A Few New Additions
Every now and again (maybe every six months), I taste an American craft whiskey that actually tastes like real whiskey and I get excited. Then I see the price and all that enthusiasm deflates like a popped balloon at a birthday party. This week, however, I received the rare pleasure of tasting a non-Kentucky Bourbon from a small distillery that tasted like real Bourbon and was priced fairly, to boot! The Union Horse Distilling Kansas Bourbon is labeled as a "two year minimum," but in the case of this particular batch has whiskey as old as five years in the mix. Having opened originally in 2010, the distillery is a "grain to glass' operation, meaning they source their own local Kansas grains, mill them, ferment them, and distill entirely in their 500 gallon pot still. More importantly, while I heard they originally started with small barriques, the whiskey doesn't have any of that quarter cask oak flavor. It's rich, and spicy, and tastes like standard 53 gallon, Bourbon barrel-aged Bourbon because it is! What a concept! Kudos to them. I hope to find more whiskies like this as the craft movement's origins continue their way to market.
While the Amalfi Coast has always been known as the home of limoncello, it's now home to a world-class gin operation that uses the region's famous Mediterranean citrus in its vibrant recipe. Located in Moncalieri, just outside Torino, the distillery actually dates back to 1906 and today is run by a husband and wife operation. In addition to the powerful lemon aromatics, the gin utilizes coriander, angelica, and cassia bark to accent its unique recipe. Try this in a gin and tonic and forget about adding a lime! Or mix a Negroni and forget the orange peel. There's enough citrus here inherently to do the job!
And this is quite exciting as well! There wasn't much left, but we went back to the well and got the last of the 2001 vintage from Grangerie; now one year older, but the same great price! Chateau de la Grangerie is a property that was built in the 17th century right next to an old monastery. The church and the housing for its servants was actually built in the 11th and 12th centuries and since the Armagnac is aged inside that facility, it might be the only spirit at K&L matured on hallowed grounds. Like many Tenereze producers, Grangerie distills only ugni blanc for its brandies. However, the sandy and gravel-rich soils are much more like the terrain found in the Bas-Armagnac. They fill about ten barrels a year; two of which are used for Floc de Gascogne and one goes to Pruneau: a prune-flavored brandy made by macerating the Armagnac with the dried fruit also grown on the property. The 2001 is an absolute revelation of baking spices, soft vanilla and pureness of fruit, all perfectly balanced by a gentle layer of oak. At $50, it's instantly one of the best deals in the store with an easy drinkability that's simply off the charts. Sip it straight after a long meal, or mix it into an Old Fashioned in place of Bourbon.