilling Company with partners Tom and Bill Potter (of the Brooklyn Brewery) in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn in 2011. They set out to create classic gins but with a modern twist and that is exactly what they did. Perry’s Tot pays homage to the naval history of Brooklyn and is named for Matthew Calbraith Perry, who served as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1841-1843. This Navy Strength Gin is released at 57% ABV (the historical proof at which gunpowder will still ignite if distilled spirit should spill on it) and is delightfully brawny while still being smooth and complex. On the nose it is floral and spicy and there is a nice juniper kick on the palate along with a touch of sweet spice. Try this in a Pink Gin: a simple and historic British Royal Navy cocktail of gin and Angostura bitters! Tim Gagnon
The best Nocino ever, the Aggazzotti is rich, spicy, sweet and bitter, remarkably complex and delicious. Aged in glass demi-johns for 4 years, this walnut liqueur would be a perfect ending to your holiday dinner.
A Texas Wildflower Honey, Turbinado Sugar and Mission Fig Spirit
Made in the Piedmont region of Italy, the base for Cardamaro is wine as opposed to neutral grain spirit. It is then flavored with cardoon, a relative of the artichoke, and blessed thistle among other herbs and spices. In the glass it is light brown and shares a slightly oxidative note similar to Madeira. Mountain herbs, citrus, brown sugar, and cinnamon come to mind on the nose, and the palate is lighter, pleasantly sweet with hints of toasted hazelnut and citrus. Favored by bartenders for its softer, more aromatic style, it is excellent in a wide array of cocktails and fantastic on its own. It’s also an excellent value! Tim Gagnon
Pronounced 'Beer', this is a unique tonic with roots in the Languedoc region of south-west France. Local red wine is infused with 10 botanicals, most apparent of which is the bitter quinine bark. Fans of vintage advertising should seach for Byrrh posters and they will be rewarded with over 100 years of signage, including rich Art Nouveau images. The beverage itself should be enjoyed chilled, on its own or with soda water and a twist; it could also make a good addition to a Negroni or other classic coctails. JR
This is quite dry with lovely citrus notes to balance the bitterness. cb One of the best values in Amaro. Caffo has bright Calabrian citrus flavors and classic herbal bitter flavors. Fantastic on its own, but dangerously drinkable in seltzer. JR
Disclaimer: This is an Amaro for adventurous drinkers! Beginning with a rich red wine base, the production process involves a 6-month infusion with local flowers, herbs, and roots and the only sweetener used is a local tree sap. This yields an intensely bitter and dark spirit with a piney, earthy finish. I find it to be incredibly compelling and energizing, especially after a gluttonous meal, but it isn’t for the faint of heart! Tim Gagnon
An approximation of Signor Carpano's original 1786 recipe, many call this the Cadillac of red vermouth. Intense flavors of raisin and vanilla meld over a note of anise in the background. Upon further investigation, flavors of orange peel contribute to the rich medley of caramel and fruits. Raise your mixed drinks to the next level, or just relax with a touch of this and an orange peel. JR
Our favorite absinthe is now available in a traveler size! Delaware Phoenix is the passion-driven distillery owned and operated by Cheryl Lins. She started making the first traditional absinthes in New York in the town of Walton in a tiny pot still. The results are superb, and compare favorably with Europe's best. The "Meadow of Love" adds violet to the classic herbal cocktail, and has a drier profile than many other absinthes.
