Posted on | April 22, 2015
Written by | Jeffery Lindenmuth
The Palm Bay craft spirits portfolio emphasizes family management and top quality.
Today, the popular marketing term “craft spirit” is widely used, and sometimes misused, given the moniker is open to interpretation. For Palm Bay International, which began 38 years ago as a wine importer, the most important measuring stick is the same one that guided them in curating a world-class portfolio of wines. “The Palm Bay spirits portfolio is diverse in terms of the size, scope, style and origin of the brands, but one thing remains constant throughout each: an integral family involvement at every level, from production through marketing,” says Marc D. Taub, President and CEO of Palm Bay International. “As a family-owned company, we place high value on identifying partners who share our philosophy of being hands-on and passionate in every piece of day-to-day business, staying true to roots and tradition, and at the same time being innovative, and standing out from the crowd.”
The fine Calvados from the French Boulard family, along with Alexander Grappa from the Bottega family were among Palm Bay’s first forays into spirits, emblematic of Palm Bay’s focus on quality, even in categories others might dismiss as minor. “We’re not looking to play in the volume category with the big guys, but rather put forth carefully selected, family-driven spirits that we believe in.” says Taub.
Here’s a quick overview of some of Palm Bay’s current spirits, and the passionate people who make them possible.
The Boulard family’s centuries-long reign in Normandy is apparent in a range of exquisitely old Calvados, blended from stocks that reach back for decades. The VSOP averages 7 years, while the XO tops 10 years and the Extra an astonishing 25. Over 120 different apple varieties, including bitter, sweet, bitter-sweet and acidic, contribute to these complex blends, suitable for vintage cocktails and able to stand alongside the finest sipping Cognac.
Distiller Jean-Marc Daucourt represents a new generation of whisky maker with this French whisky that takes inspiration from the Old World and the New. Daucourt marries his classical Scottish training with progressive ideas on maturation, aging five to seven years in a combination of French oak, cherry wood and acacia casks, for a soft wheated whisky that beckons bourbon lovers, yet is wholly original.
Darnley’s View Gin
The Wemyss family is deeply entrenched in Scotland, with history dating back to the 19th century. Since 2010, they have also made a small-batch London Dry gin, Darnley’s View. (It’s named after the time Mary Queen of Scots first spied her future husband, Lord Darnley, through the courtyard window at Wemyss Castle in 1565.) Darnley’s View is a modern, yet traditionally styled London Dry gin produced just south of London. The botanicals (including juniper, elderflower, lemon peel, orris root, angelica root and coriander) are re-distilled with a four-times-distilled wheat-based spirit in a pot still. The ability of the Wemyss family to translate the excellence of their Scotch whisky into gin is an example of what Taub calls “the rare energy and flexibility you find only in family-run companies.”
The Irishman Whiskey
Talk about a family: The Walsh clan is the largest in Ireland, giving husband and wife team Bernard and Rosemary Walsh no shortage of ardent supporters when then founded The Irishman Whiskey in 1999. The range of 100% barley based, triple-distilled whiskies are crafted using both single malt and Pure Potstill (a style of whiskey exclusive to Ireland). Production includes unique vatting techniques as well as innovative wood management. The Irishman Founder’s Reserve is matured in first-fill bourbon barrels. Only 6,000 batch-numbered bottles of The Irishman 12 Year Single Malt are produced each year, matured in first-fill, charred bourbon casks and bottled at 43% ABV. The Irishman Cask Strength is Ireland’s most exclusive whiskey.
Los Amantes Mezcal
A bit of nostalgia, rather than family, is at the heart of Mezcal Los Amantes, first created by Guillermo Olguin and Ignacio Carballido, whose mutual love of mezcal led them to extensive research into developing an authentic, high-quality mezcal, reminiscent of the spirit they enjoyed growing up in Mexico. They employed traditional methods of pot distillation, tahona-stone crushing the agave and wooden tank fermentation. Their commitment to quality has earned Mezcal Los Amantes the COMERCAM certification that certifies the mezcal is being produced by traditional methods and is 100% agave. The line of Mezcal Los Amantes also includes a Joven, a Reposado and an Añejo.