New Local Booze! - Old World Spirits in Belmont

I was excited today to meet and taste with Davorin Kuchan, the master distiller for the newly-opened Old World Spirits in Belmont - just down the street from the Redwood City store.  Kuchan is a Croatian-born, but locally-educated product of a family that has been making booze for generations.  His traditional methods have brought him to search out the finest local produce for sourcing his brandies.  He is also a former member of the group behind Sarticious Gin, a Santa Cruz spirit that had a legion of adoring fans before folding last year.  He's now on his own and he's got the updated version of Sarticious, which he now calls Blade Gin, as well as a whole other line-up of goodies.  Most of these will be in stock by the end of the week, while others will be special order only.  The Blade Gin is not quite ready yet, but it will be hopefully in stock within a month or so.  We are the first retailer to carry his products and I couldn't be more excited.  Here are my tasting notes and info:

Kuchan Indian Blood Peach Eau De Vie 375ml $35.99 - All the fruit in this brandy comes from Placerville's Apple Hill and are all Indian Blood peaches - a variety that is difficult to sell as produce because it splits easily. However, the Indian Blood peaches are incredibly flavorful and as the base for fermentation, they really come through in the spirit.  The aromas are delicate, but unmistakably peachy and the pure flavor carries over to the flavor on the palate as well.  This is very good eau de vie.

Kuchan Poire William Pear Eau De Vie 375ml $35.99 -  The pear brandy has a lovely nose that jumps right out of the glass, and the entry is softer than most other fruit eau de vies.  The difference according to Kuchan is the yeast he uses during fermentaion - a trade secret he keeps to himself.  He also ferments the fruit for over a month, letting the slow process really give the spirit character.  The result speaks for itself - these are amazing products that we are very excited to see in our store.

Kuchan Juglans Nigra Black Walnut Liqueur 375ml $28.99 -  This liqueur has no perceptable sweetness whatsoever, so it's more like a walnut-macerated brandy - it is unlike anything you've ever tasted.  The California black walnuts are crushed and then macerated in the Zinfandel-based brandy for over nine months! At the end a bit of cinnamon and vanilla is added, as well as organic tapioca.  This is a tradition that has been in Kuchan's family for generations, and is part of the Croation tradition of planting a walnut tree in front of the house where a baby has just been born.  Both the tradition and the spirit are beautiful.  The color is a brown-amber and the flavors are nutty, as the brandy intermingles with the natural oils in the walnuts.

La Sorcière Absinthe Supèrieure Verte 750ml $72.99 - The spirit is brandy-based and is distilled from wine made by local California growers.  The Verte is macerated with wormwood, fennel, anise, star anise and other herbs before distillation, then the spirit gets a second maceration and the chlorophyll from the leaves colors the absinthe green.  La Sorcière has gotten rave reviews from the Wormwood Society, and from us here as well.  The aromas are not as bold as some of its comtemporaries, partly because Davorin tones down the proof to 100, but the concentration is beautiful.  The anise really shines and the flavors are clean and focused.  This is an absinthe I would like to drink straight, with no water added.

La Sorcière Bleue Absinthe Supèrieure 750ml $72.99 -   The spirit is brandy-based and is distilled from wine made by local California growers. The Bleue is clear and without the standard greenish tint seen with most absinthes because all the maceration is done pre-distillation, meaning that the flavor needs to be strong enough to transfer over into the finished spirit.  That's a difficult tast, but Davroin pulls it off.  The flavors are more ginger and spice, rather than herbal, but the result is still beautiful.   La Sorcière has gotten rave reviews from the Wormwood Society, and from us here as well. We are very happy to have them on our shelves.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll