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 cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
As dramatic 2017 draws to a close, this Mixed Case features bottles that make a welcome holiday gift, a reward/consolation for getting through a family gathering, a sip to share with a special someone, and/or a toast to celebrate the start of 2018.
Tawny ports are aged and finished in oak barrels. Ready to drink when bottled, they’re great for anyone who favors immediate gratification over waiting around for years while cellar-aging. Both of these tawny ports are versatile and can be enjoyed on their own, served alongside cheese, or used in marinades and sauces.
Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port is delicate yet rich. It offers complex notes of raw almonds and toasted pecans, wildflower honey, fig jam, stewed plums with soft caramel and white chocolate/raspberry truffle. The finish is long and luscious. Retails for approx. $36.
OTIMA 10 Year Old Tawny Port proves that light and delicate can also be sophisticated and elegant. This balanced sprightly sipper offers notes of hazelnut, walnut, dried apricot, dried peach, candied citrus peels and light toffee. Retails for approx. $30.
Virginia Distillery Company, an American single malt whisky distillery nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lovingston, Va., won Best American Single Malt Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards and received a 92-point rating from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, among other accolades. The blends are made using whisky from Scotland plus whisky produced at the Virginia distillery.
Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky, the distillery’s flagship product, is made from 100% malted barley . The blended scotch is aged in Virginia in port casks for an additional six to 18 months to finish. It offers medium-soft notes of peat (stronger than the other whiskies in this Mixed Case, but relatively mild compared to many Scotch whiskies we’ve reviewed in the past) alongside rich balanced notes of walnuts, toffee, roast chestnuts, mown field, mocha, and a hint of warm Dutch apple pie. Retails for $57.49.
Cider Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky is part of a series featuring unique finishes through partnerships with Virginia wineries, cideries and breweries. This bottling is from the second batch and spent 10 months in Potter’s Craft Cider barrels, a cidery located in Free Union, Va. Apple aromas waft out of the bottle and glass. The first sip suggests a lovingly arranged marriage of Scotch and cider with soft peat notes mingling among apple, white pepper, clover honey, vanilla, and medium toast topped with apple butter. 260 cases were produced. Retails for $64.59.
Boodles Proper British London Dry Gin is “made from English wheat, distilled in a rare Carter Head still in Cheshire, bottled in Essex and packaged in Scottish glass with labels made in Wales. It is neither showy nor cloying, as proper British Gin should be,” according to press materials. Reading after tasting, one line came as a particular surprise: “It noticeably doesn’t contain any citrus botanicals”—unexpected, since it sniffs and tastes of citrus, particularly lime zest and spiced orange. Lovely and spicy, it has soft juniper notes. Enjoy this gin on its own, in a martini, or gently stirred into a refreshing gin and tonic. Retails for approx. $25.
2016 Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Albariño Verde Rías Baixas is tasty on its own and very food-friendly. This crisp Spanish wine offers clean sharp notes of grapefruit, lime, strawberry and white balsamic. Retails for approx. $20.
2016 Martin Codax Albariño Rías Baixas is tasty on its own and very food-friendly. This bright, aromatic Spanish wine offers fresh notes of green apple, Asian pear, papaya, almond and minerals. Retails for approx. $15.
Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvee Brut is a fruit-forward, balanced Champagne with delicate bubbles. “Piper-Heidsieck carefully selects fruit from more than 100 of Champagne’s crus to blend the Brut NV,” according to press materials. Made of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Chardonnay, this Champagne is aged for 24 months (exceeding France’s 15-month minimum requirement for non-vintage Champagne). Notes of pear, green grape, fresh-baked bread, and candied grapefruit peel are enjoyable on their own and also pair well with fruit, cheese, seafood and white cakes. Piper-Heidsieck is one of France’s oldest and most award-winning Champagne houses with a 230-year reputation for quality. This Champagne is available by the bottle at liquor stores for approx. $45; it’s also available packaged inside a limited edition lipstick cylinder exclusively at Neiman Marcus in November and December for the same suggested retail price, $45.
Psâgot Merlot 2014 is 100% Merlot from Israel that’s aged for 13 months in small French wood barrels, “giving it a nice yet supple firmness,” according to the label (and confirmed by our tasting). This kosher wine offers balanced, pleasing notes of ripe berries, dusty plum, dark cherries, mocha, fresh thyme and dried parsley. It has soft tannins and a finish that lingers on dried plum and black pepper. Psâgot in Hebrew means “peak.” The winery is located in the northern Jerusalem Mountain range. Retails for approx. $26.
Samaroli Tormore Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky 1995 is a pleasant, warming 18 year old that was aged in American oak. The pale gold whisky offers notes of soft peat, straw and hay, candied pear, toast, hummus, pepper, and wildflower honey. It’s sophisticated and smooth. Retails for $220+.
2015 VieVite Cotes de Provence Rosé is enjoyable on its own, but this pale pink French wine also pairs perfectly with a wide range of foods from hors d’oeuvres through dessert. Well balanced and as interesting as it is refreshing, it offers notes of tropical fruit, apricot, pansy, and soft spice. Retails for approx. $20.
2011 Vivanco Rioja Reserva is complex and lush with velvety tannins. It pours notes of dark cherries, ripe plums, thyme, sage, Portobello mushrooms, coffee and nutmeg. A great match for red meat or dark chocolate. Retails for approx. $22.
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.