With a view to the fact that we spend the majority of our careers judging mainstream spirit brands while coveting everything else from the small-batch and downright weird, welcome to ‘Booze Porn’. The unique, the boutique and the downright bloody amazing.

BP#3: A 40yo deceased single grain, handmade tobalá mezcal, authentic dry curacao, one sexy Guatemalan rum and a gin set to redefine a category.


 

The Cally 40yoThe Cally 40yo – 1974, Single Grain Whisky (53.3% vol)

In a flashback to a world when the words ‘single malt’ conjured images of a tea biscuit, this 40 year-old single grain Scotch hails from the old Caledonian Distillery in Edinburgh, which has been closed since 1988. Nicknamed “The Cally” by those who knew it best, the Caledonian specialised in grain whiskies and lived to see it’s 100th birthday just three years before closing it’s doors for redevelopment as residential flats. Still holding status as the largest distillery ever made in Scotland, The Cally employed around 200 people to help generate some 2 millions gallons of grain spirit a year. While little remains of the distillery grounds the huge 200 meter tall brick chimney stack remains a local landmark today.

As for the whisky, it’s spent 40 years in oak (distilled in 1974) before being bottled at the cask strength of 53.3% ABV. Limited to only 5060 bottles, The Cally 40yo comes with a humble price tag of around £750.00 (USD$1128.00). On the nose it’s a tropical nutty aroma with a touch of cooked caramel and molassis. When tasted it delivers a clean almost young bite with a long finish of warm bark spices, vanilla and dates.

Simply put, it’s liquid history in a bottle. A dram from the heart of the Scottish capital which doesn’t conform to modern-day regional interpretation and harks back to a time when a single malt was but a bi-word. I’ll take two.

[Visit: masterofmalt.com]

[Buy Online HERE]

 


 

 

tobala-bottle-7in

Marca Negra Tobalá, Mezcal (47.6 vol)

For any tequila lover it’s only a matter of time until you start getting absorbed into the dynamic world of mezcal. In a category not limited to only one species of agave but any one of 30 from any one of eight different provinces in Mexico, mezcal is quickly becoming the artisanal spirit of the modern drinker. Century’s old hand-made practices and principles are still adhered to and terroir plays a major role. None of which is lost on the Marca Negra distillery located in the highlands of Oaxaca.

Bottling a range of four mezcal which encapsulate exceptional single and blended distillates from seven different varieties of agave plant, the Marca Negra Tobalá is distilled purely from the small Agave potatorum (aka tobalá) species which produces a more robust spirit from a piña roughly 1/8th the size of the common blue or espedin variety.

With a host of international gold medals under her belt, this mezcal is harvested by hand from wild grown highland tobalá before being cooked in traditional stone pits giving her a rich smoky flavour. Once cooked the now sugar enriched piñas are crushed by an age old stone wheel (‘tahona’) pulled by an almost equally old donkey (can’t back that up). After being naturally fermented the agave wine is doubled distilled in a small 400lt copper pot still before bottled at a bold 47.6% ABV from a single batch of only 1,250 bottles.

Each single variety of Marca Negra mezcal (aka ‘Mano Negra’) is sourced from a different micro distiller in Mexico and marked by the black hand print of the respective master distiller for each. Rarely do spirits represent more integrity or providence than this. As for flavour…just try it.

[Visit: marcanegra.com]

[Buy Online HERE]

 


 

S&O Orange Curacao - Trans 2

English ‘Dry’ Curacao, Liqueur (24% vol)

For those cocktail enthusiasts or barfly purists among us, this entirely hand-made English Curacao harks back to the days when bars were better known as ‘coffee houses’ or ‘gin joints’ and fruit liqueurs were macerated in house by the bartenders to mixed them best.

Wrapped in page reprints of the worlds earliest cocktail book published in 1962 (‘How To Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion’), the recipe for this ‘dry’ curacao is inspired by the writings of legendary bartender Jerry “The Professor” Thomas and delivers an orange liqueur with zero additives and almost half the sugar-by-volume of standard market curacao’s. Most notably is the compounded whisky base which not only perfectly balances the aromatic orange notes but adds a long spicy finish more commonly associated with a mature spirit.

