You've always gotta make an effort to try new stuff if you're in the retail game. You never know what might surprise you or catch you off guard. Here are some of the newer things we've brought in this week that we really enjoyed.
Traverse City Straight Bourbon Whiskey $35.99 - Located in Northern Michigan (near the Canadian border) is the Traverse City Whiskey Company which will officially open its own distillery this year (in 2014). In the meantime, they've partnered with a midwestern distillery to distill their own recipe, which is aged in new American oak for at least four years. The whiskey is definitely more traditional in style, reminiscent of some of the other LDI Bourbons on the market (I'm guessing it's LDI juice because the website said it was "created with the help of midwestern distiller."), but the grains are more pronounced and the flavor is a bit fruitier. It's a fun addition to any line up.
Arkansas Black Applejack $49.99 - This is made by a husband and wife team from Northern California who used Clear Creek's distillery to make a family recipe for applejack. They wanted to create an American applejack using the famous Arkansas Black variety of apple, so they purchased the fruit and had it sent to Stephen McCarthy in Portland who helped them distill it, along with some Golden Delicious fruit thrown in. The apples were fermented and distilled at Clear Creek distillery then put into American oak and aged for two years. The result is a robust and assertive spirit that definitely falls into the applejack category and not the Calvados brandy style. Each bottle is from a single barrel. The apple flavor is front and center, but there's more gusto behind it. For cocktail mixing, this is a must-have.
Lovell Brothers Aged Georgia Sour Mash Whiskey $35.99 - Lovell Brothers Sour Mash is made by Carlos Lovell, whose family has been bootlegging moonshine out of Georgia since the 1960s. Now at 84 years of age, Carlos has decided to make his operation legit, creating Ivy Mountain Distillery with his daughter, Carlene. The Sour Mash is made from Georgia corn and aged in American oak barrels. It's still quite young, but there's at least a unique and interesting whiskey character going on already. It's a distillery you'll want to keep an eye on.
Rhum Clement Barrel Select Martinique Rum Agricole $29.99 - This is one of the best deals in rum--period! A select group of barrels is chosen for the Clement Agricole Barrel Select and whoever is doing the selection is doing a great job. The richness is off the charts, but while its supple and round in the mouth, the flavors are never overly sweet. The hint of agricole earthiness comes in at the end, reinforcing the special agricole flavor from Martinique. This is a great segway into the agricole category and a must-have for any serious rum fan.
Bummer & Lazarus Gin $29.99 - This lovely new gin from the Raff Distillery on Treasure Island celebrates the lives of the two most famous dogs in San Francisco history. Luckily for us, it does not take it's flavors from the same story! Instead, they begin with 100% grape brandy from California. This is redistilled with a wonderful mixture of botanicals, Juniper Berries, Orris Root, Coriander Seed, Angelica Root, Bitter Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Cinnamon Bark and Licorice Root. The product is an fully balanced, yet full powered gin with spicy undertones and a subtle finish. Just like the namesake, Raff Distillery has created something absolutely endearing and uniquely San Franciscan! The story of Bummer & Lazarus from Raff Distillery, "Bummer and Lazarus were two stray dogs that lived in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Bummer rescued Lazarus from a fight and from that point on they never separated. Most of the time, back then, strays were killed on site because dogs outnumbered humans 2 to 1, but Bummer and Lazarus were so loved that there was a separate statute allowing the dogs not only to roam the city, but downtown San Francisco where NO dogs were ever allowed. The reason for this was these were the best ‘ratters’ in the city. When Lazarus died over 30,000 people attended the funeral and when Bummer died Mark Twain wrote the eulogy."
In addition to the gin from Raff Distillery, we've got their new absinthe which is also fantastic. I'm going to have to get over there and check out this operation because I was super impressed with both selections.
This is a fun one, too.
Bittermilk #2 Elderflower Hops Tom Collins Cocktail Mix 17 oz $14.99 - These are pre-mixed cocktail compounds without the alcohol added. The company is out of South Carolina. I think the #2 is out of this world; a mixture of lemon juice, water, cane sugar, elderflower, elderberry, and hops. Just add gin and you're really in business. The barrel-aged old fashioned is pretty dynomite as well if you don't want to buy a big bottle of vermouth and bitters.