Cardinal Spirits Pride Vodka ($24.99)
From the producer:
"Cardinal Spirits Vodka is fermented and distilled on site in Bloomington, Indiana from white grapes.
This is not your average tasteless, odorless vodka. It has character by design. A very light entry, a full rich body, and a bright floral finish. We distill to 190.5º proof rather than blowing all of the flavor out at 192, leaving some of the grape aroma and flavor in the spirit before its final charcoal filtering.
It's some of the best vodka around, and many people have told us it's the only vodka they'll drink straight.
Here’s the deal with Pride Vodka: 10% of proceeds from each bottle goes to LGBTQ orgs in your community like @lgbtcenternyc and @btown_pride! A bottle of vodka won’t solve the world’s problems, but it will directly support the LGBTQ community, and that’s a damn good start."
This is a special bottling of Cardinal Spirits' signature Vodka, which is distilled from grapes and drinks as smoothly as any I've ever had. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and Triple Gold at the Micro Liquor Spirits Awards. This vodka is super versatile, and it passes my test: can I sip it neat? They aren't just slapping a rainbow on the bottle for a month, either: all year they put their money where their mouth is.
Etsu Japanese Gin ($38.99)
From the distributor:
"It is with great pride that Asahikawa distillery made this unique gin on the Northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. The main botanicals – green bitter orange peel, coriander, licorice and angelica root – macerate for more than 24h in neutral cane spirit distilled thanks to a copper still with a swan neck to 83% vol. It is then diluted down to 43% vol with water sourced from the Taisetsu Mountains and filtered through charcoal for optimal purity.
NOSE : Floral & vegetal, notes of citrus fruits with yuzu persistent
PALATE : Fresh and well-balanced, peppers with hints of green teas and berries
FINISH : Sansho pepper ending on yuzu aromas"
The minute I tasted this, it became one of my top three gins ever (#1 is Ki No Bi, also from Japan). The flavor is complex, but approachable. While I could drink this from the bottle with a straw, social grace and my liver dictate that I don't. This is perfect for sipping or a very dry Martini. I'd only add tonic if it were something like Q Original--neutral flavor and low sweetness. This gin might make you swoon, so be warned.
Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin ($34.99)
From the producer:
"Paying respect to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, in which our beloved Catoctin Creek does flow, this gin is a bit of a watershed itself.
Distilled from rye grain, with a secret recipe of herbs and spices, Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin® is unlike any gin you've tried. Amazingly complex, with a rye base that shines through subtle citrus and cinnamon notes, essences of fresh cut hay, and of course a crisp juniper character. Together, they make Watershed Gin a fine cocktail mixer.
Try it with the traditional tonic and a slice of lime (or a Meyer Lemon, for a real treat!). Or mix it into your favorite summertime refreshers."
I love this distillery, so I'm happy to have a second product from them. This gin is a great example of how the base spirit (and the grain from which it's made) can influence the flavor and texture of the finished product. Rye imparts a little earthiness and roundness, while the botanicals give the gin a nice lift. I really like this with almost any tonic, and I think it would also make a great Martini. If you like to "vote with your dollar," for progress, this distillery is solar-powered, uses organic grain, is LGBTQ-supportive, and the master distiller is a woman.
Oola Waitsburg Barrel-Finished Gin ($35.99)
From the producer:
"We’ve woven together thirteen Gin botanicals with 2 months and 28 days of oak aging in freshly emptied Waitsburg Bourbon casks. The result is a complex yet delicate spirit with layered aromas of warm baking spices, honey and herbaceous juniper. On the palate, soft maple sugar, toasted brioche and cream evolve into a vanilla finish. No sugar is added to this spirit, but a natural, pleasant sweetness comes from the mash of soft white organic Washington winter wheat. It is a nuanced, lyrical spirit with beautiful floral elements and a deep, rich wood influence."
If you are not usually a gin drinker, this might be for you. If you like brown spirits, this might be for you. If you like to flip the script on gin cocktails, this is definitely for you! The aging adds smoothness and a rounder flavor profile than typical gins, making this good for sipping as well
Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin ($30.99)
From the producer:
"Within the realm of New World Gins, Apóstoles differs greatly from the classic winter flavors of London Dry. We present a nuanced profile that is more tropical and indigenous to the Southern Hemisphere incorporating our Argentine botanicals such as Yerba Mate, Pink Grapefruit, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.
When the Jesuits arrived in the Provence of Misiones they quickly found that the Mate leaf would produce a high quality tea and began to plant hundreds of acres. Mate soon became the national beverage of Argentina with Misiones the original plantings. We honor our land by incorporating fresh Mate leaves into our Gin.
Distilled in 200 liters batches in a German copper still, Apostoles is as craft as it gets. We macerate each botanical separately in a wheat alcohol base. The fresh leaves of Yerba Mate, Eucalyptus and Pink Grapefruit skins are macerated for 24 hours in stainless steel containers. Same for the Juniper and Coriander. The peppermint is macerated only for 2 hours. We then blend all the macerations and distill the blend. The result of the distillation is bottled and numbered by batch."
This is the first premium gin to be made in Latin America, and the ingredients reflect the land, the history, and the culture of Argentina. When I tasted this gin, I knew I had to introduce it in my store. A truly unique spirit, its flavor is nuanced and complex, though mint is clearly present. This makes excellent cocktails, though if I'm having it with tonic, I'm leaving out the lime and adding a little muddled mint or even a touch of mint simple syrup.