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Premium Selection
12 May 2019
Being a purist I maintain that drinking neat is best. And that's appropriate if your aim is evaluation and analysis.
Some of the best palettes attest that water is also your friend. Adding a touch can open up the spirit and guide the sensory receptors in your mouth and nose to the mysteries and flavours hiding behind the crafted spirit.. Here is a selection of premium spirits to enjoy with an ice cube or merely a touch of water. Should you be a master of taste, sip the spirit neat, with an in between sip of water and mix in your mouth for the flavors to tease your alerted tasting buds. You can ‘take out’ what's been put in. Trust your tongue.
Enjoy, celebrate life’s little moments and travel the world through taste, geography and history.
 
Paris Christofides
World enjoying traveler

 

 

1. Pusser’ Navy Rum 15 years  abv 40%

A blend of five rums from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados which are produced in mainly wooden pot stills. Luxuriously full bodied.  The taste delivers what the complex aroma promises, beginning with a burst of classic Demerera brown sugar, molasses and caramel.  Notes of leather, tobacco, dried sultanas, nutmeg, clove, cassia and soft oak follow.  The finish is exceptionally smooth, complex and lingering. 100% rum with no artificial substances and glutten free. It has claimed many spirit awards but most recent it earned the "Master" status from London-based Spirits Business in their Rum & Cachaca Masters 2019 competition.

 

 

2. Purity Vodka abv 40%

A quest to redefine vodka, clear as rainy water

‘Made by one of Europe’s biggest ‘blend rockstar’ Thomas Kuuttanen, this Vodka embodies the name that it goes by. Coming from Sweden the distillery location is a 13th century Ellinge castle. Thomas's team engineered a special copper-golden pot still just for making Vodka. They source the raw ingredients - winter wheat & barley - directly from the estate surroundings. Then they distill the liquid 34 times!

Smooth & loaded with character. Its oily texture is dominated by minerals and umami, backed up by delicate tones of white chocolate, vanilla and liquorice.

 

 

3. ELiah Graig Single Barell 18 yrs Bourbon  abv 45%

Elijah Craig (1800) is often referred to as the inventor of bourbon whiskey (!), although rather dubiously for this credit according to some. Today Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. is an American, private family-owned and operated distillery founded in 1935 and headquartered in  Kentucky and uses the same methods and traditions as in 200 years ago used by Elijah Graig using local corn milled and mixed with Kentucky spring water, rich in limestone, fermented and distilled.

The 18 years old Elijah Graig is a premium small batch straight bourbon and aged in one barrel. Rich, nutty, bursts of honey giving way to toasted wood. It collected many gold awards including Best Bourbon in San Fransisco world spirits competition.

 

4. Hibiki  Japanese Harmony Whisky abv 43 %

A well-balanced Japanese blended whisky from the Hibiki range. Hibiki Japanese Harmony is made with malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, as well as grain whisky from the Chita distillery. The whiskies are drawn from 5 different types of cask, including American white oak casks, Sherry casks and Mizunara oak casks. The blend itself was crafted by the Suntory Whisky blending team, led by Master Blender Shingo Torii.  Taste the melted butter and caramelised dates with a hint of fragrant sandalwood develops into warming, oak-y spice. Finishing tasting notes of brown sugar, citrus peels, grape and hints of black pepper. So, smooth!

 

5. Del Maguey Chichicapa Mescal abv 46%

Mezcal visionary, Ron Cooper introduced the world to previously unavailable 100% certified organic, artisanal Mezcal produced the original handcrafted way made by individual family palenqueros (producers) in old-style villages. The town of Chichicapa in Mexico is dry and tropical with agaves, mangoes, bananas and guanas.  It smells  fruity, it’s like a smoked cantaloupe, lime juice, cooked apple, pineapple, pears, wood smoke, pine needles, rock salt, marzipan first but it gets a little sweeter, limes and salted caramel. One friend said you can taste the old stone that crushed the agave!

 

 

6. Angostura  15 yrs 1787 Rum   abv 40%

Distilled at Angostura distillery, Trinidad and Tobago claiming a label of age 15 years in charred oak ex bourbon barrels but like in most cases in aged rum production one should take this with a pinch of salt! The name refers to the date that the first sugar mill was established at the Lapeyrouse Estate. Beautiful rich mahogany color with  a sweet banana, dried fruit, apple and oak smell. It has a medium body palate, with hints of prunes, oak , toffee and black pepper.

 

7. The GlenDronach Single Malt 14 Yrs Old Virgin Oak Finish   abv 46%

Interestingly, this GlenDronach single malt was matured in European oak before a finishing period spent in fresh virgin oak casks. The distillery is Aberdeenshire, in the Highland whisky district. Smell the cardamom, cloves and oak but taste the tropical flavors of banana, melon, coconut, cinnamon,caramel ending into spicy notes. Well thought out whisky which has enough traditional elements to make it recognizable, yet a twist of virgin oak to pep it up and give it some new directions.

