Top 10 spirits launches in February 2023
As winter came to a close brands came in hot with an eclectic range of spirits launches, from canned cocktails to limited edition expressions.
One rum brand made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to finish its maturation on Ireland’s west coast, while a Tequila brand looked to forgotten distillation techniques to create a unique bottling that embodies the agave.
In the gin category, Bombay Sapphire paid homage to its farmers with a new premium expression, while a London restaurant partnered with a Japanese producer to create an exclusive bottling that can only be enjoyed in its bar.
Keep scrolling to find out what other bottles made our list of February’s top 10 releases.
Whitebox Whisky Highball
The maker of the award-winning Pocket Negroni and Freezer Martini canned cocktails added an 8% ABV Whisky Highball to its portfolio in February, using its own blended Scotch.
The unique take on the classic serve is said to be a dry, refreshing and malty mix of Scotch and soda, that has been elevated with peach and black tea to give it a ‘fine, crisp finish’.
Whitebox said the RTD was created for the warmer months, sunny afternoons and balmy evenings. It is recommended chilled in the fridge and served in a highball glass with plenty of cubed ice and a lemon wedge garnish.
Two Shores rum
Launched to pay homage to the ‘rich culture of Ireland’, premium rum brand Two Shores landed in the UK last month.
The golden rum has been created using a ‘unique’ ageing process that takes place both in Central America and on the west coast of Ireland.
After having spent eight years ageing in a humid, on-the-equator location, the rum was moved across the Atlantic Ocean into a combination of hand-selected casks for the remaining six months. This combination of geographies and cask varieties creates a range of rums described as ‘unlike any other on the market’.
Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru
Murcian Fino lemons were used in the creation of Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru, which launched in the US last month in honour of its producers and suppliers.
Produced from a single late harvest, the ‘perfectly ripened’ Murcian Fino lemons were matured in the Mediterranean sun and left to ripen in the winter months. The lemons are hand-picked and hand-peeled when at their ripest to ensure the most intense citrus aromas and flavours are harnessed.
The gin is said to offer bright, elegant citrus notes complemented by mandarins and sweet navel oranges.
Highland Park 54-Year-Old
Orkney-based Highland Park launched its oldest Scotch whisky to date last month, ahead of the distillery’s 225th anniversary this year.
The whisky is described as ‘sweet, rich and complex’ with notes of lychee and camphor, vintage oak and delicate peat on the nose, with a palate that brings warm spices, crushed cumin, coriander seeds, rose and jasmine with a hint of kiwi fruit and pistachio, followed by a finish of sweet fenugreek and heathery peat smoke.
Only 225 bottles of the 54-year-old single malt are available, and it clocks in at 46.9% ABV. It is now on sale at Berry Bros & Rudd and The Whisky Shop for RRP £39,000 (US$47,000).
Loch Lomond launched a new blended malt whisky brand called Noble Rebel in February, created to ‘push boundaries in the pursuit of flavour creation’.
The distillery uses a combination of traditional swan-neck stills and its signature high and low-cut straight-neck pot stills in the creation of the three Noble Rebel expressions: Orchard Outburst, Smoke Symphony and Hazelnut Harmony. Each no-age-statement blended malt whisky is non-chill-filtered, natural in colour and bottled at 46% ABV.
The flavours of Noble Rebel are brought to life through a series of illustrations that detail the stories, layers and tasting notes of each expression.
Siempre Exclusivo-Vivo Tequila
Independent spirits brand Siempre turned to a ‘previously forgotten’ Hispanic-Peruvian distilling method in the creation of this limited edition Tequila, which allows the spirit to continue fermenting during distillation.
To create the unique spirit, the juice of the cooked and crushed piñas of the agave plant, known as mosto, were extracted while the yeast was still alive. The process takes place in open air, meaning some alcohol is lost through evaporation, and it is easier for local bacteria to get into the tank and compete with the yeast for food and nutrients. This technique creates a lower yield, but the spirit contains more essence of the agave, offering a unique depth and flavour complexity.
Siempre Exclusivo-Vivo is described as having ‘a slight peppery touch’ with notes of fresh fruit, honey, and ‘silky’ butter.
Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake
Baileys liqueur got in the Irish spirit last month with the release of its limited edition vanilla and mint-flavoured variant, launched in the US in celebration of St Patrick’s Day (17 March).
Made with flavours of mint, vanilla and a hint of chocolate, the new liqueur is recommended served in a grown-up milkshake, as a chilled shot or over ice cream, for an ‘adult twist on a classic treat’.
Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake is available for a limited time across the US for RRP US$24.99 per 750ml bottle. It has an ABV of 17%.
Ki No Bi x Sexy Fish
Japanese gin producer Ki No Bi teamed up with Mayfair restaurant Sexy Fish last month to create a limited edition bottling.
The exclusive gin has been created using a blend of the six elements of Ki No Bi with the addition of almond, which is used as a supplementary single botanical distillate.
The tailored gin, bottled at 47% ABV, is said to make ‘an exceptional Martini’, but is also recommended served in a gin and tonic or a Negroni.
Xavier Landais, director of bars, Caprice Holdings, commented: “We are honoured to be the first venue to have a bespoke gin from Ki No Bi – our Sexy Fish Martinis will never be the same.”
The limited edition gin is available to order at Sexy Fish London’s bar for RRP £16 (US$19.27) per 50ml serve, while stocks last.
Himkok Oslo Paloma
Oslo-based cocktail bar and distillery Himkok tapped into the growing popularity of the Paloma cocktail last month, by expanding its ready-to-drink range with the addition of a canned edition of the serve, presented ‘with a Scandi twist’.
The Oslo Paloma takes influence from the classic Tequila-based version cocktail, but incorporates Himkok’s in-house distilled aquavit, which provides the serve with notes of caraway, adding a depth of spice alongside the bold citrus of the grapefruit.
It is recommended decanted into a Highball glass over ice.
Pimentae canned cocktails
Tequila-based pre-mixed brand Pimentae moved into the ready-to-drink market last month, with the launch of its Pocket of Paradise canned cocktails – just in time for al fresco drinking season.
Pocket of Paradise is the brand’s first venture outside of bottles, with the debut products in the handy new canned range including a Tommy’s Chilli Margarita, and The Cucumber & Elderflower Eclipse, both of which are already available in a 500ml bottled format.
In addition, the brand has also unveiled a classic Tommy’s Margarita, composed of a crisp blend of Tequila, zesty lime and a sweet touch of agave.