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Mark Reynier – In 140 or Less

Mark Reynier – In 140 or Less
Author - Caroline Dewar
Mark Reynier coastal
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February 24th, 2016

In our occasional series of Tweet-style interviews, Caroline Dewar brings us a recent discussion with Mark Reynier of Renegade Spirits, Waterford distillery, Ireland. As always, it’s 140 characters or less (we don’t count the spaces) in the answers.

Mark Reynier was previously the CEO at Bruichladdich distillery, the man who put together the investors to buy it and reawaken it from slumbers in 2000. With a team including Jim McEwan and Duncan McGillivray, they went on to launch some great whiskies and market them in their own, rather alternative fashion.

Following the sale of Bruichladdich to Remy Cointreau in 2012, which Mark opposed but was outvoted, he left to consider his next venture. He wanted to continue with Bruichladdich until a possible flotation on the Alternative Investment Market in 2014 as he was not quite finished with “my baby” as he puts it. However, a good offer from Remy was approved by the seven other Bruichladdich board members, much to his surprise and contrary, he tells me, to what he thought had been agreed.

He bought the former Waterford brewery from Diageo in 2014 and set about adding to its internal operations to turn it into a distillery. It reopened in 2015 with the first full new spirit run in January 2016.

The port of Waterford lies in southeast Ireland, way south of Dublin. It’s an old city and some of the famous Waterford Crystal is also made here.

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Whiskey Wednesday #6

Whiskey Wednesday #6
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Yes, I'm aware I didn't do any tastings last week. Makes me wonder if anyone noticed. I didn't until Thursday. But I've got some whiskeys I want to write about, so we're going to keep this up, at least for a while longer.

Brenne Estate Cask French Single Malt Whisky, 40%

Allison Patel
I have two samples: the Brenne Estate Cask, and the Brenne Ten. I first tried Brenne several years ago at St. Andrews in Manhattan, at a table with a bunch of other whisky writers and bloggers, and Brenne founder Allison Patel. The whiskey is made from malt grown and distilled in Cognac, aged in new Limousin oak barrels, and finished in Cognac barrels. Each bottling is a single cask bottling, no blending. Neat idea. Nice packaging.

I wasn't impressed; I found it very sweet, almost gaggy sweet, but Allison was clearly very excited to be there and I didn't want to be the poop at the table. So I had a beer and kept my opinion to myself. I haven't had Brenne since, and when I was offered a sample of the two whiskeys, I thought it was time to do it properly.

The aroma is rich: fully ripe banana and root beer, but a really, really good root beer made with cane sugar, with a light but trenchant backing of soberly dry oak. Tasting it reminds me of that day at St. Andrews. Sweet tastes in a fairly heavy-bodied whiskey, with banana taffy and King syrup. There's malt there in the middle, but the banana engulfs it.. The finish is oddly hot for 40%, but the banana finally goes away, thank God.

I was right three years ago. This is really, really sweet. Too damned sweet.

Verdict: Flawed

Brenne Ten, 48%
The Brenne website says about the Estate Cask bottling: "NO AGE STATEMENT -- Because Brenne Estate Cask is bottled individually by barrel, the aging for each cask differs as it depends on how long the Cognac was in the barrel before. On average, the whisky ages for a total of about 7 years." This, on the other hand, goes to 10. And this is what I came for. These two little sample bottles have been sitting on my desk for over a month (sorry...), and now's the time. Pour the Ten.

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Cruzan Rum announces new campaign

Cruzan Rum announces new campaign

Cruzan Rum, a brand of Deerfield, Ill.-based Beam Suntory Inc., announced it is unveiling the brand’s new campaign: A Diamond in the Rum. Crafted on the island of St. Croix, the company describes Cruzan Rum as a unique and exceptional spirit — qualities typically reserved to describe diamonds — and it’s these traits that inspired the latest campaign.

An invitation to discover a taste unlike any other, A Diamond in the Rum highlights the authentic spirit of St. Croix and the care that goes into creating the smooth, one-of-a-kind taste that makes the rum exquisite, the company says. The new digital campaign, created by Walton Isaacson, showcases 3rd generation Master Distiller Gary Nelthropp and highlights what makes Cruzan A Diamond in the Rum, it adds.

