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This year’s stirring bargains spirits and how best in most utilize them in to cocktails,
This
year’s
stirring
bargains
spirits
and
how
best in most utilize
them
in to
cocktails,
shots
punches,
and jots.
B Y
F .
P A U L
P A C U L T

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NOVEMBER

2009

In uncertain economic times such as these, when consumers are more circumspect with their spending, it’s good to know that one needn’t hock the iPod or trade in the flat- screen HD television in order to purchase good quality spirits. Think I’m kidding? Please read on and be dazzled…

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Best Bargain Vodkas

Highly Recommended Finlandia Tangerine Fusion Vodka (Finland) 37.5% abv, $19. Why we like it: The juicy citrusy and tangerine aroma is clean and properly acidic. Flavor is crisp, refreshingly tart and austere, with the astringent juiciness of the tangerine making for seriously pleasant quaffing. How to enjoy it: A dynamite ingredient in a punch for that annual tailgate party.

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WINE

Recommended Skyy Infusions All Natural Pineapple Vodka (USA) 35% abv, $19. Why we like it: The sweet, ripe pineapple aroma hits the ground running in the opening sniffs. Taste is properly astrin- gent and smooth. How to enjoy it:

Serve in a cocktail that is a vodka derivation of the Piña Colada.

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Stockholm Krystal Vodka (Sweden) 40% abv, $20. Why we like it: Smells of break- fast cereal, roasted grain and vegetal elements. Entry is lithe, citrusy and nicely acidic. The midpalate features the cit- rusy aspect that keeps the flavor fresh. How to enjoy it: Two words: Vodka Gimlet.

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NOVEMBER

2009

Best Bargain Rums Highly Recommended Brugal White Label Dominican Rum (Dominican Republic) 40% abv, $11.
Best Bargain Rums
Highly Recommended
Brugal White Label Dominican Rum (Dominican
Republic) 40% abv, $11.
Why we like it: Smells of marshmallows, cotton candy
and grass. Entry is concentrated, buttery, spicy and
molasses-sweet. A textbook silver rum.
How to enjoy it: As the heart and soul of a classic
Daiquiri.
Recommended
Seagram’s Smooth Brazilian
Rum (Brazil) 40% abv, $12.
Why we like it: The
aroma leans towards grassi-
ness and a slight herbal
quality more than intense
sweetness. The flavor is
medium sweet, beany and
caney bittersweet. Gains in
sweetness in the finish.
How to enjoy it: In a
fruit punch or in a Caipir-
inha cocktail variation.
Best Bargain Brandies

Highly Recommended Guillon Painturaud VSOP Grand Champagne Cognac (France); 40% abv, $50. Why we like it: Smells of ripe yellow fruit, light baking spice and candied walnut. Flavor is fruity (apples, pears) and ripe, as well as spicy (cinnamon). How to enjoy it: Sidecar cocktail.

Seguinot VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac (France); 40% abv, $50. Why we like it: Buttery and oily aromas of bacon, charred meat and prune. Flavor is sweet, fruity ripe and borders on being honeyed. How to enjoy it: Neat in a wineglass.

 

Best Bargain Gin

Best Bargain Tequilas

 

Recommended Bombay Original Dry Gin (England)) 43% abv, $19. Why we like it: Smells of pine, cedar and Christmas tree and is spicy, mildly citrusy. Tastes of pine and sap. Few better gins for the money. How to enjoy it: Ideal for Gin & Tonic, Aviation, Dry Mar- tini and Orange Blossom cocktails.

Highly Recommended 901 Silver 100% Blue Agave Tequila (Mexico) 40% abv, $40. Why we like it: The rich agave scents are keenly peppery and vege- tal at first, then it turns sweeter and riper with aeration. Taste is sweet, almost sugary and honeyed. Ends up like nectar. How to enjoy it: Tequila Sunrise cocktail.

Azul Reposado 100% de Agave Tequila (Mexico); 40% abv, $20. Why we like it: Smells of green olives, fennel, salt and brine; hey, this bouquet rocks. Entry is gently sweet and intensely herbal then mid- palate is supple, moderately salty, nicely acidic. Without question, the best value right now in all of Tequila. Buy by the case! How to enjoy it: Classic Margarita.

Best Bargain Liqueurs

Tequila Tierras Blanco 100% Blue Agave Tequila (Mexico) 40% abv, $40. Why we like it: Lots of dill and dried herb aromas at the start then goes toward ashy, tobacco and charcoal. Flavor is nearly mezcal-like in its off-dry smoky delivery. How to enjoy it: As a slightly chilled shot, with a slice of orange to suck on afterward.

