After Hours

Crème Yvette Liqueur

This spirit, originally produced in the United States in the late 1800s, has been re-created in Bordeaux using a pressoir pneumatic maceration process that infuses orange peel, honey, blackberry, raspberry, currant, wild strawberry, and—most prominently—dried violet petals from Provence. Mix it with the newly released Perrier-Jouët 2002 Brut to re-create the Stratosphere, a Stork Club original from 1946. ($41)

Highland Park 1968 Limited Edition

This is the first offering of the Orcadian Limited Edition Series, and it is dramatically different from anything previously released by Scotland’s northernmost distillery. After four decades of aging in casks once used for sherry, just enough whisky remained to produce 1,550 bottles, fewer than 50 of which are allocated for the United States. The candied flavors of sherry, toasted cedar, sweet violet, and cinnamon are enhanced by a whiff of smoke and black cherry in the finish. ($3,999)

Pierre Ferrand Collection Privée Vintage 1914 Cognac

The last remnant of a bygone era, this Grande Champagne Ugni Blanc Cognac has held up remarkably well, reflecting its meticulous distillation in France by an all-woman workforce during World War I. Its dark-amber color portends deep yet delicate flavors of toffee, chocolate, cherry, and cedar. The remaining jeroboams have been transferred to approximately 200 bottles in the sleek new packaging of Pierre Ferrand’s Collection Privée, of which this is the oldest vintage. ($1,500)

Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX  

Sonnalta (which means “generous” in Gaelic) PX (for Pedro Ximenez) is the first of Glenmorangie’s Private Edition, an annual series of limited-edition whiskies. Although there is no age statement on the bottle, this full-bodied amber whisky spent 10 years in barrels that previously held bourbon and then approximately two additional years in Pedro Ximenez barrels once used for sherry (the actual time varies by barrel). The result is a single malt full of raisin, dark chocolate, and orange peel, the perfect dram for an Ashton VSG or the new La Palina. Some 8,400 bottles have been allocated for the United States, where they will only be available through the first part of 2011. ($80)

Armagnac Réserve De La Famille Cognac

In France it is known as Armagnac Castarède Hors d’Age. This 20-year-old XO is from a family-owned distillery in Gascony that dates from 1832. It is made by the founding family’s sixth generation, and since our discovery of it at the 2007 VinExpo has won numerous awards. Bursting with musty floral tones and laced with cedar, it is a fitting accompaniment for a Davidoff Puro d’Oro or a Montecristo 75th Aniversario from the Dominican Republic. ($90)

Lagavulin The Distiller’s Edition Whisky

This is the second vintage of this iconic 16-year-old super-smoky Islay single malt to be released as a whisky “finished” in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. After 16 years in American and European refill casks, the Distiller’s Edition has been double-matured in wooden sherry casks. The rich, creamy sherry and the pungent peat smoke are an elegant combination, providing the perfect marriage between Scotland and Spain. ($110)

The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III Whisky

Of all the single malts created by The Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson, this is the most complex. It is a compilation of whiskies aged for 20 to 40 years in a variety of woods, including French wine barriques, Madeira drums, sherry butts, port pipes, and bourbon and Sicilian marsala barrels. The result is a muscular, multidimensional single malt with notes of citrus and nut from the sherry butts, smoke and vanilla from the bourbon barrels, wild plum from the port pipes, and red berry and cedar from Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. ($250)

The Dalmore Clan Mackenzie Whisky

In 1263 the chief of the Clan Mackenzie saved King Alexander’s life; in gratitude, the king granted the clan permission to portray the royal stag’s head, which appears on every bottle of The Dalmore today. To commemorate this event, a limited-edition single-malt whisky, Clan Mackenzie, was created last year. Aged for 12 years in refilled bourbon barrels, then matured for an additional six years in port-wine butts, this whisky is brimming with black currant, plum, and marmalade. Only 3,000 individually numbered bottles were produced, 200 of which were shipped to the United States. Master distiller Richard Paterson suggests it is a whisky that should be chewed rather than sipped. ($175)

