April 28, 2011
There’s nothing like a refreshing cocktail on a warm spring night, and this season we’ve found a few new spirits to complement the beautiful weather. Adding to its line of infused vodkas (the first made use of Blood Orange), SKYY has introduced SKYY Infusions Dragon Fruit, naturally infused with the exotic superfruit native to South and Central America. The drink has a berry-like flavor with hints of pepper, melon and pear and mixes beautifully with fruit juices. Gin drinkers should mix tonic with Beefeater 24, which has a blend of ten botanicals including grapefruit, bitter almond, orris root and Seville orange peel. But what’s unique about it is that one of its flavor notes is tea, namely Japanese sencha and a Chinese green tea created specially for this gin, which is "cut" early in the distillation process to maintain crispness. In June, Möet & Chandon is debuting its first Champagne specifically crafted to be served on ice and under the sun. Called Möet Ice Impérial, it emphasizes Pinot grapes (which stand up to higher temperatures), comes in a white-lacquered bottle so as to keep cool, and is best served garnished with a mint leaf, a slice of cucumber or white grapefruit zest. New Yorkers should keep their eyes on Combs When, a special gin available only at chef John Fraser’s rotating-concept restaurant What Happens When. Distilled from honey rather than wheat, it has a ginger, lemon and allspice taste and is featured in two cocktails per month. Finally, and most easily prepared on a hot day (just add water or ice), The Macallan has introduced two new limited edition single-malt scotch whiskies as part of its "Masters of Photography" series. One thousand bottles of Sherry Oak 20 Years Old and 36 bottles of the rare 1946 whisky (at $1,000 and $16,000, respectively) will come with artwork by Scottish photographer Albert Watson, who documented the creation of the distillery’s oak casks starting with the wood’s growth in northern Spain. Here’s to spring! skyyinfusions.com; beefeater24.com; moet.com; whathappenswhennyc.com; themastersofphotography.com.
Photo From left: Courtesy Pernod Ricard, Courtesy Möet & Chandon, Courtesy SKYY Vodka
May 26, 2011
Sometime in the mid-19th century, a two-masted schooner (possibly bound for the Russian tsar's court in St. Petersburg) sank in the outer archipelago of Åland, a cluster of islands in the Baltic Sea that is now an autonomous region of Finland. Almost 200 years later, in July 2010, divers from Åland and Sweden discovered the wreck 165 feet below the water's surface. The hull was mostly empty, but lying in straw were 145 Champagne bottles from the houses of Veuve Clicquot, Heidsieck and the now-shuttered Juglar. Experts tasted the spirits and determined they had been bottled around 1840, making them the oldest Champagnes in the world. More surprisingly, they were still in excellent condition, having had little exposure to light and temperature change over the years and maintaining their bouquet of ripe fruit, golden raisins and an aroma of tobacco. On June 3, in the capital city of Mariehamn, the Åland government will auction off two of the bottles (a Veuve Clicquot and a Juglar), with proceeds going toward marine archaeology and environmental charities. There will be presentations by Champagne expert Richard Juhlin, Veuve Clicquot historian Fabienne Moreau and Anders Näsman, leader of the wreck-salvage operation. With such an unprecedented event, experts can only give a ballpark estimate: upwards of $15,000 each. To register for the event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to visitaland.com/champagne.
Photo Courtesy Åland Government / Daniel Eriksson
August 11, 2011
A truly aged spirit. Photo © The Whisky Exchange
In 1909, Ernest Shackleton canceled his Antarctic Nimrod expedition, turning back 112 miles short of the South Pole after running low on supplies. But it turns out he hadn't completely run out of the good stuff: In 2006, a team restoring the hut that served as Shackleton's base camp discovered three cases of Scotch whisky buried in the permafrost beneath the floorboards. The bottles were the remnants of 25 cases of "Rare and Old" whisky supplied to the expedition by MacKinlay & Company, a now-defunct distillery owned by Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay. Five years later, Whyte & Mackay has recreated and released the blend under the label Rare Old-Highland Malt Whisky. Bottled at the same strength as the relic (47.3 percent ABV), the replica's surprisingly delicate profile is fruity on the nose, with flavors of nuts and toffee and a hint of smoke. The original whisky has been returned to its icy resting place, a permanent toast to the tireless explorer—and drinker. $140; enduringspirit.com.
A Departures.com archaeological find: Is Antarctica the last great frontier?
December 10, 2012
Photo courtesy of Dewar’s
A collaboration between Dewar’s Scotch Whisky and Freemans Sporting Club, this limited-edition travel bag ($150) is lined with the Dewar’s family Scottish tartan and filled with a bottle of Dewar’s 18-Year-Old and a custom flask. A favorite of Taavo Somer, founder of Freemans, Dewar’s 18 is a double-aged Scotch whisky with notes of almond and butterscotch. Once the whisky is gone, use the bag as a Dopp kit or a bike bag. Freemans Sporting Club, 8 Rivington St., 212-673-3209; 343 Bleecker St., 212-255-5509; 696 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415-863-2155; freemans.dewars.com.
December 17, 2012
Photo courtesy of Hibiki
Created by Suntory from a selection of pure single-malt whiskies and aged in rare Japanese oak casks, this 12-year-old Hibiki whisky blend ($65) has a spicy, fruity finish with lots of personality. suntory.com/whisky/en.