“My family has been crafting Cruzan Rum on St. Croix for generations,” Nelthropp said in a statement. “From the tropical rain water collected in our wells to the sugar cane molasses, and through each stage of the rum-making process, we believe that when you put the best in, you get the best out. That’s why our team takes great care to create a quality rum [that is] true to the spirit of the island, and I am tremendously proud of the product we produce.”

The campaign will be supported throughout 2016 via social media programming, digital support, public relations efforts and retail extensions.

“Cruzan is a hidden gem in the rum category, so we wanted to create a new campaign that shared our story,” said Brendan Lynch, senior brand director of rum and cordials at Beam Suntory, in a statement. “A Diamond in the Rum brings to life our St. Croix heritage and showcases the care that goes into making our rum. And, since every fan can’t visit our St. Croix distillery for themselves, we wanted to bring the spirit of the island to them.”
 

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Beer Friday #5

Beer Friday #5
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Getting ready to leave for the weekend, and this was always one of my favorite road songs.

So let's have some beers, woowoo!

Victory Anniversary 20 Experimental IPA, 5.5%
A 5.5% "refreshing session ale"? No, guys, it damned well isn't. I really thought Victory of all people got this; they have sub-4.5% beers on tap at the brewery all the time. This is the kind of bullshit I expect from breweries that don't give a shit about anything but sales, not a brewery that has always cared more about the beer, and about truth. I'm concerned about this, and yeah, it's pissing me off. We can do better. If "session" doesn't really mean anything to you, stop using it. If "session" just means "we hope you drink a lot of this here beer," stop using it. If it means "great-tasting beer with significantly lower ABV than average," by all means, use it. I have no trademark, no enforcement authority, just my small bully pulpit. I intend to use it.

REFRESHING SESSION ALE...5.5% ABV -- What kind of bullshit is that?
But I'm a professional, so let's give it a fair taste. Nose is pretty shy; all I'm getting is some faint sweet lemon, despite a very vigorous pour and plenty of fluffy white head. It's a gorgeous beer, but the aroma's a bit like a Wet-nap from a barbecue joint. Well, damn. The taste isn't much more electrifying. There's good bitterness at the end with some of that lemon lift, and a decent malt float, but otherwise, this is pretty tame stuff. What the hell?

I really expected a lot more for a 20th anniversary beer from Victory, after the awesome 10th Anniversary Alt, and even the recent Vital IPA, which I found damned tasty. This one just isn't doing much for me, and that's the beer talking, not the label with its "Session/5.5%" crap. Middle of the road, and the least exciting Victory beer I've had in quite a while. I'm hoping for more from the (official?) XX Anniversary Imperial Pilsner.

Verdict: Okay


Coronado Imperial Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, 8.0%
Expectations are high here: I like Coronado beers, and I love coffee beers, so I couldn't wait to get this in the glass. This is a bumped up version of Coronado's Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, celebrating the landmark San Diego/Coronado "Blue Bridge," which I have to admit has figured prominently in a series of nightmares I've had in which I'm driving across it...and it suddenly ends, leaving me flying through the air like Henry Gibson the Illinois Nazi. I'll try to muscle past that.

Pours very dark indeed, no surprise. Huge, no-nonsense coffee nose: mocha, bright acidity, some cocoa and unripe apricot. Very promising indeed. Whoa. I was going to start typing in flavors, had even started, when the totality hit me. That's one beautiful beer in toto, as the entirety, as a well-sculpted integral sensation: seamless. I appreciate that kind of thing a lot more since learning about whiskey. Nothing sticks out, but it's not because it's not big; it's a whopper. But everything is in place, the balloon expands evenly. I could drink this entire 22 oz. beer way WAY too quickly and easily. The Cafe Moto coffee and malts meld beautifully. The only nitpicky little flaw I find, and I hesitate to even call it a flaw, is that there's a touch of stickiness at the end. But to point it out is to quibble. That's a damned good beer.

