Last summer we were introduced to Sean Venus, a rather unassuming Santa Cruz native who had taken over the old Sarticious distillery space just up Highway 17. His Venus Gin Batch #1 was incredible, quickly becoming one of the top-selling gins we carried. Everyone who bought one came back for a second. But Sean would have more tricks up his sleeve, including a soon-to-be-released Aquavit that blew me away when I tasted it yesterday.
The point: I really need to get over to Santa Cruz, check out this operation, take some pictures, and let you all in on the secret. I’ve been slacking on this front and I need to get my act together. In the meantime, however, check out what just arrived. Mark my words: Venus Spirits is easily the most exciting small distiller in California for the moment and will be a huge story by the end of 2015. The products are impeccable, the packaging sleek and stylish, and the expansion of expressions careful and calculated. I’m really expecting big things for Sean. Here’s what just came in today:
Venus Spirits Batch #2 Gin $36.99 – Batch two of Sean Venus’s tremendous gin uses juniper, cardamom, orange, fennel, coriander, bay leaf, sage, peppercorns, and ages that formula in American oak for a mellow and creamier profile. The orange really gives it a lift. A Negroni is definitely calling my name.
Venus "El Ladron" Blue Agave Spirit $42.99 – Sean has agave azul from Jalisco crushed and cooked in Mexico, but then contracts a tanker of liquid to be trucked up to Santa Cruz where he can ferment it at his distillery. He then distills a 100% blue agave “tequila” from that fermented juice. It’s peppery, savory, spicy, and FANTASTIC. So creative and so delicious. I LOVE this stuff.
Venus Wayward Single Malt Whiskey $49.99 (1 bottle limit) – Sean purchased different types of malted barley and then creates a mash at his distillery in Santa Cruz where he ferments his own wash. That goes into his still to create the Wayward single malt, which is aged in small casks, but doesn’t taste like it one bit. This is real deal single malt, eclipsed only by the Cut Spike and Westland, in my humble opinion. Very limited. Very, very limited.