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.
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.
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.
123 Organic Reposado Tequila "Dos" ($52.99)
From the producer:
"When tequilero David Ravandi envisioned 123 Organic Tequila, he was inspired to design a brand specifically with wine enthusiasts in mind. The delicate floral aromas and complex mineral flavors found in 123 Organic Tequila are the result of artisanal, small-batch distillation and estate hand bottling.
As the sun and moon meet in the sky above the agave plantation, two stealthy jaguars (miztli) roam the fields in search of their elusive prey. During their silent hunts, Reposado (Dos) tequila rests in white oak barrels for six months before its timely release. This complex spirit reveals aromatic raw and cooked agave tempered by the warmth of oak aging with spicy notes of vanilla, anise and hint of citrus; a combination equally at home in cocktails and as a sipping tequila making it the most versatile of the 123 Organic Tequila styles."
Jose Cuervo and I had a pretty bad break-up in college. I'm sure some of you can relate. As a result, I spent nearly 20 years avoiding even the smell of Tequila, and I was not eager to taste any in preparation of opening this shop. Then I discovered that really good Tequila is REALLY GOOD. The owner of Blue Agave in Saratoga introduced me to Dos, and I was not exaggerating when I told him he changed my life in regard to Tequila. It's delicious, well-made, elegant, and worth every penny. Don't waste this in a mixed drink: sip it neat or chilled.
Naked Flock Cider 4-pack ($11.99)
From the producer:
"The Naked Flock Story is an old folk tale from the town of Warwick. There was a Pastor who was great friends with Moby Dick Author Herman Melville. Melville brought the Pastor a gift from a trip to the Orient. Seeds that the Pastor planted in his garden and grew into the most beautiful Poppies that anyone in the town had seen. One day the geese broke into the garden and ate the Poppies, and yes, they were those kind of Poppies. The geese fell into a sleep so deep that they were thought dead and plucked by the pastors children for their feathers. To everyones shock, hours later the geese awoke and staggered around naked.
The Pastor's own congregation was horrified by the sight and demanded the geese be slaughtered. But listeneing to the pleas of his children he decided to take a stand and defend the Naked Flock.
Naked Flock is a true Hudson Valley Hard Cider, crafted for people who crave unique flavor and are on the hunt for quality. Cidermaker Jonathan Hull doesn't add water or grape spirits, flavorings or colorants to the ciders, which results in pure apple flavors true to the Hudson Valley orchard of origin. This is hard cider without compromise."
This cider is semi-dry, fermented with Belgian Trappist Ale yeast, and slightly sweetened with maple syrup. It is wonderfully apple-y and light, and it reflects the agriculture of New York State. Pure and crisp, this cider is delicious. And yes, I picked it for the label (but it's really, really good cider!)