Photo by Joe Mabel

This Week In Craft Spirits

Greetings from The Musky Stave, your online source for the finest in American spirits! We have five great new products for you this week, and as always they’re hand-crafted with love right here in the USA. Let’s get right to it.

OLD STONE BASEMENT SINGLE BARREL (Philadelphia, PA). This multi-dimensional bourbon is crafted by the Bouzoukis brothers in the heart of the city’s historic Manayunk district. They hand-dip Schuylkill River water in copper ladles of their own design, drive it around the block in an old Chevy, chill it by forty degrees and immediately warm it by forty-two degrees, then blend it with a mash containing corn, rye, wheat, quinoa and the stuff at the bottom of a Whole Foods raisin bin. Then they age it in white oak barrels constructed from boards that were carefully peeled off ex-governor Ed Rendell’s porch while he was away on a book tour. The exact aging time is a closely-held secret, but it’s rumored to be lengthy: “All we can tell you,” Steve Bouzoukis says with a wink, “is that no one involved in the production of this bourbon is still alive.” Redolent of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hint of cheesesteak and a long dry finish that suggests what you’d taste if you sucked on your car keys. Only 200 bottles were produced. We have sixty, at $154.99 per.

EL MIASMO DEL DIABLO (Detroit, MI). Years from now, when someone says “Tequila” you’ll think “Detroit.” Yes you will, and this astonishingly fine spirit from the dedicated boutique distillers at Rambledown & Thacker is the reason why. El Miasmo starts with blue agave which is lovingly hand-driven from just over the Mexican border to R&T’s workshop in a house that used to belong to a GM executive, and which the GM executive insists still does. It’s baked, scraped, and custom-mashed with a machine built from some old parts the GM guy had lying around. Then the juice is extracted, fermented, triple-distilled and (here’s the secret) left to “turn its face to the sun” for anywhere from six to fifty-two weeks. Any particulate matter that may drift into the open aging troughs is allowed to remain, as it imparts the unmistakable “tang of Michigan” to the final product. Bottled in single-serving containers repurposed from old Matchbox cars, El Miasmo is clear and bright on the tongue and burns with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns going down, leaving nothing but a whiff of diesel and a small but distinct quotient of regret. We have 96 2-oz. Matchbox cars, sold in eight-car carriers that are crafted from salvaged wood and hand-painted by a clinically insane folk artist in the Sandia mountains of New Mexico. A steal at $74.99 per carrier.

ALCOHOL PRODUCT (America). The master craftsmen at this anonymous atelier are so fanatical about reducing the distiller’s art to its bare essence that we cannot, under the terms of our agreement with them, tell you who they are, where they are or exactly what they produce. This much we can say: It is a clear alcohol formulated from the fermented by-products of carbohydrate-derived sugars. It is not added to or subtracted from in any way. The distillers, communicating through a complicated series of blinds, cutouts and dead drops, have asked us to make particularly sure that you understand this is not a “moonshine” or other raw corn liquor, which they regard as “swill for hipsters.” You also shouldn’t expect to glean any hints from the packaging, as this product will reach you unlabeled in a clear glass bottle of Zen-like simplicity. Serve it neat or on ice, or for that matter mix it in cocktails -- it is what you believe it to be. We have a small quantity on offer at $124.99 per bottle.

BIDDEFORD'S PRIDE (Dover, ME). Crafted from a formula first set down by the Ogunquit Indians, this legendary all-American spirit is complex yet highly drinkable. Ogunquit lore maintains that it is the ultimate expression of the North American land, as it contains in exacting proportions every single plant varietal that was native to the pristine continent in the time before the arrival of the white man. The gatefold ingredients list, itself a collector's item, unfolds to just over eleven feet in width, with hand-lettering so uncompromisingly tiny it can spawn cluster migraines. If you like birch bark, lemongrass, dandelion, beetroot, swamp thistle, hemp, St. John's Wort or for that matter anything that has ever grown wild between Mexico and Canada, this is your drink. We recommend that you sip it straight. (But it also makes a sturdy soup stock!) One available, at a more-than-reasonable $229.99.

WINGS OF AN EAGLE PREMIUM AMERICAN RYE (Three Forks, MT). From deep in the heart of Big Sky Country comes this brisk, unapologetic testament to the American dream. Master distiller Lance Daggett, who may or may not be a former member of Seal Team Six, produces this extraordinary rye in very small quantities at a heavily fortified complex just outside Three Forks. Daggett is a man of few words, and most of them are either “rye” or “America” or some combination of the two like “American rye,” or “Get out” or “Fair warning.” He produces rye exclusively, and doesn’t take kindly to other brown liquors, particularly bourbon, which he feels is “soft” and “weak” due to the relative sweetness resulting from its high corn content. Wings of an Eagle is, in his words, a “pure American rye,” meaning that although “the fat cats in Washington” ordain a minimum 51 percent rye content, his product is proudly 100 percent rye, and as a result is so blindingly peppery that it causes immediate burns to the lining of the pharynx. It comes packaged with an affidavit certifying that the buyer will neither mix it in cocktails nor dilute it with water. We strongly suggest that you sign it. 24 bottles available, at $94.99 per.

Please note that, as always, we cannot ship to PO boxes, and that we cannot ship craft beer, because we think the whole notion of “craft beer” is ludicrous.