Posted on

December 2019

Hi folks.

This time of year people ask, what makes a good Christmas gift? Here’s a few suggestions. I try to suggest overlooked stuff that I think is great product: give someone a tasty surprise.

Infusion Works. These infused Germain-Robin brandies took Joe three years to develop, and his gifted attention is obvious when you taste. Unlike standard cordials, which use an unbelievable amount of sugar (Grand Marnier is some 35%) largely because they infuse inferior base spirits, using G-Robin allows Joe to reduce the sugar to some 4-5%. Seville Orange is based on peels for Curaçao and tastes the way Marnier can only dream of.  750ML 35% abv  $60.

Russell Henry. We’re selling more and more of the Hawaiian Ginger (organic, from Kauai) as word of mouth spreads. It’s subtle and makes beautiful cocktails. 750ML 40% abv  $38. The Dark Gin is simply one of the finest spirits in the store. People who taste it buy it. 750ML 40% abv  $60.

Mezcal.  I’m recommending three: the Animas Ensamble (masterful blend of Espadín and the scarce agave cupreata) 750ML 48% abv  $92; the rich Alipus 20th Anniversary San Juan del Rio (wild Sierra Negra, Tepextate, Tobalá, three of my favorite agaves) 750ML 48% abv  $120, and the Método Antiguo, which by returning to the old practice of diluting with first-run tails adds a lovely flowery complexity to the Los Nahuales joven 750ML 47.8% abv $72, a bargain for the quality.

Raicilla. In addition to a truly excellent (& scarce) agave spirit, the Mexicat Raicilla Sierra displays a wonderful beaded cat face, each one the single creation of an indigenous Huichol craftsperson. Have a look These are moving faster than we can bring them in. 750ML 40% abv  $60.

And these are for people you simply want to give then truly outstanding versions of what they already drink. For vodka drinkers, the DSP CA-162 Straight and (a sleeper) the Buddha’s Hand citron (Sarcodactylis). 750ML 40% abv  $38. The Low Gap whiskies are some of the best being made. Best sellers are the Bourbon and the Rye. 750ML 43.2 and 42.2% abv  $70.

Finally, any of the Germain-Robin Old and Rare brandies stand head and shoulders above comparably priced cognacs and armaganacs. Due to the quality of the grapes used and the extraordinary care with which they were distilled and aged, these spirits are among the finest ever made anywhere, and I doubt if they will ever be equaled.

We send best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and for many good things in 2020/blessings to all/ansley coale



Posted on

August, 2018

Dear friend of fine spirits,

We just brought in two versions of PISCOlogia, an artisanal pisco from Peru. It’s good stuff.

Pisco is a grape brandy, some of whose grapes descend from cuttings brought over from Spain by the conquistadores. In Peru, pisco for export must, by law, be made using ancestral methods: specified grape varietals, single distillation to proof on a potstill, no dilution with water, resting for 3 months before bottling. The process is regarded as a national treasure.

The PISCOlogia distillery is right next to the vineyard. They mostly crush by foot, distill very carefully, and rest their brandy for 6 months for better integration. They’re in Azpitia in the Andean foothills south of Lima; the climate is semi-desert with irrigation from snowmelt in the Andes. Distilled, the grapes have a desert-grown intensity of flavor. Beautifully distilled brandies at a good price: they have placed first in both competitions they entered.

PiscoLOGIA Puro Quebranta.  Distilled from the non-aromatic Quebranta grape, a cross between the Criolla and Mollar varietals brought over from Spain.  Elegant and intense. 41.8% abv.

PiscoLOGIA Acholado.  A blend of brandies from the Quebranta and the Italia grape, an Italian white cross of Bican and Hamburg Muscat. Fruity, subtle, and citric, with a hint of muscat. 41.8% abv.

Anthony Dias Blue, who has one of the best palates in the trade, recently gave the San Andres Alipus mezcal Ensamble a score of 92: vivid nose…earthy and textured. Don Valente knows his wild bicuishe (20% of the blend) very well (it’s a local specialty) and the Ensamble is beautifully distilled. Comparable (not really) Ensambles are priced at $70-85: this is a bargain at $65.

Just arrived: 696 bottles of Mezcalero no. 20, a semi-wild arroqueno distilled on a single clay potstill by Felipe de Jesús Rios in El Potrero, west of Sola de Vega. I talk about it on the CW website: arroqueno intensity married to a delicious sweetness. Clean and balanced, lovely finish: a winner.

