Monday, February 27, 2012

Kiwi Treasure Trove #2- Lighthouse Gin

A shining light for gin drinkers - Lighthouse Gin
It's 11am and 27 degrees outside. The perfect time then to drink some warm gin. The tipple I've poured myself today is Lighthouse Gin - another fantastic award winning spirit that harks from New Zealand shores.

Produced in Greytown - about 75 kilometers out of Wellington - Lighthouse is a classic distilled dry gin batch produced in a 200L copper pot still made in Masterton.  The spirit is produced by Greytown Fine Distillates - the brainchild of Neil Catherall, the company’s distiller and master craftsman, and Andrew Wright, a local businessman and distiller James Graham.

Lighthouse Gin, named after the late 19th century cast-iron Cape Palliser Lighthouse on the southernmost tip of the North Island, combines nine different botanicals including zesty New Zealand navel oranges, Yen Ben lemons (an Australasian cultivar not dissimilar to the Lisbon lemon) and local kawa kawa leaves (they have bitter peppery/minty flavour that I enjoy when bush walking back in NZ).

Juniper,  slightly soapy corriander seed and pithy orange citrus dominate the nose, but there is an underlying spiciness of warm ginger, black pepper and floral oris root too. On the palate this gin proves to be incredibly well poised with it's resinous and spicy qualities giving way to a lingering, tingling, zesty tang. The spirit has a generous viscosity with a smooth release of alcoholic heat that belies it's 42% abv strength.

It's excellent in a G&T with lemon, not lime. And after testing proves to stand up well in classic gin cocktails like Aviations and Negronis.

In short, I reckon the folks from Lighthouse have done a bang tidy job on this one. Go to NZ and buy yourself a bottle or easier still check them out online.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

$8 Million Liquor Cabinet

World's largest old liquor collection includes over 5,000 bottles dating from 1789

Do you want a liquor cabinet to make Eau De Vie's groaning shelves look amateur? Do you want to be the envy of every liquor connoisseur in the world and sip on Cognac from the 1789 - the year of the French Revolution and the inauguration of George Washington?

Well your time is now. If you happen to have a spare $8 million dollars (in US pesos) lying around. A Netherlands national by the name of Bay van der Bunt is claiming that he owns the world's largest old liquor collection  - over 5,000 bottles of rare antique Cognacs, Armagnac, whisky, port and Madeira - and he's willing to sell.

Bay van der Bunt is a third generation collector

 63 years of age Van der Bunt, who doesn't touch a drop himself, has dedicated his life to massing his collection, but as he has no children with which to pass on this precious liquid inheritance.
“So sadly, I have to let it go,” he said with a sense of remorse.
“Over the last 35 years, I frequented worldwide auctions like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. I bought from famous restaurants like Maxim’s and La Tour d’Argent in Paris and Le Cirque in New York when they thinned-out their cellars. Some cognacs even belonged to the estate of the Duke of Windsor,” Van der Bunt added.
Van der Bunt notes that it would take generations to build up a collection of this like again having been passed on the collection himself from his father and his grandfather before him. 
“My grandfather had hundreds of bottles which my father passed on to me, so collecting is something I have grown up with,” explained Van Der Bunt. 

Van der Bunt has never had any intention of selling the collection which he has been sharing with the world via his website for the past 10 years. Age has forced him to reconsider though he's hoping that the collection will find its way into the hands of a similarly passionate collector as many of the bottles are the last of their kind in existence. 

Many bottles are the last remaining in the world

“Collecting cognacs and old liquors was very time consuming and cost a fortune, but it proves to be the best financial investment I have ever made,” concludes Van der Bunt.

For more in formation about the sale visit Surely this one is for you Mr Sven Almemning!?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kiwi Treasure Trove #1- Herradura Antiguo 1870

I enjoy every trip back to NZ. The weather is lousy, there's nobody around and invariably everything is shut because it's a public holiday. I do however always manage to find a fair bit of loot and this Christmas holiday proved no different.

Herradura Antiguo 1870
This year I grabbed a bottle of tequila - one that's a rare find on Australian shores. It's not a new product to me - rather the bottle of Herradura Antiguo 1870 I came across is a piece of nostalgia for me. It had me reminiscing about those wild nights I used to have as a younger bartender. I used to annoy the shit out of older bartenders in Auckland. Now I irritate bartenders old and young alike in Sydney with ridiculous orders - like London's Calling I got Christian Blair to make me a Eau De Vie last night.

Anyhow I digress. I first came across this delicious reposado at a cracking wee bar called Tabac - it was their house pour. The bar is still there though it has been years since I've visited so I cannot attest to it's ongoing excellence or whether the still pour this beaut. But they poured plenty down my throat back in the day.

According to Hancock's who distribute and market Brown-Forman's Brands in NZ the Antiguo 1870 was released in 1995 to commemorate 125 years of Tequila Herradura. It's also meant to be a replica of the tequila that Casa Herradura was producing in 1924. It is rested in pipones for four months. At any rate, if you manage to pick up a bottle (it only costs 53 NZ Pesos or $41 AUD) you'll enjoy sweet agave and poached pear on the nose with fragrant cinnamon, vanilla and dried garden herbs. The palate's initial agave sweetness is is voided by a dry and complex mid-palate with plenty of savouriness as you'd expect from the valle de Tequila. Enjoy lingering black pepper, olive and minty notes from this well balanced drop.

If you enjoy it as much as I do you'll start pestering your Brown-Forman contact to get it brought into Australia. Unlike the last test match or Rugby World Cup, New Zealand having a better selection of booze is one thing you don't have to live with.