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Staff Favorites - Mahon McGrath

Mahon McGrath

Reviews

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2015 Gut Hermannsberg Riesling Trocken Nahe (Dry)
Review Date: 03-31-2017
This leads with pomelo and fresh herb notes, before detouring into a sweetly floral aspect. With plenty of cut, this slots easily in amongst our best everyday Rieslings.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 Schneider Sankt Laurent Thermenregion
Review Date: 03-31-2017
This is spry, with tart acidity, yet speaks in a deep, velvety voice. Quite dry, lightly spicy, and lean, you'll be surprised when you finally find yourself caught in the dark currents of its undertow.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2005 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 03-31-2017
Savory and supple textured, this has definitely hit its stride! There’s dry spice, bay leaf, black olive, and cassis flavors here. The fruit shows the low-key character of a mature wine, and has shed the juiciness of its youth. The tannins, while present yet, have calmed down and integrated into the wine, and the finish comes across dry and resinous. This practically screams out for something like herb crusted, rare grilled lamb.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 - 93

2015 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Blend Western Cape
Review Date: 02-26-2017
This Rhone style red blend delivers! The nose gives up cherry and baked earth, with a floral, peppery edge. The palate boasts vibrant fruit, which gets a little hint of eucalyptus, along with a medium body, bright acidity and chalky, low-key tannins. Easily one of our best reds under ten bucks.
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould "Reserve" Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 02-24-2017
Exceedingly well composed, the tension between the palate’s richness and the countervailing tug of acidity is judged just right. Flavor-wise, there’s some nuttiness, white berry, and waxy fruit, with a wee hint of bolete in back of it all. Texturally, it is quite fine: this is the complete package. My only nit to pick here is the under-the -radar label, but don’t let that deter you from the superlative Champagne underneath it.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

2015 Spellbound California Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-24-2017
Lemon, tangerine, toast with butter, meets warm spice and nutmeg, and a distinct savor of vanilla custard in this iteration of Spellbound. If you are hankering after a lavish style of Chardonnay at an inexpensive price point, this could be the answer to your desire!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

Leopold Bros. Maryland Style Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 12-30-2016
The folks at Leopold's are really trying to tell you that theirs is a distinctive take on that category of whiskey. When they say "Maryland", they mean it. I couldn't say how this compares to historical examples of the style, but no matter: I can say for certain that it stands out clearly and distinctly from the general run of Pennsylvania ryes. What you have here is a fiesty but precociously characterful whiskey. The richness stands out for me. Whereas a good many ryes are lean on the palate without extended aging, this already telegraphs weight. The flavors run to dried fruit, flax oil, fresh baked rye bread, leather, dried orange peel, ovaltine, and aged Virginia flake-cut pipe tobacco. Well worth knowing for rye whiskey fans.
Price: $46.99 Add To Cart
Limit of 2 per customer

Bodegas Yuste "Aurora" Amontillado Sanlucar de Barrameda 500ml
Review Date: 12-30-2016
Replete with dried fig and date as much as salty, almond nuttiness, there is also something distinctly umami here that doesn’t neatly slot into any easy descriptor. The salty component is high in the mix here—you won’t find many wines that taste drier that aren’t powdered—before it finishes meaty and just a little tarry. Seems like this Amontillado took an extra degree before graduating. Neat take on the style!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2013 Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru Alsace
Review Date: 12-12-2016
You get the wet stone minerality here, only the stones have been moistened with petrol rather than water this time: the two scents are closely intertwined in the Saering. There's also a good dollop of quince, too. The palate offers plenty of tart citrus, salt and chive set against sweet apple and blossoms. Texturally, this is full for a dry Riesling. If this is not bone dry, you'd be hard pressed to call this puckery of a wine "sweet". Rather, it serves to underscore the flavors and buffer the considerable acidity.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
W&S 95 WS 91

2015 Malat "Furth-Palt" Grüner Veltliner Kremstal
Review Date: 11-30-2016
Watercress, arugula, and ruby red grapefruit start things off on the nose. The wine shows a pleasing balance, juxtaposing a round mid-palate with a sneakily lip-smacking finish, and distinctly fresh and lively fruit with subdued spicy and herbal accents.
Price: Hidden View Price

