Top 10 Spirits 2005
Selections for Your Home Bar
By Chris Rubin
something about this time of year—the holiday season—that
must create thirst. When else does a guest immediately need
a drink upon entering your home? For that reason alone,
it’s worth stocking your bar with the following bottles—or
perhaps stuffing the stockings of friends and loved ones
with them so you can have a drink when you visit.
Distillery No. 209, $40
hasn’t seen the frenzy of new bottles that bedevil
the vodka market, so it’s still easy to stand
out in this field. No. 209 does that—it’s
fresh, floral and fragrant, with delicate sweet notes.
Quintuple-distilled from gin, 209 uses juniper, bergamot
orange peel, coriander and cardamom to craft a spirit
delicious enough for people who thought they’d
never like gin.
initial claim to fame was a vodka relatively free
of congeners, or the stuff leftover from distillation
that can cause hangovers and headaches. They have
gone another step with this new 90 bottle. Using a
new facility that took ten years and $25 million to
create, this vodka is the first ever distilled to
200 proof, meaning zero leftover water or byproducts.
Water from Sierra Mountain gets blended back in to
bring it down to 90 proof, yielding an impressively
crisp, clean taste.
Delamain Grande Champagne Cognac, $80
which translates to “handmade,” is one
of the leading small producers of high quality Cognac.
It’s a very feminine Cognac, light and delicate,
subtle and intoxicating, with an average age of 25
Partida Reposado, $55
producers purchase their agaves in bulk from a variety
of growers, and the Partida family was one of those
suppliers for generations. They have always produced
a tequila from their estate for their own consumption,
and have finally decided to bring it to market. Smooth
and rich, the reposado has been aged six months in
French Canadian oak, from which it derives a hint
Del Maguey Pechuga, $200
is not the only thing made from agave. This cousin
comes from a different species of the plant, and is
fire-roasted in the ground before distillation, giving
it a distinctive smokiness. Pechuga then gets a final
distillation mixed with wild mountain apples, plums,
bananas, almonds, rice and— chicken breast.
Rare and exotic, this spirit has a wonderfully complex
nose that will keep you intrigued for hours.
Most sugarcane in Brazil goes into cachaça, the
national drink. But Oronoco sources fresh-cut mountain
cane from the slopes of the Paraiba do Sul river valley,
then triple distills it in copper pot stills before
blending it with older rums and briefly aging it in
Brazilian oak. Light and clean, Oronoco has hints of
vanilla and a smooth finish.
Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon, $25
in a single oak barrel in 1995, this glorious bourbon
only recently made the move into bottles. With its
golden amber hue and complex, spicy aromas, it’s
a terrific bargain as well as a terrific bourbon.
Jon, Mark and Robbo's Malt Scotch Whisky, $30
has long had a certain stuffiness, but that’s
far from the case with this new label, a partnership
of three young lads from across the pond, one of whom
happens to be a former Master Distiller for The Macallan.
This is whisky to drink and enjoy, not sit around
and analyze. There are three different types, but
we recommend "The Rich Spicy One," which
has sherry and exotic spice aromas and a long, smooth
finish that defies its bargain price.
Germain-Robin XO, $100
may be the most famous name in brandy, but for the
last decade and a half, Germain-Robin has consistently
proven that quality stuff can come from California
as well. Pinot Noir dominates the blend of a dozen
varietals, yielding a rich, complex brandy with a
long, lingering finish.
is not just for breakfast any more. Starbucks Coffee
Liqueur mixes the java company’s signature House
Blend of dark-roasted Latin American beans with neutral
grain spirits for a 40 proof liqueur that’s
viscous and slightly sweet. Add it to coffee, use
it in a White Russian or even pour it over ice cream.
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