Cognac Tesseron Lot 29 Exception

For years, this small, family-owned Cognac house has sold its prized eaux-de-vie to many of the larger companies for their most prestigious blends. But now certain “lots,” as founder Abel Tesseron labeled them in 1905, are being offered under the Tesseron name. Lot 29 in particular is a unique blend of Grande Champagne Cognacs that have aged for a minimum of “three generations,” as the family likes to put it. Layers of cedar, fig, and mocha, plus that elusive hint of musty rancio found in the oldest and rarest Cognacs, make this a late-night snifter to savor. ($500)

Camus Borderies XO Cognac

Since its founding in 1863, this Cognac house—the fifth-largest producer in the world—has remained family owned, with Cyril Camus, the fifth generation, now bringing it to America. The flagship Borderies XO, a rare, single-growth Cognac from the region’s smallest appellation, is the ultimate introduction, as it comes directly from the family’s private stocks. It is floral yet intense, full of vanilla, dried fruit, hazelnut, and licorice—an indication of more than 35 years of aging. ($120)

Courvoisier 21 Cognac

This newly introduced Grande Champagne Cognac—part of the launch of the Courvoisier Connoisseur Collection—is the first to declare an age statement on the bottle (as opposed to a vintage year). The youngest eau-de-vie in this blend comes from wines harvested in October 1988 and distilled from November of that year until March 1989. All the eaux-de-vie were aged in Limousin and Tronçais oak barrels from 1989 until this year, when they were bottled. Master blender Patrice Pinet feels that 21 years is the ideal length of time for the Grande Champagne cru to reach its peak. Apricot, fig, and honey abound in its heady bouquet, with orange and ginger lingering in the finish. ($250)

Louis XIII Rare Cask Cognac

The only female cellar master of a major Cognac house, Pierrette Trichet has a keenly honed sense of taste. In 2004 she took note of one particular barrel of Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac that was aging differently than all the others. With overtures of wild mushroom, spicy gingerbread, and mint, enhanced by a slightly increased alcoholic level, the flavor was so alluring that Trichet set this barrel aside and continued monitoring it, eventually bottling it this year as a rare cask. It is rich and resinous, with undertones of black cherry, currant, and warm caramel, and a long, citrus-filled finish. Only 30 Baccarat decanters of Louis XIII Rare Cask will be shipped to the United States. ($15,000)

Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum

Also known as Gosling’s Old Rum, the Gosling family’s oldest and rarest Bermuda blend is a big, dark, full-bodied sipping libation. “Our Family Reserve is a very limited release, but worth the search,” says Malcolm Gosling, a seventh-generation member of the rum-making family. Its recipe is similar to that of Gosling’s famous Black Seal Rum (Bermuda’s biggest export), but Old Rum is aged longer—between 16 and 19 years—in charred-oak barrels once used for bourbon. Hand-labeled, cork-topped, then hand-sealed with black wax and individually numbered, each bottle is brimming with velvety molasses, caramel, cedar, plum, and a whiff of smoke. ($85)

Springbank 18 Year Old Whisky

Lightly peated and distilled two-and-a-half times (thanks to the unique design of its copper pot stills), Springbank is the pride of Campbeltown, as well as of collectors and connoisseurs the world over. The 18 Year Old is considered a classic age for this iconic single malt, yet only 9,000 bottles were produced in 2010. At 92 proof, it has the smoothness and warmth of a calfskin glove. ($150)

The Balvenie Peated Cask 17 Year Old Single Malt 

Two of the most intense malt-whisky flavor components are new American oak—which imparts vanillin characteristics—and peat, which, when used to dry malted barley, produces a smoky taste. In his quest to expand The Balvenie’s 17 Year Old range, master distiller David Stewart acquired some heavily peated barley, which he distilled and aged. The barrels subsequently took on a smoky flavor. Stewart refilled them with The Balvenie 17 Year Old whisky aged in new American oak, and to this he added The Balvenie 17 Year Old aged in traditional oak casks. The result is a limited edition that tastes of gentle, cherried smoke accented with lemon, a hint of burned grass, and seaweed. ($130)

The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

Even though this family-owned Speyside distillery grows some of its own barley, does its own maltings, makes its own barrels, and even has an on-site coppersmith to tend its stills, it went off-site to acquire a number of Caribbean rum casks in which to “finish” its 14-year-old single malt. After four additional months of aging in oak rum barrels, this gentle whisky has taken on additional notes of green apple, citrus, and candied fruit. ($60)

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