Spirits Power Rankings: Week 1
I love looking at ESPN’s weekly power rankings to see where the Giants rank among the league’s best, or where the 49ers stand in the eyes of the NFL experts. I’ve noticed that some other publications are using this format to start ranking television shows, tourist destinations, and just about anything else. I thought it would be fun to start a weekly power rankings for the booze department here at K&L so you guys can know which products are hot, which are new, which are moving fast, and which ones you might want to take a look at. The rankings are based on sales, demand, customer interest, restaurant/bar usage, and general hype within the industry. It will not include mass market stuff like Glenlivet 12 or Grey Goose. With my new buying duties I seem to have less time to launch into the more descriptive articles I am used to writing, so this is a good way to keep you up to date with the available time I have. So then, let’s get to it.
1. Clear Creek Cranberry Liqueur $26.99 – I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? A cranberry flavored liqueur is the hottest thing going right now at K&L? The short answer: YES! I’ve sold 16 bottles in the last day. I’ve been waiting for almost four months for this product to arrive after tasting it at the distillery over the summer (see previous Clear Creek blog). Here’s why it’s so amazing: it’s not overly sweet, but rather tart and juicy like real cranberry juice is. It tastes incredible just out of the glass, but you can add tonic water, soda water, lime soda, gin, vodka, tequila, or just about anything. I’ve been experimenting like crazy with different concoctions and everything I’ve made tastes insanely good. This is something you will plow through in about two days and will need to constantly keep re-purchasing. Can you imagine how much better your cosmos will taste? I have a feeling this is going to be a tough product to unseat at number one, especially with me telling every customer about it.
2. Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Whisky $79.99 – Ever since the price dropped on this dram it’s been flying out the door like crazy, and rightly so. I think it’s the best malt in the world at the moment and so do the critics who named it the World Whisky of the Year for 2009. It was a good deal at $100, but now that it’s 20 bucks cheaper, everyone’s getting their’s while the getting’s good. Rich peaty goodness from Islay.
3. North Shore Gin No. 11 $31.99 – I call it the best gin I have ever tasted, but I don’t have very much clout in the spirits world just yet, so that doesn’t mean much to most people. If you like juniper, this is ultra-juniper gin with so much grace that it almost makes my eyes water (with joy). The only gin I can drink straight out of the bottle and enjoy every succulent drop. It seems to have found a home here on the SF Peninsula where the locals seem to agree with me.
4. Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambery $13.99 – Did you know that there was a French DOC for vermouth? Well, now you do and it’s because of Dolin vermouth that it has one (est. 1932 after Dolin won numerous medals world wide). The blanc has pretty much killed all other vermouth sales since it’s arrival. It’s delicate, floral, and somewhat nutty flavor is so much better than its contemporaries that it’s hard to imagine ever drinking any other dry vermouth again. That’s partly because it’s 85% actual quality wine.
5. Vintage 17 Year Bourbon $79.99 – I’m still floored by this whiskey every night when I go home and have a glass of it (not passing out, but rather astonished). It’s simply elegance in a glass. So mellow and integrated are the flavors and the heat is like a small flame on the horizon. Rich barrel flavors of toffee and spice linger on the palate and the velvety texture from 17 years in a barrel makes the price seem foolish. This is the same price as the Pappy 15 year and I think it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better. My co-workers love it as well and have been quick to tell others.
6. La Cava del Mayoral Tequila Blanco $36.99 – This tequila never even hit the shelf because I bought all of it when it first arrived for family gifts. It is one of the most amazing blancos I have ever tasted with its soft alcohol and vibrant, zesty floral agave aromas. So impressive you almost have to look around to make sure you’re not imagining it. It’s going to be a huge hit for us once I let someone besides myself actually have a bottle. It has definitely unseated Arette as my new go-to tequila.
7. Rittenhouse Rye 100 pf $19.99 – Rumors of a shortage have definitely sparked sales at all of our stores. The Rittenhouse is the staple whiskey for every good bar in the country. Its quality to price performance is unmatched by any other American product. Now that they might run out for a while people are getting squeamish. It’s moving quickly. Better enjoy the quality Manhattans and Old Fashioneds while you can.
8. Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka $26.99 – I don’t know what it is about this vodka, but people go freaking crazy for it. I can’t keep it on the shelf and I’m sure as heck not buying it for myself. The Polish producers apparently insert a blade of bison grass into the bottle and let its potent flavor macerate into the spirit. A unique flavor that I guess must be popular at all of the bars I do not visit.
9. Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette Liqueur $25.99 – I’m so excited that this product made the list and it’s been a long time pushing for me to build enthusiasm. I love classic cocktails and I love how this liqueur from the French Alps mixes with fresh lemon juice. If you haven’t made a Blue Moon or a real Aviation, then you need to email me and get the recipe. My fiancée has made it a permanent part of her daily diet, as have others apparently. So nice to see you on the top 10, Violette!
10. Highland Park 8 Year Single Malt Whisky, Gordon & McPhail $34.99 – Our WhiskyFest selection has finally taken off. I’ve been drowning myself in this malt as of late, and now the hype has spread. It is rich, slightly sweet, with golden fruit, honey, and just a touch of peat. Highland Park makes great whisky and this is fantastic deal on a precocious youngster. I can see this dram sneaking up to maybe number five by next week.
Honorable Mentions: McCarthy’s Single Malt Whiskey, Germain-Robin Old Havana Brandy, High West Rendezvous Rye, Don Pilar Tequila