Delaware Phoenix is the passion-driven distillery owned and operated by Cheryl Lins. She started making the first traditional Absinthes in New York in the town of Walton on a tiny pot still. The results are superb, and compare favorably with Europe's best. The "Walton Waters" bottling is distilled with the classic herbs: Grand wormwood, Anise, Florence Fennel, Roman wormwood, Lemon balm, and Lemon Thyme. The spirits are high proof (136) and should be diluted with three to five parts ice cold water. JR
Perhaps the benchmark for dry french Vermouth. Both complex and subtle, with floral and herbal flavors derived from the 54 or so secret ingredients. The first Vermouth I reach for when making a Martini, and an excellent drink on ice. JR
Perhaps the benchmark for dry french Vermouth. Both complex and subtle, with floral and herbal flavors derived from the 54 or so secret ingredients. The first Vermouth I reach for when making a Martini, and an excellent drink on ice. JR
Historically, amari were made as a way to make full use of the harvest by macerating leftover herbs, botanicals, and fruits in distilled spirits. This of course means everything was grown locally, resulting in a myriad of different styles depending on where you were and what crops were planted. And while there are other American amari on the market today, it’s hard to think of one that truly capitalizes on its bountiful, regional raw ingredients. Most are based on traditional Italian – or even Scandinavian – recipes, which are delicious, but rely on herbs and botanicals that may or may not be native to where they are made. Enter High Wire’s Southern Amaro. Using a base of neutral corn spirit, they macerate Yaupon Holly (America’s only native caffeinated plant) and gentian root, along with wild mint, local Dancy tangerine, and Charleston Black Tea (the only colorant used), among other botanicals. It is then sweetened with neutral cane syrup which they make themselves from local sugarcane. It is wild and intriguing on the nose with brown sugar, sweet spice, and zesty citrus balanced by deeper aromas of black tea leaves, pine resin, smoke, and hints of brine and celery. The palate is quite lifted and herb-forward with a balanced sweetness, and it is here that the tangerine and mint really shine along with a touch of black cherry. Reach for this after a fantastic meal! Tim Gagnon
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Here we have a very amaro-esque bitter with a Teutonic twist. The botanical recipe skews toward rich and soothing, and to create the complex, spicy flavor gentian root, juniper, coriander, vanilla, angelica root, star anise, clove, violet root, lemon balm, cinnamon bark and orange peel are macerated for four weeks in a sugar and beet alcohol solution. Forest is the perfect stand-in for an amaro or brandy at the end of a meal. The complexity and slight sweetness also make it a fantastic ingredient in cocktails calling for red vermouth. John Rankin
This is a delicious, bracing, alpine-style aperitif from the heart of Berlin. In order to make this invigorating, herbal cocktail, Michelberger combines lemon peel, juniper, coriander, peppermint, lemon balm, cardamom, fennel, sage, anise seed, orris root, thyme and caraway seed in a solution of beet sugar spirit. This is double distilled in traditional pot stills, and then mellowed in earthenware pots before being bottled. Served ice-cold, this would be a great way to start a dinner or end a night. John Rankin
From the famed vermouth-producing city of Reus, just southwest of Barcelona, Miro is just what I’ve been looking for to make the ultimate Martini. Made from a base wine of Airen and Macabeo with herbs and wormwood sourced from the Pyrenees Mountains, it is exceptionally dry (no sugar added!) and exhibits all of the piquant, herbal, and briny notes of olives. This is no doubt the reason it works so well in a Martini, but there are compelling wormwood-forward notes along with a touch of spice, bracing acidity, and minerality that make it a perfect aperitif. Seriously delicious! Tim Gagnon
A longstanding tradition throughout the Alps is the annual production of a rich and aromatic walnut liqueur. Each summer the family picks fresh green walnuts from wild stands of the delicate “Weinsberg” variety near the village of Sankt Peter in der Au. These walnuts steep for months in Weinbrand (a grape brandy) and for the last month with a variety of spices and alpine botanicals. For three generations the Purkhart family has produced this all-natural walnut liqueur from the same family recipe, renowned for its balance and exceptionally smooth finish.
