Japanese Whiskies: the next big thing for whisky connoisseurs

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Unless you’re a whisky drinker that’s been hiding under a rock, you’re sure to have heard that Scotland was shut out from the Whisky Bible Top Five whiskies of 2014. And what did make the top of the list? A single malt sherry cask from Japan.

Japanese whiskies have really infiltrated the whisky market of late, and not just because of the high demand in the spirit market for products that are off-the-beaten-path. They have been making whisky in Japan for decades and the soil, the water, the attention to detail, all the factors come together for the more distributed distilleries.

NIKKA WHISKY

Masataka Taketsuru was the first Japanese person to ever study the craft of whisky making, and truly was the one responsible for bringing whisky distillation to Japan. He studied at the University of Glasgow starting in 1918 and apprenticed all over the country in the following months. When he returned to Japan he was instrumental in creating Japan’s innagural whisky.

He spent a good decade with Kotobukiya Limited (now Suntory), seeing Japan’s first whisky distillery built, first uniquely Japanese whisky created, and first Japanese whiskies exported. He broke out on his own to create Nikka Whisky in 1934, whose Yoichi Distillery is the most similar (terroir-wise) to Scotland.

If you’re used to drinking richer, peatier scotches, be sure to try the Yoichi Single Malt 12yr. For a slightly softer style, pour a dram of the Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yr, or the 17yr (World Whiskies Award 2012 winner, “World’s Best Blended Malt [Pure Malt]”). And if you’d like to invest in something fresher and more distinct, pick up a bottle of the Coffey Grain Single Malt; this last selection (to me!) is reminiscent of an unaged bourbon, fresh and light.

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SUNTORY WHISKY

The same year Taketsuru headed off to Scotland to learn the ways of whisky, Shinjiro Torii invested his family’s entire fortune into developing Japan’s first proper whisky distillery, the Yamasaki Distillery. This is no coincidence since the main motivator for Taketsuru’s studies was the promise of a place back home to put his yet-t-be-acquired skills to work. The two men worked creatively together for years before their differing visions of what “Japanese Whisky” should be drove them apart.

While Takatsuru had fallen in love with scotch and with the idea of scotch-style Japanese whiskies. Torii, on the other hand, dreamed of a distinctly Japanese style whisky, something which Japan could call her own. The rivalry between these two powerhouses of Japanese distilling continues today in the style of their product lines and development.

This distillery, like Nikka, has a bevy of awards and accolades of which to boast. Suntory won the “Distiller of the Year 2014” at the International Spirits Challenge for the fourth time (2010, 2012, 2013 prev.), and has won similar distillery awards multiple times over in all sorts of other competitions.  Not least of which was the Whisky Bible’s 97.5/100 score for its Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask.

If you like peaty Islay scotches, try the Hakushu Single Malt 12yr. On the other hand, don’t pass up the Yamazaki Single Malt 12 yr with its gorgeous layering of tropical fruit and baking spice notes. And for a sleek bridge between the two, grab a bottle of the Hibiki Singl Malt 12 yr, with just the right balance of the fruity, the nutty, and the peaty.

 

Contributed by: Nancee Moes

Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits
280 Rt. 25A, E. Setauket 11733

Weekly Wine Sale & Tasting: Nov. 26 – Dec. 3, 2014: Post Turkey Tasting

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“These wines are deeply discounted for one week. We feature a wide variety of wines in a wide price range
so have a look there is something for everyone. They have all been fully taste tested as well.g.” -Rich Mora

 

Giulia Negri Barolo La Tartufaia 2009

Giulia Negri Barolo La Tartufaia 2009–$47.99 SAVE 20%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
“Of course it is still young but the nose is already complex and rewarding, with all the usual suspects – cherries, red fruit, hints of pepper and licorice, chocolate – as well as spicy oak and hints of mushrooms, even truffles (fitting, given the name and provenance). The palate is mouth filling, concentrated and powerful with juciy fruit and bold, firm tannins, grippy and earthy with enormous promise.” -ViniItaliani

2007 vintage rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast
“This new-comer Barolo shows beautiful intensity and an inky dark appearance. The aromas are soft and yielding with sweet tones of wild berry and exotic spice woven between leather, tobacco and licorice.” -M.L. Wine Enthusiast 9/1/12

Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee Brut NV

Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee Brut NV-$27.99 SAVE 10%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
90 Points – Wine Advocate, February 2012
“The NV Brut Cuvee is the finest entry-level methode Champenoise wine being made in Italy. White peaches, green apples, flowers and crushed rocks are layered into an energetic frame of notable class. Bellavista’s Brut Cuvee is one of the go-to wines at my house. It never disappoints…” -Antonio Galloni

