Host Guide: Holiday Spirits: White on White

  • James Y. Bartlett

Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
Although the company producing Martin Miller’s has been in existence only since 1999, it employs what is said to be England’s oldest copper still. However, the secret of this smooth, well-rounded gin is the pure glacial water from Selyri Spring in Iceland. Just enough juniper notes shine through at the end.

42 Below Vodka
Made in New Zealand (below the 42nd parallel), this spirit is twice distilled in an eight-column still and washed once with pure glacial water before the final distillation occurs. Using the finest Kiwi winter wheat, this is practically an organic vodka that surpasses the best Scandinavian brands. It exhibits a light taste of aniseed, but overall the smoothness shines through.

Old Raj Dry Gin
Saffron is one of the botanicals infused in this fine English-made gin. The spice not only gives this spirit its slight yellow tint but adds a distinctive taste. Full-bodied, this is a great martini gin.

Shaker’s Original American Vodka
Made in Minnesota, using wheat from a handpicked cooperative of farmers and a six-column distillation process, this vodka is exceptionally smooth. The flavors of toasted wheat are pronounced, with more subtle tones of chocolate in the background.

Ketel One Vodka
The Nolet clan of the Netherlands has been perfecting its family vodka recipe since 1691. Ketel One, named for the 140-year-old Distilleerketel #1 copper-pot still in which it is processed, is one of the world’s smoothest vodkas. The wheat-based spirit exhibits smoky accents that blend well with light floral notes.  

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