Review: Whiskies of Lost Distillery – Jericho, Lossit, and Towiemore

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The Lost Distillery Company is an endeavour which aims to recreate the long-gone whiskies of the dozens of “silent stills” that dot the Scottish countryside. For better or for worse, the group aims to blend up various single malts in an effort to mimic what these lost spirits might have tasted like. How? By researching still types, barley strains, wood sources, and more.

The Lost Distillery hit the scene a few years back, and it’s been diligently making historical drams ever since. The latest trio, which bring the “Classic Selection” line up to six whiskies in total, are reviewed below. All are bottled at 86 proof. (Compare to the 92 proof expressions that dropped a few years ago.) No batch information is provided.

Lost Distillery Jericho – Also known as Benachie in the U.S. (and apparently on some labels of this recreation), this eastern Highlands distillery closed in 1913. The recreation is quite a gentle expression, loaded with cereal notes, a bit of bitter orange, and some mushroom on the nose. The body moves into sweeter territory, offering a more straightforward caramel note, a bit of coconut, and some milk chocolate. Short on the finish but nonetheless enjoyable, it drinks much like many a reasonably young but otherwise standard Highlands or Speyside whisky produced today. B

Lost Distillery Lossit – A long-dead distillery, Islay-based Lossit went south in 1867. Here we have a rather classic, young Islay — this may very well be Laphroaig — though it’s quite mild on the peat. Backing up the mild smokiness are notes of fresh orange, banana, and some cotton candy, leaving the whisky with a finish that is considerably sweeter than you’d expect. What lingers on the back end isn’t smoky peat but rather a chewy, lingering experience that integrates some cooling fireplace embers into a core of butterscotch and ginger candies. There’s no way they had it this good in 1867. B+

Lost Distillery Towiemore – Born in the heart of Speyside, near Dufftown, died in 1931. The deep amber color immediately connotes sherry cask aging, and a nose full of bitter orange, old wine, and lightly musty wood notes only drives the point home. Bold on the palate, the whisky starts with a slight medicinality and moves into notes of fresh cereal, nougat, tobacco leaf, and barrel char. Though the nose says fruit, this one turns out to be all about the grain and the wood, though the finish offers just enough of a hint of tantalizing lemon and orange peel — plus a touch of mint — to send on your way with a smile. B

each $50 to $60 / lost-distillery.com  [BUY THEM NOW FROM CASKERS]

Review: Nolet’s Dry Gin Silver (2016)

It’s been five years since we looked at Nolet’s entry-level bottling (the Reserve bottling runs $650), so we figured now was a good time to take a fresh look at one of The Netherlands’ most notable gins.

The twist here comes in the form of three odd botanicals: Turkish rose, peach, and raspberry. Other botanicals aren’t revealed, but likely run along traditional London dry lines.

Despite those unusual botanicals, the gin initially has a somewhat typical London dry nose, heavy with juniper, with a solid amount of fruit underneath. Give it a little time in glass, though, which makes the rose notes much easier to pick up on.

On the palate, herbal and floral notes arrive in roughly equal proportions, though here the rose petal notes become clear almost immediately. The body is heavily perfumed, with juniper and rosemary notes having considerable impact immediately after. Time in glass improves Nolet’s, but I think that may be asking too much.

All told this remains a somewhat strange style of gin that tells a rather different story than your traditional London dry, its florals dominating the palate considerably. It’s best used in more exotic cocktails rather than in traditional martini or tonic applications.

95.2 proof.

B / $35 / noletsgin.com

Review: Firemans Brew IPA

L.A.-based Firemans Brew is back with its first new beer in over a decade. Being that this is a California brewery, it’s only fitting that it’s an IPA, made with Cascade, Columbus, Chinook and Galena hops.

A touch maltier than many IPAs, it has a distinct but mild mushroom note on the nose, tempered with a bit of brown sugar, odd notes of dried fruits, and some green vegetable character. The body however is all hops, as expected, lacing in resinous pine with more of those out-of-place dried fruit notes. The finish is lasting and heavily bitter, with a touch of residual molasses.

6.5% abv.

B / $9 per four-pack of 16 oz. cans / firemansbrew.com

Review: Auchroisk 25 Years Old Limited Edition 2016

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This third-ever release of Diageo’s Special Release of Speyside-based Auchroisk was distilled in 1990 and aged in a mix of refill American oak and refill European oak casks. See also Diageo’s two prior Auchroisk releases in 2010 and 2012.

The nose is mild and quite restrained, with light notes of iodine, roasted grain, baked apples, and a squeeze of lemon eventually coming to light. The palate offers more of an impactful experience, showing a racier, zesty citrus edge, a bold, almost pungent, graininess, and a finish that offers both some black pepper and green bell pepper character. As the finish fades, a warm and slightly nutty character hangs on for quite some time.

While finding Auchroisk as a single malt remains a rarity, this expression largely comes across as a curiosity.

102.4 proof. Less than 600 bottles available in the U.S.

B / $450 / malts.com

Review: Wines of Frank Family Vineyards, 2016 Releases

 

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Three new reds from Frank Family, vying for a spot on your winter table.

2014 Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Carneros – A darker and denser pinot than we’ve come to expect from Carneros, complete with notes of bittersweet chocolate, licorice root, and gritty charcoal. Good thing there’s ample fruit to keep all of the above in check, providing balance in the form of dark cherries and notes of dried tea. Quite drying on the finish. B+ / $35

2013 Frank Family Vineyards Petite Sirah Napa Valley – A classic petite sirah, loaded up with burly notes of licorice, tannic charred wood, and fruit leather. The tannins grip the palate immediately and hang on for dear life — this is a bold wine that requires a bold food pairing to really be approachable, at which point it reveals more charms in the form of light florals and fresher fruit notes. B+ / $35

2013 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Dusty up front and intensely tannic, this is a restrained cab loaded up with brambly notes, licorice (again, yes), tobacco, and tar. The fruit layer lies well beneath all of this, but give the wine plenty of time and ample air (decanting isn’t out of the question) and some of its charms make their way to the fore. A better plan might involve a couple of years of cellaring, though. B / $53

frankfamilyvineyards.com

Review: Glenkinchie 24 Years Old Limited Edition 2016

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A rarity in the Diageo Special Release series, Glenkinchie is a Lowland distillery that has appeared only three times in the lineup. This expression was distilled in 1991 and aged in refill European oak butts.

The nose is darker than your typical Speyside whisky, showing notes of oily walnut, furniture polish, pumpkin, and dried fruits. On the palate, it’s initially chewy and quite nutty, with a slight red pepper sharpness right in the middle — but this all gives way to notes of tobacco, iodine, and green beans. There’s precious little sweetness to go around here, leaving the experience focused a bit too heavily on the earth, with some bitter edges where one would prefer to see suppleness.

114.4 proof.

B / $450 / malts.com

Review: 2014 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

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Quilt is the first cabernet from Copper Cane Wines company, founded by Joseph Wagner (son of Chuck Wagner of Caymus fame; Joe launched and sold the unfathomably successful Meiomi). Given Wagner’s depth of experience with cab, a lot of eyes are on Quilt’s inaugural release to see if lightning can strike yet again. Let’s see!

Dense with currants and some earthiness on the nose, it’s unmistakeable as California cab from the get-go. The body doesn’t diverge from the course, offering loads of jammy berry fruit, vanilla, and woody overtones. And it never really lets up, punching you right in the throat with its powerful currant character, its tannins enveloped in a lightly sweet and incredibly lengthy fadeaway.

All told, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from the young Wagner, though I’m hoping to see more nuance from the next vintage.

B / $45 / coppercane.com

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