Twelve Tasty Sips
Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries by the dozen.
Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a ‘liquid postcard’ at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
This small batch bourbon “is my life’s work,” says Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, who came out of retirement to create it. It is aged for 4-6 years in American white oak barrels, then finished in port casks for 3-6 months. The result is exceptionally smooth—it does not burn the nose or tongue, even when sipped straight up. It opens with soft aromas of caramel, vanilla and orange peel, adds some oak and fruit flavors as it marches to the long finish, which builds in intensity and complexity with notes of spice and black pepper. Retails for approx. $45.
Beronia Tempranillo 2010
This dark ruby wine offers notes of ripe fruits balanced with vanilla on both the nose and palate. Velvety smooth with supple tannins, the medium-bodied wine balances sweet and savory flavors then lingers on fruity notes with a soft kick of pepper spice. Enjoyable sipped on its own or with a meal, this wine tastes more expensive than it is and so we rank it an exceptional bargain. Retails for approx. $12.
Currently trending as bartenders’ newest favorite thing, the recipe for this perfumey spirit was created in 1845 and remains a closely guarded family secret. More than 27 herbs and spices sourced from four continents are in the blend which is aged in Slovenian oak barrels for a year before bottling. It’s a bitter drink with complex flavors of Dr. Pepper, lavender and cola soldiering against peppermint. Typically served as a digestif—after dinner—it can be enjoyed as a shot or on the rocks, but shines best as an ingredient in specialty cocktails. Retails for approx. $28.
Karlsson’s Gold Vodka
This Scandinavian vodka is single-distilled, unfiltered and made from seven varietals of heirloom potato—a seasonal delicacy that can sell for up to $150 a pound! It’s handcrafted in Cape Bjäre, Sweden using a continuous column-still lined with copper. The result is a full-bodied spirit with a viscous mouth-feel and forward potato notes. This one is best served neat or on the rocks. If you insist on adding something, try freshly ground black pepper. Retails for approx. $40.
This blend of 10-year cognac and orange liqueur dates back to the early 1800s when it was custom-made for Napoléon Bonaparte after the emperor met a chemist renowned for his distilling skills. It was not until 1892, after the two men had died, that the liqueur was introduced to the public. The press materials taunt, “The drink is composed of only natural ingredients, although the majority of its recipe remains a mystery.” It offers a rich citrus taste with dark honey notes and hints of vanilla with a viscous mouth-feel. Enjoyable sipped on its own over ice, it also plays nice with others when mixed into a cocktail: Try it in a margarita with reposado or añejo tequila. Retails for approx. $38.
Mandarine Napoléon XO
Royal Dutch Distillers, a subsidiary of DeKuyper Royal Distillers, has released a limited batch of the Mandarine Napoléon XO—which means it is “extra old.” First produced in the early 1900s, this version is aged longer and boasts a darker hue than its predecessor. As much as 43 percent of the blend is cognac, which was aged for 30 years; the remainder is a spirit made from mandarin peels and 27 herbs and spices. While orange is still the dominant aroma and flavor, it has a stronger cognac backbone and a more complex finish than its kid brother, with notes of honey, spice and thyme. Retails for approx. $350.
Martin Miller’s Gin
This award-winning gin opens with whiffs of juniper berries—since, duh, it’s a gin—plus lemon and lime zests. Its spicy notes of pepper, clove and juniper mingle alongside juicy flavors of lemon juice and orange blossom. Soft and smooth without the biting juniper flavor common to some gins, it is pleasant on its own but especially shines in a gin and tonic. Less obvious to the taste buds is this boast from the press materials, “One of the most important distinctions is that Martin’s Miller’s Gin is shipped to Iceland where it is mixed with pure Icelandic water, and this unprocessed spring water creates a marriage of rare softness, clarity of taste and appearance.” Retails for approx. $35.
Ruta 22 Malbec 2011
Pour a glass of this dark red-violet wine and take a trip to Patagonia, Argentina. It opens with whiffs of plums and raspberries mingling with earth. In the mouth bright fruity and deep earthy flavors meet firm round tannins. The long legs manage only to outrun the lingering finish. Well balanced and more elegant than its price may suggest, this wine pairs well with red meats and pastas. It’s also pleasant to sip on its own. This wine exceeds expectations, given that it: Retails for approx. $13.
Here’s a story you don’t hear every day: During Prohibition, some rebels in Templeton, Iowa—yes, Iowa—crafted a whiskey that became Al Capone’s drink of choice and eventually the center of his bootlegging empire with the code name, “The Good Stuff.” Templeton Rye now bills itself as the rye that’s ‘most wanted.’ And you’ll likely agree. It opens with scents of caramel, oak, butter and orange zest. On the palate those flavors abound in pleasant balance with allspice, pepper and a grassy note. The finish lingers before softening to notes of orange zest and vanilla. It makes a satisfying sipper and also works well in cocktails. Try it in a Manhattan…since there’s no common recipe for a drink called Des Moines. Retails for approx. $40.
UV Coconut Vodka
Careful now: Some cocktails taste so much like candy that you risk forgetting that what you hold in your hand is a glass of booze. Suddenly, you’ve had four or seven glassfuls of the stuff and then, whoa, someone’s taking your keys and saying you need to get a cab ride home. UV Coconut Vodka is right at home in that category of so-tasty-it’s-risky stuff. It sniffs of coconut, the nutty-fruity pleasantness of the fruit masking the alcohol. On the palate the vodka flavors are present and forward when sipped straight up; but the coconut takes over when it’s mixed with juice. When mixed 50-50 with pineapple juice (sans ice), the drink has a lighter mouth-feel than traditional piña coladas yet all the flavor.
Retails for approx. $13.
Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio 2011
Refreshing and fruity, this Sicilian wine has crisp acidity. Light golden in hue, it sniffs of rose petals and honeydew melon and tastes of green fruits and spring fruit tree blossoms. Sip it on its own or alongside a meal of salad and seafood. Retails for approx. $10.
Yellow Tail Bubbles Rosé
Some occasions call for a little bubbly, but aren’t quite special enough to warrant a big price tag. Enter Yellow Tail Bubbles Rosé with a price point that invites you to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. You read a magazine without getting a paper cut! You bookmarked Getaways for Grownups! Yay you! Light and crisp, this wine has strawberry flavors along with some light tropical fruit notes. It’s not complex. Sometimes simple is nice. Retails for approx. $10.
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.