Seasonal Sippable Spirits

November 19 2013 - 7:01 AM

I love fall as it transitions into winter. If I only had a fireplace my stereotypical evening would be complete. If there is a season to drink the hard stuff straight, this is it. Seasonality plays into how we treat alcoholic beverages and the cold solitary winter is a fine time for a nightcap and a book… or the news… or a conversation.

cruzan_single_barrelThis year we’ve seen a resurgence in aged rum and it’s a welcome one. Zacapa from Guatemala has been a cabinet favorite for years. Fleur de Caña provides a good alternative that doesn’t push the sweet as hard and now we have the option of a variety from Cruzan, and thanks to Cruzan for the samples!

Cruzan’s Distiller’s Collection series: Estate Diamond Dark and Light and their single barrel will hopefully be a boon to the spread of quality aged rum at retail but more importantly in bars. The variety gives you good options and consistent flavors across the spectrum, from mixing to sipping. The single barrel stands woody and dry in contrast to the sweet Zacapa rum and is extremely sippable on its own. As a mixer it conjures up a rum-forward Rob Roy, the potential of an aged-dark and stormy and plenty of other ideas. Bourbon has a solid footprint in the market, aged rums might be next.

Tam o’Shanter is a poem by Robert Burns.  It’s also a 25-year old blended whisky that appeared in my mail in an “unexpected” way from Cutty Stark. Considering the nightmarish theme of the poem, a dark cold night would be made comfortable by a measure of this whisky. It’s sharp notes and decidedly Irish nose, spicy and woodsy/sour, are truly rewarding neat. A drop or two open it into a broad and creamier profile but given the intensity of the poem and the surprising balance at intensity, I would personally be hesitant to dilute it.

Dolin Blanc Vermouth has become a mainstay in my liquor cabinet. A simple 2 parts Plymouth and one part Dolin Blanc has refreshed my notion of the martini. It’s a revelation. However, the sippability of the vermouth is what really helped me understand its value. Try it with a cube of ice. It’s a sweet and almost sherry-like option that I now often weigh against a glass of dry and palate-cleansing saké, especially while cooking.

As we move into the long slog through winter, at least we have some options to make the cold more bearable. What are you’re your favorite spirits for the season?

Chicago Foodies is always willing to try new things. It doesn’t guarantee we write about them but when we do we’ll disclose that we were provided samples. Cruzan and Cutty samples were provided in this instance the other spirits mentioned were not.