Chakana Estate Red 2013

Chakana Estate Red 2013-$20.79 SAVE 20%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
Previous Vintage: 95 Points – Wine Advocate, August 2013 For 2012 Vintage
“The 2012 Estate Red is a blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Shiraz aged 10 months in 100% new French oak. This killer red comes from Chakana-s two well-placed vineyards in southern Mendoza, Agrelo and Alta Mira. Aromas of flowers, blackberries, camphor, forest floor and subtle new oak emerge from this full-bodied, textured, opulent blockbuster. Extremely pure and rich, this bargain-priced Malbec should drink well for 6-10+ years. If this were a Napa Valley or Bordeaux red, it would undoubtedly be priced between $150.00-200.00.” -Robert Parker

Shinas Estate Shiraz The Guilty 2012

Shinas Estate Shiraz The Guilty 2012-$16.79 SAVE 20%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
“Ripe shiny blackberry red. Voluptuous cherry, vanilla and peppery spice aromas and full-bodied flavours packed with smoky vanillin oak, cherry and strawberry fruits, chocolate and mocha all wrapped up in a big, rich, velvety smooth package. A juicy wine with fine tannins, the pepper detected on the nose kicks in again to make a welcome re-appearance on the powerful finish. Made from low yielding old vines dating back to 1898 and aged in older French oak, the fruit is sourced from Mildura on the north west Victorian border.” -Sue Courtney, Wine of the Week.com

Castelfeder Lagrein Rosato Alto Adige 2012

Castelfeder Lagrein Rosato Alto Adige 2012-$14.39 SAVE 20%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
“This elegant, indigenous grape variety grows only in Alto Adige. The vineyards are located on the lower slopes of Egna. Lagrein can be made as a red wine if produced with skin contact, or as Rosè, if using the off-skin method. With its pink to light ruby red color and its soft and pleasant bouquet the Castelfeder rosè is a light, fresh and lively wine that goes fantastic with appetizers, and withe meats.” -The Winery

Maipe Malbec Reserve Mendoza 2012

Maipe Malbec Reserve Mendoza 2012-$12.79 SAVE 20%! (on sale through 12.03.14)
91 Points! Wine Advocate, August 2013
“The same can be said for the 2012 Malbec Reserve, a 100% hand-harvested Malbec from the estate’s finest vineyard parcels. Aged 12 months in French oak, it possesses a softer style than the Cabernet Sauvignon with more minerality as well as lots of blackberry, white chocolate, incense and graphite characteristics. Deep ruby/purple-hued, rich and full-bodied, it is a full-throttle, stunning Malbec to drink over the next 4-5 years.” -Robert M. Parker, Jr.

5 Bourbons Pairings For Thanksgiving: from the “Bourbonr Blog”

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Here’s a great piece on bourbon’s you can serve from start to finish on Thanksgiving.

Whisky Bottle 2 Glasses ice landscape

Posted in Posts By Blake On November 24, 2014 From the Bourbonr Blog
How To Pair Bourbons With Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving is a great time to eat, drink and be merry with friends and family. For bourbon drinkers it also caps off some of the best bourbon releases of the year (unless you’re in FL or some other unlucky states like me). But, how do you work bourbon in to your Thanksgiving? This post is not about bourbon recipes but rather bourbon/whiskey pairings to enjoy with your Thanksgiving feast.
Pre-meal
The pre-meal bourbon is for drinking while you’re cleaning the house and getting the food ready. More importantly, it’s the social lubricant you need to spend the next 4-6 hours with your in-laws or crazy uncles. That is why the pre-meal bourbon needs to be something that has a high proof but mellow enough to drink in the AM. For the pre-meal bourbon I suggest you reach for Old Grand Dad Staright Bourbon 114 Proof. This bourbon will get your day started in the right direction.

Appetizers
Depending on the culinary prowess of your family appetizers can be a gamble. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with buying good cheese and throwing crackers around it. Since there’s an array of options in the appetizer category we need a bourbon that pairs well with almost anything. Pour yourself a glass of Elijah Craig 12 year for the appetizer portion of your Thanksgiving meal. This is really an indication of how good EC 12 is. No matter what first course curve-balls your family throws  at you EC 12 is there to field them with ease.

