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February, 2017

Dear friend of fine spirits,

Greetings. At the distillery, Joseph Corley is preparing the next set of Only Once Blends: should be ready for the next mailer. He’s also working with some of our oldest pear and apple: news of this shortly.

More on the Martini. Every once in a while, we list something fabulous. Recent examples are the Single-barrel Riesling, the Mezcalero special bottlings 1 & 2, the Dark Gin (ROBB REPORT’s Best Spirit in 2016). Here’s another. I grew up on the set of Mad Men: four of the households on my street (NJ) in the 1950s had Dads who worked on Madison Ave. Parties were boozy. The drink of choice was the dry martini. My father used to make up a sizeable pitcher and go around topping up people’s glasses, which meant that almost everyone got pretty wobbly pretty quick. I once got in trouble for telling a neighbor not to lean too close to the hole I was widening in the right fender of my 1951 MG TD (to fit a new side view mirror) because his breath might melt it: not at all amused. Anyway, I saw & tasted a lot of martinis. The Fluid Dynamics version is guaranteed the best you have EVER had: Russell Henry London Dry with a whisper of Quady’s Vya extra dry vermouth. Perfect. I don’t say that often. $20.00 for the 200ML.

Low Gap Bourbon won a double gold medal at the prestigious 50 Best competition. My favorite words in the quoted judges’ descriptors are the last: “soft, smooth, balanced”. Soft and smooth here are not created by adding sugar, but from making the bourbon extremely well, especially by fermenting the mash on site, Crispin Cain makes use of sophisticated enzymes (he won’t tell anyone what they are) during a markedly slow controlled fermentation in one of our vertical jacketed stainless steel tanks. Distillation on one of Germain-Robin’s antique cognac stills, a 16HL beauty from the former Tiffon distillery adjacent to the old chateau outside Jarnac, creates unmatched complexity, delicacy, and… balance: a harmonious and seamless assortation of flavor and aroma, none too prominent. The quality of the whiskey allows Crispin to be gentle with his oak: you taste fermented and distilled grain, not an old tree. $72.00

More on recent mezcals. I had an email from someone running a mezcal-feature bar in Chicago: our distributor had just delivered a few bottles of Mezcalero no. 17 ($96.00): “so fresh and delicate!”, and she wanted way more information about agave de lumbre; “none of us know anything”. Hey, neither do we. It is a wild agave growing near San Baltazar Guélavila, an agave so unknown that it has no scientific name. I can’t find a photo. Delicacy is a hallmark of the mezcals distilled by the Hernandez family; those of you still having a bottle of no. 5 (tepeztate and espadín) will see the similarity: a beautiful soft touch. This is a genuine rarety. I urge all mezcal aficionados to get a bottle of the Los Nahuales Special no. 1 ($84.00), distilled in person by Los Danzantes’ head of production, Karina Abad. There is indeed such a thing as a feminine touch, which I attribute to a deep sense of nature coming from being blessed with the ability to create another living being. Great distillation is about capturing and focusing the ingredients’ deepest qualities, and here she works with another genuine rarety, agave sierrudo. There is a very intelligent review here;

note the stress on balance (equilibrio). Max Garrone reviews the 17 here: again, balance;

The opposite of balanced is distorted. Balance is not easy, and I’m proud of how many of our spirits display. There will be other Specials from both Mezcalero and Los Nahuales, later this year.

Sending very best hopes and wishes for 2017/ansley