Wine & Spirits - August 2012 - (Page 16)

TONIC The Summer Sophisticate By Lou Bustamante The Botanist Islay Dry Gin Jim McEwan took a progressive and inquisitive approach to gin at the Bruichladdich distillery in Islay, coming up with a liquor that captures the island in liquid form. It incorporates more than 22 botanicals foragers collect on the island; the list includes ingredients such as Islay juniper, wood sage leaf, bog myrtle, heather and wildflowers. The aroma is clean with hints of citrus, forest and flowers, but it’s on the tongue that the botanicals explode with light juniper tussled along with herbal-citrus brightness. It’s excellent on its own, in herbal cocktails like South Sides or simply with soda. Imported by Winebow, NY; 46% abv., $35/750ml +GIN On an unusually warm evening in San Francisco (trust me, they’re rare), I was playing bartender at a friend’s home with a gin-and-tonic focused bar. I had not picked the drink to make my job easier, but because it’s such a dramatic showcase for gin’s wide range of styles and flavors. The juniper berry, originally added as a medicinal component to protect against the plague, is gin’s key ingredient. Without it, you merely have flavored vodka, but the amount can range from subtle to dominating. From there, gin largely falls into three styles: “London Dry,” the most recognized, a blend of neutral grain spirit with citrus and a minimal amount of sweeteners; “genever,” the original Dutch gin, with a cereal-base distillation that gives it a pronounced grain taste; and “new style,” the catchall for everything else. By the end of the night our friends were all in agreement: There’s a gin for every taste. Here’s the best of the new crop, representing a range of styles. Leopold’s Navy Strength Gin In the days of gunpowder, canons and gin rations, royal navy ships carried a highproof gin onboard. The idea was that if the powder kegs became soaked in gin, the proof would be high enough that gunpowder would still ignite. This gin is distinctive not only for its strength—a whopping 114 proof—but also for brothers Todd and Scott Leopold’s approach. Rather than mix all the botanicals, they distill each component separately, and then blend the batch to taste. With twice the amount of juniper as in their small-batch gin and an addition of bergamot, the powerful spirit smells like a forest meadow, with violet notes and a lavender-resin quality. It shows wonderfully in cocktails. Leopold Bros., Denver, CO; 57% abv., $42 Brooklyn Gin This is produced from New York corn by Brooklynites Joe Santos and Emil Jattne at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery in the Hudson Valley. This gin has a fragrant citrus focus with a recipe that includes fresh lemons, limes, oranges, Key limes and kumquats. Picking up a glass, you can’t miss the citrus or the lavender’s eucalyptus-menthol quality. The juniper is subtle, but has enough presence to add structure. The blend of fruits with a hint of sweetness and spice really shine served neat or in a Martini with a dash or two of orange bitters and a twist. Brooklyn Gin, Warwick, NY, 40% abv., $42/750ml 16 W I N E & S P I R I T S A U G U S T 2 0 1 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - August 2012

Wine & Spirits - August 2012
Editor’s Note
Fined & Filtered: Lou Bustamante on cocktails aged in cask and bottle
Spirits: Tonic + Gin Reviewed by Lou Bustamante
North American Riesling
Tapas in the Capital of Cava
Prosecco + Prosciutto
Cirò & La Cucina Calabrese
Summer on the Road in Sonoma
Extreme Values
Tastings Overview
Summer Sparklers
US Riesling
Rías Baixas/Vinho Verde
Greek Wines
Northeast Italian Wines
American New Releases
Imported New Releases
Joshua Greene on moscato’s sweet disruptions

Wine & Spirits - August 2012