Sweet Potato Casserole
This is one of my favorite sides so it deserves something that sweet, rich with a lot of spice. Sweet potato casserole will pair perfectly with Wild Turkey Rare Breed. Rare Breed hits a lot of the same flavor notes as sweet potato with distinct pie spice notes on the nose. Plus, there’s no other bourbon that belongs on than Thanksgiving table more than Wild Turkey. We have very special bottlings of Wild Turkey for very special occasions the Wild Turkey Diamond and the Wild Turkey Forgiven

Turkey
There are a few bourbon choices for the turkey based on what part of the bird you’re eating and the preparation of the bird. First, let’s talk about meat selection. If you were able to grab the dark meat, consider yourself lucky, and then pour yourself a glass of Buffalo Trace. If you’re were stuck at the back of the line and left with only white meat your turkey has basically become just a vehicle for transporting gravy. Because of that we need to increase the flavor with our bourbon choice. For white meat, pour yourself a glass of Four Roses Single barrel.
Finally, if your Thanksgiving turkey includes an alternative preparation method like smoking or frying you’ll want your bourbon(whiskey) choice to take advantage of  this. For a smoked or fried turkey pour yourself either High West Campfire or Corsair Triple Smoke.

Dessert
If your Thanksgiving dinner is anything like mine there are usually more desserts than side dishes. You need a whiskey that will pair with everything from pumpkin pie to chocolate cake. High West Midwinter Night’s Dram (sold out, good luck finding any)  is the perfect whiskey to pair with dessert. High West took a rye whiskey and aged it in port cask and then French oak. There’s a ton of flavor with a lot dark fruit and almost chocolatey port notes coming through. If you’re not able to find a bottle of the Midwinter’s Night Dram you can substitute with a bottle of Angel’s Envy Rye. The AE rye has been aged in rum barrels but still has a high level of sweetness that’s needed in a dessert whiskey.
Bonus: Salad
Some may disagree with the addition of salad to a Thanksgiving meal. You’re not a caveman. There’s nothing wrong with adding leafy greens to the meal especially when the salad is paired with Bulleit Rye whiskey. This rye whiskey is minty with some vegetal notes and pairs nicely with a salad.

Now this is my kind of “Green Fairy”

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see details/pricing

see details/pricing

 

Chartreuse Liqueur – Green VEP. You can keep the Absinthe, Chartreuse VEP (VEP stands for extremely long aging in French) is an amazing liqueur based on an ancient recipe from the early 1600’s. The closely guarded mixture contains 130 different herbs and spices and the extra aging makes this high proof dram go down really easily. There is very little resemblance to the regular green Chartreuse. The VEP is to the regular bottling as Remy XO is to E&J Brandy. Another interesting factoid about this remarkable liqueur is that it is one of the few distilled spirits that improve with bottle age. Here are a few details, descriptions and reviews of this unique spirit

Summary
Chartreuse V.E.P., for Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé, is the luxe version. Aged for an extended period in oak casks, it mellows and intensifies to stunning effect. Earning rave reviews from tasters, these special V.E.P. bottles are presented with a wax-sealed cork and a wax-stamped back label, and shipped in individual wood boxes. These fine liqueurs offer a unique spirits experience.

Vinification
Pale vibrant green, almost ?day glo?. A plethora of aromas, including herbs, mint, orange rind, new leather, licorice, basil and spring flowers all vie for your attention. This sweet digestive has a constantly evolving flavour profile. Though the alcohol is high, the flavours are easily up to the task of keeping the heat in perfect line.

Details
Chartreuse V.E.P., for Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé, is the luxe version. Aged for an extended period in oak casks, it mellows and intensifies to stunning effect. Earning rave reviews from tasters, these special V.E.P. bottles are presented with a wax-sealed cork and a wax-stamped back label, and shipped in individual wood boxes. These fine liqueurs offer a unique spirits experience.

Tasting Notes
Pale vibrant green, almost ‘day glo’. A plethora of aromas, including herbs, mint, orange rind, new leather, licorice, basil and spring flowers all vie for your attention. This sweet digestive has a constantly evolving flavour profile. Though the alcohol is high, the flavours are easily up to the task of keeping the heat in perfect line.

Recent Press
Imbibe Magazine
Date: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
“It’s not easy being green, unless you’re the centuries-old “elixir of long life” known as Chartreuse. An emerald-hued, flower-flavored digestif made by Carthusian monks high in the French Alps, green Chartreuse is among the most revered liqueurs in the world, and its VEP offering (which stands for vieillissement exceptionnellement prolonge– basically extended aging) is one of our top splurges this year. Crafted from the same top-secret honey-sweetened blend of 130 herbs, flowers and spices as regular green Chartreuse, the VEP spends more than a decade aging in Turkish oak vats, resulting in a refined, luxurious liqueur that’s heavenly sipped on its own or chilled over a giant ice cube.”

