The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2013

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Page 146 of 152

DEPARTMENT HEADER Most Reserved Most Artistic Dry Fly Barrel Reserve Gin, USA ($25) Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880, France ($350) Mist rising from a wide, gentle-flowing stream basked in early morning sunlight; a lone fly-fisherman casts his line—like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. The same idyllic setting inspired the founders of Washington State's Dry Fly Distilling, who wanted to capture an essentially American time and place. Their Barrel Reserve Gin says two things to us: unexpected nuance and great conversation—how often do you taste a gin that was aged in new oak? While the holidays are very much about giving, this is one gem that deserves a bit of selfish hoarding—at least for the first snifter (then you can share). The bottle itself is a piece of art—hand-painted oranges and grapes traced in silver and gold accents gives a nod to Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, who in the 1800s thought to blend cognac with oranges, which at the time were a luxurious and exotic fruit, usually only served over special occasions. The newest expression of Grand Marnier, Cuvée 1880 is based on aged premium XO cognac from Grande Champagne. Its honey-gold hue may not look like a gin, but this apple-cider nuanced spirit sure is—distilled from soft white winter wheat. Juniper and coriander are a given, but the lavender and mint is further intensified with the addition of hops that brings out a bathed-in-oatmeal and caramel rarity. This is a spa experience for the palate. Soft, sweet orange nose; creamy, smooth and rich with sweet orange, elegant cognac and vivid, precise flavors; long and complex, very lovely. MOËT-HENNESSY USA DRY FLY DISTILLING Most Sophisticated Class Flirt Herradura Colección de la Casa Reserva 2012 Port Cask Finish, Mexico ($90) Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old Dominican Rum, Dominican Republic ($40) Kick up your heels with this tequila—we like it neat, but it also offers a mean take on a Manhattan. After aging in charred American oak casks, the spirit spends another two months finishing in port casks where it picks up incredible spice and nuance not often associated with tequilas. Only 2,000 cases have been produced, making it a rare coveted gem for any home bar. Master Distiller Maria Teresa Lara of Casa Herradura uses naturally occurring wild yeasts to complete the fermentation process, which adds a bit of mystic and native flavor to this elegant reposado. Maybe it was August Sebastiani's smile that said to us, "Here, try this, you'll like it," or it could have been that we know he's an overachiever? Sebastiani founded spirits company 35 Maple Street and sibling wine company The Other Guys as spinoffs from his roots as a fourth-generation Sonoma winemaker. Regardless of how his artisanal rum caught our attention, we love it. This craft rum is named for a Prohibition-era schooner. Made in an artisanal style from Dominican sugarcane, Kirk and Sweeney is aged for 12 years in American oak. Deep amber color; smooth and toasty with spice and vanilla; elegant and refined with finesse and good length; long and balanced. BROWN-FORMAN See page 70 for a review of the 2013 Herradura Colección de la Casa. Rich amber color; lush vanilla, sugarcane and wood nose; smooth and lush with rich vanilla, dried citrus and lovely spice; toasted, elegant and dense with lovely flavors and just the right amount of heat; long and rich on the finish. 35 MAPLE STREET 146  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2013 the tasting panel  TP1213_104-148.indd 146 11/23/13 8:38 PM

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