The following light spirits are probably new to you. That's because there exists a realm of award winning, world-class spirits that remains largely outside of the mainstream. We've culled through the huddled masses and selected the twelve most fascinating spirits you likely haven't heard of. These artisan products are absolutely guaranteed to knock the socks off any enthusiast or connoisseur.
Cruzan Black Strap Rum:
Distilled at the Cruzan Diamond Estate on St. Croix, the tantalizing rum fills a glass with amazing array of flavors and a bouquet that represents the best of the islands. It is a blend of medium-to heavy-bodied aged rums that drinks like a sumptuous alembic brandy. It's also ideal for drink-making.
English Harbour Extra Old Rum:
This luxurious spirit hails from Antigua and is renowned throughout the Caribbean. It consists of a blend of bourbon-barrel aged rums, the oldest of which is 21 years old. Few spirits can compare to its savory, lingering finish.
Magellan Gin is a bona fide headliner. It is made in small batches in Cognac, France. During the fourth and final distillation, the gin is infused with deep-blue Iris petals. The result is a sensationally flavorful, 88 proof spirit with a captivating, light blue tint.
Miller's is distilled in England's oldest operational pot still. Then, prior to bottling, the gin journeys 3,000 miles to the remote Icelandic village of Borganes, the source of the Selyri Spring. The glacier-fed waters are among the purest, softest on earth and are used to dilute the gin to 80 proof.
This regal Polish spirit has a long and intriguing history, overshadowed only by the classic character of the vodka itself. It is double-distilled in pot stills and left unfiltered. It is a remarkable achievement, one that's worthy of the top-shelf treatment.
Pyrat Superior Blanco Rum:
Crafted on the island of Anguilla, this appropriately named light rum is a blend of Soleraaged, pot-distilled rums and coral-filtered spring water. The golden color is carefully filtered out rendering it crystal-clear. This Pyrat is utterly delicious.
Do not let the scorpion inside the bottle dissuade you from sampling this elegant triple-distilled, 100% agave mezcal. The three-year-old añejo is especially marvelous. Tequila aficionados will certainly appreciate experiencing this outstanding Mexican import.
Shakers Rose Vodka:
Made in Princeton, Minnesota, Shakers Rose is an ultra-premium, 100% wheat vodka infused with elixir of rose and more than a dozen natural flavors, including honey, vanilla and citrus. It has a slightly sweet character and an alluring rose-tint. The vodka is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Wet By Beefeater:
This superpremium gin is brimming with a fruity essence that resonates through its bouquet and palate. The fruit adds a lushness to the gin that has been heretofore unimagined. To further the effect, Beefeater Wet is bottled at an accessible 70 proof.
Wyborowa Single Estate Vodka:
As the name implies, the creators of this Polish, 100% rye vodka not only grow the grain, they also distill the product with spring water found on their estate near the village of Turew. The artisan vodka is a silky smooth gem.
Zuidam Genever Gin:
A bona fide taste treat suitable for any palate, ultra-premium Zuidam Genever is made from malted grain and double-distilled with a host of botanicals. It is fullbodied, highly aromatic and singularly delicious.
Zyr Russin Vodka:
A handcrafted spirit made near Moscow, Zyr Vodka is distilled five times from rye, winter wheat and spring water drawn from 460 feet below the ground. The vodka is rigorously filtered and imbued with an engaging assortment of flavors.
Robert Plotkin is the past president of the National Bar & Restaurant Association and author of numerous books including the 4th edition of The Bartender's Companion: The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks.