by Jacob Brower, Wine & Spirits Professional
If you’ve shopped with us before, you’ve probably heard our spiel—that we champion small producers, traditional methods, and craft beer & spirits, rather than mass-produced, commercial products. Most importantly, we taste everything before we buy it, so even though something might not be familiar, it’s been vetted and vouched for by experts with a lot of experience. That all sounds good....but what does it look like in practice?
As spirits buyer, I can only speak for myself—but since I get to taste wine & beer samples with the team and weigh in, I promise you my approach is similar to the way we handle all of our buying. Personally, I have a few simple rules:
- I don’t buy things I haven’t tasted.
- At all except the very lowest price points, everything in our spirits selection must be a true craft spirit, meaning that it was distilled, aged, and produced on-site using local ingredients, largely by hand. (Some brands might say handmade on the bottle, but recently settled lawsuits suggest otherwise…)
- I buy based on quality—from my own experience—rather than by brand name, label, reviews, etc.
- Everything, regardless of price point, must represent a good value for what it is.
- Spirits in our selection should be distinct from one another, representing a wide selection of styles and approaches so customers have enough variety to choose their favorites or sample different items within a single category.
Following these rules results in a few things—first and foremost, it’s a lot of work. I spend a lot of time researching, finding, and tasting new spirits. Often I request certain items or categories from our best distributors, and a rep brings by a bunch of options for me to sample and winnow down to my one or two favorite. Other times, I head into Manhattan to taste at a trade tasting or distributor’s office; on occasion, I seek out to interesting bars and stores when I’m in a new town or on vacation, just to scout out products on my own time. And believe it or not, I also buy the occasional bottle of whiskey or gin (or whatever else) from the big, mass-produced, corporate-owned macro-distilleries just to see what it is people are asking for and make sure that we’re offering something better, both in terms of taste and value.
So, if you walk into Amanti Vino looking for a particular brand—Blanton’s, say, or Pappy Van Winkle, or Tito’s, or Casamigos (the list goes on)—and we say that we don’t carry it, rest assured that it’s not because we can’t get it, don’t know it, or don’t have the “good stuff.” We don’t have it because we’ve spent our time finding something even better. Let us show you the cool-kid stuff!
The following items are spirits I brought into Amanti Vino in the past few weeks after tasting through hundreds of bottles. They’re really delicious, and I’d love to share them with you!