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.
Gin Mare ($37.99)
From the producer:
"Gin Mare opens the door to a new variety of gins, with a novel pan-Mediterranean concept that unites the different cultures around this sea representing their botanical stars such as:
Arbequina olives, thyme, basil and rosemary
OUR LIQUID GOLD: THE ARBEQUINA OLIVE
The only one in the world with its own Designation of Origin
OUR MEDITERRANEAN BOTANICALS
Basil from Italy
Thyme from Greece
Rosemary from Turkey
Citrus fruits from Spain
OTHER BOTANICALS THAT MAKE UP THE GIN MARE PERSONALITY
Juniper, Coriander, Green Cardamom (harvested on farms)
Gin Mare also elicits the generational evolution of this category via a family with great weight in this work. Gin Mare is born from a pure Mediterranean environment with our distillery located in an ancient fishing village between the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada.
Gin Mare is created using Mediterranean crafts and time, in order to obtain an exceptional gin: from a premium barley base, through delicate maceration and distillation which is independent for each botanical (some, like the citrus carry a harmonization process more than one year) to the authentic blending which expresses all the characteristics of each botanical in the final product.
NAMING GIN MARE
The word “Mare” weighs heavily throughout Mediterranean culture, immediately leading us to “Mar” (“sea”) which is the exact translation in Italian. But further research discovers that its meaning in other languages leads to a more familiar meaning, specifically maternal. At the same time, we must remember a universal concept that would include “Mare Nostrum”, the sea of all the communities living under this magical Mediterranean influence which unites the love of gastronomy, the pleasant climate, a way of life with different values where time runs differently than the rest of the world."
I love gin, and have tried all kinds, but none comes close to this gem from Spain. It truly reflects the Mediterranean in its savory, herbal profile, and it will challenge everything you think you know about gin.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin ($48.99)
From the producer:
"Tom Cat Gin is an expedition into uncharted territories. Once distilled, we age the gin in new American oak barrels in search of a bolder expression. The robust character of the new oak barrel mingles with the coniferous quality of the juniper, yielding an enticing aroma. A touch of raw honey leaves this revolutionary spirit remarkably approachable, whether drinking neat or in a cocktail. When the world called for whiskey, we answered resolutely with gin."
From the distributor:
"Barrel aged 4-6 months in new, charred American White Oak, Tom Cat is a completely unique gin with whiskey-like notes of oak, spice and a finish of juniper and raw honey. Tom Cat is the modern day adaption of 18th century England’s most revered spirit, Old Tom gin. After gin was outlawed by the Spirits Act of 1750, rebellious pub owners would hang a wooden plaque shaped like a black cat to inform the passerby of their defiance of the ban. Deposit a few pennies through the cat’s mouth and a bartender would pour a ration of Old Tom to be sipped through a tube between the cat’s paws."
It seems as if everyone is making a barrel-aged gin these days, but Barr Hill was really at the front of that trend with a unique product that reflects Vermont's flora and fauna. The aging softens the spirit and makes it ideal for sipping as well as for cocktails. The touch of honey doesn't sweeten it, but gives it a roundness that you won't find in most other gins. A superior example of the style.
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?
Wild Moon Cucumber Liqueur ($21.99)
From the producer:
"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
Descriptors: Fresh, Clean, Alive, Delicate, Smooth
Uncork and smell the gust of bright green ripeness and sun warmed cucumbers wafting from the bottle. Fresh and sweet aromas of honeydew and Japanese melon candy confront both tongue and nostril simultaneously at the first sip. The mouth-feel is one of diluted honey offering roundness to the clean flavor of cucumber that remains on the palate."
Earlier this year I 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 also carry the Cranberry and the Lime, but at this week's tasting we will pour the Cucumber, which is perfect for crisp cocktails. It has just the right amount of sweetness, but is not cloying, and it is great in a vodka drink or a spritz.