Black Button Citrus Forward Gin ($31.99)
Rochester, New York
From the producer:
There are more classic cocktails made with gin than with any other spirit, and after a time out of the limelight, gin is bouncing back with a vengeance. Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavor from juniper berries. From its earliest origins in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved from use in herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Gin was developed on the basis of older jenever, and became populare in Great Britain (particularly in London) when William od Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones with his wife Mary. Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits, represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient. Classic retro cocktails mixed with premium gins in stylish glasses are back in fashion and a new wave of premium gins are taking over.
Our craft distillery specializes in farm to still products where all of our grain is shipped from a local farm just south of our distillery. Unlike some other craft distilleries, we distill, age, bottle, and label all of our products by hand right here in Rochester, New York in our production room. We do not, and never plan on shipping any spirits from large scale production companies.
Jason Barret has always found Gin to be an acquired taste. That is why he has given this spirit a new twist for gin lovers and an excellent starting point for the more inexperienced gin drinkers. The blend of bitter orange peel, sweet orange peel, and New York State Cascade hops molds well with the delicate notes of juniper berry. The unique blend of botanicals leaves you with a long lingering 'citrus forward' taste at the end."
This is one of Black Button's flagship products, and it is an excellent example of the quality of their distilling. While a citrus forward Gin is an easy choice, for summer, this is a good flavor base for fall and winter, too. I like negronis as the weather gets cooler, and this makes a great one.
Few American Whiskey ($45.99)
From the producer:
In a world chock-full of mass-produced spirits, only few remain truly handcrafted, and small-batched. (If you’re reading this, you’ve indeed found the finest.) FEW Spirits are a new take on timeless distilling techniques, and transcend the oft-ordinary taste we’ve all grown accustomed to. Distilled from the very best grains, aged to perfection, and bottled under their own roof, FEW remains in their own hands until distribution.
For nearly a century, Evanston, Illinois, the home of the Temperance Movement, was a dry city. In dire need of liquor laws that weren’t penned the same year as the invention of the band-aid, FEW’s master distiller overturned century-old prohibition laws to become Evanston’s first distiller of grain spirits within the city limits.
From the charred Minnesota white oak, recipes of our Bourbon, Rye, and an experimental malt whisky unite. We bring you American Whiskey. "
This product is so new that Few doesn't even have it on the website yet. It's an unusual blend of Bourbon, Rye, and single malt, and despite a fairly high ABV (46.5%), it is smooth drinking with great flavor. I enjoy it neat, but a splash of water or a cube will not do you wrong.
Middle West Oyo Wheat Whiskey ($46.99)
From the producer:"Inspired by four generations of distilling traditions in the Middle West family, the small enterprise built its foundation on the belief that authenticity in the world of artisan spirits meant handcrafting products from scratch, while celebrating the distinctive flavors of the Ohio River Valley.
Central to the distillery’s identity is the belief that craft spirits should be made with care, by hand, by creators who originally distill their own products. In today’s growing micro community, marketers often use words like “artisanal” to disguise the industrial sources of many distilleries’ core products—which are neither artisan nor handcrafted, and seldom deserve the premium they command. Middle West Spirits is proud to practice the time-honored craft of producing our spirits from grain to bottle, and honored to support the farms, craftsmen, trade partners, and retail customers who desire an authentic expression of world-class, American-made craft spirits.
Middle West’s flagship wheat whiskey is a unique addition to the crowded field of corn-, rye-, and barley-based (blended) dark spirits. Made from 100% Ohio soft red winter wheat, OYO Whiskey is produced and aged in small batches and offers a one-of-a-kind flavor profile distinctive to its Ohio origins. The distillery uses single-source Ohio grains to emphasize regional “terroir,” and barrel-ages the whiskey in white American oak cooperage sealed with beeswax.
Tasting Notes: 'Brilliant amber color. Aromas of fruit pastry dough, nougat, suede and buttercream with a supple dry-yet-fruity medium body and a graceful refrain of spiced nuts, dried cherry, wheat bread, and baking spices on the finish. An elegantly styled whisky for sipping or cocktails.' -- International Review of Spirits, Beverage Testing Institute"
Smooth and balanced, this is a delicious and unique sipping whiskey that will warm you up on chilly nights. Middle West does a great job of grain-to-glass production, and I'm thrilled to welcome this new product!
