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Best of the Best 2011: Spirits: Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin

Holland’s oldest distillers, the Nolet family, who established their business in 1691, have set a new benchmark for the primary component of the martini. Even so, 10th-generation family patriarch Carolus H.J. Nolet maintains that Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin (www.noletspirits.com, $700)—undoubtedly the world’s most expensive—is meant for sipping, not mixing. The man who gave us Ketel One vodka spent the last four decades perfecting this regal version of a spirit that has historical roots in his homeland. For three of those years, he traveled the world in search of botanicals that had never been combined together in gin. Yet he refuses to divulge any of the ingredients except saffron and verbena. A judicious tasting reveals essences of rose petal, apple, berry, and Chinese herbs, but Nolet will neither confirm nor deny whether the recipe actually contains any of these items. Regardless, at 104.6 proof, Nolet’s Reserve, with its thick legs reminiscent of Cognac, is a standout—not only for its bold price, but also for its bold taste.

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