Lance Mayhew is a sophisticated man when it comes to spirits. A former chef (and still avid home chef), restaurant manager, bar manager, beverage manager, and a top-notch craft bartender, he is now a lead instructor at the prestigious Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. He is also a frequent contributor and elegant commentator on all matters spiritual to a number of magazines and internet sites (try Whisked Foodie to see an example) and, as a writer, has the ability to sample pretty much anything he wishes (and often before any of the rest of us have access to it.)
Although he is more than conversant with the cocktail scene, when he drinks he tends to prefer his spirits neat. When he does choose cocktails, he is usually quite specific about what he wants in those cocktails.
So with all the spirit world at his command, what does Lance like in his private stash? Here are Lance’s choices for his 12 Bottle Case of Spirits:
Absolut Vodka (For Bloody Marys)
Plymouth Gin (Can't live without Plymouth)
Beefeater Gin (Martinis)
Flor De Cana 4yr Silver Rum (Daiquiris)
Aberlour Scotch (can't decide which marque)
The GLENLIVET 15yr Single Malt Scotch (nice spice)
Laphroaig 10yr Islay Single Malt Scotch (Need an Islay representative)
Yamazaki 18yr Japanese Whisky (So good, I dream about it)
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon (Gotta have a great bourbon on hand!)
Old Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey (Best rye out there, IMHO)
Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac (For cold winter nights)
So in the final analysis, one vodka, two gins, one light rum, one tequila, three different scotch whisky iterations, a Japanese Whisky (which is scotch-like), a singular Bourbon, a Kentucky Rye, and a Cognac.
It’s obvious that Lance prefers the brown spirits to the white and appreciates the effect of oak barrel aging (9 of the 12 are aged spirits).
Four of the whiskies are either scotch or scotch-like, in that they are made from malted barley---and the two American whiskies are renowned for their rye-spiced nature and oak barrel aging.
Although there is no precise age statement on the cognac, the Martell Cordon Bleu is considered a blend of approximately 25 year old eaux-de-vie, with an emphasis on the softer, more rounded cognacs of the Borderies area. The Flor de Caña Rum is 4 years old, and Cazadores Reposado Tequila has a brief “resting in the barrel” of only two months. Only the vodka and two gins are un-aged spirits.
This is a key item list with highly assertive flavors---notice there are no liqueurs here---and assuming Lance’s island or den has a sufficiency of bitters and the necessary selection of fresh fruits, this selection has the capability of many of the great classic cocktails, as well as a source of some sublime singular sipping. I just hope he has a bottle of white and a bottle of sweet vermouth hidden away somewhere.