Hot New Backbar ProspectsSeptember 11, 2012 By: Robert Plotkin
People who appreciate world-class spirits are driven by the sense of discovery. The prospect of tasting something new is compelling and at the very heart of dynamic beverage marketing. Staying ahead of the curve is essential.
In the event that you missed the ballyhoo surrounding their introductions, the following is our short list of the dozen best spirits that you’ve likely haven’t heard of…yet. We guarantee that they are nothing less than spectacular and soon everyone will know them by their first names.
123 Organic Añejo Tequila — The entire range of 123 Organic 100% Agave Tequilas is handcrafted in the Lowlands of Jalisco at Tequila Las Americas [NOM 1480] in Amatitán. The tequilas are made from USDA and EU certified organic agaves. The añejo is aged for a minimum of 18 months in American white oak barrels and bottled at 80 proof. The 123 Organic Añejo has an oily textured body and a wafting bouquet of caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate. The tequila bathes the palate with the lingering flavors of cocoa, mint, cinnamon and toffee. Its lingering finish is supremely satisfying.
Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf Liqueur — This intriguing and unabashedly alluring elixir is crafted from handpicked coca leaves grown in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. After the leaves are harvested they are shipped under armed guard to a distillery in Amsterdam. The coca distillate is extracted from the leaves using a proprietary steam distillation process and the narcotic compounds are removed. It’s then blended with 36 different herbs indigenous to Bolivia, a secret mix that includes Guarana, Ginseng and Yerba Mate and bottled at 60 proof. There’s nothing remotely like Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf Liqueur on your backbar.
Bak’s Bison Grass Żubrówka Vodka — Be fully prepared to swoon. This traditional Polish flavored vodka is delicious, sophisticated and perfectly in-step with contemporary tastes. It is triple-distilled in column stills from potatoes and artesian well water and then infused with bison grass essential oils. As is customary, every bottle contains a long, slender blade of bison grass. The grass is said to give one vitality and strength. Others insist that it possesses aphrodisiac properties. Whatever the motivation for drinking it, this vodka is an experience not to be missed.
Bulldog London Dry Gin — The ultra-premium gin from London is handcrafted in small copper pot stills from English grain and a proprietary blend of 12 aromatics. In addition to juniper berries, the invigorating botanical mix includes poppy, lemon zest, cassia bark, almond, orris root, lotus leaves, licorice, lavender, angelica, coriander and longan or dragon eye, a fruit from Southeast Asia related to the lychee and long renown for its aphrodisiac properties. It’s a singular pleasure in every respect.
Early Times 354 Bourbon — The brand has returned to its bourbon roots with release of Early Times 354. The whiskey is crafted with a mash bill of corn, rye and barley and limestone-filtered spring water. It is aged entirely in charred American white oak barrels and bottled at 80 proof. This is a tremendously appealing bourbon and an ideal entree to the joys of everyday sippin’ whiskey. Early Times 354 has a generous semisweet bouquet and a palate saturated with spicy, fruity and slightly smoky flavors. Its warm lingering finish is laced with notes of butterscotch, vanilla and pepper.
El Buho 100% Agave Mezcal — The El Buho farm/distillery [NOM 0110X] is located in Santiago Matitlan, Oaxaca. Its mezcal is made from 100% Espadin agaves roasted in an underground stone pit with local mesquite wood for 7 days. The agaves are crushed using a burro-driven Tohona wheel before being double-distilled in a copper alembic still that has been in the family for nearly 100 years. El Buho is bottled at 86 proof — fresh from the still without barrel aging or the often-added worm. Trust that neither is needed in the least. The mezcal is a thoroughly delectable spirit, a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Herencia del Mezcalero Añejo Reserva Mezcal — When you hear about a spirit being handmade, this is exactly what you should envision. Herencia del Mezcalero is crafted at Fabrica de Mezcal del Amigo, a small family-owned distillery located in Matatlán, Oaxaca. It is double distilled in a traditional pot still, aged in ex-bourbon oak barrels for a minimum of 2-3 years and drawn from a single barrel. When the mezcal in the barrel has been depleted, that particular slice of 80-proof life is gone. The next barrel may be close in character, but it won’t be the same. The morale of the story is to appreciate each glass of this elegant spirit as a once in a lifetime thing.
Luna Nueva Añejo Tequila — This luxurious newcomer is crafted at Premium de Jalisco [NOM 1558] in Mazamitla, Jalisco under the direct supervision of 3rd generation master distiller Wilfrido Ortega Casas. The agaves used in distillation come from both the Lowlands and Highlands. Limited edition Luna Nueva Añejo is aged for 18 months in new American and French oak barrels. It has a dark amber hue, a velvety smooth body and a wafting bouquet of cinnamon, spices, fresh citrus and vanilla. The palate is loaded with spice, butterscotch, cocoa, vanilla and light peppery notes.
Magave Blanco Tequila — Made in Jalisco at Destiladora del Valle de Tequila [NOM 1438], Magave is a rare Highland classic made using both traditional artisanal methods and state of the art equipment. The harvested mature agaves baked in stone ovens and stainless steel autoclaves. The extracted juice is allowed to slowly ferment using airborne yeasts and double distilled in pot stills. The water used in production is subjected to high-tech filtration. The finished blanco has an enticing floral and fruit character.
Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula — Released in 2011, the 1840 Original Formula is crafted in the style of Three-Star Cognacs, which were the belle of the golden age of mixology and the foundation of scores of classic cocktails and mixed drinks. In keeping with its more assertive style, the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula is bottled at an elevated 90 proof, markedly stronger than the other marques in the range. The Cognac has a generous floral and fruit bouquet and the long-lasting flavors of cinnamon, apples, vanilla and toffee. The lingering finish is dry, warm and eminently delicious. This utterly sophisticated spirit will indeed make any cocktail that much better.
Plantation Grande Reserve 5 Years Old Rum — This prestigious Bajan spirit is a blend of pot-distilled and column-distilled rums made from local sugar cane molasses and aged in small oak barrels in the warmth and humidity of the Caribbean. After the rum has aged sufficiently, it is shipped to the Cognac Ferrand Estate in the heart of the esteemed Grande Champagne district of France. There it’s transferred to small French oak barrels and further aged in the estate’s cellars. Combined the rum is matured for a minimum of 5 years and bottled at 80 proof. It’s a seductive spirit modestly priced around $20.
Vesica Vodka — Made in Poland, Vesica is three-times column distilled entirely from potatoes in a complex continuous still. It is then triple-filtered through activated charcoal and diluted to 80 proof. The result is a luxurious gluten-free spirit brimming with character and distinctively delicious taste. Vesica has a satiny lightweight body and a salty/semisweet bouquet with light herbal and grassy notes. Upon entry the vodka immediately fills the mouth with a delectably spicy, sweet palate before gradually tapering off into a warm lingering finish.