Trading under the name ‘Smoke & Oakum’, English Curacao is the brainchild of Kiwi cocktail bartender Ben Simpson who is perhaps better known for his beautifully packaged Gunpowder Rum (a blend of rums macerated with peppers, calumet ‘tobacco’ and traditional black gunpowder). All bottles are filled in reused 50cl spirits bottles from the producers local bar Ancestral and as such, come in a variety of shapes and designs. With no added preservatives of any kind all bottles include a filling date on the label and are advised to be treated as you would a fine bottle of port or vermouth.

With rumors of a navy strength gunpowder gin in the works, it’s clear that Smoke & Oakum is only just getting started while clearly outlining themselves as a brand to watch in 2016.

[Visit: gunpowderrum]

[Buy Online HERE]

 


Botran 75b Anniversary rum

Botran 75th Anniversary, Rum (45% vol)

Celebrating their 75th anniversary, Guatemalan based rum brand Botran & Co have released a commemorative bottling in collaboration with French design agency Appartement 103.

Distilled by the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, the same distillery responsible for Ron Zacapa, Casa Botran holds a Protected Designation of Origin status in recognition of the rums unique characteristic which is directly influenced by the local terroir, climate and communities which have been a part of it for over seven decades.

A beautiful piece of packaging surrounding a rum of equal quality and heritage. Each box comes with a 50cl bottle of private family reserve blended from a solera of between 5-30 year old rums from barrels incorporating a collection of ex bourbon, sherry, port and red wine casks. In addition to the main bottling comes two miniature 5cl vials of a heavily spiced and citrus rums in suggestion of further blending. A pipette and explanatory leaflet completes the set adding more than just quality but discovery to anyone able to get their hands on a pack.

Clearly a budget well spent, the label is further inlaid with gold heat-foil typography, embossed family stamp, individual numbering and a hand etched message stating “Distilled, aged and bottled in Guatemala” on every bottle. With only 9972 available and a price yet to be confirmed, this is an item for the collector inside us all.

[Visit: botranrums.com]

[Buy Online TBC]

 


 

Daffys Gin

Daffys Small-Batch, Gin (43.4% vol)

In a new world with more craft beer, small-batch coffee and boutique gin companies than bearded bartenders, it take’s a lot for a new brand to truly stand out. Embodying the very definition of understated, Daffy’s Small-Batch Premium Gin is an infusion of more than just botanicals but quality in every detail.

Daffy's Rob McGinnis Poster Mockup

Daffy’s / Rob McGinnis Poster Mockup (authors own impression)

Beginning with the basics, Daffy’s is a 43.4% ABV copper pot distilled London dry gin made from 8 core botanicals. When listing the ingredients in Daffy’s, it reads more of a veritable world tour of organic farms. Juniper from Greece, bitter and sweet lemons from Italy and orange peel from Spain to Flemish angelica root, Malaysian Cassia Bark, Moroccon orris root and even Lebanese wild mint from the vineyard of the distillers own father in law. Even the neutral grain spirit is fermented and distilled under a controlled license before shipping to Scotland where the final botanicals are macerated for up to four days as opposed to the usual four or less hours of other brands.

But it’s in the distillation where the gin’s true character stands out. Utilising a ‘slow cook’ distillation process commonly associated with rotary-evaporators, the final rectification takes just under ten hours a single batch – more than twice the industry average. The result is a hugely aromatic botanical release with a prolonged palate yet omitting the burn commonly associated with other big flavoured gins.

The bottle is 100% recyclable yet made from Milanese crystal while the complicated glass fired artwork is designed by famous pinup artist Robert McGinnis (of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, James Bond and Barberella fame). It’s perhaps unsurprising then to learn that the master behind it all is Chris Molyneaux, a globally established Master Distiller who has spent the majority of his career producing spirits for some of the world’s largest powerhouse brands. And with already a gold medal awarded earlier this year at the coveted International Wine and Spirits Competition, there’s not much left to say for Daffy’s except buy it, drink it and enjoy it.

[Visit: daffysgin.com]

[Buy Online HERE]

 


SEE ALSO: Booze Porn #2 – One badass Torino amaro, award-winning Dutch rye, 11yo tequila, 50yo Mizunara oaked whisky and a pre Phylloxera bottle of Saz.