in the early 80's two unlikely, but highly talented,
and even some might say eccentric, fellows hooked up in Northern
California, in of all places, a tiny town called Ukiah. Hubert
Germain-Robin of the Jules Robin family, cognac producers
since 1782, brought over a 13 HL hand-hammered, heavy copper
cognac pot still forged back in 1937 and left unused since
1951. It was then he partnered with Ainsley Coale to found
Germain-Robin Distillery. Ansley's claims to fame include:
performing Argentine tango, founding Craft Distillers,
walking 4 times from Oaxaca to Juquila, and teaching a graduate
seminar on Tacitus' Histories and Roman Numismatics at UC
Berkley. Eccentric pretty much sums it up!
the late 80's, Crispin Cain (with a lengthy bio in the world
of wine and spirits) joined Hubert and Ainsley up in Mendocino
County and started to share their old cognac still and produce
other spirits like Whiskey and Gin under his Tamar Distillery
brand. Well, I have tasted numerous brandies from Germain-Robin
and must agree with many others that theirs are some of the
best brandies in the world; those guys really know their stuff.
Now, let's see where Crispin's spirits rate.
Low Gap California Rye Whiskey is aged for
2 years in new and used bourbon and cognac barrels and just
one whiff of the nose will verify that statement. The nose
is a combination of sweet rye, cognac and bourbon, with just
a hint of citrus and vanilla, followed up by a slightly smoky,
oaky aroma. On the palate, this rye is a gentle combination
of all of the before mentioned aromas; it starts off with
the rye and then the bourbon with the cognac flavor taking
the back seat, followed by the vanilla and even less citrus
but still present. It is a clean smoky taste with just enough
oak to make it interesting. This rye has a very nice flavor
profile and depth but is not overly complicated. The finish
is very smooth and medium in length and intensity and develops
a caramel flavor that tops all the other flavors. This is
a very nice California Rye that could become
one of my favorites.
up is the Low Gap Bavarian Hard Wheat Whiskey.
This whiskey is made from 100% malted Bavarian hard wheat
and then aged for a total of 2 years in American oak barrels,
used bourbon barrels obtained from the legendary Pappy Van
Winkle, and then used 350 liter limousine oak barrels formerly
used for Germain Robin brandy. This whiskey has one of the
most gentle noses I have ever encountered, and by that I don't
mean weak, just very laid back. I first get wheat whiskey
up front followed by brandy and bourbon and a touch of oakiness
but not much smoke or char. The palate profile is also gentle
and smooth, yet sweet, and has depth that starts with the
wheat flavor followed by woody notes of cognac and bourbon
and again a very low profile when it comes to the oak and
smoke and just enough sweetness to make it interesting. The
finish is sweet and woody and smooth and lasts a short time.
This really redefines whiskey as such because it is not over
powering or harsh and does not make you wince when you drink
it, and even though its flavors are subdued, they are not
weak or washed out - they are just about where they should
be. None of these whiskeys are cheap at $65.00 - $75.00 per
bottle but I do believe their flavors justify the price.
but not least, is the Low Gap Blended Whiskey
made of malted corn and malted barley and aged for 2 years
in used Van Winkle and new Missouri oak bourbon barrels. I
do believe that barley should bring a bit of a Scotch like
flavor to this whiskey; let's see if I'm right. The nose is
the most laid back of the three with the slightest hints of
barley, corn, new oak and the smallest touch of sugary sweetness.
The palate cranks up the flavor with a vanilla like sweetness
coming to the front followed by the new oak with no smoke
and no char. I was wrong, even with the inclusion of barley,
this whiskey does not taste anything like scotch; it tastes
like layered whiskey that is both smooth and sweet without
being citrusy. The finish is tangy but smooth with oaky highlights.
three of these whiskeys are extraordinarily smooth and deeply
layered with flavor so much so that you can actually taste
all the different ingredients and processes that were utilized.
Those folks are producing some mighty fine spirits in the
heart of Mendocino county, Northern California, in the tiny
town of Ukiah. Go get you some. Try it, and let me know if
you agree with me that they are worth the price.
Low Gap Rye weighs in at 42.2% ABV and costs
$65.00 per 750 ML bottle, while the Bavarian Hard
Wheat Whiskey which weighs in at 44% - 50% ABV is
$75.00 per 750 ML bottle, leaving the Blended Whiskey
weighing in at 46% ABV and costing $65.00 per 750
Gap Whiskey Link:
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