Catoctin Creek Single Barrel Roundstone Rye 92 Proof ($49.99)
From the producer:
"This whisky is the culmination of several years of planning. 'For a few years now, we've been putting whisky away for storage,' remarked Becky Harris, Chief Distiller and President of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. 'We pulled some of the more interesting barrels from the back of the barn and decided to release these at a higher proof: a whisky specially curated for flavor, while still being remarkably smooth, as is our existing 80 proof Roundstone.'
Think of it as our 'Distiller's Reserve' version of Roundstone Rye. Only one in every ten barrels gets selected to be in the Roundstone Rye '92 Proof' whisky."
Organic, single barrel, 100% rye from a solar-powered, family-run, grain-to-glass distillery: what more could you want? Delicious flavor with the perfect balance of spicy bite and smooth mouthfeel? It's got that. Sip it neat or make a great cocktail with it--either way, you'll love this rye.
Black Button Bourbon Cream ($31.99)
From the producer:
"Whiskey and cream seem to be such a natural fit together and this, the only farm fresh New York State bourbon cream around, combines our hand finished Bourbon and local cream for a drink that delights. Bourbon Cream is similar in concept to an Irish Cream but discloses a richer feel. The bolder vanilla and caramel flavors make this a unique spirit that can be used on its own, in a cup of coffee or in a cocktail. We recommend trying it in a Root Beer Float!"
Drink this, not that! This stuff is incredible. It's sweet without being cloying or syrupy, and the creaminess is not overbearing. Black Button is a grain-to-glass distiller in Rochester that produces quality spirits. This contains a blend of their own bourbon, bourbon from another small distiller, and local NY cream. It will ruin you for other cream spirits! We will be trying it plain and mixed with Wild Moon Chai liqueur.
Wild Moon Chai Liqueur ($21.99)
From the producers:
"Uniquely flavored, all-natural liqueurs designed for the professional mixologist and home enthusiast alike. Hartford Flavor has revolutionized the traditional liqueur. Wild Moon Liqueurs are flavor forward, have reduced sugars, and no chemicals; there is nothing else like it on the market.
All natural-Gluten Free-GMO Free"
I have met the creators/owners of this company, and I was extremely impressed with their dedication to bringing something unique and versatile to the liqueur market. Beyond the incredible flavor profiles, these liqueurs are made in small batches as naturally (and organically) as they can be. The base spirit is made from sugar cane. I am happy to currently carry the Cranberry and the Lime, but at this week's tasting we will pour Chai, which is great for fall and winter cocktails.
Inama Soave Classico ($15.99)
From the producer:
"Light yellow colour. Elegant nose of sweet field flowers: camomile, elderflower, iris. Mineral on the palate with sweet almond on the finish.
RECOMMENDED COMBINATION: Risotto and white fish, raw fish, salads."
Soave is a style of dry white wine from Veneto in northeastern Italy. It is 100% Garganega, which the Romans introduced to the area, and which is closely related to Greca, a Sicilian grape. The wine is aromatic, with floral overtones, and though not as crisp as Pinot Grigio, it is much more delicate. Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel, so there is no oakiness, but malolactic fermentation gives the wine an elegant smoothness. This is one of the lesser known Italian wines that I hope more people will discover.
Yola Mezcal ($44.99)
From the producer:
"Our Mezcal is handcrafted, distilled on our namesake farm, bottled by women, with a recipe passed down from Yola's grandfather.
In 1971, Luis Jimenez purchased a Mezcal farm in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca.
Today, we still honor his original recipe, abiding by the 300-year-old method of traditional Mezcal making.
We are dedicated to promoting the economic independence of the women of Oaxaca."
Have you tried Mezcal? It's made from espadin agave (rather than the blue agave of Tequila) and the hearts of the plant are smoked, which imparts a very particular flavor. Some people really like that, and others find it too strong, but this Mezcal is ripely fruit-forward enough to win over just about everyone. This is a women-owned company that is empowering its women workforce, while producing a high-end product in a sustainable way. To say that this hits every note for me is an understatement: in short, Yola is swoon-worthy.
High Rock Distilling Pepper Shine ($33.99)
Ballston Spa, New York
High Rock Distilling has closed up shop, which is a real shame, because they were doing some pretty great stuff with un-aged corn whiskey. I have just under a dozen bottles left of their Pepper Shine, and it's some of the last stock available anywhere. This product was made using a corn whiskey base infused with 6 varieties of hot peppers. The result is savory, vegetal, and spicy, and it makes just about the best Bloody Mary you'll ever have! It's versatile for other cocktails, too, such as margaritas or even a spicy martini. I highly recommend giving this a taste!