Highest Recommendation Rossi d’Asiago Limoncello Snaps Liqueur (Italy); 32% abv, $22. Why we like it: Highly tart, astringent and citrusy nose; textbook limoncello bouquet. Refreshing, wonderfully crisp and intensely lemony. Perhaps the best limoncello I’ve ever reviewed. How to enjoy it: Serve well chilled in a small cordial glass.

Recommended Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila (Mexico); 40% abv, $18. Why we like it: Owns a biscuity, slightly baked aroma that is inviting and balanced. Tastes delicately sweet, peppery and a bit like baked asparagus in butter. A good, capable, nicely

 

Highly Recommended Antica Classic Sambuca Liqueur (Italy); 38% abv, $22. Why we like it: Aroma has keen aniseed presence plus other aromas such as juniper, granite and rubber; lovely. Flavor is well structured, acidic and has clean tastes of anise and thyme and sage. How to enjoy it: Add an ounce to black coffee.

 

made mixing Tequila. How to enjoy it:

Premio Amaretto Liqueur (Italy); 30% abv, $20. Why we like it: Smells of apricot pit and almond butter. Flavor is alive with fruit and nut tastes without being sweet or sugary. Midpalate accents the fruit pit more than the almond, which returns in the finish. How to enjoy it: Room temperature over vanilla ice cream or dip biscotti in it.

The oft’ overlooked Tequila cocktail called the Paloma.

Premio Amaro Liqueur (Italy); 30% abv, $20. Why we like it: Smells delicately herbal and foresty. Minerally and herbal tasting (dried thyme and sage especially) at first then like stone fruit and dried herbs, with a dash of sweet- ness. How to enjoy it: Great digestif. Slightly chilled, pour two ounces over ice cube and add an orange slice.

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Best Bargain Whiskey/Whisky North America

Highest Recommendation Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA); 47% abv, $18. Why we like it: Smells of prunes, black raisins and honey. Flavor is succulent, semisweet, with notes of toffee and dried red fruit. In a word: delicious. How to enjoy it: Room temperature in a tumbler with a side of mineral water.

Highly Recommended Fighting Cock 6-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA) 51.5% abv, $17. Why we like it: Smells of old leather, pipe tobacco, chocolate-covered truffles, almond paste and paraffin. Taste is sweet, spirity, warming and caramel-sweet. How to enjoy it: Mix into a Manhattan cocktail.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA) 50% abv, $13. Why we like it: A marshmallow-like aspect rounds off the edginess of the spirit, then there are alluring roasted nut scents that complement the spirit heat. Flavor is integrated and like sweet corn or buttered popcorn. How to enjoy it: Primary ingredient for an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Best Bargain Whiskey/Whisky British Isles

Highly Recommended Pinch The Dimple 15-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $32. Why we like it: Pear, nectarine and banana scents in the open- ing nose. Taste is caramel-sweet and full of vanilla, nutmeg and honey-coated cereal. Excellent. How to enjoy it: Neat, with a few drops of mineral water.

Recommended Ballantine’s Gold Seal Special Reserve 12-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $27. Why we like it: Aroma is biscuity and spicy yet mild. Flavor is grainy, off-dry, resiny and caramel-like. How to enjoy it: Rob Roy cocktail.

Buchanan’s Deluxe 12-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 40% abv, $38. Why we like it: Nose gives off delicate scents of salted peanut, oak plank and cooking oil. Taste is oaky, resiny, maple-like and honey-sweet. Finishes long and fudge-like. How to enjoy it: Blood and Sand cocktail.

Glenfarclas 10-Year-Old Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 40% abv, $45. Why we like it: Biscuity aromas. Taste features uncomplicated flavors of maple, toffee and baked cherry. Finishes sweet, direct and honeyed. How to enjoy it: Neat at room temperature. No water or ice.

Ian Macleod’s Isle of Skye 8-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $29. Why we
Ian Macleod’s Isle of Skye
8-Year-Old Blended Scotch
Whisky (Scotland); 43%
abv, $29.
Why we like it:
Scents of light brine,
lemon zest and
yellow fruits
entice the olfac-
tory sense. Flavor
is round, salty,
biscuity and
briny, yet fruity-
ripe and grainy.
How to enjoy
it: Neat at room
temperature; add a
few drops of mineral
water.

Recommended:

Red Stag by Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Infused with Natural Flavors–Black Cherry (USA); 40% abv, $18. Why we like it: Smells gently ambrosial and cherry ripe. Taste is of semisweet black cherry, giving an overall taste profile of harmony and low-grade sweet- ness. How to enjoy it: In a tumbler, pour two ounces over one large ice cube; garnish with lemon twist.

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NOVEMBER

2009

it: In a tumbler, pour two ounces over one large ice cube; garnish with lemon twist.