Nick Passmore

Spirits: Royal Blue

Talk to a whisky aficionado, and he or she will most likely enthuse about this single-cask bottling or that new, rare distillery release. But engage in a similar conversation with a whisky professional—particularly someone who has been responsible for actually making the stuff—and he will soon wax lyrical on the wonders, mysteries, and alchemy involved […]

Spirits: Pearls of Great Price

When high-end spirits producers release a limited-edition version of a product packaged in a costly crystal decanter, they often go to great lengths to explain how the spirit it contains (usually Cognac but, increasingly these days, Scotch as well) is, by dint of its rarity, worthy of so opulent a receptacle. And so one is […]

Spirits: Rare Additions

When the wine and spirits giant now known as Diageo first launched its Classic Malts Selection line of single-malt Scotch whiskies in America in 1989, those six exemplary new drams (Glenkinchie 10-, Dalwhinnie 15-, Cragganmore 12-, Lagavulin 16-, Talisker 10-, and Oban 14-Year-Olds) more than doubled the number of extraordinary malts available at the time. […]

Journeys: Imperial Subjects of Dance

I went to Vienna to waltz. Specifically, I went to waltz at the Rudolfina-Redoute, one of the city’s 300 formal balls held during Fasching, the carnival season between New Year’s and the beginning of Lent. The Rudolfina-Redoute is one of only 10 balls held at the imperial Hofburg Palace, and it is the grandest of […]

Spirits: The Other Cognacs

There is a decidedly dickensian feel to the premises of Delamain, the Cognac négociant in Jarnac, France. The company has been making Cognac there since the 17th century, and the facility, with its earthen-floor cellars and wood-paneled tasting room, looks as if it hasn’t changed since its founding. This old-world ambience is fitting, because Delamain, […]

Smoke: The Real Draw

I would travel the world over to buy cigars at my favorite cigar shop, and in fact, I frequently do. The Davidoff on the corner of St. James and Jermyn streets in London carries the range of Davidoff Dominicans and a wide selection of Cubans, including the rare Trinidad. But, truthfully, it’s not the cigars that […]

Spirits: Secret Society

It was without a doubt one of the most unusual and interesting whiskies I had ever sipped. Although it was apparently a Macallan, the famous name appeared nowhere on the label, and it tasted like no Macallan I had ever encountered before.   The bottle had come from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), an […]

Smoke: Requiem for a Reputation

I knew as soon as i lit the cigar that it was worthless, but it breaks my heart to throw away a $15 smoke. So I persevered for a while before consigning it to the fireplace. The trouble is, Cuban cigars aren’t what they used to be. Although they enjoy star status in the United […]