This newly imported electric green liqueur caught us all by surprise. It’s an herbal apéritif with bitter botanical and fresh mint flavors—think Chartreuse with an added pine-y kick—from the Franche-Comté, a region famous for absinthe production. Sapins’ distinctive evergreen quality comes from the addition of young fir buds to the other macerating components. The spirit is delicious as a digestive, but one could add it to seltzer and ice for a refreshing long drink. JR
Chinato – an aromatized and fortified wine usually based on Barolo – has created quite a stir around the store. We’ve always loved Cappellano’s, and tried a few others here and there, but an offer of many vintage Chinatos illuminated the fact that these spirits show quite well when cellared like their mother-wine Barolo. The intense, bitter, quinine bark flavors mellow and become a more harmonious part of the drink. Also, like world class dessert wines, the sugar becomes less “sweet” tasting and shows more rich-bodied character. Which brings us to Rovero’s delicious Barolo Chinato. For under $35 a bottle, I’d highly recommend stashing a couple of these away for a later after-dinner surprise. It may not be the Technicolor, herbal rollercoaster that Cappellano is, but it’s a very fine stand-in at an incredible price. John Rankin
Sommeliers Nicholas Finger and Fairlie McCollough started St. Agrestis in 2014 after a three month trip through Italy solidified their love for traditional, regional Amari. Everything is done in their warehouse in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY from the maceration of organic herbs, roots, and citrus in neutral base spirit to the short-term aging in whiskey barrels (sourced from the Van Brunt distillery in Brooklyn), and the addition of organic cane sugar followed by bottling and labeling. The sugar rounds out the classic bitter components of this Amaro making for an easy going yet complex and balanced digestif that begs to be consumed after dinner this Thanksgiving! Tim Gagnon
From its origins in the tropical hills and valleys of Jamaica, the allspice berry has for generations been prized for its exceptional tastes of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg and a pepper note that dazzles the palate. The allspice liqueur, known in classic cocktails as "Pimento Dram," brings together the fine pot-still rum and classic allspice berries of Jamaica. Enjoy St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram in classic cocktails, Wassail and other punches, mulled wine, continental and island cuisine.
Salers is a fascinating elixir from the Massif Centrale. The bark of yellow gentian is steeped in alcohol with a secret recipe of other herbs to create an earthy beverage with tons of local character. Yellow gentian grows best at high elevation on volcanic soils, as is the case for gentian grown around the Auvergne and used here. Locally, Salers in enjoyed with ice as an apéritif, but there are many modern cocktail recipes that call for it as well. JR
This is the most powerful Amaro I have ever tried. To drink it is to experience a brisk and bracing shock of mountain roots and herbs. The flavors are intense enough to make one’s whole mouth tingle, and the experience lasts for several minutes. As a warning, it must be said that this tonic is brutally dry, rich, and smoky. One could tackle a glass neat after dinner, or a splash could go a long way in creating unique cocktails. This tonic is made with botanicals that are smoked prior to maceration, and mountain honey is used (extremely sparingly) as a sweetener. For the adventurous there is nothing else quite like it! JR
Looking for something sweet for after dinner? Look no further! Made from real Italian espresso according to the traditional recipe of the Varnelli family, this liqueur has decadent aromas of roasted espresso beans, vanilla, and sweet spice accompanied by tobacco, cocoa nibs, and wildflower honey. The palate is sumptuous, yet balanced, with persistent espresso character. Try it on its own, or add a splash to your coffee! Tim Gagnon
