Best known for its big, hoppy Northwest craft beers, Ninkasi Brewing Company quietly began crafting lagers in the past couple years. The project morphed into a successful new series of beers called the Prismatic Lager Series, and offers a distinctively Northwest take on traditional European-style lagers. The newest release to emerge from this series, just announced this week, is the Ninkasi Brewing Company Lux, a German-Style Helles Lager, following the release of its Pravda Bohemian-Style Pilsner. Gone are the big, boisterous hops, and in are nuance and balance- leaving nothing for a brewer to hide behind. Brewed with water from Oregon’s own McKenzie River, regionally-sourced hops and traditionally-grown German hops, each beer released under the Prismatic Lager Series remains true to traditional styles, but never without its Northwest pride. Known as Bavaria’s national beer, Helles Lagers define drinkability. Available for the first time, and just in time for the summer season, this “brilliantly bright and balanced lager” can be found in 12-ounce bottles and on-draft May through August. We can’t wait to get our our hands on it, and as always, let us know your thoughts.
Craft spirits enthusiasts know that one of life’s greatest pleasures is stumbling upon a previously unknown bottle of something truly thought-provoking. Lucky for us, this fortunate occurrence took place this past weekend with the arrival of a handsome bottle of Ransom Old Tom Gin. Introduced to us via an Oregon native, this Pre-Prohibition style gin was revived by Ransom Spirits, a modern day artisan producer of small batch organic wines and spirits in Willamette Valley, Oregon. This gin style is a nod to the mid 1800′s golden age of American cocktails. What makes this style Old Tom Gin particularly unique is the barrel ageing and subtle maltiness, a result of using a base wort of malted barley, combined with an infusion of botanicals in high proof corn spirits. You may be as intrigued as we were at this moment… is it a gin or a whiskey?? Here’s where the gin traits make their mark, the botanicals used are juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root and cardamom pods. Sound familiar? It was love at first sip, and one we’re still thinking about. This is a must have for classic cocktail lovers, or anyone looking for a new liquid obsession.
Situated in the distinguished commune of le Mesnil-sur-Oger, in the Côte des Blancs, the house of Salon produces only one Champagne- and a rare one at that. Created by a passionate gentleman obsessed with perfection, Salon Le Mesnil Brut Blanc de Blancs is only produced in the best vintages. In the entirety of the 20th century only 37 vintages were declared. The 1996 vintage – a star at the top of this rare, elite collection – had an especially auspicious start, flowering on the summer solstice. From that moment on, the potential of the 1996 has been compared to the legendary 1928 vintage, a masterpiece of balance and elegance. All the emphasis in the production of this exceptional wine is on the singular. It was originally the product of one single man, Aimé Salon; from one single region, the Côte de Blancs; from one single cru, le Mesnil-sur-Oger; from one single grape variety, Chardonnay; and from one single vintage, with no blending whatsoever. For this reason, Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs has become synonymous with the best, the most beautiful and the most extraordinary. Or in the words of the late Monsieur Salon: an explosive champagne full of seductive aromas, full of character, yet elegantly subtle. Because sometimes, life’s celebrations require the very, very best.
*Drink Me Magazine Review 98/100
*Drink Me Magazine 2014 Elite 150
Continuing to ride the train of exotic and thought-provoking craft spirits this week, we thought it was apt to introduce you to The Seven Stills of San Francisco, a new craft distillery that has moved into San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. In the requisite twist of tradition, Seven Stills believes the future of craft distilling may be in… beer. Seven Stills Chocasmoke Whiskey — the first in its “Seven Hills” series — is a fascinating whiskey made from beer (much like Charbay), but in this case, using a craft chocolate oatmeal stout to which they’ve added 20% peat-smoked malt. Hence the choca +smoke. The super-San-Franciscan-cool bottle depicts a street art interpretation of “Los Pechos de la Choca” – what the Spanish originally called the Twin Peaks, in an ode to San Francisco’s famous Twin Peaks. Our fascination is definitely piqued and we can’t wait to see what else comes out of this distillery. We’d be interested to hear from any of our readers who have tracked down and tasted this new craft whiskey. Let us know your thoughts. 90 proof. Only 400 bottles (375mL) were produced.
Patience is a virtue. Cameron Hughes definitely knows the truth to this adage. The Cameron Hughes Lot 500 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29), released this month, marks the 500th wine produced under the Cameron Hughes Lot Series. More impressively though, it marks a milestone- the Napa Valley milestone. For 10 years his sights were set on Napa Valley, but as a negociant whose MO was to find exceptional juice at an approachable price, Napa always eluded him. Unwilling to compromise quality or price point, he waited. Until now. The 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the heart of Oakville, home of the first 100 point wine. After a decade of patiently waiting for the opportunity to buy fruit from this famed vineyard, it’s only fitting it happened at Lot 500. A perfectly proportioned wine, with elegant tannin structure and tremendous depth, and at $29, glorious.
