Summer's Simple Pleasures
In the final throes of summer, light, simple cocktails are clamored for. These two vodkas—one from Poland, the other Ireland—easily make that possible with their versatility. An eco-minded tequila and Southeast Asian rum also invite breezy creativity. To acclimate to autumn’s cooler temps, there are two Scotches and one special rye. Soothing, on-the-rocks digestifs are reveled in courtesy of a bitter Italian liqueur
Triple Grain American Oak
Experimentation is at the forefront of the limited edition Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch series. First up is the Triple Grain American Oak, which mingles malts from the Mortlach and Cardhu distilleries with wheat, barley, and corn whiskies. Aged for a minimum of 10 years, its gentle jolts of vanilla and spice provide an inviting backdrop for cocktails like the Rob Roy.
Bats might be shunned mammals, but they are crucial to pollinating the agave that births tequila. That is why single-estate Tequila Ocho is partaking in a bat-friendly pilot program to aid the endangered species, allowing at least 5 percent of its agave plants to fully flower and store the sugar that bats need to thrive. The first vintage release from the 2016 Puerta del Aire estate, made with 100 percent blue agave, is now available
Straw Boys Irish Vodka
Ireland may be synonymous with whiskey, but Connacht Distillery, in the western part of the country, is also turning its attention to vodka. Spawned from farm-fresh wheat, Straw Boys Irish Vodka is distilled in copper pot stills. It starts off subtly sweet with vanilla, and then segues into orange peel. Let it steal the spotlight in a Gimlet.
Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey
Those who like their bourbon with a more powerful burst of spicy rye have long turned to Basil Hayden. Now they might want to reach for its sibling, Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey. This limited-edition expression stars four-year-old traditional rye that was further aged in newly charred quarter cask oak barrels for seven years. The “re-barreled” rye then joins with Kentucky straight rye for results that are rife with brown sugar and caramel.
Poland Select Wodka
The cluttered vodka landscape makes room for another fast-growing import: Poland Select Wodka. Clean and crisp, with hints of mint and herbs, it’s distilled six times from 100 percent rye at the Polmos Bielsko-Biala distillery. Try it in an alfresco Martini.
In the late 19th century, Papa Isio was a tireless leader championing for Filipino freedom from the Spanish. This revolutionary is the inspiration behind Don Papa, a Philippines-made rum from the sugarcane and volcanic soil–laden island of Negros. With a backbone of “noble cane” sugarcane, it’s aged for up to seven years in American oak barrels, eliciting vanilla, honey, and candied fruits that are welcome in an Old Fashioned riff.
Remote Jura, off the West Coast of Scotland, is a rugged island with only some 200 inhabitants. Here, Jura Whisky has been making Scotch since 1810. Its latest incarnation: Jura 10, boldly brings together both peated and unpeated whiskies that are first aged for a decade in American white oak bourbon barrels, then finished in aged Oloroso sherry casks. Mildly smoky, its notes of fruit, coffee, and ginger make it a prime sipper for whisky converts.
Close to Turin—the birthplace of the aperitivo—Maraschi e Quirici distillers fittingly produces the liqueur Galliano L’Aperitivo. Comprised of 50 ingredients, including bitter bergamot, grapefruit, and tangerine sourced from Italy’s Alpine region, the bittersweet quencher plays well with Prosecco or as an alternative to Campari in a Negroni.