February 12, 2015 | Posted by: Seth Quittner


THE COFFINS OF SALOMON ANDREE AND COMPANIONS, Stookholm, October 5, 1930 (Wikipedia).

The Andree expedition, 1897, tried to fly a balloon over the North Pole, ignoring millions of pin-prick leaks in the silk fabric and the total lack of human knowledge about Arctic wind-patterns.The flight, whose cargo Included 20 kilos of chocolate cake, lasted about 52 hours. Andree and his two companions then dragged a boat over the pack-ice for 3 months, living mostly on polar-bear meat, ending on the tiny island of Kvitoya, where they shortly died. Their last camp was discovered by a Norwegian expedition in 1930. Almost all of Andree’s diary (English translation in Andree’s Story, 1931) and some undeveloped film survived: see the photo at left. The balloon was called ørne, “eagle”.

Dear friend of fine spirits,

Last fall, K&L, an excellent Bay Area liquor store, put up 3 extensive blog posts on Germain-Robin:




1 & 2 focus on the Old & Rare releases; the third is an indepth interview with the gifted Hubert Germain-Robin.

Mezcalero no. 11 has arrived, from Alberto Ortiz (“Don Beto”) of Bramaderos. The semi-wild agaves are Madrecuishe (nice touch of acerbity) and Mexicano (dobadán, floral/spicy). Don Beto’s destileria is the tidiest I have seen, and this mezcal is very cleanly made.

Two fabulous whiskey releases from Crispin Cain: Low Gap 2-year Rye and Low Gap 100 proof. The rye has a bit of malted corn: nice body. The Germain-Robin 16HL cognac still brings out subtle flavor and finesse with the usual rye richness. Better than most 10-year-old ryes. The 100 proof  is a 2-year old Bavarian wheat aged in Crispin’s three best new and used American oak barrels. Spectacular product: nice intensity.

Alipus San Baltazar is no longer being exported to the USA.

Some of the small American casks used for Low Gap had unusually significant evaporative losses compared to the Limousin oak casks used for Germain-Robin, likely due to a more open grain. We will now use the Limousin for Low Gap: subtler.

A couple of pricing notes: the Germain-Robin Old Havana has gone to $120, reflecting the use of older brandies in the solera; there are minor price increases in Los Nahuales and Alipus due to increased agave prices in Oaxaca.

Best regards/Ansley Coale/Craft Distillers