IN CHINESE TRADITION, THE NUMBER 18 IS CONSIDERED BOTH LUCKY AND ASSOCIATED WITH GETTING RICH. YOU MIGHT HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO SAMPLE THESE AGED WONDERS, BUT WHAT PRICE, BLISS?
BY EVAN MONROE
KIRK & SWEENEY 18 YEAR OLD RUM
Named after a wooden schooner that was infamous for smuggling rum from the Caribbean to America during Prohibition, Kirk & Sweeney is crafted in the Dominican Republic from raw sugar cane, then aged for its full run of years in American oak casks, which results in a wonderfully iridescent amber spirit. The initial aroma is one of toasted bread and dried fruit, but on the palate, hints of honey give way to vanilla and almond and finally to sweet plum. The neck of each bottle is hand inscribed with a batch and bottle designation, and even the safety seal is printed to look like maritime brass. The nautical e ort is, according to 35 Maple Street Distillery President August Sebastiani, “a reminder of the risk so many were willing to take for a good taste of rum during the 1920s.” $47.99
LOCK STOCK & BARREL 18 YEAR STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY
Seemingly the bastard child of artisanal attention, and one that rarely gets put aside in casks beyond a few years, rye actually benefits enormously from age its arguably harsher points mellowing into a creamy, tobacco–meets gingerbread flavor. The third release in the special edition Lock Stock & Barrel series from The Cooper Spirits Company (the others 13 and 16 years old), this wonder is distilled from a rare mash of 100 percent rye grain. A “robust cut” is selected by master distillers, then the unfiltered spirit is aged in cold conditions in charred American Oak barrels. Grain is sourced from Canada’s Alberta Distillers Ltd., and the results are bottled at a robust 109 proof. Explosively flavorful and intense, yet balanced with notes of buttered shortbread, peach, walnuts, and honeydew. Just lovely. $230
THE SINGLETON OF GLENDULLAN SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
In Du town, Scotland, self described as “The Whisky Capital of the World,” Glendullan was founded by William Williams and his sons in 1898, their distillery “decreed” by King Edward VII in 1902. It’s a workhorse, putting out 1.1 million gallons per year among several labels. This 18 year, along with younger expressions from the Singleton lineup (a 15 and a 12 year), was released in the U.S. in 2016, to sadly underreported acclaim. With notes of chocolate, honey, and almond, this Speyside single malt is matured using mostly American oak bourbon barrels and bottled at 40% ABV. As the most mature of the Glendullan stable, deep and smoky yet sweet fruit dances throughout. $100
FUENTESECA RESERVA EXTRA AÑEJO TEQUILA 18 AÑOS
The Fuenteseca sees a lot of action in its maturation process. A blend of tequilas distilled in copper double column stills and copper alembic stills, it was initially aged for six years at an elevation of 4,600 feet in Atotonilco el Alto (a municipality of Jalisco in central western Mexico) in white oak casks previously used for Canadian rye. e results were then extracted, blended, and re barreled, with some (47%) going into Canadian white oak barrels, the rest into European oak barrels previously used to age California red wine. Both types were moved to the cooler climate of El Chapingo for twelve more years of aging, with the final product bottled at 43.5% ABV.
To say the results are smooth would be a howling understatement; the nose offers agave and cognac pears, and the palate is blessed with notes of toffee and brown sugar. One of the more unique expressions of aged agave a cionados will ever encounter, and, yes, that uniqueness costs! $599