New Spirits to Sip

A.J. Rathbun

While I think any time may be a good time to try out new spirits or liqueurs, mid-summer is definitely one of the best.  Why?  Summer, even for us older folks, is a school’s out kind of occasion­­—a period to try new things and go on adventures. With that in mind, start your summer drink adventure by getting your hands on one of these newly released bottles.

3 Howls’ White Label Rum: Made in the SoDo district, this rum is fermented with two-thirds sweet Barbados molasses and one-third caramelized cane sugar in a 600 gallon open-top cypress fermenter. It’s an ideal rum for hot weather drinks, such as the Mojito, with an imminently drinkable character that boasts caramel and vanilla notes that fascinate without overwhelming. This rum’s being released as I type, so be sure to check with your favorite liquor store, and ask them to bring it in if they don’t yet have it. Or stop by the distillery at 426 S. Massachusetts Street in Seattle.

Seattle Distilling Company’s Alpinist Gin: Another recently released local product, Alpinist gin is crafted on Vashon Island and uses a number of herbs and botanicals harvested on the island, including lavender, elderberry, coriander and hazelnuts. While these really provide layers of flavor, don’t think they skimp on the juniper—it’s not hidden in the background. Alpinist goes perfectly in a wide variety of cocktails (as well as on its own over ice) such as the Last Word. Some liquor stores have it, but it’s more fun to visit the distillery: 19429 Vashon Highway, Vashon.

Sound Spirits Crème de Cacao: We mentioned this was coming in an earlier post, but since it’s finally here, it’s worthy of another mention. Made with local chocolatier Theo’s free trade chocolate nibs, this chocolate liqueur has a strong, pure chocolate aroma and flavor, and a sweet – but never too sweet – nature. The chocolate, unlike in big-batch commercial liqueurs, is a part of the distilling process, which means this liqueur tastes like true chocolate, as opposed to chemical flavoring, and it’s clear in color. It makes a wonderful Alexander cocktail and is good over ice solo. You can find it soon on shelves, or right now at the distillery at 1630 15th Avenue West, between Ballard and downtown.

Macchu La Diablada Pisco: This is an award-winning pisco that’s newly available in Washington state. It’s an “acholado” pisco, or a high-quality blend coming from a first-grape pressing of Quebranta, Moscatel Italia, and Torontel grapes. It’s made by a family-owned company where five generations of women work together – every bottling must pass the 98-year old patriarch’s taste test – and watch over the grapes as if they were newborns. The flavor is slightly dry, with fruit and floral notes and a peppery finish, and goes well in the revered Pisco Sour and other drinks as well as all alone.