Past Finds

We write regularly about rare spirits we've uncovered, which you'll see below. These updates are posted a bit after they're sent to our mailing list, ensuring dedicated customers get first option to purchase rarities. If you'd like to get on the list, please do—and feel free to contact us with specific requests.

Braulio; The Peloni Family’s Alpine Amaro of Bormio


F. Peloni “Braulio” Liquore Alpino of Bormio (Lombardy)
1000ml, 21% ABV, 1960’s

The Peloni distillery of Bormio (northern Lombardy) was officially incorporated in 1875. While their initial production centered around grappa it was the alpine amaro Braulio that they are most recognized for. The original recipe dates back to 1826 when brand patriarch and local pharmacist Francesco Peloni experimented with maceration of local herbs.man_camoscio

Formulated to cure various digestive disturbances. Only four of the herbs that are used in its preparation are known, two of which are strains of Artemisia. From the earliest years of the last century, the Peloni family dedicated itself passionately to the systematic study of officinal herbs.

In 1936 Francesco’s son Attilio authored the book “In Herbis Salus” (Health in herbs). Full of antique botanical tables, gauging guides and maceration rates the book remains a seminal work in historical amaro production.

The Peloni family remained steadfast in their production even through the implosion of the Italian bitters market in the 1980’s. Eventually sold to CassoniBraulio_Francesco-Peloni in 1999 it was then acquired by Groupo Campari in 2014. Edoardo Tarantola, with his father Egidio, carry on the family tradition remaining faithful to the family’s passion for mountain herbs and flowers with production still taking place in the Peloni factory of Bormio.

Production up until the late 1990’s did vary quite a bit from current production. Braulio was formally aged in the subterranean cellars beneath the street of Bormio for in excess of 3 years, a length that is now reserved for its more recent vintage “reserve” expression. In addition all of its botanicals were sourced from with in the Retiche Alps on a yearly basis which allowed it to protect product integrity and cap production. The bottles have benefited from both of these former habits and was manufactured under the watchful eye of Attilio Peloni.

Karuizawa; The Spirit of Asama


Karuizawa “Spirit of Asama”
Dist. 1999/2000 Btl. 2012
750ml, 55% ABV

Amidst the backdrop of Mount Asama, which straddles both prefectures of Gunma and Nagano, once lived arguably the finest whiskey distillery Japan ever had. Like the properties of Yoichi and Yamazaki Kaurizawa dates back to the sake business of the early 1900’s. In 1934 Suzuki Chuji, son of the founder of the Ajinomoto brand, founded the Showa Brewing with in his father’s brand. By 1955 Suzuki had constructed his distillery to supplement the companies sake production.karuizawa

Well capitalized and under sound management Suzuki didn’t release the first of his whiskies until 1976. Fueled by ample snow melt from Mt. Asama and taking advantage of cool year round climate the distillery used small copper pot stills for distillation. Stored in smaller barrels, going down to quarter casks, the storehouse of Karuizawa was also covered in ivy, which is said to have assisted in keeping the temperature and humidity at exactly the right levels.

The next 35 years were times of expansion, especially that of wine as the Ocean and Mercian brands came under the umbrella of Ajinomoto. Even after expanding into production of bottled fizzes and highballs in the 1970’s and 1980’s Karuizawa’s production was never expanded nor compromised.

In 1990 the company’s name was changed to Mercian and even still the Suzuki family owned the majority of shares. In 1997, however, the company was reworked and improved before being acquired as a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings in the mid-2000s. Although the shareholders are different, the company itself remains largely unchanged from its Ajinomoto origins. But Kirin could not sustain the premium whisky production, so the Karuizawa distillery and its sister distillery at Kawasaki closed in 2011.

karuizawa3 DSC_1630

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Kaurizawa’s stills prior to their dismantel and sale in early 2012 (left). Storehouse of Kaurizawa in 2010. Note the stacking of barrels rarely exceeds 3 high to optomize humidity and tempature. A pratice rarely seen in the U.S. but one also embraced by Nikka’s Miyagikyo distillery outside of Sendai (right).

Suzuki’s patience and innovation, previously unseen in Japanese whiskey production, paid off ten fold as this small distillery was quickly recognized for its excellent distillate. Noted for their floral scent, sherry influence, and exceptional maturity, remaining bottles are extremely sought-after (many will exceed $10,000 in secondary and tertiary markets for single vintage releases). The “Spirit of Asama” bottlings allow consumers to taste the house style of Karuizawa from barrels (some 77) blended during some of the final years of production.

Amaro Ferrol of Brescia 1970’s

Ferrol Amaro, Ferrol of Brescia (Lombardy)
30% ABV, 1970’s in 1000ml

Driven by Felice Bisleri’s 1894 success with Ferro-China, Mazzoleni De’Stefani began his own production in 1910 under the name “Ferrol Mazzoleni”. Adding an L to Ferro Etichette Bresciahe created his own style, and brand, of a medium amaro with the inclusion of iron salts at a higher ABV of 30%.

Loaded with chincona bark and red fruit the brand met with great success averaging over 100,000 liters in domestic sales in its early years. By 1921 Mazzoleni expanded his production at a new facility and under the guidence of his attorney Antonio Verzura he recieves UTIF license no. 1 in Brescia and shortens the brand to simply Ferrol. Til its closure in 1983 Ferrol produced syrups, bitters, brandy, sour cherries and vermouth American, touted by the eagle clawing a shield with stars and stripes.

This was a fantastic product and is often labeled as a carbon copy of Bisleri’s production. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, Mazzoleni had expounded upon exisiting techniques to make a far richer style.

 

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill 19 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon

2976680457_c2fd983023_mConsidered the first (founded in 1842) and one of the finest indepedent bottlers in Scotland Cadenhead’s is widely known for their bottles of scotch whisky and rum. Their American whiskey releases, namely from Heaven Hill, are much more limited and very rarely make it back to the United States.

The bottle below was barreled in 1997 and aged in Scotland with in the city limits of Campbeltown in southwestern Scotland. The majority of these selections are sold directly from their retail outlets. This bottle is a wonderful example of long term aging in a climate with protective humidity and annual tempatures that don’t reach the seasonal extremes present in Kentucky

IMG_3971
Cadenhead’s World Whiskies
Heaven Hill “Individual Cask” 19 Years Old
Bottled 2/2016
700ml, 57.7% ABV
1 of 150

Caroni “Sinob” 1997 Trinidad Rum, Creative Whiskey Bottling.

Founded in 1923 Caroni was one of some 50 distilleries that were operating on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. As the industry began to implode only 8 or so survived up into the 1950’s. A large supplier to the British Royal Navy for their rums Caroni continued Caroni-Distillery-1to operate with its native molasses as the base til 2000. By 2002 the distillery was shut down after a final sale to Angostura, the last remaining distillery in Trinidad and Tobago.

With the the exception of certain Velier, Gargano and Silver Seal bottlings it is very rare to find a Caroni rum in the market that was made from Trinidad molasses, not secondaried with additional sugar, and at its original cask strength. The higher sulfur of Trinidad soil gave the sugar cane and in turn the molasses and rum the distinctive flavor that people sought out for so many years.

IMG_3972

Caroni “Sinob” Rum
Creative Whiskey Company
Cask #73
Distilled 1997
Bottled 2015
700ml, 57.9% ABV