A reminder: right next door to the new Germain-Robin tasting room (where you can taste the 30-year-old) is the new Caddell & Williams store, right in the heart of down-town Ukiah, infinitely multiplying the reasons to visit Mendocino’s county seat. Open weekdays 8-4 and Sat 10-12 (and by appt. 707 468-7899 or -96) (Tasting Room Sat 10-12 and by appt), it has a license allowing the visitor to taste everything: gin, vodka, whiskey, mezcal. The store incorporates the Museum of Encountered Objects, a pretty fabulous display of stuff accumulated over the past 40 years by, yours truly/ansley coale


Posted on

March, 2017

Dear lover of fine spirits


A couple of weeks ago I was shooting one of the brief videos for the website of me talking about our stuff, and I tasted the latest Firelit, batch 11. I like to taste the product in real time (instead of tasting it before we start to shoot), and it blew me away. I can’t believe how much it tastes like really really good coffee. I mean, if that were easy, there would be lots of great coffee liqueurs, instead of just one that I know of. Batch 11 is from Brazilian beans, with the apparently characteristic deep rich dark chocolate overtones. It is very very good.


We have several products that people can’t get how good they are because they can’t imagine it. This is one of them (Russell Henry Dark Gin and Infusion Works Seville Orange are others). I suspect it’s because they associate the product with what else is out there, in this case Kahlua, which contains some 825 grams (29 ounces!!!) of sugar, which is like dipping a sugar cube in coffee and eating it with a rough alcohol chaser. So when people say, I don’t like liqueurs because they are too sweet, they have good reason: Grand Marnier is like 33% sugar. But good liqueurs (or fortified brandies) need just a little to cut the acid acerbity of great ingredients (like the dried peels in the Seville Orange). Hey, take 15% off (for 15 days, helps pay for the shipping): I’d like to see this stuff out there. $34/750ML/30% abv.


Posted on

December, 2017

Dear friends of fine spirits

Around now, we get calls asking what we suggest as holiday gifts. Here goes:

NEW RELEASE – 200ML three-packs of Russell Henry gin (London Dry, Hawaiian Ginger, Malaysian Lime, and of DSP CA 162 vodka (Straight, Buddha’s Hand Citron, Malaysian Lime).

The quality of Crispin Cain’s white spirits has zero, that’s ZERO, equal. $32.00

THREE STOCKINGSTUFFERS. #1: any of the attractive 200ML bottles of Fluid Dynamics barrel-aged mixed drinks ($20). A cocktail becomes way deeper and richer after it spends 6 weeks in oak. This is OMG product. #2: the second edition of the Pear de Pear liqueur, based on local pears ($24/375ML). This is one of our most popular items at tastings: rich deep pear aromas and flavors; complex & just sweet enough. #3: turn someone on to the G-R XO in its jewel-like half-bottle ($65/375ML). First-timers simply do not believe that they have never heard of this brandy. Best distilled spirit in the world, according to ROBB REPORT MAG in 1996.

GERMAIN-ROBIN CHRISTMAS BLEND ($72). 2016 release, 120 bottles only. Contains some very nice older brandies, with subtle cinnamon/clove overtones, perfect with say fruitcake. Want to get relaxed? Makes a fabulous hot toddy.

MEZCAL AFICIONADOS. We have 48 bottles of the scarce San Baltazar Alipus ($50). The recently arrived Mezcalero Special no. 3 ($135) is 100% wild tobalá, extremely well distilled, probably the best tobalá I’ve encountered. It’s going fast.

WHISKEY.: Age for age, what’s the best bourbon on the planet? I vote for the most recent Low Gap release ($65), brandy-like is its combination of rich flavor and soft elegance. The latest Rye is exceptional: Rye intensity tamed and enhanced. The Sutcliffe & Son’s Exceptional releases continue to receive powerfully favorable reviews. Personal fave is the Grain ($100).

BRANDY. A bargain, last in the series: Only Once Blend no. 26, one barrel of blended 2004-2006 Colombards, plus a 1997 Sangiovese and a burst of youthful fruit from a 2013 Dolcetto. $75 is unreal for this quality, superior to any XO cognac. The recently bottled Single barrel Viognier $180) is very special.

GIN!!! The Russell Henry Dark Gin ($60) is unreal, one of the best things we have.

And finally, a real winner – for anyone who likes Grand Marnier, the Infusion Works Seville Orange ($60) (infused peel from Curaçao) is about four times better.

Many, many good wishes for the holidays and for a rewarding 2017./ansley coale


Posted on

October, 2017


Dear friend of fine spirits,

Greetings.  Many of you have already seen our big news: ALAMBIC sold the Germain-Robin brand and inventory to Gallo, with a 5-years non-compete. Why? ALAMBIC and Craft Distillers realized that the resources behind the brand were simply not sufficient to allow us to do a decent job of sales/distribution in today’s crowded marketplace. Craft will, as this goes to press, continue to market gin, whiskey, vodka, mezcal, and let’s not forget the fabulous aged cocktails.

