The rum equivalent of easing back into a soft, buttery, worn-in leather armchair. Molasses, sultana, fruitcake, and butterscotch on the nose; smooth, silky, and sensuous on the palate, with enough lively, spicy, marmalade nuances to keep the overtly hedonistic palate in check. Try not to like it. Go ahead…resistance is futile.
Popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, anise-flavoured absinthe (aka The Green Fairy) was eventually banned in many major markets. Cited for causing hallucinations and erratic (sometimes criminal) behaviour - chalked up to the thujone extracted from the spirit’s wormwood component (but probably more likely due to its screamingly high proof) - absinthe had a bit of resurgence starting in the 1990s as bans were lifted. The Absente brand has been in Canada since 2000. Diluted with cold water (one to three, or five), it’s nirvana for fans of anise flavoured drinks. Also makes a cool cocktail base.
Though doubt still exists over the birthplace of vodka, most now agree that the Ukraine (part of Russia at the time) was it. Upscale Ukrainian vodka brand Zirkova has taken the unique approach of releasing a pair of luxury grain vodkas. Zirkova One, made from premium Ukrainian wheat and rye, is crafted in an ultra-clean, silky, delicate style and is designed to be savoured chilled neat, on the rocks, or in a pure cocktail such as a vodka martini. Zirkova Together employs quadruple distillation and Zolotonosha spring water to give a unique vodka designed specifically to enhance vodka-based cocktails. Personally, we found the slightly earthier style, with a hint of almond and spice, to be equally enjoyable served neat.
Whether you’re looking to treat someone special - or just treat yourself - you can’t go wrong with the Bas-Armagnac 2001 from De Montal. Engaging aromas suggesting toasted pecan, walnut, dried apricot, vanilla, and a hint of peppery spice. Very intense and complex in the mouth where you will find flavours of toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, mocha, and candied orange zest, capped off by a finish that goes on, and on…and on.
American bourbon continues its popularity. The word “authenticity” is cropping up more and more in the spirits world. With the limited-edition Old Tub, the James B. Beam Distilling Co. pays homage to a whisky that predates Jim Beam bourbon. As with the original, this rendition is neither carbon nor chill-filtered and bottled at 50 percent ABV. Woodsy, with traces of honey, vanilla, corn mash, and caramel on the nose; dry, powerful, and spicy in the mouth, with suggestions of dried fruit and charred wood. Punchy and assertive.
The Canadian Club 42-Year-Old Chronicles Issue No. 2 “The Dock Man,” and Canadian Club 43-Year-Old Chronicles Issue No. 3 “The Speakeasy” were both tasted virtually with Canadian Club Brand Ambassador Tish Harcus. Both versions are, in a word, stunning. The 42-year-old offers up a nose of intense ginger, vanilla, biscuit, butterscotch, citrus fruit, and flower blossom. In the mouth, it shows amazing balance and elegance, with flavours suggesting mild anise, caramel, vanilla bean, and clove. The 43-year-old shows a deeper colour, with aromas of sultana, sandalwood, mocha, and marmalade. Rich, full, and complex, the flavour profile hints at toffee and clove, with a distinct, palate-tingling spiciness. Which is “better” is pretty much a moot question, as both are equally impressive.
One of our favourite malts, Highland Park, has introduced a cask strength (63.3 ABV) version (thank you!) that delivers buckwheat honey aromas complemented by mild smoke, baked apple, a dash of toasted grain, and a whiff of sultana. Similar nuances reappear in the mouth, with the powerful palate also introducing some warm, toffee notes. A big whisky with a gentle side.