Shaken or Stirred

Oxley Classic English Dry Gin

This is a very small-batch gin, with just 120 liters produced per batch. That makes it too precious to even think about using with tonic or in a gimlet; it is a gin for those who like their martinis dry, chilled, and straight up with little or no vermouth. Behind Oxley’s smooth elegance and juniper tingle is a 15-hour maceration of a neutral grain spirit and 14 botanicals, including English meadowsweet and fresh—not dried—lemon rinds. Each is hand-spooned into the still and subjected to an intense sub-zero cold distillation that retains the crispness of the botanicals. Only 240 individually numbered bottles are produced a day. ($50)

Cadenhead’s Old Raj Gin

Its light golden-green hue serves as a warning that this is not a gin to be toyed with, and the 55 percent alcoholic volume (110 proof) noted on the label confirms it. Do not confuse this high octane “Blue Label” Old Raj with the 92-proof “Red Label.” This is a Scottish original, distilled in Campbeltown and wearing a thick cloak of saffron (hence the color) wrapped around juniper, lime, almond, and licorice. It virtually shines in a classic martini, but can overpower most other cocktails. ($60)

Jean-Marc XO Vodka

A small-batch vodka from Cognac, Jean-Marc XO is the creation of master distiller Jean-Marc Daucourt, who spent seven years developing the recipe; it utilizes four different French wheat grains and pure springwater naturally filtered through Grande Champagne limestone. Moreover, it is put into 200-year-old modified French alembic copper stills—traditionally used for Cognac—and distilled nine times, which eliminates those headache-producing esters. The result is a sweet, herbal softness that lingers on the tongue long after the last sip. ($60)

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