In Italy Varnelli is eponymous with this delicious Anise liqueur. Locally, Varnelli is splashed over espresso. The bottle says secco, but there is a touch of sweetness to the spirit that tempers the intensity of the anise flavor. This stuff makes your average Sambuca look like overly sugary candy water. There is a secret proprietary method for distilling the aniseed that remarkably preserves the anise’s medicinal quality and depth of flavor. The spirit is not bitter, but is still reported by the distillery to aid with digestion. JR
Punch is a lighthearted rum liqueur with a hint of mandarin orange and spices. Traditionally this should be served warm, undiluted, and garnished with citrus, but intrepid home bartenders could find lots of applications especially as a sweetening agent in cocktails or punches. Different and delicious! JR
Mauro Vergano started making Chinato as a hobby. A few years ago he turned pro, and now we can buy his elixirs here in the States. The Americano features Grignolino grapes supplied by one of our favorite Piedmont producers, Cascina 'Tavijn. Mauro serves this apéritif with sparkling water, ice and a slice of orange peel. We suggest that you do the same. JR
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This is a great rum for cocktails and casual sipping. The Demerara molasses gives a bit of extra body to a very fairly priced bottle. I’d recommend using this for a delightful winter-time Daiquiri. The 5 years spent in Bourbon barrels gives a kiss of coconut and vanilla, but doesn’t leave the rum tasting tannic or overly oaky. John Rankin
Many rum drinkers are familiar with Lemon Hart 151 - the rum that defined tiki cocktail culture from the 1930s to the 1960s - and this is the best substitute there is. Ed Hamilton introduced this Demerara Overproof rum in 2015 after the owner of Lemon Hart said that they would no longer be bottling under the brand name; it is made by Demerara Distillers in Guyana, the same distillery that makes the original Lemon Hart 151. It is a blend of rums as young as 18 months and as old as 5 years, making for a rich, robust, yet smooth rum that begs to made into a Zombie or any other high-octane concoction. Dark-fruited on the nose with aromas of burnt cane sugar, tobacco, coffee grounds, and sweet spice. The palate is incredibly balanced given its high alcohol percentage making it a seriously versatile component to any home bartender's set up. Tim Gagnon
Ed Hamilton's Jamaica Gold Rum is sourced from the Worthy Park Distillery in the parish of St. Catherine at 1,200 feet in elevation. The estate was founded in 1670 and commercial sugarcane production began in 1720, long before any other distillery on the island. All of the sugarcane is processed on the property which results in molasses that is exceptionally high in sugar content. Fermentation of the molasses take place over three weeks and distillation occurs in copper pot stills resulting in a classic "heavy" rum - the term used for the rich, molasses-based pot still rums of the former English colonies. The only additives are natural sugar-based caramel coloring and water. The nose is a bouquet of earthy, leathery tones balanced by ripe tropical fruits, starchy banana, sweet spice, and a toasted, nutty quality. On the palate it is quite rich with toasted coconut, red apple skin, bright minerality, and more earthiness. This is killer in many classic cocktails, particularly a Daiquiri, and is equally great sipped neat! Tim Gagnon
Ed Hamilton, the man behind the Ministry of Rum line of hand-selected, pot still rums from St. Lucia and Jamaica (as well as importer of the famed Lemon Hart 151, and Rhum Agricoles such as Neisson and La Favorite), is a modern day pirate of sorts. After years of living aboard his sailboat called Matahari in the Caribbean visiting distilleries and writing two books in the 1990s, he has carved out his place as one of the world's foremost experts on island sprits. My favorite of this line is the single-vintage (in this case 2006) St. Lucian 7-year. It is distilled in a classic Vendome pot still and is aged in American oak barrels before being bottled without any additives, save for water. On the nose it opens with a touch of grassy, earthy funk followed by bright citrus, banana, and sweet spice notes. The palate brings powerful notes of black pepper, more bright citrus fruit, and deeper, base-y notes of saddle leather and pipe tobacco. In short this is a serious, complex rum that begs to be sipped slowly. This would be perfect for any serious spirits geek, or even for a wine geek that already has it all! Tim Gagnon
