The Buyer
The Buyer’s selection of the best New World Spirits for 2021

The Buyer’s selection of the best New World Spirits for 2021

Over the last couple of years some of the most exciting new spirits appearing in the best back bars in the world are from ever more surprising and diverse sources as the number of countries now producing quality whiskies, gins, vodkas, rums and more grows and grows. If you are looking for something a little different to give your drinks list a punch going into the new year then here is The Buyer’s selection of what we see as being amongst the most interesting spirits from some of the more non traditional spirit producing countries (with a few familiar countries thrown in).

Richard Siddle
17th December 2020by Richard Siddle
posted in Tasting,Tasting: Spirits,

Cast your eyes along the average premium bar back and it is like taking a fast trip around the world thanks to the ever more diverse range of spirits being listed, says Richard Siddle.

Here is our selection of the new spirit launches we have seen over the last few months that we think will stand the test of time and offer something genuinely new and different to any discerning bar or drinks list. With as many left field choices as we could find.

Vodka

Belvedere Heritage 176 (RRP: £42)

Distributor: Clos19.com

When it comes to rye vodka Belvedere has got it covered, and with its Belvedere Heritage 176 it has introduced an innovative malted rye expression made using the centuries-old technique of malting in order to extract even more flavour, taste and character out of the rye. This really is a step in time to the pre 1890s when rye vodka producers relied on malting rye.

This is a step forward from earlier expressions, such as Belvedere Single Estate Rye, that explored the role of terroir in vodka. Now the focus is on taste and how malting, steeping, sprouting and heating the rye in kilns up to 176 degrees (hence the name Heritage 176) can add more rich flavours and aromas.

Heritage 176 is made using nothing but Polska rye and purified water and is a blend of of 98% vodka and 2% rye malted rye spirit, just enough to add that complex flavour profile.

Heritage 176 is a “new sipping vodka based an old production technique,” says Mark Tracey, Belvedere UK brand aAmbassador.

It’s best served over a block of ice with a lemon twist, or try it shaken with citrus and honey.

The Heritage176 also comes in a different bottle shape to the rest of the Belvedere range, with a golden-bronze colour palette.

Whisky

Japanese Whisky

Arguably the most consistently exciting spirits categories over the last five years has been the quality and diversity of whiskies being produced in Japan and this is another fine example.

Nikka Whisky

Nikka Tailored (RRP: £110)

Distributor: Speciality Brands

The Nikka Tailored is a new, premium blend combining Miyagikyo and Yoichi malts with Nikka grain whisky (a predominantly corn-based whisky distilled in traditional Coffey stills), aimed at showcasing the blending skills of its master blender. It is then marinated in American oak and ex-sherry casks. It is very much based on the balanced, rounded and soft Nikka style. se style.

Taketsuru Pure Malt from Nikka Whisky (RRP £60)

Distributor: Speciality Brands

Taketsuru Pure Malt is named after Nikka’s founder, Masataka Taketsuru, widely recognised as one of the founding fathers of Japanese whisky. His search of perfection still carries through in the intricate blending procedures of today. The Taketsuru is a blend of aged single malt casks from Yoichi and Miyagikyo and has been pulled together to show a balance between great softness and deep complexity where Miyagikyo is to the fore, but there is still a higher portion of Yoichi to help give the whisky its unique character. It uses both ex-sherry casks and Miyagikyo that has been aged in American oak.

Hatozaki Whisky Blended (RRP: £34)

Hatozaki Pure Malt (RRP: £46)

Distributor: Marussia Beverages

Marussia Beverages has expanded its range of artisan Japanese whiskies with Hatosaki blended and Hatozaki pure malt which come from the Yonezawa family distillery in the port town of Akashi, south west Japan and are made by master distiller and blender, Kimio Yonezawa. Each artisan batch contains no more than 20 casks and Yonezawa says he wants to create a whisky that is both true to some of Scotland’s finest brands, but also “embodies our own unique Japanese influence and flavours”.

The maritime influence of the port, like in parts of Scotland, all help with the ageing process. Hatozaki is named after Akashi’s ancient lighthouse, which dates back to 1657.

