TOTC’s best new spirits and cocktail ingredients

Olive bitters, a single-origin coffee liqueur, and a hand-crafted mezcal: these are the top 11 best new spirits and cocktail enhancers as longlisted by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2017.

Recently, the world’s foremost cocktail and spirits trade show, Tales of the Cocktail, announced its top 10 Spirited Awards nominees, including those in the Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient category. From a liqueur made with green chillies to a blend of Scottish brambles with London Dry Gin, an array of new products have made a significant impact in the drinks industry in the past year. Italian spirits and bitters perfectly suited to Martinis also features, as well as the first Rieger’s Monogram Whiskey release in almost one hundred years. Which brand is worthy of Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient accolade? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Click through the following pages to see the best new spirits and cocktail products to launch in the past year, as selected by the esteemed Spirited Awards 2017 panel of judges.

Olmeca Altos Anejo

The latest addition to Pernod Ricard's Olmeca Altos Tequila range is an añejo variant, which has been aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Olmeca Altos Tequila was initially created by late bartender Henry Besant and Dre Masso alongside master distiller Jesús Hernández. The brand’s new Añejo variant was created in collaboration with US bartender Charles Joly and UK Olmeca Altos brand ambassador Matthias Lataille. Olmeca Altos is created using blue agave cooked at low temperatures and then crushed using a traditional Tahona wheel.

Ancho Reyes Verde

After the huge success of the original Ancho Reyes liqueur (which also won a TOTC nomination when it launched in 2014), the makers behind the chilli liqueur have followed it up with a green chilli variant made from the same poblano chilli. The Verde uses early-harvested green chillies, whereas the original uses the late-harvested ones dried in the sun. As a result, Ancho Reyes Verde is described as having notes of "golden roasted pineapple, a touch of savoury acidity, and the bright taste of green chiles, finishing with rich texture and piquant heat".

Braemble Gin Liqueur

  Created by Mike Aikman and Jason Scott of Edinburgh's acclaimed Bramble bar, and gin enthusiast Craig Harper, Braemble Gin Liqueur is a blend of sweet, Scottish brambles with English London Dry Gin. The result is a "deliciously fruity" liqueur recommended served on its own, in a mixer or with sparkling wine. It is made with juniper berries, coriander seed, cassia quills, angelica root, lemon peel, cardamon, liquorice root, grains of paradise, orris root and cubebs and blended with blackberries.

Del Maguey San Pablo Ameyaltepec

Part of the Del Maguey's Vino de Mezcal collection, San Pablo Ameyaltepec is described as "floral with notes of spice, lilac and tropical fruit".The 12- to 18-year-old corazones (hearts) are roasted in an earthen horno (oven) below ground, fermented open air with ambient yeasts, and distilled to proof – one time, but passing through copper plates, in a resaque style alembic still. The brand, which was recently acquired by Pernod Ricard, comprises a range of super-premium, hand-crafted mezcals from Oaxaca.

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

Launched by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo in September 2016, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto is an Italian aperitivo created using a recipe dating back to the 1800s. It is described as “lightly citrus” on the nose, with hints of rose and lavender, while the palate offers “fresh tones of ripe citrus fruits” balanced with a “light bitter and floral spice” and a “complex and long lasting finish”. Italicus is said to be best enjoyed with Prosecco over ice at a ratio of 1:1, and garnished with three green olives.

J Rieger & Co Caffè Amaro

Launched in August 2016, Caffè Amaro is the newest addition to Kansas-based J Rieger & Co's portfolio. The coffee-based liqueur is a collaborative spirit with Kansas coffee roasters Thou Mayest who select a single origin coffee roast to go into the liqueur. It then spends a brief amount of time in a whiskey barrel resulting in a "rich, bittersweet flavour" that can enjoyed in a cocktail or as a digestif.

Luxardo Bitter Bianco

Italian spirits group Luxardo has expanded its liqueur range with the launch of Bitter Bianco, a “distilled infusion” of bitter herbs, aromatic plants and citrus fruits. It boasts “fruity aromas of sweet and bitter oranges”, “balanced by hints of spices and botanicals”. According to the brand, similar to the creation of Luxardo Maraschino, the Luxardo Bitter Bianco also stands out as a liqueur, which is unusually produced by distillation. It is recommended mixed in a White Negroni or over ice with a splash of soda or on the rocks, garnished with a wedge of orange or lemon.

Plantation O.F.T.D.

Cognac Ferrand's overproof expression features a blend of rums from Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados bottled at 69% abv. The rum has been created by Alexandre Gabriel, founder of brand owner Cognac Ferrand and master blender of Plantation Rum, with input from David Wondrich, a spirits and cocktail historian; Jeff Berry of Latitude 29 in New Orleans; Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco; Paul McFadyen of Trailer Happiness in London; Paul McGee of Lost Lake in Chicago; and Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick in Paris. The rum has been created for use in cocktails and punches.

Rieger's Monogram Whiskey, 2017 Olorso Bota

The second product from J Reiger & Co to make the list is a limited release of the first Rieger’s Monogram Whiskey in nearly a hundred years. A blend of 11-year-old rye and nine-year-old corn whiskey, Rieger’s 2017 Monogram Whiskey is finished for 18 months in century-old olorso Sherry casks supplied by Williams & Humbert, one of the oldest Sherry producers in Jerez, Spain. At 104 proof, it is described as "dark fruit and caramel notes which come together for a creamy, full taste".

Shrubb JM

Created by Martinique-based Rhum JM, Shrub JM is a blend of JM aged rum with bitter orange zest, natural sugarcane syrup, and a maceration of locally sourced vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is described as an essential ingredient in cocktails which call for an orange liqueur. This higher proof rum is noted as having hints of "mango, overripe bananas, and papaya" with a "wild, funky earthiness".

The Bitter Truth Olive Bitters

Capitalising on demand for savoury cocktails, The Bitter Truth added a olive variant to its portfolio last year. It is said to have "delicate green olive flavours, soft hints of salt and notes of mustard, sage and thyme" and is described as the perfect addition to all white spirits and fortified wines.