12 bottle case
I was recently asked to put together a 12 bottle "desert island" case as part of an ongoing series for the Portland Spirits Examiner.
The ‘rules’ were simple: Only 12 bottles, any spirits you wish, and they don’t have to include bitters (they’re small, so they’ll fit in to your case anyway, and they didn’t want to make it too difficult). You can think of it as your “marooned on a desert island” or “basic home bar” or simply the spirits that are most essential to you personally.
I thought this would be pretty easy and it would be if I could take 50 bottles.
I ended up with the list below with my thought process in Hoke's article in the link above....
1. Sazerac 18yr Rye
2. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon
3. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
4. Dolin de Chambery Dry Vermouth
5. Pernod Absinthe
6. Hendrick's Gin
7. Plymouth Gin
8. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
10. Benedictine Liqueur
11. Pierre Ferrand Esprit des Dieux 1er Cru du Cognac
12. The Macallan 25
What's in yours?
You've specified a fairly upscale rye and a very expensive scotch, but have gone decidedly midrange on the bourbon and cognac. So I guess I need to ask: what is the overall goal?
That said, Woodford is a pretty good choice because it's flexible (can sip and mix equally well), but I think you could go a bit more upscale on the cognac without sacrificing anything there.
Personally I would strike both of your selected gins in favor of a single more robust choice (maybe something American), and I might also scratch the dry vermouth from the list. Both of these slots would be filled with the thing I'd probably be drinking the most of on a desert island: Rum.
By the way, does this list assume unlimited refills? 12 bottles, when stranded on an island, sounds like a great supply for the FIRST NIGHT you're there :-)
I'm assuming unlimited refills but that wasn't really defined! Ya, you are right, a case just wouldn't do it. 8-)
The scotch was the one that I was thinking would get the most alone time. Everything else was for blending for the most part (with the occasional neat sipper) so I went for labels that fit the cocktail first, even though it was overkill in some cases.
I'd be interested on your choice of gin for robustness. I just love the versatility of Plymouth for many cocktails and Hendricks for a 3:1 to 5:1 martini depending on mood. That said, I'd love to have added Bols Genever and something like Death's Door or Aviation. Had to draw the line somewhere.
As I mentioned in Hoke's article, rum isn't my fave but I really see how it would fit the island theme.
For gin, yes, I'd prefer something bold like Aviation, 209, Junipero, etc. (Haven't tried Death's Door so no comment there.) I do like Hendrick's but I think its flavor is both too specialized and too subtle to be a flexible choice for the desert island scenario. And are you really going to mix up a Martini to hang out under a palm tree?
I seem to recall that a Martini is not DSP's favorite drink. For me, it's a top cocktail. I also use a lot of dry vermouth to lean out the sugar in wine-based cocktails, so I'd keep it. I would combine the two gins, however, for one more juniper-forward gin. Room for your rum. Can you refill the rum bottle with tequila?
I'd also rather have green Chartreuse than Benedictine. Last Word, Final Ward, and all. I'd also use Punt e Mes for the sweet vermouth, but then I'm a bitter fan. I found the cocchi pretty sweet for its bitterness.
Don't shoot me, but I could sub rye for bourbon in just about anything. Room for an orange liqueur. Creole Shrubb, maybe, although it's a bit specialized.
That said, the 12 bottle thing makes me a bit sad. I wouldn't want to eat 12 foodstuffs for the rest of my life either.
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