Best New Spirits
F&W editors tasted dozens of new releases to find the best.
Charbay Brandy No. 89 ($92)
Napa Valley master distiller Marko Karakasevic started aging this brandy in French oak in 1989 under the tutelage of his father, Miles, Charbay's founder. Now, 24 years later, the brandy is finally available, and Marko is running the distillery—proof that patience is a virtue.
Courtesy of Absolut, Ken Buschner/Studio-2B.com/ Chris Jordan
Captive Spirits Bourbon Barreled Big Gin ($40)
Ben Capdevielle's previous life as a bartender may explain his love for mixing things up in surprising ways—for instance, taking his already impressive Big Gin and aging it for six months in bourbon barrels. The result: a spirit with the juniper flavors of a gin, but the substance of a whiskey.
Gran Patrón Piedra ($399)
Patrón's first extra-añejo ("extra-aged") tequila is made with the old-school tahona method: a two-ton stone wheel is used to crush the steamed agave piñas and extract their sugars for distillation. Lengthy barrel aging can make extra-añejos too oaky, but Patrón's cinnamon-tinged version is perfectly balanced, ideal for sipping straight.
Tequila Herradura Port-Cask Finished Reposado ($90)
The first of a new series of annual small-batch tequilas from master distiller Maria Teresa Lara, this reposado was aged twice. First, it spent 11 months in American oak, then it spent two more months in used port casks, giving it a subtle sweetness along with intriguing hints of ripe fruit.
Martini Gran Lusso ($30)
For its 150th anniversary, Martini has created this lush, flowery vermouth. Made using Trebbiano, Moscato and Barbera grapes, it receives additional complexity from an aged botanical extract made according to a secret recipe from 1904.
Absolut Elyx Vodka ($49)
Absolut may be a giant in the vodka world, but its silky new Elyx bottling takes a small-scale approach. The wheat is from a single Swedish estate, and the final distillation happens in a 92-year-old copper still.
Woody Creek Potato Vodka ($33)
On its farm in Woody Creek, Colorado, the Scanlan family grows three different types of potatoes (Colorado Rio Grande russet, Chipeta and Lady Claire) for this soft, earthy, extra-flavorful vodka.
When former ballerina (and whiskey-lover) Allison Patel came across a distiller in Cognac growing barley for single-malt whiskey, she immediately wanted to collaborate with him. Their first release is a French whiskey with caramelly flavors and the apple and pear notes of a Cognac.