If Neisson is Martinique’s refined, Cognac-esque rhum, then La Favorite is the wild, Bourbon-esque brother. The raw distillate comes from an ancient copper pot still—the last on the island to still use steam power (making them self-sufficient with a very low environmental impact). La Favorite’s un-aged rhums have a complex spectrum of tropical fruit flavors like green banana and lime, and after aging in Bourbon casks they gain layers of toast and vanillin with a lingering spicy finish. When The New York Times’ tasting panel reviewed Rhum Agricole, La Favorite’s Ambre took the top honors among very good competition. This is truly a world class product, and next to a lineup of industrial rums shows how vivid, complex, and delicious rum can be. John Rankin
This is really fantastic Rhum! Made in the Agricole style out of sugar cane and distilled in pot stills for increased complexity and fascinating earthy aromas. This is mostly three-old spirit that has been aged in Bourbon casks. The flavours are intense featuring dried plums and spices. JR
Neisson is one of Martinique’s most traditional distillers. The island’s unique, breezy climate and volcanic soils yield sugarcane unlike any other place. Also, on Martinique it is traditional to distill fresh raw sugar cane and not molasses (which is a byproduct of sugar production). Sugar cane rhums, or Rhum Agricole, have wild, grassy, and citrusy aromas and have a great complexity not often found in molasses-based products. Neisson ages its rums in French oak casks, unlike the Bourbon barrels used by almost everyone else, lending a flavor profile reminiscent of Cognac. Always interested in producing rhum unlike others, Niesson has started fermenting using a native yeast sourced in the cane fields instead of the industry standard commercial yeasts. I can’t recommend this enough for those who know rum well or are interested in an introduction to one of the world’s most delicious spirits. John Rankin
Rhum J.M. is probably the best known and loved spirit of Martinique. Like the island’s other rhums, it is distilled from pure sugar cane instead of processed molasses, which lends a powerful grass and mineral character to the rhum’s flavor. Just about any cocktail gains complexity by swapping out a molasses-based rhum for this funky variation. I love J.M. Blanc in a Daiquiri, done traditionally or in Hemingway’s style. John Rankin
In the not too distant past, spiced rum was a spirit to avoid at all costs. Producers took an already sweet product (rum,) added artificial vanilla and citrus flavors, cinnamon, and then even more sugar to create a beverage made to appeal to the sweet tooth of an undergraduate student. We now have choices of spiced rum that are actually delicious and actually spicy. Wigle’s entry starts with a distillate of buckwheat honey – a tribute to the local grain known for its earthy, woodsy flavor. Next, a slew of ingredients are infused into spirit. Wigle uses vanilla bean, roasted orange peel, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon for a drink that is aromatically very complex, and downright spicy. This peppery kick makes the spirit an ideal partner for ginger beer, or a feisty member of a punch bowl. John Rankin
A wash of phenols and citrus fruits that ends in a smokey bite. After aeration or a bit of dillution, some sweet notes of anise and dark, woody cocoa. Behind all of this is the bracing roasted peat that has made this distiller famous. Non-chill filtered to maintain all of the whisky's nuances. In my opinion, one of the most complex 10-year bottlings, and a perfect introduction to smoky Islay malts. 46% ABV JR
For those who can't decide between the two! Get 10% off on one bottle each of Aultmore 2008 and Glen Moray 2009 while supplies last.
