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The International Review Of Spirits

Best Spirits of 2001 Awards

by Jerald O'Kennard, jerald@tastings.com

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Tastings.com is delighted to acknowledge the very best spirits reviewed in 2001 from the 300-odd products tasted in that year. If you are looking to upgrade your personal bar or just expand your horizons may we suggest any the 24 Best Spirits of 2001 from the International Review of Spirits Competition.

The criteria for the selection were simple: a platinum medallist was automatically declared, and the highest scoring gold medalist from a category that fielded five or more entries was also declared a Best Spirit of 2001.

A list of the reviews with tasting notes can found by clicking here.

The International Review of Spirits Best Spirits of 2001

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Gin

Bombay Sapphire Gin
Whether you are a Martini or a Gin and Tonic drinker this Dry London style is a classic of the genre and fully expresses the amazing botanical essences used in fine English gins.

Brandy

RMS Distillery 10 Year Old Pinot Noir XO
This one is for habitual cognac drinkers. RMS make some of the finest brandies from California and this example rivals very expensive cognac for smoothness yet it also retains some enigmatic black grape aromas.

Fruit Liqueur

Toulouse Celsius Grapefruit and Cognac
Liqueur—A new product—in the vein of Alize—with intense grapefruit character and real cognac instead of cheaper brandy.

Cream Liqueur

Fil da Fer
Those that have not strayed beyond Baileys should check out this rarity from an artisinal producer in the Italian Alps. Fila de Fer has the consistency of egg nog and is best served warm.

Flavored Brandy Liqueur

Grand Marnier Cuvée Spéciale 1827-1977 Cent Cinquantenaire Liqueur
This is the most exclusive of the Grand Marnier orange liqueur labels and is accordingly priced. The quality factor and incredible depth of flavor and smoothness can be attributed to the aged high quality cognac used. It has the mid-palate of an orange liqueur and the long dry finish of a fine cognac. Quite possibly the world's finest liqueur.

Schnapps Liqueur

Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps
There may be other peppermint schapps but this German classic—now made in Canada—is still the best way to ward of winter chills with a blast of peppermint.

Anise Liqueur

Pernod
Bring out the suffering artist in you with this classic French anisette. Pernod has been the traditional Parisian choice of café aperitif since Hemmingway's days. The anise and fennel oil and other plant essences in Pernod are best appreciated with three parts of water and an ice cube.

Nut Liqueur

Pisa Nut Liqueur
It may sound unpromising...until you taste it. This new product combines hazelnuts, almonds, and spices into a captivating blend of mouth-watering and pure flavors.

Herb/Spice Liqueur

2001 Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal
Tired of sweet and predictable liqueurs? If you are looking for something different and have a taste for tequila and mezcal then Del Maguey's Crema de Mezcal is for you. It's earthy, fruity, slightly sweet and quite unique.

Vermouth

Cinzano Rosso
Vermouth, an infusion of fortified wine and herbs, is a southern European summer aperitif. Cinzano Rosso has been one of the market leaders for decades with its vigorous red wine based flavors and lingering bitter herb finish.

Mezcal

Del Maguey 1999 Pechuga Single Village Mezcal
If you are a tequila lover and you're ready to take that next step to blue agave nirvana then may we suggest a single village mezcal from Del Maguey. The Pechuga village bottling is the most astonishingly vibrant and flavorful of Del Maguey's line-up of single village mezcals.

Dark Rum:

Three world-class products:

Ron Zacapa 23 Year Old Centenario Rum
Ron Zacapa 23-Year-Old rum from Guatemala has been widely acclaimed among rum connoisseurs as a top-drawer product. Rich and toffee-like, this sipping rum impresses connoisseurs and novices alike.

Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
We tasted a lot of rums in 2001 and more than one of our spirits tasters have declared that this is the bottle they would most like to keep them company on a desert island! Smooth, profound and sophisticated, this limited bottling will also appeal to single malt drinkers.
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El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve Rum
This rum has a haunting smell of demerara sugar, which is appropriate enough as it is a top label from the consistently excellent Demerara Distillers Ltd. of the South American country of Guyana. Quite possibly one of the finest aged rums money can buy.

Flavored Rum

A two-way tie:

Foursquare
A new product that very successfully blends Asian flavors (ginger, Asian pear, and lemon grass) and Caribbean spices into a golden rum. Needless to say its cocktail possibilities are as endless as the imagination.

Cruzan Coconut Rum The total essence of a ripe coconut captured in a bottle. This is an eye-opener for those who have only tasted more mass-market versions of this variety of flavored rum.
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Single Malt Scotch

Aberlour 15 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch
We have long been an admirer of Aberlour 10-Year-Old Single Malt and the 15-Year-Old is very much in the same style with the volume cranked up a few notches. Spending it last few years in used sherry barrels gives this rich and most accessible of malts an almost fruity quality. This is one of the smoothest and most accessible 15-year-old malts we have encountered.

Añejo Tequila

Corazón Añe
Oak aged tequila does not get much better than this new product from Corazón which has spent two years in new Canadian oak. This sensational sipping tequila could work in the place of any other after-dinner spirit.

Reposado Tequila

El Tesoro Reposado
Reposado, or "rested" tequila is high fashion these days. El Tesoro Reposado demonstrates a sensational balance between blue agave spice and aromas and the mellowing influences of a few months of wood aging. Drink this straight-up or possibly in the "ultimate" margarita

Silver Tequila

Herradura Hacienda de Cristero
Many tequila connoisseurs like the unadulterated purity of white or silver tequila more than the pricier and more exotically packaged añejo and reposados which have been aged in oak. With this product Herradura, one of the most respected and traditional tequila producers, delivers delightfully pure and smooth blue agave flavors with that telltale peppery snap on the finish.

Vodka

A three-way tie from a crowded field:

Stawski Koszerna Vodka (Best Buy)
This modestly packaged private label grain vodka from Poland has a great texture and a super smooth finish. If quality is your main criteria then you'll like the price of this product.
Cristal Moscow Signature Vodka
A top notch Russian grain vodka that slides down very smoothly. Highly recommended for Martini drinkers.
Sobieski Vodka
Hints of mineral and a rounded mouth feel and a lingering finish; in short, a vodka with substance.

Flavored Vodka

Obelisk Citron
Flavoring vodka is a tricky business to judge by the number of artificial tasting products we taste in the course of the year. With luscious natural citrus flavor and amazing drinkability, Obelisk Citron is as good as it gets.

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