Caddell will still be able to source Germain-Robin’s current bottlings from Gallo for the foreseeable future. We also bought in a large inventory to cover the next 3 months after ALAMBIC’s inventory is moved to Gallo.

Once Only no. 26 is a 20-year-old San Giovese, 3 very nice Colombards from 2004 and 2006, and a bombshell Dolcetto from 2013: incredible fruit. This is a masterpiece of blending by Joseph Corley. Neither of the Italian varietals has ever been distilled for serious brandy, to my knowledge. These one-time blends, a barrel at a time, are not something Gallo intends to continue: likely the last one. A bargain at the price of $75.

Crispin Cain’s Russell Henry Dark Gin. The latest release spent time in a Limousin oak brandy earlier used for a very good brandy. When folks come into the store, I always suggest that they taste this, and it almost always ends up in a sale. Amazing stuff. $60.00. The other spirit people almost always buy when they taste it is the Infusion Works Seville Orange.

Two Newly Arrived Mezcals:

Mezcalero 18 is another Karwinskii special from the species’ master, Don Valente of Santa Maria Pila. The blend (accomplishing by mixing the agaves in the roasting pit) is semi-wild and wild madrecuishe and bicuishe (both variants of Karwinskii, wild Mexicano (rhodacantha, also known as dobadaan), and a little Espadín. Valente’s usual cleanly distilled complexity and balance. $96.

Mezcalero Special no. 3. This is an almost perfect wild tobalá (agave potatorum) from upland slopes containing limestone, distilled by the talented Rodolfo Juan Juarez in San Juan del Rio. It has spent two years resting in tank, which to my palate is superior to two years in oak: noticeably composed. I tasted it for the second time on an August visit to Oaxaca on the company of two other tobalá mezcals from other region and other good distillers. The San Juan stood out, not dramatically, because it is elegant and subtle: it just tasted way better. The minerality is in judicious balance. $135. Highly recommended: I’m drinking it at home. We have about 36 bottles.

Ansley Coale/Craft Distillers

Posted on

June, 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of fine spirits,

I was going to write up the second in the Only Once series, One-time blend no. 25.

(The base blend is three Colombards from 2004 & 2006, one of them malolactically fermented (great mouth-feel). Aged Colombard (before phylloxera, the favorite cognac grape) has soft depth and beautiful fruitiness, which complements our more austere varietal brandies. Corley added a 1993 pinot noir (finesse + 23 years in oak), excellent complex finish, and a 1997 semillon from an old-vine planting, huge rich volume (one of my favorite grapes). Detailed info at The brandy is equal to $200 cognacs, and we list it at $75. There are 434 bottles.)

But we sold our 120-bottle allocation in about ten days. There will be third release in July (including the rarely distilled Sangiovese grape), and  fourth in August.

Los Nahuales Spec no. 2 will be here any day, and Mezcalero 18 by mid-July.

A new page at makes it easy (20% discount) to have a world-class back-bar in your home. Call Kristie Meyer in my office (800 782-8145) to make substitutions if you want to put together your own version. There are no superior gins, vodkas, whiskies, aged cocktails (or of course brandies) at anything approaching the price of these spirits we carry. Turn your friends on to our good stuff.

Right next door to the new Germain-Robin tasting room (where you can taste the 30-year-old) is the new Caddell & Williams store, right in the heart of down-town Ukiah, thus infinitely multiplying the reasons to visit Mendocino’s county seat. Open weekdays 8-4 and Sat 10-12 (and by appt. 707 468-7899 or -96) (Tasting Room Sat 10-12 and by appt), the store has a license allowing the visitor to taste gin, vodka, whiskey, and the unreal mezcals. About half of the store is the Museum of Encountered Objects, a pretty fabulous display of cool stuff accumulated over the past 40 years by, yours truly, ansley coale


Posted on

April, 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of fine spirits,

Hey- it’s the Annual sale. We schedule it when people are feeling the bite of the tax man. Take 15% off any bottle, 20% off any purchase of 12 bottles or more, through May 10. Here’s some suggestions:

The G-R Single-barrel Riesling. It took us long years in oak to discover how great aromatic grape brandies can be. We did an old Viognier, an old Muscat (both sold out), a 28-year-old Chenin, and most recently this 18-year old beauty. Amazing how fresh the intense fruit keeps going.

We got the second shipment of San Andres Mezcal Ensamble with a nice admix of wild bicuishe : it approaches a Mezcalero in quality. With the discount, a true bargain. High-altitude intensity of flavor, nice minerality from the shaley soil.

Crispin Cain’s Low Gap Bourbon won double gold at the Fifty Best competition, and his Rye was a finalist (scored 94) for the gold at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. These are very good whiskies .