Perhaps the most elegant and balanced of Speyside malts. The dram is light with bright floral smells and a honeyed texture in the mouth. The finish has a touch of smoke balanced by bourbon barrel creaminess. Definitely an essential expression of Speyside, and an incredibly complex 12-year-old. JR
The Aultmore distillery in Keith has a long and somewhat complicated history, as many distilleries in Scotland do. It originally opened in 1895 powered by water wheel (which was quickly retired and replaced with a steam engine that was in use for 70+ years, save for maintenance, during which time the water wheel would be brought back into use) under the control of Alexander Edward, who was also the owner of the Benrinnes distillery. By 1899 it was under new ownership, went bankrupt in that year, and reopened again in 1904 only to close yet again during World War I due to barley shortages. By the late 1920s it was operating at full capacity. It changed hands multiple times, but aside from a brief closure due to expansion in the late 1960s, operation continues to this day. Though they do release an eponymous bottling in small quantities, the majority of the whisky is destined for blended malts. This is a shame, since it is among the most classic Speyside single malts I have tried.This Chambers Street Exclusive was aged in 600L sherry casks before being moved into sherry-refill octave casks for 9 months. Delicate, airy aromas of grapefruit zest and warm hazelnut are backed by more decadent notes of peach cobbler, fresh cut grass, and brown sugar. It has nice weight on the palate and is decidedly fruit-forward with underlying spice, honey, chocolate, and toffee notes. There is almost a nutty, briny note as well with a wisp of smoke that sneaks in on the finish. A very traditional dram, and one that you won’t see again. Chambers Street Malt #1: Aultmore Octave #Q1244. Distilled in 2008, bottled in 2016 aged 7 years-old at 104.4 proof after 9 months in octave cask. 81 bottles produced. Tim Gagnon
Glen Moray is a distillery in Elgin, on the banks of the River Lossie, about a thirty-minute drive northwest of the Aultmore distillery. Originally owned by Robert Thorne & Sons (the owners of Aberlour at the time) and called the West Brewery, it opened in 1895 before adding two stills and rebranding as a distillery in 1897. A fire at the Aberlour distillery in the early 1900s all but halted production at Glen Moray as they focused their attention to rehabilitating the destroyed facility. It closed in 1910, and lay dormant until the late 1920s when it was purchased by the owners of the Glenmorangie family, and has been distilling ever since. Our Chambers Street bottling shows the other side of Speyside with a fuller, sweeter profile. Think peanut brittle, caramel, granola, maple cream, and dried flower petals on the nose, with a decadent mouthfeel and flavors reminiscent of honey roasted walnuts, treacle, and brown spice. The finish picks up some of the piquant notes from the sherry octave that it was finished in, resulting in a slightly sweet, intoxicatingly long, and complex finish. Chambers Street Malt #2: Glen Moray Octave #Q1207. Distilled in 2009, bottled in 2016 aged 7 years-old at 111.2 proof after 9 months in octave cask. 98 bottles produced. Tim Gagnon
A consistently great bottling from Highland Park that's a nice middle ground between Highland and Islay styles. Quite full and rich, but not as sweet as some, this is a great intro malt and a great value for an 18 year old.
From the peninsula of Campbeltown comes the historic Springbank. Campbeltown once was the thriving center of Scottish distillation, now Springbank is one of the few left. A truly artisanal operation that employs their own floor maltings. Springbank uses a light peating for a smoky island character. The malt is actually distilled two and a half times, so there is a lightness that, when combined with the rugged terrain, creates a complex scotch that is very unique. Most of the malt was raised in Bourbon barrels for a pure, dry expression. (46% ABV) JR
Springbank, located at the southern tip of the Campbeltown peninsula on the west coast, is one of our favorite distilleries. It's the oldest independent, family-owned distillery in Scotland and still performs all aspects of production and aging on site. Never chill-filtered, Springbank is an incredibly elegant whisky—the 15-year-old, matured in sherry casks, is a fine after-dinner dram full of sweet, rich flavors like dark chocolate and raisins.
Siete Leguas makes some of the greatest Tequila you’ve never heard of. This distillery specializes in rustic, spicy spirits with lots of wild agave character. Agave hearts or “Piñas” are cooked and then crushed by a traditional stone wheel "Tahona," which seems to extract a more mineral-infused Tequila than more current sterile methods do. All of the Siete Leguas lineup is fantastic, but I love the tangy Agave purity of the Blanco. A truly complex sipping tequila, or perfect for a Margarita with a real kick. JR
The new venture from vodka master Thomas Kuutanen is an estate-bottled organic spirit that clearly stands ahead of its peers. The mash bill includes mostly barley and a bit of wheat to smooth out the mix. These grains are both organic. Thomas only distills twice in order to retain as much of the natural flavorings in the vodka, and does not filter. The result is a full-bodied vodka with pristine tones of licorice and vanilla. JR
Tito's is made from 100% corn and is absolutely wheat & gluten free. It’s produced in Austin at Texas' first and oldest legal distillery. It's made in small batch by Tito Beveridge (actual name), a 45-year-old Geologist, who micro-distills 6x’s in an old-fashioned pot still, just like fine single malt scotches and high-end French cognacs.
