Unexpected travel has made me a bit delayed reviewing spirits. Here are some recent arrivals to the home bar:
South Sea Rum — This is an “agricole” style rum distilled in Australia from first-pressed sugar cane. It goes through pot and column stills before resting for two years in old and new American oak. How to review it? Taken as an agricole rum, it doesn’t have nearly as much hogo, or distinctive funk, as counterparts from, say, Martinique. It is a very tasty rum though, with nice vanilla notes from the barrel and a long finish. I’ve gone through about half a bottle already, mostly drinking it neat. At $30-35 the price is right too.
Zumwohl Kirsch — It’s a dry, German style schnapps. It’s from New Zealand. And, oh yeah, it’s 132 proof. Sipping this neat is not for everyone, but if you try it you will taste cherries along with dark chocolate and a bit of a medicinal note. A more user friendly way to pour it is in a Straits Sling, where it fits perfectly. It’s not available in the US, so bug your Kiwi friends to send you a bottle.
Elixer Combier — According to the Combier website, this is a revival of one of their 19th century recipes, an herbal liqueur that includes “aloe, nutmeg, myrrh, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron” among its ingredients. At 76 proof it has enough heat to be enjoyed on its own without being too sweet. It’s very complex and I’m sure it could do great things in the right cocktail. But which cocktail? I haven’t figured that out yet, but I will be sure to experiment.
Concannon Irish Whiskey — For a spirits writer, March is the month when samples of Irish whiskey arrive. One year Lance Mayhew and I tasted nearly thirty versions of the spirit, a feat of endurance from which I’m still recovering. This year I tried just one new bottling, Concannon. Distilled by Cooley, it spends time in a mix of bourbon barrels and wine barrels from the Concannon Winery in Livermore, California. I picked up a slightly fruity note when tasting, which it turns out is also what the press release says the wine barrel finish provides. Like most Irish whiskeys it’s light bodied and easy drinking.