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A Lone Political Post, Having Nothing To Do With Beer Or Whiskey

He's got my vote.

I PLAN TO REGULATE THE PERCENTAGE OF CANTALOUPE ALLOWED IN THE VAGUELY NAMED "FRUIT SALAD"

— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts)

We now return to beer and whiskey.

Yes, I know it's a parody account. I'm just having some fun.

Original author: Lew Bryson

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Whiskey Wednesday #5: Part 2

Whiskey Wednesday #5: Part 2
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Completely different whiskey for the second one of the day:

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye, 47% 
I just got this yesterday, with a note tagging it as Jack Daniel's "first fully mature rye whiskey." It is a single barrel bottling (bottled 12/10/15 from barrel 15-7487) at 47%, and made from a mashbill of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley.

How old is it? They aren't saying. Now...the unaged JD Rye first went out for sampling in October of 2012, so hmmm...no, no way this is less than 4 years old. Let's have a sniff and sip.

Sweet vanilla, a bit of blackstrap molasses, fruitcake, and dry mint, all wrapped up in a basket of hot oak, Damn, it's like JD Single Barrel without the corn! Which makes it a head-turner on the tongue: you get the vanilla, and the sweet, and the little bit of woody/maple flavor, and you expect that corn, but instead you get grassy/minty rye, with a mouth-coating sweet creaminess that goes into the finish and catches with a light oak fire over the back of the throat.

Sweet rye. Weird idea, and I don't want to like it because rye's supposed to be spicy and savory, but it's growing on me. Tennessee rye is a real thing, I guess. Price is about the same as the regular Single Barrel Jack at around $50. You're going to want to try this and make up your own mind, but I really want to try this with some good ginger ale. That's gonna rock.

Verdict: Good

Original author: Lew Bryson

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Whiskey Wednesday #5: Part 1

Whiskey Wednesday #5: Part 1
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I'm going to split things today; not to boost my post count, but because I've got two new whiskeys that deserve my full attention, and the one's got a lot more story to it. That comes first.
Glenmorangie Milsean, 46%
There's a group near me that calls themselves Whisky Blasphemy. They're a good bunch of folks who don't take whisky too seriously; which is to say, they understand that it's to be enjoyed...anyway you want. So if that means Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old in Manhattans, or a Macallan Rare Cask Old Fashioned, well, that's what you do! With that kind of attitude, it's not very surprising that they have quickly become a large and surprisingly influential group. So much so that they managed to convince Glenmorangie let them host one of three simultaneous American telepresence events (along with ones in Chicago and San Francisco; yay, Philly for stealing that from New York!) for the prelaunch of the new Private Edition bottling, Milsean, Gaelic for "Sweet Things," we were told.

The guys at Whisky Blasphemy were good enough to extend an invitation to me to join them (thanks, Jun; thanks, Judd!), so I did, about three weeks ago. It was at Holt's Cigars in far Northeast Philadelphia, where Whisky Blasphemy has their regular Thursday night meet-ups. I got there to find that the bar had been transformed with red-and-white decorations and candy everywhere. Glenmorangie's whisky creator Dr. Bill Lumsden's stated goal with Milsean had been to create the aromas of an old-time candy store, with the red-and-white striped sacks the candies came in. Cute.

We all got stuck into some drams (Glenmorangie Original for me, never turn it down), had a cigar, and talked. Glenmorangie brand ambassador David Blackmore was there, always a fun guy to chat with (and a big fan of Tasting Whiskey, I'm happy to say; 'the one whisky book I actually use,' he told me). So we ate salmon and talked whisky, and had a great time.

The simulcast came about 45 minutes after I got there. It was Dr. Bill and his likely successor (not for a while yet!), Brendan McCarron, the "head of maturing whisky stocks," in the tasting lab at Glenmorangie. Here's what I got in my notes.