Dad’s Hat rye has great aromatics of toasted grain, sandalwood, and a hint of spicy citrus. The mash bill consists of 80 percent rye, 15 percent malted barley, and the remainder malted rye giving the whisky a round, full character. Most of the ryes distilled in Kentucky like Old Overholt, Sazerac, and Rittenhouse contain the bare minimum of rye and are rounded out with corn for a lighter, sweeter character. The current Dad’s Hat bottling was matured in small barrels to maximize oak to whisky ratio, but the future stocks of rye are sleeping in more traditional large barrels. We’re looking forward to trying them all! JR
One of Heaven Hill's higher-end offerings. The Elijah Craig packs tons of rye, citrus and licorice smoke into an undervalued little package. I once had friends over for a bourbon tasting and dinner, and this was the first bottle emptied. JR
Made from a four-grain mash bill of heirloom white corn, Red Winter Wheat, malted barley, and Carolina Gold Rice from the famed Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina, this is uniquely southern Bourbon. It spends eighteen months in barrel and yields a spirit that is happily grain-forward (when you use such high-quality grain, why wouldn’t you want it to be?), with secondary aromas of malted milk chocolate, baked apricot, and sweet spice. The palate is smooth, yet earthy and spicy, with fruit returning on the finish along with apple butter and nutmeg. This is a delicious experience for all whiskey lovers. Tim Gagnon
A truly idiosyncratic whiskey from the historic Knappogue castle. The whiskey is triple distilled in copper pot stills for a unique light body. The taste is uniquely fresh and light with juicy pear fruit and enticing floral notes. JR
Possibly the smoothest of all Bourbons. Maker's Mark is a "wheated" style bourbon, meaning that wheat is the dominate grain in the mash bill after corn. Wheat imparts sweeter and smoother flavors than the more rustic and spicy rye. Makers has a distinct Maraschino cherry liquor flavor that leaves a sweet toasty finish. Unique and utterly drinkable. JR
A fantastic deal on a four year old straight rye from the Jim Beam still. Overholt smacks of spicy rye, and is my personal favorite for making Manhattans. I recommend three parts rye to one part Dolin Rouge vermouth. JR
It’s here! The 2016 rendition of our Chambers St. Rye bottling, Barrel #14L02, is made from a mash bill consisting of entirely local grain in the following proportions: 64.6% organic rye, 18.1% organic wheat, and 17.2% organic malted barley. This mash was double distilled to 147.7 proof (about 5-10% ABV lower than typical, meaning it maintains lots of spicy rye character) in Wigle’s 750L CARL copper pot still, first with a stripping run to turn beer (whiskey speak for the fermented grain mash used for distillation) into low wine followed by a finishing run to turn the low wine into spirit. It was then barreled at 117.3 proof in a 25-gallon new, charred, American oak barrel, and aged for nearly two years before being bottled un-chillfiltered, without colorant or stabilization at 110 proof ensuring a rich, robust drinking experience. On the nose, the whiskey is bright with aromas of burnt orange peel, cedar, honey, rolled oats, baked red apple, cinnamon, and hints of coffee ground and leather. Luscious and honeyed on the palate, but still maintaining a lot of its spicy grain character, it offers decadent flavors of apple tart tatin, brown spice, orange peel, and a touch of white pepper. Suggestions of green herbs and vanilla are accompanied by the resurgence of honey and citrus making for a balanced, and rather mellow finish. This whiskey is perfect for sipping, but would also stand out in simple, classic cocktails. Tim Gagnon
The words of Mark Twain still ring true in 2016: "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough."
Probably the inspiration for so many "small batch" designer Bourbons of today. Big rich sweet corn matched with high alcohol and astringent wood tannins. An American tradition. JR