Playboy Magazine
Author: Joe Roberts
Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
“Equal parts booze, herbs and awesome, Chartreuse is the drink that Sir Henry Stanley guzzled in the African bush on his way to rescue Dr. Livingstone, and its what French badass Charles de Gaulle spiked his chocolate with each evening before devising ways of kicking Nazi asses out of his countrys colonial interests during World War II.”

Gourmet Magazine
Author: Other
Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Aged extra long in oak cases, the flavors Alpine herbs and exotic spices are perhaps too intense for mixing. But its a miracle of ancient liqueur-craft (the secret formula is more than 400 year old) and its glorious on its own.

Weekly Wine Sale & Tasting: Nov. 19-26, 2014: Great Turkey Wines from Spain, Chile, & Oregon

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“These wines are deeply discounted for one week. We feature a wide variety of wines in a wide price range
so have a look there is something for everyone. They have all been fully taste tested as well.g.” -Rich Mora

Lumos Five Block Pinot Noir Amity Eola Hills 2011

Lumos Five Block Pinot Noir Amity Eola Hills 2011–$25.49 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
93 points Beverage Tasting Institute
Deep ruby color. Aromas and flavors of floral honey, spiced cherry, and herbal pickled melon with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a tangy, sandalwood, nut brittle and mineral accented finish. Very flavorful and well balanced with excellent acidity for sipping or the table.

 

Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir 2013 Chilean Red Wine

Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir 2013–$21.24 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
“Violet with ruby red tones in the glass, this pinot noir offers a complex aroma of red and black berries, licorice, black pepper and soft floral notes. This wine is well-structured and concentrated, while providing balanced acidity and slight notes of vanilla from French oak agine. The finish is long.” -The Winery

Pago Venta la Ossa Syrah Vino de la Tierra Castilla 2010 Red Spanish Wine

Pago Venta la Ossa Syrah Vino de la Tierra Castilla 2010–$16.99 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
90 Points! – International Wine Cellar, Issue # 164 Sept/Oct 2012
“Glass-staining ruby. Aromas of cherry, blackcurrant, earth and vanillin oak are lifted by a peppery nuance. Spicy cherry and cassis flavors show very good depth and pick up a bitter chocolate quality with air. Closes with gentle tannic grip and strong, spicy length.”

Campillo Rioja Blanco 2013 Spanish White Wine

Campillo Rioja Blanco 2013–$15.29 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
89 Points! – International Wine Cellar, Sep/Oct 14
(100% viura; fermented and aged in new American oak barrels): Light gold. Expansive aromas of poached pear, peach nectar, Meyer lemon and toasty oak, with a vanilla quality gaining strength in the glass. Plush, smoky and broad on the palate, offering sappy orchard and tropical fruit flavors and a touch of clove. The oak note builds on the finish, with the peach and smoke notes repeating.” -Josh Raynolds

 
Pazos del Rey Sila Mencia Monterrei 2011

Pazos del Rey Sila Mencia Monterrei 2011–$12.74 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
Rating and review for previous vintage:
90 Points – International Wine Cellar, September 2012
“(fermented in stainless steel and raised in a combination of new and 2-year-old French oak barrels): Bright violet color. Aromas of cassis, black raspberry, licorice and black cardamom are complicated by cracked pepper and herbal nuances. Suave on entry, then tighter in the middle, with good lift to the flavors of red berry, violet and minerals. Finishes with gentle tannic grip and very good spicy persistence.” -Josh Raynolds

Sonim Brut Reserva NV

Sonim Brut Reserva NV–$11.04 SAVE 15% (on sale through 11.26.14)
88 Points – International Wine Cellar, November 2009
“(40% parellada and 30% each of macabeo and xarel-lo): Bright straw. Peppery lemon and lime aromas are complicated by herbs and white flowers. Spicy, tightly wound citrus zest flavors are dusted by pungent herbs and white pepper. Turns slightly bitter on the back half and finishes with a strong lime zest note. No fat on these bones; in fact this tangy Cava is more grown-up than plenty of big-house non-vintage Champagnes, and the price is a steal.” -Josh Raynolds

New French at Mora’s

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Rhone Wines

We just got in a great new Rhone from the village of Sablet  Verquieire’s Sablet with dense berry stony minerality and nice garrigue flavors as well as Michel Gerin’s straight Syrah. Gerin is a great Cote Rotie producer and this value offering (Jean Michel Gering “La Champine” )gives a taste of Northern Rhone Syrah for a fraction of the cost of Croze, Cote Rotie or Hermitage. Nice dense blackberry and currant with telltale bacon fat notes. Both are bargains for under $20

