As if it wasn’t already hard enough to decide what to drink, every year liquor companies introduce dozens of new spirits. (In the time it took you to read that sentence several new vodkas hit the market.) But which of these new bottlings are worth buying? We asked our expert advisors, who tasted countless spirits during the past 12 months, to nominate their favorites of 2009. Without further ado the two top vote getters…
Charbay Tequila Blanco ($58):
The name Charbay should be very familiar to vodka fans. (The distillery uses whole fruit to naturally flavor its award-winning line of vodka.) This past summer, the boutique spirits brand produced its first tequila. It quickly became a favorite of our advisors, including Dushan Zaric, co-owner of New York City bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. “It is by far the most balanced blanco tequila with subtle interplay of floral chamomile and highland agave,” he says. Zaric suggests sipping the spirit on the rocks or using it in the cocktail he created. (See below.)
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Vintage Bourbon ($26):
Over the last few years, distillers have released a dizzying array of fine whiskies. But the Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Vintage Bourbon stands out from the pack. “Soft, elegant, gentle like a lovely kiss,” says our advisor Allen Katz, director of mixology and education at Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest distributor in the US. It has “a little honey, a nice soft hint of vanilla aroma and gentle but present spices.” And at $26, it’s an amazing bargain. He recommends drinking it neat or in a Manhattan. Buy it now, since this bourbon will soon just be a collector’s item.
Beefeater’s new premium gin is flavored with both traditional botanicals, like juniper berries and orris root, and untraditional botanicals, like Chinese green tea and grapefruit. It works remarkably well in cocktails.
Appleton 30-Year-Old Rum ($395):
For the last 30 years, this full-bodied Appleton rum has been aging in oak casks. As a result, it developed a rich flavor and turned from clear to a beautiful maple-syrup brown. It’s the oldest rum the distillery has ever released, which is saying a lot given that it’s been operating since 1749.
Good & Plenty Recipe
Created by: Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas
- 2 oz Charbay Tequila Blanco
- .75 oz Fresh lime juice
- .5 oz Agave nectar
- .25 oz Pernod Absinthe
- Glass: Rocks
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.