As a cocktail and spirit writer, I am privy to a lot of tastings so this year, it was time to put together a list of the top 10 new spirits for 2016.
For the purpose of transparency, this is not a sponsored post and it is not influenced by any partner or advertiser relationship. These are simply the best new spirits we tasted in 2016, though we are aware that some may not be so new in certain parts of the world.
Here they are, the top 10 new spirits 2016, presented in no particular order:
1. Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
Created by Giuseppe Gallo, leading authority in Italian spirits, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto has bergamot at its heart and is crafted from a recipe that dates back to the late 1800s. Designed to be used with sparkling wine and white spirits, it opens a whole new spectrum of flavour in cocktails. We admit that we have serious bottle envy when it comes to this product as it is not yet available in Australia. More about Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto including tasting notes here.
2. Amaro di Angostura
With a strong spice orientation instead of dominant herbal notes, Amaro di Angostura is the only amaro to have Angostura bitters in it. The palate bursts with spices mainly cinnamon, cardamom and clove, along with liquorice notes and citrus leading onto a balance of bittersweet and a chocolate finish. Super tasty on its own and it shines in the Amora Amaro cocktail. More about Amaro di Angostura here.
3. Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin
This hand-made small batch craft gin from South Australia packs a punch at 69% ABV yet it is remarkably balanced and surprisingly smooth for its alcohol content. Juniper, Coriander Seed, Ginger Root, Wormwood, Orange Rind, Grapefruit, Orris Root, Cassia bark, Star Anise, Almonds, Green Tea, Vanilla and Lavender are at the heart of Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin which comes in a collectable 500 ml bottle.
4. Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
Four Pillars are known for their innovation and their Bloody Shiraz Gin is no gimmick. Whole shiraz grapes were plunged and stirred into gin daily before the fruit was gently pressed and bottled unfiltered. The result is a super tasty gin with a sweeter palate that lingers with juniper and spice notes on the finish. Best served on ice with citrus peel. More about Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin here.
5. Lagavulin 8 YO
Lagavulin 8 YO is a limited edition expression released to celebrate the distillery’s 200th anniversary. Fresh and bright on the palate with dry and peated notes, it carries a briny seaweed character that lingers long. Unlike Lagavulin 16 yo, it finishes dry and lingers with balanced notes of peat smoke. More about Lagavulin 8 YO here.
6. OSCAR.697 Vermouth Rosso
When it comes to OSCAR.697 vermouth, it was a tough choice deciding between the Bianco and Rosso. Flip a coin? Try both to compare? Either way, this contemporary vermouth is becoming prevalent in quality cocktail bars and is most delicious served neat on ice. More about OSCAR.697 Vermouth here.
7. Ardbeg 21 YO
There’s nothing dull about Ardbeg 21 yo. The limited edition release has significant peat smoke for its age, a salty spray note with vanilla, some peppery notes along with fine oak and bright citrus zest. Rich, complex and balanced, Ardbeg 21 yo is one of the favourite Ardbeg expressions and comes at a hefty price to match.
8. Mezcal Gin
Distilled from agave cenizo, the spirit is macerated with botanicals then vapour infused before it undergoes a second distillation to produce Mezcal Gin. Key botanicals include dragon eye, chile ancho, hibiscus flower and avocado leaves give the spirit a unique flavour profile that encourages experimentation in cocktails. More about Mezcal Gin here.
9. Angel’s Envy Rye
Angel’s Envy Rye is finished in Caribbean rum casks for up to 18 months which gives it a complex palate with raw, spicy notes intermingled with a mellow character from the rum cask. Remarkably smooth and a little earthy with soft oak on the finish. A super tasty rye whiskey made for sipping.
10. Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength
Cask strength and non chill-filtered, Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength comes with intense smoke and an explosive palate that would please devout peatheads. Chewy and oily on the palate, it has aromas of fresh cut leather, oak and peat. It’s dry and salty with some spice and coffee notes on the back palate with a super long finish. Beware, if you try it, you may never enjoy Laphroaig 10 yo the same way again.
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