Jean Josselin "Cuvée des Jean" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-16-2016
This cuvee focuses on the fruit. That is not to say it is ripe or tropical, though; think more along the lines of crisp Asian pear and citrus peel. While clean, there is a pleasingly weighty texture here, before the underlying acidity wipes the slate, and a touch of light almond oil nuttiness, hiding in the wings, makes its presence known.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Schmelz Stein am Rain Riesling Federspiel Wachau
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Mineral, lemon, pale flowers and starfruit leads in to a round textured wine, before gradually dialing things back down to the rocky baseline. Less forceful than an Alsatian Riesling, less gossamer than German examples, this is a good example of the way Austrian Riesling balances texture in its own distinctive fashion.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2015 Schmelz Steinriegl Riesling Smaragd Wachau
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Splits the difference between wet slate, stone fruit, and sweet pea blossom. The fruit has intensity on the palate initially, but is abruptly shouldered aside by an inner citric energy, only coming back in faint, cool echoes in harmony with the minerality in the closing bars.
Price: $28.99 Add To Cart

2015 Schmelz Pichl Point Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Celery, yellow plum, and watercress aromatics emerge from the Pichl Point with some air. Your first impression is the weight and sweetness, the Wachau leaving its card, but then it shows spice, citrus pith, and a trimmer feeling towards the end.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

Yuu Baal Tobala Mezcal (750ml)
Review Date: 10-31-2016
If you like more than a whiff of smoke in your Mezcal, boy, have you found a new friend! This is wreathed and suffused with it. Think Islay Scotch by way of Oaxaca. On top of that, you can add salt, pine, roast chile, crispy fat, suede, jerk seasoning and parsnip. This is singular, even by the standards of the region. If you want a tipple a step out of the ordinary, this'd be a good place to start.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

2015 Laubarit Rouge, Bordeaux
Review Date: 10-31-2016
Here is a Cab you need to hail, now more than ever: where else are you going to find a delicious, balanced, certified organic/biodynamic Bordeaux red for the holidays for under eleven bucks? The nose is classic cassis accented with cracked pepper. The wine shows natural, not confected fruit, with hints of licorice-star anise and black pepper, a medium body, and light, dusty tannins. If you like your wines on the drier side, put this up against any similarly priced Bordeaux blend from anywhere else around the globe, and this'll hold its own quite nicely; that is, where it doesn't immediately trounce the competition.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2015 Leitz Rüdesheimer Riesling Trocken Rheingau
Review Date: 08-15-2016
Leitz’s 2015 Rüdesheimer Riesling Trocken ratchets things up a notch from the producer EinZweiDrei offering, but vertically, not horizontally. It is like a dingbat of a hand, with the finger pointed towards the winery’s Grand Cru sites. If it isn’t as profound, it nevertheless anticipates those wines’ texture and structure in its firmness and self-possession. While it plays its cards close to its chest, it is not harshly austere, nor domineeringly powerful, letting slyly slip honeycomb, freesia, orange peel, gravel, ginger and hard cheese rind. Even pineapple? Well, not really, and yet this one intimates more than it will ever say—and who doesn’t love a good mystery?
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2012 Nicolas Idiart Blanc de Blanc Brut
Review Date: 06-27-2016
We've got big, biscuity bottles of bubbles from outside Champagne--this, however, isn't one of them. Sure, there is a whiff of toast point 'n' butter, but this is quickly bypassed, with the wine trading more on delicate, fresh fruit character. The fruit flavor is so light here, with the sort of gossamer transparency you might find in an Asian pear, that it almost seems to be heading in a floral direction, yet it pulls up short. Clean and bright, this makes a persuasive case for itself as perfect summertime refreshment.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut
Review Date: 05-29-2016
One of the most consistent questions people pose in regards to sparkling wines is: is it dry? If the answer is essentially "not really" in regards to many lower priced sparklers, with the Deligeroy Brut one can happily answer in the affirmative! Light biscuity, nutty and lemon scents are right on point, and the finish has all the snap you want from a bottle of bubbly.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2009 Trimbach "Cuvée Frédéric Émile" Riesling Alsace
Review Date: 04-06-2016
Petrol, slate, key lime, and salt aromas set the stage for a bracing mouthful of Riesling. And it does deliver that, though not only that, as it broadens considerably in the mouth, finding a creamy texture, and a suggestion of sweetness, without ever losing sight of its coiled tension and thorough-going minerality. Apple and pear flavors mesh with spice notes, and something quinine-like, before it all ends with pin-point precision. The more supple fruit component finally echoes gently down the long, lingering finish: this really puts on quite a show!

Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé
Review Date: 03-07-2016
Light strawberry and citrus notes sally from this charming Cremant. Leaning more towards the tart than the sweet side of its personality, this is a refreshing, straightforward, easy going bottle of bubbly. And speaking of bubbles, the texture of this rose is one of the wines appealing characteristics, with an abundant mousse that yet manages to be silken and filigreed. Happily, it is also available a price that makes it perfect to open for any old reason at all.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Paillard "Les Terres Roses" Grand Cru Extra Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 11-23-2015
While obviously rose in color, this Champagne strays from the normal expectation of a rosé, stylistically. There’s less fruit here than in many examples, and what there is, is more delicate in its expression. The nose leads off with fresh baked bread, spice, and nut skin. The palate shows a leesy aspect that suggests Parmesan, then veers towards lemon- blood orange-tangerine citrus notes, before finishing cleanly.
Price: $57.99 Add To Cart
ST 92 WS 90

Pierre Paillard "Les Parcelles" Grand Cru Extra Brut Bouzy Champagne
Review Date: 10-19-2015
This walks the line between richness and precision, and makes that balancing act look easy. The nose is an interplay of spicy, mineral notes, lemon zest, toastiness, and nuttiness, with no one element dominating. A fine mousse yields up the generosity of Brioche set against flinty, mineral flavors, with those rocky notions turning in a salty direction on the finish. I regret that we don’t have this in stock all the time, but I’m always happy that we have when we do. Those of you who already know this brut know how good it is; for those who don’t, reach for a bottle of Pailard’s brut instead of a more familiar Champagne, and you’ll find you have made a new best friend.
Price: $48.99 Add To Cart
ST 91 RP 90

Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès
Review Date: 03-02-2015
The Mas Codina cleaves more to the doughy-yeasty side of things, but has a light, delicate fruit character, in a citrus, tart apple vein. This definitely comes across on the dry side, and finishes clean, with a suggestion of green apple. Absolutely affordable, and well balanced, this is a great pick when you need good, inexpensive fizz!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-25-2015
Roasted herb, leather, and iron meet up with salty, balsamic, caraway notions, and light shadings of toasted coconut, on the nose. Somewhat fresher than the nose might lead you to believe, the dusty fruit on the palate is still well seasoned with spice and anise. The tannins are fairly gentle, though sufficient to imagine a future for this wine: whether you hold it will be down to how patient you are! The acidity, while there, never makes its presence obvious. Great Riserva for a great price!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 04-16-2014
Fresh and racy, showing crisp apple and citrus, with hints of mineral and brioche rounding out the palate, this focused and elegant Champagne is as good as--or better than--its previous incarnations, and remains a steal for the price.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

Powers & Sons 12 Year Old John's Lane Pot Still Irish Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-20-2014
The all pot-stilled Powers John’s Lane bottling really ratchets up the intensity and complexity from the usual run of Irish whiskies, while remaining true to type. You’d never mistake this for Bourbon, Scotch or any other style of whiskey. The nose gives up orange marmalade, yellow plum, honeysuckle, powdery vanilla, and cedar, before a duet between toasted graininess and yuzu fruit, with spice and crème brulee accents, begins on the palate. I hope we soon see more like this!
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
WA 94

Lot 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Rye Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-20-2014
Unctuous and rich, this Canadian Rye packs in an intriguing array of flavors that stays true to the character of the grain. Style-wise, it skews to the sweeter side of things, with a fat mid-palate, and a supple, seamless texture. This is definitely the best new addition to the--of recent days--rather un-crowded field of contemplative, sipping Rye Whiskeys that I've had occasion to sample.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
WE 97