In a crowded market of new release beers trying to leave their mark, brewers have increasingly turned to obscure, niche, and at times experimental, ingredients & techniques. Unfortunately many of these beers fall short, that is, until you come across a bottle of High Water Brewing Campfire Stout and your belief in crazy craft concoctions is immediately restored. Hallelujah! Brewed with the unusual addition of 150 pounds of Graham crackers and chocolate malt, High Water’s newest full production release is then topped off with a natural toasted marshmallow flavor. As you might guess, Campfire Stout evokes distinct memories of wilderness and camping adventures. The beer’s prominent flavors of chocolate and graham cracker topped with a hint of marshmallow will leave you wanting s’more (haha). This beloved craft brew has become High Water’s number 1 selling beer, and is now produced as a year-round offering. Which goes to show that sometimes crazy experiments turn out just as you hoped… or more.
*Drink Me Magazine Review 97/100
*Drink Me Magazine Elite 150 of 2014
In a winsome story that weaves elements of the American Dream with the romanticism of French tradition, Germain-Robin Select Barrel XO emerges as one of the greatest marriages of old and new. The fortuitous story begins with a chance meeting between Hubert Germain-Robin, the son of a prominent family of distillers in Cognac, France and Ansley Coale, Jr., a Mendocino sheep farmer. Armed with Ansley’s suggestion that he distill local grapes, Hubert returned to France and obtained a rare alambic still which was installed in Coale’s Mendocino County ranch, where the two men built a modest distillery. Each year Hubert hand-distills 10 barrels of this true connoisseur’s brandy using World-class Mendocino County Pinot Noir grapes and traditional methods that have been almost entirely abandoned in France. He broke with tradition by experimenting with distilling wines made from rich, complex grapes used to make Northern California’s renowned wines, hoping they might result in correspondingly rich, complex brandies. The result is perfection, brandies not only equal in quality to cognacs from the finest producers in France, but also with a distinct reflection of their Mendocino homeland. And what some have called: “the World’s best distilled spirit, period.”
Boasting an elite lineage and quite the blockbuster history, Vérité ‘La Muse’ has the rare distinction of earning seven perfect 100 point scores. Privy to the charm of Pomerol, Vérité created the Merlot-dominant La Muse from premier Sonoma County micro-crus, consistently showing Sonoma’s ability to produce supple, balanced Merlot blends. And as in the past, the 2009 vintage does not disappoint.
Drink Me Magazine Review 97/100
This, my friends, is a knockout. Virtually seamless across the board with a voluptuous mouthfeel, ripe velvety tannin, and bright acidity. The dynamic flavor pallet includes black cherry, redcurrant, menthol tobacco, nutmeg, graphite, and a seductive finish of mocha. Bravo! -JA
News of these five exotic beauties sailed in from Edinburgh, Scotland, from the boutique Scotch Whisky producer Wemyss Malts. Named after the family of the same name (pronounced ‘Weems’), Wemyss Malts announces five new single cask single malt Scotch whiskies, each cask celebrating a unique and contrasting characteristic that is coaxed out of the different Scotch whisky regions. The name of each single bottling hints at the distinctive personality and flavors derived from each cask & region. Hailing from the Highlands are: Apple Basket, a 1997 single cask from Clynelish, and Lead on Macduff! a 2002 single cask from Macduff. From Islay, The Bosun’s Dram a 1997 single cask from Bunnahabhain and Peat Smoked Herring a 2001 single cask from Bowmore. To round off the new parcel offering is a Lowlands release called Lemon Zest a 1998 single cask from Auchentoshan. The number of bottles available vary from cask size and age, but all are limited editions of very modest bottling runs. For this reason, these Wemyss Single Casks have a tendency to disappear rapidly, and at Drink Me, we’re already trying to track down these bottles. We’d love to hear from any of our readers who find them. Slainte!
Framboise de Amorosa is The Lost Abbey’s first foray into the world of raspberry beers. It begins as Lost and Found ale and is sent into freshly emptied red wine barrels. The beer spends over a year in the barrels during which it is spiked with three additions of raspberries. Lost Abbey’s barrel aged beers are brewed to no particular style and as such are referred to as Non Denominational, and are released on a when-they-are-ready basis.
Drink Me Magazine Review: 93/100
Full disclosure: Wild ale is one of my all-time favorite styles. That pungent, vinegar-tinged funk is the stuff dreams are made of. Puckering tartness overwhelms the palate upon first sip, and robust vine fruits hover tantalizingly in the distance. A great choice for wine lovers and serious beer enthusiasts with prominent wild yeast aromas and robust fruit flavors. 7% ABV. -BJ
St. Michaels, Maryland, the quaint Eastern Shore hamlet best known as the “heart & soul of the Chesapeake Bay,” has a rousing new moniker: “home to Maryland’s only full production craft distillery.” Lyon Distilling Company opened its renovated doors- previously the town’s historic flour mill- in February 2014 with the noble goal of reviving Maryland’s illustrious distilling history. Truly a handcrafted process, everything in the bottle is local, starting with the raw ingredients. In addition to making Maryland’s only known rum, the distillery also just released the state’s first rye whiskey in over 40 years. The Maryland Free State Rye Whiskey is named in a nod to Maryland’s defiance of Prohibition. So carry on with your annual summer sails to the beautiful seaport, but this time, stop in for a tour and taste of Lyon Distilling Co’s signature rums, or ask about the limited batches of specialty whiskey, all of which are distilled on site in traditional pot stills. Sailing, sunsets, picking crabs and sipping craft spirits? Yes, please.