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Thursday Thorns
My Search For Zinfandel-Finished Bourbon Is Finally Rewarded
-And Two New Gins As Well

By Stephen Eliot

A good glass of wine is pretty much a daily necessity around these parts, but we do like a wee dram of something distilled from time to time, and we are constantly on the hunt for the new and intriguing. While very good, hitherto unknown wines routinely pop up on our radars, the finding of new and noteworthy new spirits is far less frequent occurrence. I have, however, in the last couple of weeks, been immensely impressed by not one but two new discoveries that have further fired my interest and deepened my appreciation for the very significant success of the America’s craft spirit movement.

The first is the recently-released Zinfandel Cask Finish Bourbon Whiskey from Big Bottom Whiskey of Hillsborough, Oregon. Founded in 2010 by whiskey enthusiast Ted Pappas, Big Bottom is a small, independent producer that presently ages and bottles a collection of limited, Indiana-distilled Bourbons, the latest of which is one that was finished in a Zinfandel cask. A rich and fairly full-bodied whiskey to start that shows a marked spicy edge owing to its high content of rye (36%), it smacks ever so faintly of the dark-berry aspects of Zinfandel and has taken on a singular personality all its own from its time in barrel. It is a terrific start to a deeply flavored Manhattan, but ever-curious devotees of good Bourbon will want it served neat. I purchased my bottle in Reno, Nevada last week for $32.00, and I will be on the look for other bottlings from Big Bottom.

I confess to being a bit late to the party with my second discovery in the last couple of weeks, for, while it started selling small amounts of superlative Gin more than a half-dozen years back, North Shore Distillery of Chicago is a new name to me. I have a particular fondness for first-rate Gin, and the best muster a degree of depth and refinement that make them, for me, the world’s most interesting white spirit. North Shore specializes in spirits of small, hand-crafted lots, and it offers two outstanding version of Gin made in the London Dry style, the refined, self-described flagship bottling Distiller’s Gin No. 6 and the slightly fuller Distiller’s Gin No. 11. Both exhibit a wonderfully complex marriage of juniper, citrus and spice and botanicals, and, while the latter is fairly intense, there is a real sense of polish about it that sets it apart. We have tried it in a number of classic cocktails running from a Martinis to Negronis and Aviations, and it has never failed to please. Both can be found locally in the San Francisco Bay Area for around $30.00, and I have no complaints at the price. It may have taken me some time to find to find them, but I will not let them out of my sight now that I have.

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No Subject
by James Schmidt
Posted on:1/3/2014 4:50:01 PM

I enjoyed reading this post but unfortunately these two items are not available in the greater Phoenix area.  If you have other suggestions of like bourbon and gin I'd be interested in hearing about them.  One idea that would help me is to have a list of links for various topics.  I'm always looking for credible gin, scotch and Cognac reviews.

Happy New Year


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