FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Life’s finer things sometimes have dubious origins. Such is the case with Springbank Distillery’s whiskies, originally produced from an illicit still run in Campbeltown, on the southwest coast of Scotland. The enterprise begun by Archibald Mitchell achieved legitimacy in 1828 and has remained in the family since.

The distillery’s medium-peated, honey-colored whiskies have delighted both collectors and casual imbibers for nearly two centuries with their strength, clarity, and complexity. The Springbank 1967 40-Year-Old Malt Whisky showcases these qualities in excelsis. The texture is luxuriously thick, even oily, and the nose erupts with a tropical effusion of coconut, mango, and pineapple tempered by soft nutmeg spice and a hint of smoke. The lush fruitiness enlivens the palate, yet dissolves in a mist of soft, smoky brine.

Duncan Taylor & Co. will offer only 15 bottles to the U.S. market. Each comes in a collector’s box with a miniature tasting bottle of the spirit and an engraved glass. ($2,500) www.preissimports.com

When Antoine Jaboulet established himself as a wine grower and merchant in 1834, he founded one of France’s great viticultural dynasties. The firm became Paul Jaboulet Aîné when one of Antoine’s twin sons succeeded him, naming the firm for himself.

The long chain of family succession ended in 2005, when the family, confronted with heavy inheritance taxes, sold the company to Jean-Jacques Frey, owner of Château la Lagune in Bordeaux. Nevertheless, the Jaboulets remain involved, and the tradition of powerfully elegant wines persists. The Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes Hermitage Domaine Raymond Roure 2005, for instance, is a graceful orchestration of depth and detail. Added to the Jaboulet portfolio in 1996, the Raymond Roure vineyard is planted with Syrah vines that range in age from 40 to 60 years. The excellent growing conditions of the 2005 vintage have coaxed from these vines an elixir redolent of black cherry, lavender, leather, and licorice. And the finish, long and sweet, is reminiscent of dried herbes de provence. ($60) www.frederickwildman.com

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