The times have never been so good for us whisky drinkers. More and more fascinating and compelling drams are becoming available to us here in the US seemingly almost everyday. Whisky really is global now, from the incredible selection of Japanese malts and the soon to be available Taiwanese single malts from the new kid on the block, Kavalan. Across the seas to Frenchand even English whiskies! In the midst of all this overseas temptation we should not forget to drink local and look to our own incredible selection of craft and artisan whiskies.
A great place to start is with The Whiskey Advocate’s 2012 Artisan Whisky of the year, from the “American Craft Distillery” in California. Founded in 2003 by Ansley Coale who had co-founded Germain-Robin brandy way back in 1982. The award winning whisky was the “Low Gap Clear Whiskey” skillfully crafted by Crispin Cain, the seven year apprentice of Hubert Germain-Robin. Cain first starts with beautiful ingredients creating his own distilling beer in house using a slow fermentation method. This beer then gets hand distilled on small antique cognac stills at the Germain-Robin distillery. The distillates made on these antiques are rich, deep-flavored and complex yet remain subtle and elegant and this is the key to what I consider to be the best white whisky ever made!
My first experience of Low Gap Clear Whiskey was made from Bavarian wheat and this got me hooked. The Clear called whiskey as it does see time in oak but we are not talking years or even days but literally minutes! Then towards the end of 2013 I got to taste a limited bottling of a two-year-old version of the wheat which had been cut to bottling proof with filtered rain water. It was so good to be able to see the evolution and results of ageing.
Low-Gap Clear Bavarian Wheat Whiskey
The Nose: aromatically so complex full of bright fruity notes citrus in nature with sweet grains and baked bread qualities in abundance. The Palate: rich and creamy, herbal hints of berry and juniper. The Finish: soft and peppery.
Low-Gap 2 Year Bavarian Wheat Whiskey
The Nose: still maintains bright floral aspects, juniper and citrus reminiscent of a chilled weiss bier and now these flavours are complimented by a delicate butter and vanilla and a stone fruit more apricot in nature. The Palate: creamy, zesty and spicy pepper and anise. The Finish: dark black chocolate.
Being based in New York I don’t have to look too far to find another excellent local distillery that produce two excellent whiskies. Breuckelen Distilling make the 77 Whiskey NY Wheat and the 77 Whiskey Rye & Corn. The 77 is simply their address on 19th Street Brooklyn New York. The wheat is made from 100 percent organically grown New York State wheat. Both whiskies are aged for a relatively short period of just months in brand new 3-char american oak barrels. This ageing period though always includes the summer months where temperatures in the barrel room can top 100 degrees! What this means is they get color extraction at an accelerated rate creating very uniquely flavoured whiskies.
Breuckelen 77 Wheat
The Nose: maple-drenched “diner” pancakes and soft honey. The Palate: sweet yes but sticky no. The grain shines through and the mouth feel is soft yet full with vanilla and French Toast. The Finish: long and glorious!
Breuckelen 77 Rye & Corn
The Nose: tropical fruit bursting with bananas and new oak tones. The Palate: reveals more fruit with a cherry aspect and light vanilla. The Finish: lightly spiced.
So there is no excuse for not try something local soon: there is so much great stuff to be drammed. Look out for our announcment on Thursday when TD announces a local brew as the Whisky of the Month. So many choices, so little time!