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Spirits

Quintessentia Amaro Nonino

Quintessentia Amaro Nonino

Amaro, where have you been all my life? That is a question that begs serious thought. I was first introduced to it by my host on a recent trip to Umbria, he graciously ordered us Amaro Monte Negro on our first night and later, this classic, Amaro Nonino. Orange peel, spice cake, brandied pear, star anise, and dried herbs, this saffron-hued elixir from Quintessa is an absolute delight. In the mouth, it's round and mellow, with burnt caramel at the core. Note to self: stock up for the holidays. 35% ABV Nonino Distillatori S.R.L 9.3 Points...

Caol Ila 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch

Caol Ila 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch

Crafted from 100% malted barley and aged in used bourbon barrels and sherry casks, Caol Ila's 12-year-old single malt scotch is a fine example of of Islay peat, offering up a smokey melange of wet fall leaves, rich, freshly turned tilth, and peat moss clinging to damp stones. It's satisfyingly round in the mouth with a touch of malty nuttiness and poached pear offset by smouldering, menthol undertones. There is noticeable heat on the back palate. 43% ABV | Sample Caol Ila Distillery 9.2 Points...

Napa Valley Distillery Old Hollywood Ginn

Napa Valley Distillery Old Hollywood Ginn

Intensely aromatic, Napa Valley Distillery’s Old Hollywood Ginn is perhaps my favorite out of the four craft spirit samples I’ve received. The distillery website refers to it as a “speakeasy style,” a playful nod to the founder, Arthur Hartunian’s penchant and passion for using old, pre-Prohibition recipes. The website also notes that Old Hollywood Ginn is infused with nine rare botanicals, I’m guessing that Arthur can’t be persuaded to part with the recipe—whatever it is, the results speak for themselves. Juniper is certainly there and ever-present, along with a host of other aromas. Dried orange peel, coriander, and certainly anise. Possibly one can tease out cardamom and perhaps cinnamon, whatever the case, it’s incredibly smooth without too much heat. Bravo! Napa Valley Distillery...

Napa Valley Distillery East India Cocktail

Napa Valley Distillery East India Cocktail

From Napa Valley's first bonded distillery since prohibition, this incomparable East India Cocktail. Owners Arthur and Lusine Hartunian craft all of their spirits using old pre-Prohibition recipes and their website notes that the East India Cocktail is from recipe an 1830's recipe, and it's very hard not to imagine old maps, steamer trunks and wicker while sipping it. The base is a California brandy that has been aged in oak and infused with orange Curacao, blackberry syrup and blood orange bitters, and it's marvelously smooth. The nose is creamsicle, dried orange zest and baking spice. In the mouth, as I'd mentioned above, it's satiny smooth, and very mellow. The alcohol hits at the back palate, along with a spicy hit of white pepper. Napa Valley Distillery...

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

The Kraken Black Spice Rum constitutes my first foray into the world of rum, therefore, I will not offer a score, but will I provide tasting notes. According to Wikipedia, as the Kraken website itself offers little in the way of actual useful information about their product, Kraken is a rum-based spirit sourced from Trinidad and Tobago. It's crafted using distillate from fermented molasses and locally-grown sugar cane, and is then aged for up to two years prior to being infused with "a mix of 11 spices, including cinnamon, ginger and clove." It's quite dark in the glass, a warm mahogany brown, with a nose that is strongly vanilla, and perhaps toffee. In the mouth its quite smooth, and that vanilla note seems to lead the charge. It is possible to pick up traces of ginger and Christmas cake spice on the finish. 94 Proof I used the Kraken rum in my first attempt to make Cannelés de Bordeaux, an attempt which failed rather spectacularly, although the flavor was spot on. More on that later. Kraken Black Spiced Rum    ...