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New High Spirits For The Holiday Season

The spirits industry goes all out during the holidays, pushing both new products as well as the same old product in brand new bottles. Anyone who loves “brown goods” like Scotch, rum, Cognac and rye would love to find these under the tree this year.

MERLET XO COGNAC ($120). Since 1850 This family-run operation in the heart of the Cognac region has produced this blend from eaux-de-vie from different “crus” at least ten years old. The wine is partially distilled on lees, a difficult and risky process that gives more body to the Cognac and more aging. The base wine is about 10% , and the eau-de-vie is about 70%. It has a round, warm character, with a touch of woodiness and velvety texture over the palate. cuts.

CLYDE MAY 9-Year-Old Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey ($64). Aged in former bourbon barrels, this Alabama spirit comes out at 57.5%, from a mash bill of 91% rye and 9% barley. Another innovation is to steep American oak, cherry wood and French oak chips into the whiskey for four more months to give even more nuance to a rich, distinctly caramel flavor with notes of toasted nuts.

ABERFELDY 15 YEARS OLD LIMITED EDITION 2023 ($70). Part of the brand’s Red Wine Cask series, this is first matured by Malt Master Stephanie Macleod in a combination of refill casks, then finished in Cabernet Sauvignon wine casks sourced from Napa Valley. It has a harmonized structure with honey and spice, bottled at 43% alcohol and there is no harshness in the finish, only a pleasing pale woodiness in the finish.

BEVERLY HIGH RYE ($60). The name sounds like something students at Beverly Hills High School sneak into their lockers, but there is a lot of care put into this 50-50 blend of rye and bourbon by founder Andrew Borenzweig (an L.A. native) and Master Blender Murphy Quint, made in small batches from whiskies from Iowa, and Indiana. The introduction was only in 2021, but the whiskey has already won its share of awards. It’s a very smooth blend, slightly caramel and lends itself to a snifter as well as the cocktail shaker.

BRUICHLADDICH ($65). In its distinctive turquoise bottle, this single malt is unique in that it is an Islay Scotch made without peat, instead using raw barley whose slow fermentation process allows for more complexity. It is bottled unchill-filtered and coloring-free. The curious process is odd for an Islay whiskey because they are beloved for their powerful peatiness and smokiness, though for those fans Bruichladdich also makes the Super-Heavily Peated Octomore series as well, distilled from 100% Scottish barley, matured for five years, bottled close to cask strength.

INDRI SINGLE MALT ($80). It was inevitable that India, so long a colony of Great Britain, would someday produce whiskey, and this cask-strength single malt crafted by Surrinder Kumar, is bottled at a whopping 57.2% , aged in bourbon barrels. “Dru” symbolizes the vessel used to offer the divine drink “soma” to the Gods. Aced on bourbon barrels, it won Best in Show Double Gold at the 2023 Whiskies of the World Awards.

BARCELÓ IMPERIALS RON DOMENICANO 40 ANNIVERSARIO ($180). Barceló has been making rum from the cane fields of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, since 1980 and this edition is limited to 15,000 numbered bottles, so it’s the kind of spirit that may well go to auction houses for sale. It spent more than two years in French oak with varying degrees of charring, spending ten years resting in French oak coops, allowing time to work for nature to work its magic of marrying complementary flavors to produce a very rich, though not overpowering rum at 40% alcohol. The bottle and gift box are impressive as well.

PENDERYN PATAGONIA ($85). This is the eleventh of Penderyn’s “Icons of Wales Edition” series, the first of their blended whiskeys using its own single malt along with that of the La Alazana Distillery in Patagonia, started in 2011 by the Serenelli family. (Welsh settlers came to Patagonia as early as 1865.) Bottled at 43%, it is multi-leveled with a harmony of sweetness and citrus, toastiness and muted heat.

DOS MADEROS RUM ($45). Paola Medina blends the best strains of fermented sugarcane from both lighter Barbados and heavier Guyana stocks using old Coffey alambiques and discontinuous wooden stills, spending five years resting before being sent to Williams & Humbert for aging in Palo Cortado sherry barrels in Jerez, Spain. There is a true refinement throughout, revealing layers of flavors and ending with a very satisfying finish that lingers on the palate.

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