Host's Guide Holiday 2012: Spirits of Giving

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Plantation Rum Guadeloupe Vintage 1998
Were it not for the fact that this rhum agricole–style spirit is a product of Cognac Ferrand—one of Europe’s pioneers in the artisanal-spirits movement—one might be surprised to discover that it comes from France. But after 11 years of aging in French oak barrels in Guadeloupe, this distillation of pressed sugar cane (the only Plantation rum not made from molasses) is shipped to Cognac Ferrand’s Chateau de Bonbonnet in Ars, where it is finished for another 12 months in previously used Cognac casks. The result is a mélange of lemon, charred cedar, and fresh rain-forest nuances. Only 600 bottles have been sent to the United States. ($65)

Lark Tasmanian Single-Malt Whiskies
Before Bill Lark opened Lark Distillery in 1992, whisky had not been produced in Australia’s southernmost state for over 150 years. Now, these Tassie single malts are available in America for the first time. Made with malted Tasmanian-grown Franklin barley that has been dried with peat from Brown Marsh Bog, these single-cask malt whiskies are double pot distilled, non-chill filtered, and aged at least five years in Port barrels. Currently, three single malts are available: Lark Single Cask at 86 proof, a sweet, honeyed, floral whisky with a trace of Speyside characteristics; Lark Distillers Selection at 92 proof, a more robust example that offers sherry notes intermingled with ones of oak, honey, and toffee; and Lark Cask Strength, bottled at 116 proof and laden with heavy tones of cedar, citrus, butterscotch, and marzipan. These are the perfect pours for the malt-whisky aficionado seeking to up the ante among fellow connoisseurs this holiday season. ($150/Single Cask; $180/Distillers Selection; $220/Cask Strength)

Highland Park Thor
Highland Park, located in the Orkney Islands, was once a favorite Viking haunt. Now Scotland’s northernmost distillery is paying tribute to its Nordic heritage with Thor, a 16-year-old cask-strength single malt named after the Norse god who, according to myth, wielded his mighty hammer, Mjölnir, to hew the rugged cliffs of Yesnaby on the island’s far western shores. This is the first of Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection, which comprises four unique whiskies to be released in successive years. At 104.2 proof, Thor comes thundering out of the bottle with unchained alcoholic power, but it is easily tamed with a splash of distilled water, which reveals meaty yet manageable notes of butterscotch, vanilla, and Orkney’s signature floral peaty smoke. Of 23,000 bottles worldwide, only 1,500 will arrive in the United States. ($199)

This article was originally published in the November 2012 issue of Robb Report. Click here to read more articles from this issue.

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