The Private Editions are experiments in methods and flavors in small production runs. And since they all start with the same light, Glenmo spirit, we were poured a sample of Original, the 10 year old, the first Glenmorangie Dr. Bill ever tasted, back in 1984. He tasted with us, and I grabbed some of it: 'Meadow freshness, rose, geranium. Vanilla reminds me of carnations. Creamy texture, apple, pear, vanilla, and honey. The finish: almond, coconut.' That's what he has to start with. "It is a fast-maturing spirit," he cautioned, so they "have to be careful with the finishes; it will pick up flavors quickly."

When he designed Milsean, he had that old-style candy shop profile in mind, and of course, he couldn't just add those flavors. Where to find them? Had to be from the cask, so he consulted with the wood wizard, Dr. Jim Swan, who's done such fantastic work at Kavalan, among others. What they came up with is nothing less than revolutionary. They took freshly dumped wine casks, wet casks and re-toasted the oak (radiant heat; open flame would have burnt the sugars) without any "de-charring" of the wood, as the careful scraping of the inner layer is called. Heat on the fresh, wet wine caramelized the sugars in the wine, giving a whole new range of flavors and aromas to the finish. Brilliant idea, really.

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Beer Friday #4

Beer Friday #4
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Okay, back to the music. I sang Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine a few years ago with the chamber group at St. Andrew's in Newtown, Penn., and lately it's been running through my head. I asked my choir director for a recording, and he pointed me to the Cambridge Singers. Quite peaceful, but at the same time energizing. One of my favorite bass parts, so well-matched to the words.


Relaxing, right? On to the beer!

Hijinx Pitch Penny ESB, 4.7%
My draft for the week, sampled yesterday afternoon at Isaac Newton's in Newtown. I've been to HiJinx and think it's one of the better examples of the recent new crop of breweries in eastern Pennsylvania...but I rarely see their beers. When I spotted this one — on the heels of a discussion with someone about how few ESBs there were available lately — it made what was looking like a tough decision (Isaac's usually sports a pretty great tap list) into a slam dunk.


Nice color; perfect copper penny look of an ESB with a coffe crema head. Not a ton of aroma; what's there is mostly malt. Mmm, and so it is on the palate. Not as fully malt-tilted as Fullers, and that's maybe a style issue (not as big a one as the jackass next to me, who smells like he's a Lebanon bologna that was smoked over Marlboros. Going outside is not enough, fella, try standing upwind of yourself next time!)

Okay, back to the beer. ABV is about dead-on, that's an up-check, the color nails it, another up-check, and if it's a bit too bitter, well...it's America. I'll tell ya...throw a different yeast in here, give her a touch more malt, maybe tweak the hops a bit, and you'd have a kick-ass altbier. Something to think about. In the meantime, I'd go back for more, and I think it's the best HiJinx beer I've had. Not enough ESBs, as we said to each other in that discussion I mentioned.

Verdict: Good

Starr Hill Reviver Red IPA, 6.2%
I remember when Starr Hill was a little storefront juke joint in Charlottesville, running an old, old JV NorthWest system, with Mark Thompson's energetic good-beer vibes flashing wildly around the place. They had a weirdly grand plan for blending good beer and indie music, and I know I thought, yeah, whatever, good luck with that.

Well, the joke's on me. Starr Hill's been pretty successful with that plan (didn't hurt that Mark won a damned sack-full of GABF medals over the years; good beer deserves success), and the label of Reviver — an octave of piano keys — is a reminder. Good for them! They still put out pretty damned good beer, though, as was the case before, it tends to get overlooked by the geekerie. Let's see if they're right or wrong.

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Scientists Invent Helium Beer! Munchkins Rejoice!

Scientists Invent Helium Beer! Munchkins Rejoice!

Every couple of years, it seems, something gets loose on the Internet about Helium beer; you know, beer that's been gassed up with helium instead of carbon dioxide or nitrogen, and so it makes you talk all squeaky, ho-ho-ho, that's a gas! And then the dreary science nerds come out and say, no, that's impossible, because helium isn't soluble in beer, stupids.


The FUN science nerds at Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society, took that as a challenge. After all, as one of them says in the following video, "We've heard nothing is insoluble; everything has some degree of solubility." They then prove the point by 'heliumating' a beer (a stout, looks like), and describing the results (less fizzy, but also less acidic due to helium's inert nature). Sadly, though, drinking it doesn't make you sound like a member of the Lollipop Guild.

