Over the past year, I've bought a lot of extraordinary bottles of spirits — a move from London to the wide-open spaces and warm climes of Burbank have afforded many more opportunities to entertain and thus to sample the output of the world's distilleries.
Three bottles stand out, and as I top up my flask for this week's continuing travel for the Walkaway tour, I realized that it had been a long time since I'd mentioned my poison of choice here.
The Bourbon: Jefferson's Reserve Pritchard Hill Cabernet Cask Finished. Jefferson's bottles a lot of really good bourbon, sometimes hilariously gimmicky stuff (though the stuff they age by strapping it to the deck of a ship and sailing it around the world is surprisingly good!). The Cabernet Cask Finish is, as the name implies, a great, 15-year-old bourbon made even better by sticking it in an old cabernet cask for a couple years at the end. I like a bourbon that's dry but not peppery, with a long, complicated finish, and this is that.
The Scotch: OCTOMORE
07.3/ 169 PPM
ISLAY BARLEY 2010. I tried this at a Liverpool whisky bar last week while I was on the UK Walkaway tour, at the barman's insistence. This is literally the peaty-est whisky I've ever tasted, putting other Bruichladdich Islays in the shade. I literally ordered a bottle online to be delivered to my home before I left the bar and it was waiting for me yesterday when I got back. I had a drink before bed and I can still taste it this morning. Like drinking a cigar.
The Tequila: Expresiones del Corazon Barrel-Aged Tequila (Blanco, Buffalo Trace Reposado & Old Rip Van Winkle Anejo) 2015. My wife loves good tequila, while I can take it or leave it. But a fresh-but-smooth tequila that's finished in Old Rip Van Winkle casks, imparting the kind of finish that makes Old Rip Van Winkle blisteringly expensive and highly fetishized? Yes please.
Some honorable mentions: for Irish whiskey, I continue to follow Spider Robinson's recommendation and drink Writer's Tears, which is gorgeous. My rum of choice remains Plantation Rum, which has all the grace notes of a superb bourbon at a fraction of the price (even better: Havana Club, especially the 7-year-old, but only when I'm outside of the USA thanks to the embargo).