Best of the Best 2008: Liqueurs, Cordials & Aperitifs

  Drinking grappa used to be a harsh and caustic exercise—at least until the Nonino family came to prominence. The Noninos have been distilling grappa since 1897 in Friuli, Italy, and the current generation of this glamorous family has refined and changed the nature of this pomace-based brandy. In 1984 the Noninos also created a […]

Best of the Best 2008: Spirits

Absolut vodka has become a modern classic, thanks not only to its famous and relentlessly inventive ad campaign but also to its smooth, clean, all-natural flavors. However, even an icon as absolute as Absolut cannot rest on its reputation. Parent company Vin & Sprit (which Pernod Ricard purchased from the Swedish government for $8.34 billion […]

Best of the Best 2008: Spirits: Le Voyage de Delamain Cognac

The protestant Delamain family fled the Huguenot persecution in 17th-century France and began an illustrious career of public service in the British Isles, chiefly in Ireland, under the protection of the royal family. In 1759, the young James Delamain, whose father, William, had been marshal of Dublin, journeyed back to the family’s original home in […]

Feature: Holiday Essentials

Spirits are called spirits precisely because they capture essences, and in doing so they enable us to gain a greater appreciation—and enjoyment—of the sources from which they derive. Brandy is the essence of grapes, and it expresses that fruit better than wine does. Whiskey is the distillation of grain or corn, cereals that have been […]

Best of the Best 2007: Dessert Wines

In 1989, British wine writer Hugh Johnson and friends formed the Royal Tokaji Wine Company to revive and restore to glory the Hungarian wine once revered by Louis XIV, Catherine the Great, and other European monarchs. Royal Tokaji 1999 Essencia (, $536) is the rarest and most exquisite of their company’s many excellent wines. It […]

Best of the Best 2007: Spirits

Delamain Cognac Extra (, $320) is a blend of Grande Champagne Cognacs sourced from grower-distillers with whom the company has established close relationships. Although many of these relationships began several generations ago, Delamain declines to sign binding contracts with the distillers. Instead, it purchases eaux-de-vie only after tasting each spirit. Smooth yet powerful, with deep […]

Best of the Best 2007: International Red Wines

Le Corton—a lieu-dit near the top of the grand cru slope of the mountain of Corton, at the northern end of the Côte de Beaune—produces some of the most supple, complex red wines in Burgundy, and they generally need extended time in the bottle to show well. This is especially true in exceptional vintages such […]

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