OLD WORLD SPIRITS GOLDRUN RYE
Old World Spirits, a small gem of a distillery just south of San Francisco in Belmont, produces a whole line of winners, from California-spirited Blade Gin and its aged counterpart, Rusty Blade, to the lushly spiced Kuchan Nocino black walnut liqueur. New release Goldrun Rye is the right gift for whiskey fans. K&L Wine Merchants (www.klwines.com) is stocking some of the first bottles available of this long-anticipated rye.
With an Old West label, the Gold Rush-inspired rye whiskey calls up warm cereal and whispers of molasses and caramel; it's smooth enough to convert bourbon drinkers to the spiced pleasures of rye, the "other" American whiskey. Unlike many ryes, the spice doesn't overwhelm. Rather, it tastes as a fresh as just-baked loaf of rye bread.
In my recent travels through Scotland, I sampled a brand new Scottish gin called Caorunn, pronounced "ka-roon." (Scottish gin? We're seeing more, like Bruichladdich's Botanist and Darnley's Gin, made in England but with Scottish connections). Besides employing typical London dry style botanicals like juniper, Caorunn goes a different direction with Scottish ingredients like heather, dandelion, rowan berry, bog myrtle, and Coul blush apple (a total of six traditional and five Celtic botanicals make up the gin).
Despite its traditional roots, Caorunn plays against type with rosy apple notes, a crisp body, and dry finish. For gin lovers, it's a slightly different take. In experimenting at home, I find it works best with rustic apple juice, bringing out a vivacious fall spirit evocative of the gorgeous Scottish Highlands in which it is made (it's distilled at Balmenach Distillery).
Bonus ideas: Any or all of the three stunning new gins from St. George's will warm their hearts. Art in the Age (a Philadeliphia-based company that created Root and Snap liqueurs, www.artintheage.com) just released Rhuby, a spirit based on 1700s American rhubarb tea recipes, made from rhubarb, beets, carrots, lemon, petitgrain, cardamom, pink peppercorn, coriander, vanilla, and pure cane sugar. And stay tuned for my palate-pleasing Scotch gift suggestions on the Pixel Vision blog.
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