One of the reasons we love spring cleaning is because it allows us to get rid of the old to make way for the new. If you’ve recently purged your living, dining room or kitchen and have plenty of newfound space, why not consider a home bar? Every haute hostess knows that a well-stocked home bar is essential to effortless entertaining. However, with so many different spirits on the market it’s overwhelming just wondering where to begin: What whiskey will impress even the most refined gentleman? How many kinds of bitters does one really need? Yes, our heads are spinning, too. In this sort of situation, it’s best to turn to the experts which is why we asked Kyle Nadeau, general manager of Wingtip’s recently opened Bank of Spirits for some advice. Here’s four brands he says are essential to the hautest home bar.
“One distillery I’ve been particularly interested in for a while now is The Arran Malt,” Kyle says. The distillery, which is named for the island that it calls home, opened in 1995 and has been very quietly making a name for itself over the last few years. “The core line up includes a 10-year, 12-year, 14-year and now 18-year which are all aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.” A number of other wood finished and single barrel options are available to round out Arran Malt’s offerings. Kyle describes the whisky as being “rich, oily and full of fruit when aged in bourbon casks, and just as lovely from sherry casks with more depth and spice.”
“My favorite whiskey to introduce people to right now has to be the Westland American Single Malt from Seattle,” Kyle says. “Not many people have the option to build a distillery producing exclusively whiskey, coming to market with such a fantastic and exciting product.” It’s unusual for American whiskey because it’s made from 100% malted barley and then aged in 100% new charred oak barrels. “This whiskey is produced in a Scottish style and aged in an American style,” Kyle says of the rich, chocolately, and a slightly spicy, but absolutely delicious spirit.
“This has been a growing category for a number of years now and there are fantastic options at all levels,” explains Kyle. “Brands like Tequila Ocho, Suerte and Tapatio are a few of my personal favorites, but I’ve really had a love affair with extra anejo as of late, namely Tapatio Excelencia and Arette Gran Clase. This is probably due to the fact that they drink more like a whiskey than anything else, but they’re great for sipping after dinner.” He describes these full-bodied sipping tequilas as earthy with plenty of brown sugar, cacao and baked apple character. They’re great on their own or with dessert.
In recent years, the category of mezcal has grown as an increasing number of diverse product offerings have been introduced to the American market. “Mezcal is a cross between peaty scotch and tequila,” describes Kyle. It’s often more difficult for the casual consumer to develop an appreciation for mezcal, but those that take the time to acquaint their palates with mezcal’s raw, smoky, earthiness, Kyle assures, are rewarded with a variety of complex and diverse spirits. “Del Maguey‘s single village mezcals were some of the first to draw attention among the industry crowd,” Kyle observes, “their knowledge and passion have spread to many spirits connoisseurs throughout the country.”