James E. Pepper "1776" Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 04-29-2013
Surprisingly sweet and round, with lemon, mandarin peel, and pine contrasting toasted almond, marshmallow, and vanilla, there is a solid depth of flavor here for a two year old rye. That being said, if you plan to make a Manhattan or some similar creation, go with a lighter sweet vermouth and be chary with it. I find this works best for my palate in cocktails with just a few small additions. As an aside, it is refreshing to see that the bottle's legend freely admits to the whiskey being from sourced barrels, while the label's own distillates are coming of age.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Old Forester 86 Proof Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 04-29-2013
Not every whiskey needs to be pondered. Sometimes, you just want something enjoyable that you can splash liberally about. For under twenty dollars, this delivers. Robust without being heavy, this Bourbon ranges from dried fruit, crème anglais, pecan and nougat, through to cinnamon, allspice, and cedar. While you could nit-pick this or that aspect, overall, I find this quite easy to enjoy just on its own, straight up. Nicely done!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

Plymouth Navy Strength English Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-04-2012
It had been bruited about that such a creature as “navy strength” Plymouth gin existed, or once had, and here in the midst of the great cocktail revival, where many a long-lost dream comes true, it once more graces these shores. If you’re familiar with Plymouth gin, there are no great surprises in store for you here; which is just fine. Why mess with success? The Navy Strength bottling is simply a brawnier version of the classic Plymouth taste. When this is, for instance, mixed up simply 1:1 gin to vermouth(Noilly Prat), no garnish, as a Wondrich reprint of an early 1850's San Francisco Gibson recipe suggests, this is a fabulous drink, and one in which a standard proof just wouldn't cut it. With the Navy Stength, you can taste the gin’s presence clearly and distinctly. An excellent addition to the canon!
Price: $33.99 Add To Cart

Tempus Fugit Kina L'Aero D'Or Aperitif Du Quinquina (750ml)
Review Date: 10-08-2012
Does Kina l’Avion d’Or replace Lillet? Not exactly; more like compliments Lillet. While you can have a glass of Lillet all by itself, L’Avion is much too sweet for such a maneuver. The bitterness is also, correspondingly, more pronounced in the l’Avion d’Or, though it is still only moderately bitter. What is different is the scope. It would be more correct to say that it has an array of bitter flavors. When mixing, those flavors and l’Avion’s over-all robustness really stand out when you substitute this in a cocktail in place of Lillet. I think you might even find you want to adjust your proportions accordingly to take that into account. The fact that this is so clearly its own creature is to be commended, and provides plenty of room for the imagination to invent new drinks as well as showing established recipes in a different light.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