Marussia’s head of marketing Sarah Gandy says the Hatozaki blended “is an approachable style of whisky which provides consumers with the perfect entry point into the Japanese whisky category”.

The pure malt is aimed more at the whisky connoisseur and is a premium blend of single malt whiskies aged in bourbon, sherry and mizunara (Japanese oak) casks for a minimum of five to six years. It gives a sweet taste of malted cereals and dried fruit with a touch of smoke and aromatic honey on the finish.

The blended whisky goes through a two-stage blending process and is aged in casks for several years. This is a balanced whisky that is light and delicate on the palate but carries the flavours of the malted barley.

Gin

Japanese Gin

135°EAST: ‘Hyogo Dry Gin’ (RRP: £35, 700ml bottle)

Distributor: Marussia Beverages

For all those who thought the gin bubble was fit to burst needs to think again, for just when every craft gin distillery might be used in the UK there are plenty more being set up all over the world.

This is a great example of the new styles of artisan gin being made in Japan, which as we have already seen has created such a buzz of excitement around the quality of the whiskies it is producing.

This particular gin comes from the family-owned Kaikyo Distillery in the Hyogo perfecture and has been put together by Master distiller and blender, Kimio Yonezawa. Here the skill comes in putting together a gin that is a blend of classic London Dry gin ingredients with locally sourced Japanese botanicals, finished off with distilled Junmai sake. All of which Yonezawa claims is a new style of gin which he calls ‘Hyogo Dry Gin’.

It took extensive research and up 50 different options before Yonezawa settled on the blend that makes up the 135°EAST gin. The Japanese botanicals include yuzu and sansho pepper and Junmai sake is made from Yamadanishki rice to both complement the botanicals, but also give it soft sweetness on the palate.

It is named after the 135th meridian east, a line of longitude chosen in 1888 to mark Japan’s official standard time.

It is distributed in the UK by Marussia Beverages, that already has a strong range of wines, sakes and spirits, with a particular focus on Japanese spirits.

Hospitality Gin

OK this is not exactly from the New World, unless you want to go back in time to when Sheffield was one of the creative hubs of the New Romantics with Phil Oakey and the Human League.

But it is very worthy of a mention in our new spirits round up as it all about raising money for those in the drinks and hospitality sectors that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hospitality Gin is a new not-for-profit brand that has been created by Sheffield-based, Tom Lord, a key figure in the hospitality sector in his own right. This is a classic London dry gin that is, he says, “perfect for simple serves”. Lord was one of the a number of key industry members who ran the #CANCELTHECURFEW campaign in the autumn in a bid to get the on-trade back on its feet again.

All profits are being split between The Drinks Trust and Hospitality Action and there are also plans to set up a dedicated fund. The gin is made by the Cooper King Distillery in north Yorkshire and a crowdfund campaign was set up initially in May to sell the initial batch.

Lord says: “I’d been looking for ways to help the people that needed it most when the idea for Hospitality Gin hit me. Most important was a managing a quick turnaround time to get the money to those who needed it as quickly as possible. That and having a cracking gin of course.”

Hospitality Gin is available direct from the brand’s website for £37 per bottle, as well as from a number of wholesalers, including Master of Malt and Hammonds of Knutsford. Folllow them at: www.HospitalityGin.co.uk, www.facebook.com/HospitalityGin, www.Instagram.com/hospitalitygin.

Rum

Diplomático Selección de Familia Rum

Distributor: Speciality Brands

Where do you start with this? Well, at the very top of the tree for starters. This really is up there and showcases not only the best in the rum category but how Venezuela has become such a respected country for the quality and diversity of its premium rums.

This is the Diplomático Selección de Familia which will help raise the whole benchmark of the super-premium dark rum category. This is a sophisticated, smooth, spicy, rich rum for the connoisseur. The skill comes in the distillation in copper pot stills combined with batch kettle and column distillation. The Selección de Familia is made from molasses and sugar cane honeys and is then aged for up to 12 years in American white oak, ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks.

