Spirit lovers rejoice: there are many exciting new spirits on the market, some just released, others about to be. Some may even be available at your local monopoly.
From Bainbridge Organic Distillers out of Washington State comes the world’s first non-Japanese whisky aged exclusively in virgin Japanese mizunara oak casks. These casks hail from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. This single grain barley concoction sports pear, nutmeg, clove, toasted marshmallow and honey notes.
Ireland comes through with Cask Aged Shortcross Gin from the Rademon Estate Distillery. Aged in French oak casks from Chateau de La Ligne in Bordeaux, which previously contained Chateau Cuvee Prestige wine, this delightful imbibe possesses velvety tannins, light toast, floral, citrus and juniper complexity. Gin aficionados will really dig this one.
Also from Ireland, there’s Teeling Single Barrel/Single Malt Irish Whisky from the Teeling Whisky Company. This 13-year-old whisky was initially matured in former bourbon barrels for 12 years, then finished in white Port barrels from Carcavelos, Portugal. It’s the first whisky to use white Port barrels. Reminiscent of peach, cantaloupe, grape, lemon and spice, it’s rich and soothing with toasted toffee notes.
BET Vodka is an interesting sip. Created by the 45th Parallel Distillery in the US, this vodka uses sugar beets from a local cooperative and comes across smooth with vanilla and pepper in the finish.
Another vodka worth trying is from the Lancut Distillery, Poland’s oldest. Sobieski Estate Single Rye vodka is silky, soft and smacks of herbs and pear with a delicate sweetness in the finish.
Check out Vodquila, a crossing of vodka and tequila. Lovers of either of these spirits might scoff at the idea, but the drink is quite interesting. It combines the heat of vodka with the tanginess of tequila. The tequila comes through more in the finish.
A couple of barley malt whiskies from the Greenbar Distillery in Los Angeles are sure to please. Their Slow Hand Six Woods Malt and cask-strength variant Slow Hand Six Woods Cask are aged in large French white oak vats along with five other woods. Wood from mulberry adds currant highlights, maple delivers butterscotch, hickory gives plum notes, grape vine infuses black tea and red oak imparts clove nuances. Absolutely wonderful sippers!
Rum folks might enjoy Plantation Striggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum. Popular in the 1800s, this new version soaks fresh pineapple flesh in Plantation’s Original Dark rum and the rinds in their 3 Star white rum, then blends and ages it in barrel. The resulting rich, slightly tangy spirit has the typical molasses, vanilla and toffee notes of dark rum with a subtle pineapple undertone.
From Suntory we have Hibiki Japanese Harmony, a complex whisky blended from more than 10 different malt and grain whiskies of varying origins and ages (up to 20 years). It is then aged in different types of wood, including new American oak, Japanese Mizunara oak, and European oak casks that originally held sherry. Fresh and clean, it brings to mind citrus, melon, honey, lychee and light oak.
If bourbon is your passion, then give Jefferson’s Reserve Groth Cask from Kentucky a go. Unlike most whiskies, usually aged in sweet wine barrels, this one takes it six-year-old bourbon and finishes it for nine months in casks that previously held Cabernet Sauvignon from Groth Vineyards in California. The resulting fruity, light nectar is chock full of cherry, baked apple, green grapes, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and spice. A beauty!