Tempus Fugit Creme de Menthe (750ml)
Review Date: 09-04-2012
I admit, I had my doubts. While a devoted fan of the sweetly aromatic, cooling smell of fresh mint, any attempt to capture that essence always seems to me to come up short. This liqueur comes about as close as I reckon you can. It doesn’t, naturally, take the place of fresh mint in cocktails; as much as it is true to the flavor, it is best considered as its own creature. It mixes splendidly, especially in gin drinks, where the juniper and the crème de menthe get together and execute a sort of cool tango on your tongue, and in a way that muddled sprigs wouldn't. So, yeah, I'm a convert: this is well worth checking this out.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Byrrh Grand Quinquina Aperitif (750ml)
Review Date: 09-04-2012
What sort of aperitif is this? I'd liken it more to Dubonnet than sweet Vermouth, though it has a brighter, fresher berry-fruit character to Dubonnet's plush, bass heavy profile, and a more pronounced bitterness as a counterpoint. Note, though, that this is skewed more towards the sweet than the bitter, and therefore seems to me to suggest it wants dilution of some sort, whether passively by serving it over ice, or through mixing: dust off your copy of the Savoy Cocktail book for a few suggestions on how to get started if that latter course strikes your fancy.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Leopold Bros Navy Strength Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 08-03-2012
As noted, this is NOT the same creature as the Leopold Bros small batch gin. At first, you might think it bears no resemblance; the aromatic profile is markedly different and I don't think anybody would want to sip this as is. What happens, though, when you mix it, is that that recognizable Leopold's suppleness of texture comes out. True, the botanicals here sing out clearly even when you are mixing it 1:1:1, but it still comes across more polished than savage, with the result that you can more easily plug this into a wide variety of recipes with excellent results.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Leopold Bros Orange Liqueur (750ml)
Review Date: 06-19-2012
Ever notice the way things can seem to recede from you apace with the attention you give to them? What seems a solid, known quantity or concept—a river, say—can be, depending on where you observe it from, both a bubbling spring on down to a many branched, meandering delta, and so is not one thing but many things. And even observing the portion that accords with the more straight forward conception of “river” is, itself, is up for question: where it is can shift drastically, and what it is, too: spring’s rush to fall’s hush, never exactly the same, as the old saw goes, twice. If there is a fault, it owes not so much to our perception and experience as to the limitation inherent in creating an idea of, and a name for, a phenomena or process both varied and fluxional. “What the heck does this all this have to do with orange liqueur!?” I can hear you wondering. Well, where once there was but Cointreau and Grand Marinier at the top, in recent years, the narrow scope of high-quality sweetened spirits flavored with oranges has burst its banks and proliferated considerably. You have at once recreations of historic recipes as well as re-imaginings with different spirit bases, or, as in this case, different oranges, specifically bergamot here. Considering the ongoing popularity of Earl Grey tea, and the ubiquity of bergamot as a component in perfumery, I’d say the Leopold Bros decision to include bergamot in the recipe for their orange liqueur constitutes a very sage twist on the Curacao tradition. While the aroma and flavor is distinctive, it is not so far removed from traditional preparations that it cannot be profitably put to use in cocktail recipes calling for triple sec, etc. If it is not the one orange liqueur everyone must have, I nevertheless heartily recommend it both as a tasty, finely crafted spirit and as a ingenious expansion of the possibilities of the genre’s boundaries, a welcome additional texture to the multiplicity of expressions the concept of orange liqueur is capable of.
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Ferrand "1840 Formula" 90 Proof Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 05-31-2012
There aren’t a bevy of Cognacs out there built for mixing. This one has two things going for it: 45% abv, and a formulation that is an attempt to recreate the flavor profile of a pre-phylloxera Cognac. So, does it fly? Yes, it does. That little bit extra strength combined with the robust flavor profile gives this the power to really sing out in mixed drinks where other Cognacs might just fade into the background. The flavor is mostly in the dry fruit and new leather vein, with a papery vanilla, and some citron and bergamot, in the background in this plump, round, reasonably sweet brandy. Try a sidecar with it and see for yourself!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Irish Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 04-15-2012
This cask strength bottling of Red Breast certainly ratchets up the drama. There is more oomph, more richness and intensity, on both nose and palate. It remains, however, an Irish pure pot still whiskey foremost, and as such bears closer kinship to its more familiar version lower proof bottling than to the untamed ferocity of something like a George T Stagg. You ain’t toying with no pipsqueak, though; you will want ice or water or a bit of both to round the edge off. You get a wonderful range of baked banana, dried fruits, butterscotch and sweet grain, enlivened by a citric note that keeps things from seeming cloying or fatty. The finish here rolls on like thunder—well, civilized thunder, anyway. I’d note, too, that if you’re mixing a Manhattan-style cocktail with Irish whiskey, this is probably the best one for the job I’ve come across to date. The cask strength really keeps the whiskey from getting lost amidst the other ingredients.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
WA 96 WE 90

La Guita Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda
Review Date: 12-26-2011
What? A new sherry to try? On it. This manzanilla gives up sea breeze, wet gravel, brine, a gentle toasted almond note and a lemon juice-citric tang on the finish, showing all the character you’d expect and at a reasonable price, too. While this certainly shows where it’s from, there is a softness to the middle that can almost fool you into thinking you’re sipping a brisk, dry white that didn’t mature under a veil of flor. There’s a funny piece of twine on the bottle’s front. I gave it a tug and it came unstuck from the labels holding it in place. Alas, it let loose no confetti. I afterwards ascertained that the name “La Guita” came from a favorite quip of the house’s founder, and was a slang word for “money” but also meant “cord.” Now you know. That they also stamp the bottling date on the back is perhaps the more salient, and appreciated, detail with a perishable item like sherry.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WS 92 RP 90