 

8. Koval barreled gin   abv 47%

Produced by Koval distillery in Chicago, Koval barreled gin follows the same pattern of artisan production to organic grain to bottle mentality gin as its highly awarded Koval dry gin with the difference of resting it in Koval whisky barrels, eventually bottling a unique crisp spirit that should appeal to gin and whisky drinkers alike, if possible! It won the GOLD MEDAL 2016 Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and GOLD MEDAL 2016 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition. There is no legal definition of the production of a gin aged in whisky barrels.  Is it a whisky or a gin? 

Crisp spirit, toasted coriander, rose hip, juniper, angelica root, notes on caramel, honey, vanilla, malt and evidences of wood spices. Perhaps long wood spices on the palate too! 

 

9. Aees Ambelis Comandaria   abv 15%

The wine has a long history, said to date back to the time of the ancient Greeks, where it was a popular drink at festivals. During the crusades, Commandaria was served at the 12th-century wedding of King Richard the Lionheart to Berengaria of Navarre, in the town of Limassol; it was during the wedding that King Richard pronounced Commandaria "the wine of kings and the king of wines". Commandaria itself is a drink that Cyprus is mighty proud of. The Aees Ambelis, artisan Cyprus winery’s Commandaria, is not dissimilar to a noticeable alcohol, extract-rich, almost creamy dessert wine. A naturally sweet wine, carefully crafted from sundried grapes of the indigenous Xynisteri variety with additional sweetness shaped by a strong coffee note as also by the aromas of red fruits. This particular commandaria received many gold awards in wine and spirit competitions.

 

10. Woodford Reserve rye Whiskey  abv 45.2 %

Bourbon or rye ? The corn mash used in bourbon makes for a sweet and full-bodied flavor, while the rye mash in rye whiskey creates spicy tones and a drier taste.  Distilled from a relatively low-rye mash of 53% rye, 33% corn, 14% malt; true to Woodford Reserve form, a mingling of whiskeys distilled at Woodford in Louisville. Nose of leather, cinnamon, rye snappiness, and hints of red raspberry. Hot and lean on the palate, spicy/sweet until rye’s bitter layering floats in, making for a dry finish as the oak comes on stronger.

 

11. Plantation Gran Anejo Guatemala & Belize rum  abv 42%

Plantation describe themselves as producing “an artisanal range of rums from the great terroirs of the tropics.”  This one from Guatemala & Belize is described on the bottle as “Grand Cru” / “Gran Añejo.” Not a fan of these kinds of descriptions as they do not really mean anything. “Grand Cru” is from the world of wine and “Gran Añejo” is used to describe Spanish rums or other spirits that often hide behind dubious Solera age-statements by using such terminology. But, in the case of Plantation, no deception is intended as there is no age statement nor implication that the rum is of a certain age. Matured in casks for 3 years in Guatemala, and finished in ex-cognac caks in France. Vanilla is very present with almond, marzipan and honey. Well balanced with cocoa, woody vanilla notes. Elegant finish.

 

 

12. Hine Rare fine champagne Cognac abv 40%

“Vines form the link between the earth and the heavens, replete with vagaries and caprices.” House of Hine

The Hine company is named for its proprietor Thomas Hine, an Englishman from Dorset,England. Following his arrest during the French Revolution, Thomas Hine married a young maiden, Françoise Elisabeth, whose father owned a cognac house in Jarnac in the cognac producing region . Hine took the company to new heights, and eventually renamed it Thomas Hine & C°. in 1817.

The Hine House  is one of the oldest houses in Jarnac and serves as the company's headquarters. In 1962, the house was granted a royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth II, as suppliers of cognac. Today it is still the only cognac house to hold this honour. Rare is a Fine Champagne Cognac, a blend of more than 25 Grande and Petite Champagne cognacs. Suave yet delicate and exceptional VSOP, adored for its caramel, jasmine, nutmeg and dried fruit flavor notes. Perhaps my favorite for its smoothness.

 

13. Laphroaig Single Malt 10yrs  abv 40%

This edition is for those that love big, smoky and briny Islay Scottish whiskies with a history back from the18th century.  Massively individual and utterly distinctive, Laphroaig unique flavour comes in part from it’s vicinity to the coast and the high moss content of its peat, which is processed in the distillery’s own floor maltings. The malted barley is dried over a peat fire. The smoke from this peat, found only on Islay, gives Laphroaig its particularly rich flavour. In a campaign that seems to break all the rules of advertising, Laphroaig is slapping terrible descriptions.’ It tastes like dead fish, iodine, a campfire and dirt! The taste is smoky with seaweed notes as it is produced in maritime climate. A slight vanilla and caramel note becomes apparent underneath all of the smoke and salt to balance out these huge flavors.  Laphroaig is the favourite of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and even bears his Royal Warrant.

 

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