The products of 1512 Spirits do not want for praise, and certainly not around these parts. With the passage of time since the release of their non-aged Barbershop Rye a few years past, a few developments have occurred. Firstly, the non-aged rye was not a one-off novelty. Subsequent releases have followed and some in larger bottles (I am still an inveterate fan of the original, smaller bottles, but that is just my style). More importantly, and in keeping very much in the tradition I would expect from the spirit’s crafter, Salvatore Cimino, there has been no attempt to replicate the original flavor and milk a successful recipe: the core approach to production and elements of the signature are recognizable but subtle, purposeful shifts have occurred, elevating the art incrementally. The same can be said for 1512’s aged rye, as well. This follow-up to the white spirit, the original release of the aged rye imparted a fine amber hue and and lush twists on the base spirit. In particular, Mr. Cimino’s eau-de-vie pedigree and penchant for creating a singularly impressive dryness in his spirits permits one to appreciate the sweeter as well as the subdued aspects of a pour. Instead of a saturated, pervasive sweetness, one appreciates the juxtaposition of sweet, floral, grain, and water-and-barrel elements and the finer complexities resulting from the interplay between. And it is the mesmerizing dryness that stages the proper backdrop for truly connecting with these details. Much like the un-aged rye, successive releases of the aged version have retained the core sensibilities while finding room for greater expression.
Also of importance concerning the aged version is that it showed to the whisky-savoring populace that 1512 Spirits was no one-trick pony and Mr. Cimino no mere white-dog savant, something I deduced early on from conversations over unreleased spirits, all of which were superlative. As if to draw attention to the variability of the deft hands at work at 1512, the ryes have since been followed up with a poitin, a rum, and a wheat whisky. Frankly, the outdated dogma of the vocabulary for tasty notes would only serve to damn the flavors of the spirits with hackneyed, diluted vagaries. It is the subtleties and interplay of elements imbued with a sense of purity and focus the necessitate drinking the spirits to get a just sense of the flavor. And I do not write that simply to avoid delving into the myriad details and dimensions of the line-up. Until you have actually tried a few pours of 1512’s spirits, we will lack a common vocabulary with which to accurately engage in descriptions more revealing that base platitudes. That being said, I must coquettishly tease with a few remarks. The poitin, a traditional Irish potato-based whisky, was resurrected in Mr. Cimino’s crypt with intriguing expressions of starches that are borderline-unique, and curiously satisfying. The rum is almost entirely unlike the rums one is used to because it actually tastes like a finely detailed concoction with depth and intrigue, not simply glorified sugar. And while I thought it would have been a crime to cast the well-wrought flavors of such a spirit into the oubliette of a cocktail, I was happily proven wrong when I was served the best Old Cuban I had ever imbibed, the rum suffering not a wit and the cocktail benefiting greatly. Needless to say, the wheat whisky is not simply the rye with a last minute substitution. The flavor of the whisky favors the wheat in a manner that no doubt required a ground-up approach to engender a recipe that takes into account the difference in the grain and it’s idiosyncrasies. And it tastes good.
While this article may appear as one in a hopefully long line of laudatory expressions of my experience with 1512 Spirits’ products, I see no reason to praise it any less when I only ever drink it more. The line-up continues to reflect the character of their maker, a man of strong opinions held and delivered without doubt… but always with knowledge, belief, and a distinctively bold shade of grace. –Nate