 

Original author: Lew Bryson

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Whiskey Wednesday #4

Whiskey Wednesday #4
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Feeling better, but pressed for time, so no music this time. Just two recent Canadians.

Alberta Rye Dark Batch, 45%

A couple things to note right away. First, 45%. This steps up for Canadian, which was mired in an 80 proof/40% swamp for years. That's how you got Canadian, son, and if you wanted something stronger, you had to go searching. The higher proof proves that the Canadians are taking cocktails — not highballs, cocktails — seriously. Second, this whisky takes the curious 9.09% law (which says that one part in eleven (9.09%) of Canadian whisky can be...other) and uses it to a flavor advantage, rather than as a tax advantage, or a flavor stretcher, by adding 8% bourbon and 1% oloroso sherry to aged, 100% rye whisky.

To clarify, Alberta Distillers are old hands at making whisky from 100% rye grain, it's their thing (they use enzymes for conversion, not malt). The Canadian rye in this is about half "flavoring whisky" — distilled to relatively low ABV in a pot still, aged about 6 years in new barrels — and about half of it is "blending whisky" — distilled to relatively high ABV in a column still and aged 12 years in used barrels. Davin de Kergommeaux explains it in more detail in this Whisky Advocate blog post. But the key is that this is 91% Canadian whisky, 8% bourbon (guess where it comes from...Alberta Distillers is owned by Beam Suntory), and only 1% sherry. Is that weird? A little? Is it interesting? Yes. But does it work? Let's see.

The nose has wads of dried fruits — apricots, raisins, "craisins" — and a paneled woodiness of cedar and oak; very Canadian, that, as is the underlying sweetness. The whole thing smells like an enchanted forest. The 45% strides strongly into the mouth, carrying armloads of wood, baskets of fruit, and big trenchers of warm, sweet cereal, wreathed happily with the spiciness of all that rye. That's the dominant feature of the finish, too, that spiciness.

I can tell you this: pleasant as it is to sip this stuff (which it is, despite what I'll be telling you next month...wait for it!), it's also the basis for a Manhattan variant that has been my go-to for the past few months. This has been the darling of Canadian mixologists since it came out (it's labeled "Dark Horse" in Canada, and whether that's the only difference or not depends on who you ask, but the bottle of Dark Horse I have sure smells and tastes a LOT like this one).

Seriously Canadian, but in a way that takes advantage of everything the Canadian whisky category offers...including the very reasonable price. Get a bottle and start playing around with it and some cocktail ingredients. You'll find it's quite fun.

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Seen Through A Glass

Seen Through A Glass
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I noticed this morning at mass that today's New Testament reading was the inspiration for the name of the blog: First Corinthians 13: 1-13. It's probably not all that surprising -- to me, at least, knowing how my brain works -- that I wrote the first post in Seen Through A Glass on January 31, 2007, nine years ago, when the Church's 3-year cycle of readings would have brought the same verses up that week.
The Catholic Church doesn't use the King James Bible, of course, but I'm a writer: I do. So...here's a bit of explanation about why it's Seen Through A Glass. ("Charity" has also been translated as "love," and I choose to interpret it in this context as "kindness," or perhaps the "loving kindness" of the Quran.)

13: 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I believe in beer, O Lord; help me in my unbelief!
Why did I subject you to a Bible reading, and what does it have to do with beer, or whiskey? It has more to do with writing about beer and whiskey, more about the intent of the blog. It's an admission that I don't understand or know everything there is to know about these subjects, that I see only parts of them, and those likely imperfectly. It's also an explanation that despite the simple fact that the blog is a marketing tool for my writing and public appearances (surprise!), it's still not really about me, because of "charity."

Drinks writing without charity can be vicious, self-serving angriness, aimed at brewers and distillers, aimed at drinkers, aimed at purveyors and publicists, aimed at other writers. It can be caused by a lack of understanding, by seeing through the glass darkly (a reference to the low-quality mirrors of the day, compared in the verse to seeing clearly, face-to-face), or an overabundance of pride.

