Welcome to Distilled—booze news from the Globe and the world beyond.
There’s a sort of paradox, or at least a happy landmark, when a new company releases its first aged spirit. It’s easier for tequila than for most other spirits: reposado status can be achieved by aging anywhere from 3 to 12 months; anejos must sit at least a year. Still, cheers to Mijenta tequila: We loved the blanco and more recently had a chance to try the new reposado, a deliciously rich offering from a distiller committed to sustainability and terroir. Search it out for sipping (or, our writer adds cheekily, in a tequila-based Old Fashioned).
Doing What Comes Naturally
The wine world has been slower than other worlds—especially the worlds wherein people consume stuff—to embrace transparency in many respects, says the great Jancis Robinson. And in truth, though not as ugly as politics or sausage, the making of wine can sometimes be decidedly unsexy. This year, Robinson says, there has been some progress.
Have we Cameron Diaz to thank? She “really got up wine producers’ noses last July when she launched what was described as ‘clean wine,'” Robinson notes. “Avaline organic wine is not that special in any respect other than in its marketing. According to its website, it was created as a reaction to the fact that ‘there’s no obligation … to name any of the more than 70 additives that are used in the winemaking process to alter the taste, color, and mouthfeel of what is in your glass.'”
If you call your wine “clean,” you’re sort of saying someone else’s is “dirty,” no? Our regular correspondent Becca Hensley appreciated the unpretentious nature of the Avalines. The whole topic of what clean/dirty/natural/organic all means is evolving before our eyes. But after this with this guy, and that with these guys, I think we can all agree there’s room for more openness about provenance and all else in the oenosphere.
You may have noticed the recent retirement of Thomas Matthews from the Executive Editor job at Wine Spectator, where he has been since 1988. Founder/owner/bon vivant Marvin Shanken is nominally the publisher and editor for all the company’s titles but the execs actually put the things together. Turns out Matthews is a Deadhead, as he notes in this lovely farewell reminiscence. Moving over from Whisky Advocate is Jeffery Lindenmuth, and I, for one, am keen to see what he’ll do at Spectator; in recent years Whisky Advocate has been especially interesting. David Fleming, another Shanken vet, takes over at WA.
Here’s Something I Already Was and Didn’t Know It
And apparently, being a Booze Fairy can be hazardous.
Do Not Rely on the Kindness of Strangers. Make it Yourself.
We’ve watched a LOT of movies over the past 10 months or so, including classics of all sorts. If you were looking for a deep dive into the pleasures and perils of boozing, you could just run the table with the filmed versions of the plays of Tennessee Williams. Gillian G. Gaar recently rewatched Night of the Iguana, in which the Rum-CoCo plays a minor role. First she concocted her own versions, then did some close reading; enjoy this fine cocktail detective story.
Jon Thorsen Does the Work So We Don’t Have To
“Trader Joe’s is renowned for their selection of cheap, private label wines,” begins this in-depth report from the aptly named Reverse Wine Snob (also the name of the guy’s book). “Unfortunately, some of it is just plain bad.” He did find some drinkable stuff, though. Among the recommendations in this lively feature is a $6 California pinot noir. I plan to make a trip and see for myself.
And while we’re on the budget beat… from Esquire, a beautiful little essay pinned to Costco bourbon.
These Are the Saddest Looking Vines I Have Ever Seen
Honestly, I probably never thought about Florida wine before. Not so much because of its climate, which is Floridian, but because it’s pretty flat. Still, they grow grapes there, and the wineries (two dozen or so, reliant upon tastings and onsite purchases) have been hard hit over the past year, just like everywhere else. Here’s a report on Hutchinson Farms Winery, in Apopka, which concentrates on the muscadine grape. I’m going to visit next time I’m near Orlando.