Weekly Wine Sale & Tasting: Nov. 14 – Nov 21, 2014 – FRENCH: Rhones, Bordeaux and Burgs

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“These wines are deeply discounted for one week. We feature a wide variety of wines in a wide price range
so have a look there is something for everyone. They have all been fully taste tested as well.g.” -Rich Mora

Chateau Teyssier St.-Emilion Chateau Laforge 2010 Red Bordeaux Wine
Chateau Teyssier St.-Emilion Chateau Laforge 2010 Red Bordeaux Wine SALE $47.99 regular $59.99 save 20%

94 Points – Wine Advocate, February 2013
“…The 2010 Laforge emerges from three major soil types in St.-Emilion – gravel, sand and hard limestone. It is largely a Merlot-based wine, with only about 8% Cabernet Franc added in. A big, forceful, classic, full-bodied St.-Emilion with sensational depth…plenty of black fruit, hints of incense, graphite, and forest floor, and perhaps even a suggestion of black truffle. It is deep, full-bodied, opulently textured, yet the tannic structure comes through in the finish. This is another sensational effort from proprietor Jonathan Malthus. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2032.” -Robert Parker
Alain Paret Condrieu les Ceps du Nebadon 2011 Red Rhone Wine
Alain Paret Condrieu les Ceps du Nebadon 2011 Red Rhone Wine SALE $54.99 regular $85.00 save 35%

91 Points – International Wine Cellar, March/April 2013
“Bright yellow-gold. Textbook viognier scents of poached pear, peach, violet and honey, with a spicy overtone. Sappy and penetrating, offering juicy pit fruit and orange flavors and a touch of candied ginger. Closes smooth, sweet and very long, with resonating spiciness and strong cling.” -Josh Raynolds
Domaine Fond Croze Côtes du Rhône-Villages Rasteau 2010 Red Rhone Wine
Domaine Fond Croze Côtes du Rhône-Villages Rasteau 2010 Red Rhone Wine SALE $23.79 regular $27.99 save 15%

91 Points – Wine Spectator, April 2012
“A quite ripe, but racy and well-defined red, displaying gorgeous linzer torte, cassis and plum sauce aromas and flavors laced with a mouthwatering graphite note. The long, spice-tinged finish brings you back for another sip. Delicious. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2015. 250 cases made.” –JM
Domaine Roux Pere & Fils Mercurey La Perriere 2012 Red Burgundy Wine
Domaine Roux Pere & Fils Mercurey La Perriere 2012 Red Burgundy Wine SALE $22,94 regular $26.99 save 15%

“Rich and full-bodied, La Perrière offers cherry, raspberry, and strawberry notes with hints of tobacco and cocoa. This single vineyard is composed of a wide range of soils from limestone to marl to red clay soil, rendering a complex wine. Estate-grown fruit undergoes fermentation on the lees in French oak barrels, followed by an aging period of about 10 months in 50% stainless steel and 50% in French oak.” -Opici Wines

“Mercurey is a village in the Cote Chalonnaise sub-region of Burgundy. It is one of the five communal titles of the Chalonnaise and produces predominantly red wines from the Pinot Noir grape variety. The appellation’s relatively rare white wines are made from Chardonnay and account for around 10% of the total output. The Cote Chalonnaise was once known as the Region de Mercurey, which gives an idea of how important this particular appellation is to the wider sub-region.” -Wine-Searcher

La Chablisienne Chablis La Pierrelee 2011 White Burgundy Wine
La Chablisienne Chablis La Pierrelee 2011 White Burgundy Wine SALE $16.99 regular $19.99 save 15%

88 Points – Wine Spectator, Web Only – 2013
“A fresh, succulent and harmonious version, this white evokes apple, melon and lemon flavors, with a squeeze of lemon. A mineral element lingers. Drink now through 2016. 1,500 cases imported.” -Bruce Sanderson
Chateau Hyot Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2010 Red Bordeaux Wine

Chateau Hyot Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2010 Red Bordeaux Wine SALE $14.44 regular $16.99 save 15%

90 Points – Wine Spectator, March 2012
“Very ripe, offering saturated cassis, blackberry and boysenberry pâte de fruit flavors that are racy and distinctive, thanks to fresh acidity and sleek tannins. The long finish has nice density. Drink now through 2016. 7,700 cases made.” -James Molesworth