I try to practice charity in my drinks writing. I try to see what the brewer or distiller or blender was trying to do, I try to understand it, and I often give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't always succeed, but the intent's there, at least at the beginning. I'd like to see everyone make better beer, better whiskey. I'd like to see better bars, better stores, better restaurants. This is the point of good criticism. It's not to write something snarky just for the personal fun of it. It's to explain what the critic sees as shortcomings as a guide to what may be wrong. At least, it is if it's done with charity.

Charity doesn't mean you don't say what sucks, sucks. Because if it sucks, well, buddy, it sucks. Period. But you try to do it without gratuitous bloodshed. I'm sure you'd be able to find examples of where I've failed to show charity in my writing; I'll admit I'm not perfect. But I try, and I encourage others to try. Give something more than one sampling; give a new brewer a chance to get their act together. Don't prejudge a whiskey just because it has no age statement, or because it's blended, or because you don't like a company's politics. Try to understand a drink in its intended context.

When we exercise charity, when we embrace kindness, we find that people will listen, will try to cooperate, to change. When we try to listen to what a beer has to say instead of yell and boast of our skills and favorites, we learn, about the beer, about other drinkers, about ourselves.

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CAMERON HUGHES LOT 555

There were a number of candidates for Cameron Hughes’ biggest release of the year. Ultimately, the deserving winner – a producer of the highest Napa Valley pedigree, was Lot 555 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($29).  Fruit from this exclusive release hails from a very famous Rutherford producer and one of Napa’s blue chip wine families. In addition to this elite Rutherford fruit, additional character and charm come via a couple prime vineyards in Oakville, Yountville and Coombsville. Tying it all together is the watchful eye of one of Napa Valley’s more famous consulting winemakers…  A sublime Napa Valley Cabernet from the incredible 2012 vintage.  Too good to be true? Not for Cameron Hughes.

 

The post CAMERON HUGHES LOT 555 appeared first on Drink Me Magazine.

Original author: Cornelius Geary

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TUTHILLTOWN BITTER FROST BASEMENT BITTERS

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Crafted on a farm in upstate New York by Tuthilltown Spirit’s bottling crew, the Tuthilltown Bitter Frost Basement Bitters is a throwback to the age of prohibition and a nod to sourcing locally. Each cork-topped bottle is filtered and bottled in the basement of the well-loved Tuthilltown distillery (think Hudson Whiskey), using ingredients harvested less than ten miles away. Tuthilltown adds to the proliferation of specialty elixirs and potions that have sprouted up in the last couple years to make a truly distinct cocktail. Made from unaged rye spirit, sarsaparilla, maple syrup and fourteen other herbs and spices, the basement bitters also benefits from aging in old rye barrels. The rye character is a welcome change from most bitters that simply use a neutral flavored spirit. The result is a distinctively aromatic bitters that is crisp and warm. Perfect for a farm-to-table take on Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. 92 proof.

Tags: bitters

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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TAITTINGER NOCTURNE SEC ROSÉ DISCO EDITION

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We believe New Year’s Eve is hands down, the most festive night of the year. Any holiday that is synonymous with sparkles & Champagne is our kind of night. Which is why we went straight for the Champagne Taittinger Nocturne Sec Rosé Disco Edition to pop at midnight. Even Taittinger, a prestigious Champagne name that is often associated with formal sophistication and class, knows when to put on a party dress. If the dazzling, pink discoball bottle doesn’t charm you, then the slightly off-dry, rosé Champagne surely will. Our resolution? Stop taking ourselves so seriously, have more fun and drink more Champagne!

Tags: champagneWine

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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MARCA NEGRA MEZCAL

Mezcal is often referred to as the South of the Border cousin to Islay Scotch. While not every bottle merits this comparison, the new line from Mezcal Marca Negra stands out with distinct smokiness and a strong, proud identity of where it was grown. Every bottle of Marca Negra contains information on the type of agave used, where it was made, the master distiller’s name and even the batch and bottle number- quite literally, a thumbprint of its origin. Mezcal is gaining popularity in the U.S. as consumers are lured by the mysterious yet compelling, smoky, rich spirit. Mezcal offers something truly artisanal, often passed down generation to generation, from father to son. Look for two distinct, limited bottlings of Marca Negra, each a pure form of the type of Agave used- Espadín and Tobalá. You’ll recognize the striking bottle by the distinct black fingerprints of the mescal maestro…or by the sold out note.