Spirited Union

Queen Pineapple & Spice

Sweet Orange & Ginger

Pink Grapefruit & Rose

( All RRP: £27.50, 70cl bottle)

Trade enquiries: Barrie Sly at barrie@spirited-union.com.

Amsterdam-based botanical rum distillery, The Spirited Union Distillery, has released three new expressions in the UK, Queen Pineapple & Spice, Sweet Orange & Ginger and Pink Grapefruit & Rose.

The Queen Pineapple & Spice has recently picked up the alcoholic drinks award in The Grocer New Product Awards and is described by the judges as “a great sipping rum” and says Spirited Union founder, Ruben Maduro, hopefully captures the “flavour of the tropics”.

Its made by macerating the flesh of the fruity Queen Victoria pineapple in Panamanian Rum and then is infused with cassia wood and cinnamon.

Spirited Union Sweet Orange & Ginger Rum is made by infusing and distilling sweet oranges from Valencia and Curacao to cask-aged Jamaican rum with fresh ginger root infused in the rum to represent the heat of Jamaica.

Spirited Union Pink Grapefruit & Rose Rum combines pink grapefruits with Swazi rum, which is enhanced with infused blood orange to give a bitter-sweet sour taste. It’s then vapour-infused with garden rose petals and elderflower for an overall floral aroma.

Key West
Bad Bitch Spanish Marie Rum

Key West Raw & Unfiltered Rum

(RRP: Both£59.99 for 75cl bottle)

C.Gars, the specialist cigar and whisky merchant, has taken on new rums fromThe Key West First Legal Distillery which are aged in specially salt-cured barrels and include locally sourced food flavours, including Key lime, coconut, Madagascar vanilla crème brûlée and Florida demerara sugar, sourced by US chef, Paul Menta to create rums that are as much made in the kitchen as they are the distillery. As he says: “One common task shared by rum distillers and chefs alike is cooking sugar cane in big kettles or stills. We are chefs first and distillers second.”

Bad Bitch Spanish Marie Rum is aged in Burgundy and Bordeaux oak barrels and then salt-cured in barrels at the distillery. The combine for a mouthfeel or red wine tannins with a rich, smooth finish and a note of caramel.

Key West Raw & Unfiltered Rum is aged in new US oak barrels and salt-cured at the distillery to create a rum with fig, plum and vanilla and notes of pepper and salt.

Diablesse Rum

Distributor: Ten Locks

Diablesse Rum is a female-owned Caribbean rum brand that looks to create unique blends and flavours and is working with Ten Locks, the Manchester based spirits importer, and part of the wider Kingsland Drinks group, on distributing its Diablesse Caribbean Golden Rum (40% abv), a blend of rums from a number of different distilleries including: Four Square Distillery in Barbados; a four year old Jamaican rum from Worthy Park; a three year old Demerara rum from Enmore Coffey still in Guyana, that has been rum from its wooden still since 1830. It is aged in American Oak ex-bourbon barrels resulting in flavours of banana, butterscotch and fruitcake, with tropical fruit and peppery oak notes.

Diablesse Clementine Spiced Rum (40% abv) claims to be the clementine spiced rum in the world. It’s made from 100% single origin Demerara rum from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana.

The Salford Rum Company

Distributor: Ten Locks

The Salford Rum Company is the local rum company that has joined the Ten Locks growing spirits range. It specialises in creating small batch golden and dark spiced rums that are distilled, blended and bottled close to the Manchester’s Salford Docks. They include: Salford Original Spiced Rum (40% abv), with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and dried Caribbean fruits; and Salford Dark Spice Rum (40% abv) a dark rum with notes of vanilla, coconut, burnt caramel and cloves.

Mezcal

Banhez Mezcal

Distributor: Ten Locks

Will 2021 finally be the year that mezcal lives up to its hype. Ten Locks hopes so as it has taken on a Fairtrade Banhez Mezcal from a family co-operative in Ejutla, Mexico. From sowing agave seeds to bottling each expression, every step in the process is completed by a Banhez family member of the Co-op. It is made up of 90% Espadín and 10% Barril agaves to create a mild, floral and fruity mezcal with notes of pineapple and banana. Seen as a good introduction to the mezcal category it also works well in cocktails.