Remember that infused-liquor craze from a few years back, the one that began with novel Absolut concoctions and then spread faster than an internet meme? And remember how Charleston had its own little breakout hit with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka? And remember how we all thought the entire infused-liquor craze was going to come to an end? Well, we were wrong. It's still around, and just as important, it's as kooky and fun as ever. We recently got the chance to sample a few infusions that are new to the market, plus a few new small-batch bourbons and a brand new gin that's made in the Upstate. And somehow, some way, we were still able to put out this issue.
Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka It's fair to say when we first came across Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka a few months back, we thought about keeping our distance from this infusion. As much as we love sucking the nectar out of honeysuckle blooms, this one simply sounded like a tooth-rotting bad idea. Surely, we thought, it was going to be disastrously sweet. Except that it wasn't. Cathead Honeysuckle ended up being a pretty subtle, flowery concoction that we soon learned was best enjoyed pretty much as is, over rocks with a twist of orange. There's no need to mix this kitty.
Chilled Dills Pickle Flavored Vodka The Holy City is a brunch loving town, which, of course, means it's a Bloody Mary loving town too. And that means it's the perfect place for Chilled Dills Pickle Flavored Vodka, made right here in Charleston. On first blush, this is another infusion that sounds like a bad idea, but then we opened up a bottle and took a whiff — it smelled like a briny, dilly jar of pickles — and quickly realized that this could end up being a huge hit with Bloody fans. We actually ended up enjoying it straight up for an ice cold, eye-opening pick-me-up.
White Tiger Gin On a trip not too long ago to the Bible-beating Upstate, we were walking down Greenville's beautiful Main Street when we came across Dark Corner Distillery. Inside, one half was a gift shop while the other was, well, a distillery where they were making honest-to-God corn whiskey. We bought a couple of bottles of Dark Corner's Moonshine, and we've got to say, it's pretty tasty stuff. In fact, it's actually got a rather sweet flavor. Now, Dark Corner has a new spirit that they've just introduced to the market, White Tiger Gin. This 90-proof gin is made from corn whiskey just like Dark Corner's Moonshine, but it packs a little citrusy, juniper berry kick. White Tiger Gin should be hitting Charleston shelves this week.
Larceny Larceny Bourbon, the latest whiskey from the Heaven Hill Distilleries, the makers of Evan Williams, was inspired by an unlikely source: John E. Fitzgerald. As it turns out, the late, great bourbon maker Fitzgerald wasn't a bourbon maker after all. He was a taker. In fact, Fitzgerald was a U.S. Treasury officer who stole only the best batches from Kentucky's distilleries. Or at least that's how the story goes. As for Larceny, it's an epically smooth yet slightly spicy 92-proof bourbon — a fact at least partially attributed to the six to 12 years it's aged — that goes great on the rocks. That said, you shouldn't shy away from mixing it with Coke or ginger ale. This ain't a bank-breaking bourbon.
Angel's Envy Like most bourbons these days, Angel's Envy comes with one helluva back story, this one apparently involving a distiller who swindled a few whiskey-loving angels. However, what's truly important about this small batch, 86.6-proof, unfiltered bourbon — yes, you might find a few bits and pieces floating in it — is that it's aged in port barrels. And while you can taste a hint of the port, especially in the aftertaste, it's a hint and nothing more. With a price point much higher than Larceny, you'll feel guilty mixing Angel's Envy with much of anything. However, price aside, we think Larceny is the superior bourbon of the two batches, and we don't give a damn what the angels think.