Rare Wine Company Historic Series Charleston Sercial Madeira
Review Date: 11-27-2011
The dominant character here is a subdued toasted nuttiness, not specifically almond or walnut, with undercurrents of dried fruit. The palate is another thing altogether. This is one a wine that succeeds more on texture than nuance of flavor. While it is a sweet wine, it doesn’t put itself across the way a sauterne or even a sweet sherry would. It is as though you’d put the proverbial “spoon full of sugar” in your mouth-though for the purposes of this analogy we’d better make sure you’re visualizing raw sugar-and then sucked a fat wedge of lime. The tremendous acidity doesn’t just balance out the sweetness, but actually overcompensates for it, making it seem to finish much drier than it started and lip-smacking, too. Singular stuff. Works pretty nice with a slice of pumpkin pie and I’d wager you would get good mileage out of it with well-seasoned meaty bites, say dumplings of some sort.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 ST 92

Herederos De Argueso "San Leon" Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda (500ml)
Review Date: 07-19-2011
If you like rancio, this’d be your manzanilla! A robust nose of nuts, salt, rubber, yeast and bruised apple leads to a similarly bold palate of salty, rocky, yeasty, oily, rubbery flavors. This is dry, dry, dry and reminds me of the smell of very old wood; a taste of the great indoors? Absolutely lovely pairing with an aged manchego, I reckon this would call out the best from parmesan and other dry, aged cheeses, too.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

El Dorado 15 year old Demerara Guyana Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-01-2011
Demerara-rah; that’s the spirit! The El Dorado 15 year certainly shows the benefits of the time that the spirit spent in barrel in the initial intensity of the nose and palate. What is better still is it pulls back a bit towards the finish and finds a little reserve, avoiding the bombast of certain other “too much isn’t nearly enough” long-aged spirits. Toasted chestnuts, antique woodsy vanilla and candied pear, papaya and pineapple ornament a core of lush, sweet sugar cane that switches about between the continuum of sugar-brown sugar-molasses without ever settling on just one, a sort of olfactory iridescence. Pull up an evening and a chair and settle in; you’ll want to linger long—in the same way that the finish does—with this rum.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

La Cigarrera Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda (375ml)
Review Date: 05-30-2011
This manzanilla plays down the toasted almond dimension of sherry, and offers instead clean, vibrant, salty aromas coupled with golden apple and a little sprinkling of parsley, even. Take a sip, and you’ll find a smooth texture and a pleasantly plump middle palate, finishing with a citric pucker and a lingering evocation of wet stone. Well worth trying where you’d normally reach for muscadet, say.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Elijah Craig "Small Batch" Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 04-28-2011
This has got to be one of the best values in an aged bourbon that we carry. The 12 years this spent in barrel is amply attested to by the nose: full, heavy, oaky vanilla fudge, a beam of bright maple syrup, peach and loads of spice. The flavors follow in a similar vein, with good richness of body. Relatively smooth, there is only a slight rasp from the oak aging and the finish brings back some of that light, bright vertical maple character. To my taste, it is a little too contumacious to use in a mixed drink; I recommend you sip this one only, but that, of course, in whatever fashion you like.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
WA 91

Tempus Fugit Liqueur De Violettes (750ml)
Review Date: 03-30-2011
One could reasonably expect a violet liqueur to taste like… well, violets, no? And yet, of the four varieties I’ve had occasion to sample, none taste exactly like the others. This new bottling, in my estimation, happens to be one of the best. Why do I say that? Pour a jigger of it over some ice cubes and add some soda. Take a sip. This is a liqueur with an arc, the flavor moving from a dry, dry-woodsy start into cool berry fruit and then on into a dusty, tranquil, ethereal twilight. Since it doesn’t have any coloring added, it won’t stain your drink a pretty purple-blue, but that is a small price to pay for the clarity of flavor it offers.
Price: $30.99 Add To Cart