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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MOËT & CHANDON IMPÉRIAL GOLDEN DIAMOND SUIT

It’s our belief that Champagne always makes a perfect gift. Festive, elegant and always appreciated, it’s a gift that oozes class. Moët & Chandon has raised the bar with its Brut Imperial Golden Diamond Suit bottle ($45) — “the best dressed guest at every holiday party this year,” as the label bills it. The Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut has always been a classic sparkler with charming, fine bubbles and a refreshing, slightly fruity taste, but in this special edition bottle, which is part of the Diamond Collection, the bubbly comes packaged in a suit of gold. The packaging is pretty, but it’s also practical, since the isothermal wrapper can keep the bottle cool for up to two hours. Even better, it’s the gift that keeps on giving, since the wrapper can be reused for all bubbly occasions in the future. And if it wasn’t special enough already, a golden brass plaque can be engraved to customize the bottle when ordering large format bottles- an exquisitely personalized touch.

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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MONTES TAITA

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Named after a word used in Chile to refer to a wise father or a father figure,  iconic Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes released the inaugural Montes Taita, a single-vineyard, Cabernet blend that has been six years in the making. The limited production, super icon Taita was created in collaboration with Chilean soil scientist Pedro Parra, in order to showcase the most pure expression of Chile’s stunning, rugged land- imagine glaciers, mountains and the wild Chilean coast all wrapped up in luxurious silk. Years of patient observation and research led to a specific site in one of Montes’ best vineyards, where the wine will be made only in exceptional years. Taita is described as a dream come true – the best vineyards together with the fruit of Montes’ wisdom. 15 years in the cellar is recommended before drinking.

Tags: chileWine

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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GLENMORANGIE 1963

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There are few things in life that truly get better with age. Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one of them, so when you stumble upon a forgotten stash of Glenmorangie 1963, it’s a bit like discovering liquid gold.  Fifty bottles of the historic whisky, first distilled in 1963 and bottled in 1987, were uncovered in a hidden corner of one of Glenmorangie’s  Highland warehouses. Not only is this whisky capable of transporting a lucky few back to the days of 1963, but it also offers a unique opportunity for Scotch lovers to taste a ground-breaking first: the first venture into extra-maturation. To commemorate this storied past, the new packaging emanates a sophisticated, time capsule mystique. It’s available in super limited quantities, only 50 bottles remain from 50 years ago, and only 20 of these bottles were made available for purchase in the U.S.  May we all age as gracefully.

Tags: Single Malt ScotchSpirits

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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LEO HILLINGER ICON HILL by ZAHA HADID

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From critter labels to limited edition fine art labels, the most talked about design elements in wine are usually in reference to the label. With the release of Leo Hillinger’s Icon Hill 2009, Austrian winemaker Leo Hillinger instead chose to focus on the bottle as a way to accentuate the wine inside, and seriously turn heads. Hillinger commissioned architect Zaha Hadid to create the ultimate bottle for the bold and distinctive character of Icon Hill. The sleek, exaggerated curve of the bottle has an unconventional concave form, inspired by the waves created when droplets break a liquid’s surface. We suspect fans of Hadid’s polarizing style will be the first collectors. Just 999 bottles have been produced.

Tags: Winedesign

(Originally posted by Kendall Johnson)

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3 FONTEINEN OUDE GEUZE

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Editor's Rating

Drink Me Magazine Review 96 /100
This Belgian Lambic provides a swift, pungent kick to the palate. With a slightly sour funk that remains crisp and dry on the tongue, Oude Geuze makes it easy to understand why this particular style is sometimes referred to as “Brussels Champagne.” 6% ABV -BJ

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(Originally posted by Brad Japhe)

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