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.
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
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.
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.
Imagine this scenario: a super grain with celebrity status among foodies, is introduced into the niche world of experimental craft whiskey, via the pioneering and iconic hands of distillers at Corsair Distillery in Nashville, TN. That’s right: a super food + super trend + super talent. The result is the fascinating Corsair Quinoa Whiskey, a whiskey made with barley and red and white quinoa from Bolivia- not exactly an obvious pick for a whiskey. Then again, Corsair has never been one to be obvious. Master Distiller Darek Bell calls himself a whiskey lover who is always seeking out something a little more interesting and little more imaginative; experimental distilling is Corsair’s stock and trade. On the heels of their most recent accolade – the prestigious Bubble Cap, representing the very best in the world of artisan distilling – we thought it fitting to call attention to an ingenious whiskey that has excited, provoked, bemused, fueled and even divided fans since its inception. It’s a compelling whiskey and we want to hear your thoughts. Cheers to Corsair, cheers to innovation!
Although a triumph in its own right, the honorific title of Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery was not Elmer T. Lee’s sole legacy. Beyond the recognition of creating the world’s first single barrel bourbon, and even more impressive than the following his bourbon fetched, Elmer T. Lee left behind not only a legacy of service to the Bourbon industry, but also to his country. In honor of this great legend, Buffalo Trace has just released an Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition Single Barrel Bourbon, donating profits from the sales to his most valued cause, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where proceeds will benefit local VFW Post 4075, in which Elmer was active until the end. Selected from the same warehouse floors as the barrels for his namesake bourbon, the commemorative edition is packaged with a black label with gold embossed lettering bearing Elmer’s signature and his distinctive profile. Quantities of this one-time offering are very limited and in high-demand. Afterall, we expect nothing less of a man whose premium Bourbon revived an entire industry.
Forget the donuts and bagels, the new Brewer’s Dozen has arrived. Just in time for the summer season, Founders Brewing Company has released a 15-pack of their top-selling Founders All Day IPA Session Ale. This is the first time a major craft brewery has put out a 15-pack. All Day IPA was Founders’ first canned beer and has earned a devout following; so much in fact, that this once-seasonal offering is now brewed year-round. The point of a session ale is to be fully-flavored yet drinkable for long sessions without the imbiber getting loaded- no easy task. With its modest 4.7% ABV, this light golden brew is surprisingly sessionable without sacrificing any of the hop-forward flavor. It’s really no wonder why this beer has become Founders’ top seller. And, with the extra few beers in the pack, this session ale truly can be enjoyed all day long. *The new 15-packs will replace the current All Day IPA 12-packs starting in April 2014.