Leopold Bros. American Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-28-2011
This whiskey is an act of historical imagination. It joins a small number of commercially available whiskeys, such as Anchor Distilling's Old Potrero bottlings, that attempt to replicate the American whiskeys of an era long gone. I say imagination because, from what records have come down to us, the heterogeneity of whiskey in olden days, even from within a given time and place, is its chief feature, so some selectivity is naturally required. That said, you really can immediately taste and smell how different the Leopold Bros. whiskey is from the vast main of modern American whiskey making. The nose comes across like an eau-de-vie of grain. The grain shows prominently on nose and palate, somewhere between fresh corn meal and a toastier, popped corn note. The rye in the mash seems mainly to keep that from becoming overwhelming, giving it a little dimension, without showing up prominently itself. A sweet fruit component plays counterpoint and in the background are soft vanilla and caramel notes. Texturally, this feels closer to cognac than bourbon. It has the softness of cool silk being drawn over your skin and this in a younger whiskey(while there is no age statement, but I don't reckon this spent too many years in barrel). Most young whiskeys only wish they were this smooth; heck, so do some older whiskeys. What to do with it beyond sipping might require a little experimentation. A mint julep worked brilliantly, a manhattan less so. TKO by Carpano Antica in the first round; I think the vermouth has more vanilla than the whiskey does. All said, this does not simply carve itself a niche within an existing distilling tradition but re-invigorates and enlarges the possibilities inherent in American whiskey making by harkening back to the methods employed in the industries youth. As such, it makes interesting drinking for that reason alone. Of course, history aside, it doesn't hurt that it tastes great, too.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Leopold Bros. Small Batch American Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 01-31-2011
Damn, this is pretty! So very pretty-pretty! Juniper shares the stage with a prominent sweet citrus oil component and a delicately floral dimension in the nose. While the Leopold’s would have to be counted amongst new-styled American gins, I think it is really in a category all its own. Why? Take a sip. Yes; just of the gin straight, at room temperature. This is gentler, softer, suppler, and more delicate than any gin I’ve heretofore had occasion to taste. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily advise this for use in every cocktail recipe out there. For people who want that indomitable juniper character shining through in a drink despite citrus juices, liqueurs, bitters, absinthe, whatever you might throw at a gin in the course of making a cocktail, well, this probably isn’t that spirit. In more gin-centric drinks, this is beautiful, fresh, gracefully perfumed... and well worth a try!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Dudognon "Vielle Reserve" Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 01-29-2011
The Dudognon Vieille Reserve puts me in mind of golden, late afternoon sunshine. It isn’t the spirit’s color, but rather the gentle, relaxed warmth this spirit seems to contain. If only we all had such refinement and grace in our twenties! The Vieille Reserve is a slight notch up in amplitude from its younger sibling, the Reserve, taking on a weightier texture and greater length while retaining an obvious stylistic kinship in its purity and delicacy. Powdery, dusty vanilla and warm spice joins light caramel, citron and dried apple notes, which then fades longer than the diminuendo on a seventies rock track outro. You'd have to be something of a curmudgeon not to feel this.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

North Shore No. 11 Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-29-2010
This is a very smooth take on a London dry style of gin. There is noticeably less “bite” here than with a good many other gins in the same style. The botanicals are well balanced, too: while you’re never in any doubt that there are juniper berries present, it doesn’t spell out JUNIPER in block caps; more like Spencerian script. Clean citrus and warm spice notes flesh out the cool, clear juniper. While it doesn’t lack for flavor, this is more about grace than force. So; if you didn’t believe the dog pile of reviews on this gin already, now I’m giving you my two cents: well worth trying!
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

Tempus Fugit Gran Classico Bitter Liqueur (750ml)
Review Date: 10-18-2010
For long years, Campari was the only game in town for a bitter of this sort. It has fans both loyal and ardent and is indeed wonderful. Campari tastes to my palate mainly about the contrast of bitter and sweet. The Gran Classico seems a touch gentler compared to it, easing back a wee bit on the bitter and then fleshing out that bitter-sweet polarity with a plusher range of dry woodsy spice, citrus and herbal accents, without ever obscuring the basic character. I wouldn’t think of Gran Classico so much as a replacement for or an improvement on Campari but as a worthy addition to the genre. Some cocktails, like the Old Pal, really do come to life with the Gran Classico in a way they never did with Campari. On the whole it makes for a mellow, integrated cocktail. Whether this will be an improvement will depend on both the drink and your tastes. Gran Classico is pretty compelling just on it’s own with soda over ice: a little variety never hurt anyone, eh? This is well worth trying!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

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