Buy these while they are on sale: Russell Henry Dark gin, G-R Small Blend no. 2, The Exceptional Blend, Fluid Dynamics Rye Manhattan, and Infusion Works Seville Orange (“what Grand Marnier wishes it tasted like”).

Finally, if you would like to indulge yourself with an individual 9-liter cask (taste a brandy or whiskey as it ages) we’ll extend the discount to the cask itself, $50 off.

Caddell & Williams just opened a wonderful retail store incorporating the Museum of Encountered Objects (worth the visit) in downtown Ukiah, next to the new & improved G-R tasting room. The standard tasting includes a sample of the G-R 30-year-old.

I just shot ten more short video segments talking about our individual products. They show up as links next to each product listing on the Caddell & Williams site. In the Journal part of the Craft Distillers website is a ton of hard-to-find production info/many good wished/ansley coale

Posted on

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


Posted on

November, 2016

Dear friend of fine spirits,

We have made short video segments of me talking about almost all of our individual products. They show up as links next to the product listing on the Caddell & Williams website, such as here:

For the Germain-Robin Only Once Blend no, 23. We have sold most of this first batch mail-order and plan to bottle a couple more Blends after the first of the year.

Totally amazing product. Over the past 29 years, we have released maybe 120 different spirits. A handful stand out as unreal, in the sense that you simply can’t believe how good the stuff is: Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Citron, Germain-Robin Single Barrel Viognier, Russell Henry Dark Gin, Mezcalero Special no.1. Here’s another: the Fluid Dynamics Dry Martini. The whisper of Andy Quady’s Extra Dry Vermouth is perfectly appropriate to the London Dry gin, causes it in some unfathomable way to transcend its fundamental quality. Eye-popping. If you like martinis, buy this.

Mezcal. First, check out a great deal of not easy-to-come-by info/photos. Just received: Mezcalero 17 (agaves de lumbre & espadín) from San Baltazar Guélavila and Los Nahuales Special no. 1, from the rare sierrudo and wild cuishe, distilled by Los Danzantes Karina Abad. The new Alipus San Andres Ensamble contains wild bicuishe.

Sutcliffe and Son’s The Exceptional is at last available in all three expressions: Grain, Malt, and Blend. They have been getting, well, exceptional reviews: some of the finest scotch whiskies in existence. Exceptionally intelligent review at http://coolhunting. com/food-drink/the-exceptional-whiskies-sutcliffe

Greenway Distillery (Crispin Cain’s personal venture) has released a new batch of the Rose Liqueur, out of stock for more than a year. You can smell the rose dust from the petals. How he does it, I don’t understand. It’s like crushing a rose in your hand.

Ansley Coale, Craft Distiller





































Posted on

October, 2016

Dear friend of fine spirits,

A fabulous new Germain-Robin release, and a repeat notice of something that is selling very well: Germain-Robin Only Once Blend no. 23. 

The first of many Only Once Blends. The idea is to bottle, at an affordable level, rich blends that draw on what we think is the most varied and most complex aged inventory in the industry. The variation among our aging distillates, and the balance and complexity that we can create from them, are unparalleled: our 1400 barrels of craft-method  brandies represent purified and focused esters from now 26  different Mendocino County premium varietal wine grapes.

The Blends are assembled in a single barrel (about 35 cases), and will contain brandies more than 20 years old. The labels have a address with detailed blend info.

Only Once Blend no. 23 focuses on French Colombard, which before phylloxera was the preferred cognac grape. Our Mendocino Colombard brandies become beautifully full and soft as they age. Blend 23 includes Colombards from 1991 and 2006, malolactic-fermented Colombards from 2003 and 2004, and a rich blend assembledfrom our aging stock in 2006 which includes the rarely-distilled and aromatic Viognier. More details here:

Only Once Blend no. 23, 408 bottles (42.1% abv, $75). This is a serious bargain: spend $150-200 on the cognac of your choice, then spend time wishing you were drinking this brandy.

Millard Fillmore U. S. Brandy. 

This delight is in response to many many requests for a Germain-Robin brandy to use in mixed drinks. Bars find the Craft Method to be A. too expensive and B. too subtle to use in many of their mixed drinks, so they use brandies/cognacs that tend to be either flavorless or harsh and too oaky. Millard does it with flavor. It’s a blend of our precious Germain-Robin potstill brandy with a light & floral brandy distilled in the Central Valley of California on a continuous still.  The blend took more than three years to develop: perfect example of craft method production: you have to wait months to find out the real nature of a trial blend. Then you try to improve on it, and wait months again. We learned a lot about what our brandies can do when blended with distillates we didn’t make. Check out:

The Millard is better than any whiskey or cognac at the price. It contains brandies from aromatic grapes, and a bit of extra oak, so it can show up when used in a cocktail. (40% abv, $35).