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An American Gin To Be Proud Of And Other Boozy Musings

on 21/08/13 at 11:09 am

a woman walks into a bar...

woman-barfinal2Nothing like going to your favorite local for a little uplifting booze tasting. I was happily informed that the bar at Messhall was stocking Letherbee gin out of Chicago. I first had it in a barrel-aged Negroni at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar, a bit of a mouthful of a name but one of my fav Chicago bars. It blew my socks off and I had to find out what gin they used. Sure enough, it was Letherbee’s. When I got back to L.A., I couldn’t find it anywhere and started evangelizing about it to anyone who would listen. And now it’s here! You can also find it at the terrific restaurant, littlefork, and several other places. Hope it will be a regular behind the bar.letherbee

So, how does it taste? Have to laugh at these tastings notes via tastings.com:
Clear. Bright aromas suggest pickling spices, cardamom pastry, juniper blossoms and wildflowers with a vibrant, supple, fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body and a long, candied ginger, anise seed, lemon, exotic peppercorns, paprika, and juniper candy driven finish. An absolutely delicious, super clean, and robustly flavorful gin for all applications.

Did they miss including anything? Kale?! Hey, let’s just call it delicious and absolutely can be sipped on its own. Having that barrel-aged Negroni instigated my own barrel-aging frenzy which I’ve written about: Yes! Making Barrel-Aged Negroni in My New Cute 2L Oak Barrel and am now barrel-aging the venerable Manhattan.

malort1Ok, on with my tasting. I have been intrigued with a bitters I first heard of through the Chicago grapevine called malört. Descriptions made it sound as though it tasted like the inside of a sweaty old shoe, soaked in mud and finished off with touch of volcanic ash. So why would anyone want it? I had to find a bottle. Huzzah, Messhall had a bottle – not the Chicago one – but my prayers were answered. A little sniff, a little sip, and, hey, that’s pretty good! Not dank, but kind of like Chinese herbs…herbaceous and earthy. Next time must have it in a cocktail. Here’s a pretty interesting article about what’s going to be your new best friend, malört: Two Malorts, One City: Which Malort Is Best?

One more tasting, and what a revelation. Smith & Cross rum. WOW. Spicy, complex with a woody finish. Superb. Tasting notes from ministryofrum.com:

Dark brown rum distilled from fermented molasses. Blend from stocks of rum aged up to 3 years in used whisky and bourbon barrels. Distilled in Jamaica at the Hampden Estate from molasses produced at the estate mill. The blend is 50% Wedderbrun rum aged 6 months and the balance is Plummer rum aged from 1.5 to 3 years. This is one of the heaviest pot sill rums on the market with a very complex aroma and body with ample caramel, spice and tropical fruit reminiscent of 19th century Jamaican rum. Bottled at 57% alcohol by volume.

I sampled a barrel-aged rum Negroni made with Smith & Cross, Carpano Antiqua & Campari, aged 16 weeks. Pure bliss.s&c

Try these spirits next time you’re at Messhall or ask for them at your next bar pitstop. You’ll like them. You really, really will.