Plantation 3 Stars — A blend of rum from Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad, 3 Stars is the first white rum from Plantation. It’s blended with three-year aged rum from Trinidad that has been carbon filtered to remove color, unaged rum from Jamaica and Barbados, and a bit of twelve-year aged rum from Jamaica. I love the funkiness, the hogo, of this blend. It’s nothing approaching Smith and Cross levels, but it has much more character than your average white rum. I tried it in side-by-side Daiquiris with a more neutral white rum and the 3 Stars made a much more interesting drink. At a suggested retail price of $24.99 per liter, there’s no excuse not to buy it.
Sound Spirits Old Tom — Described by the distillery as having “less juniper, but more spice than our Ebb+Flow Gin.” The gin is rested on charred oak chips which give it a little color. It makes a very nice Martinez. As far as I know distribution is currently limited to the Pacific Northwest, but it’s worth picking up if you can find it.
Varnelli L’Anice Secco Speciale — I haven’t tried anything quite like this before. As the name implies, this is a dry spirit flavored with aniseed. It has the big flavor of sambuca without the sweetness. I like it a lot. So far I’m only sipping it neat, but in the right cocktail I’m sure it could work wonders.
Fever Tree — Fever Tree recently sent along nearly their entire line of sodas. Their tonic is very good. It has notes of citrus, a balanced sweetness, and is approachable while still offering real quinine flavor. It does very well in a Gin and Tonic with London dry. Their “naturally light” was less appealing to me and dominated by the gin; it improved with a squeeze of lime. I very much liked their new Mediterranean tonic, which manages to be both floral and assertively flavorful.
Perhaps my favorite of the bunch was the Bitter Lemon. It has cocktail potential, but it’s also delicious on its own. Finally, the ginger ale and ginger beer were both very good. The latter was a bit spicier, but both are a giant step above most commonly found ginger ales. The ginger beer goes great in a Dark ‘n Stormy (and yes, I did have Gosling’s on hand for the rum!). Overall, the Fever Tree line is strong and you really can’t go wrong with them.