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Two trends collide in 1512 white rye

Salvatore Cimino gives a mean straight shave. But come quitting time, the third-generation barber closes his San Francisco shop and heads north to Sonoma County.

There, in a 1,000-square-foot "playground," as he calls it, outfitted with a 128-gallon, hand-hammered alembic copper still, he produces an unaged rye of astonishing complexity.

This entrancing eau de vie, 1512 Barbershop Rye ($30), soars above a world newly awash in ham-fisted white whiskeys. Cimino has spent the last five years tweaking the recipe, tasting and adjusting the mashing technique and distilling temperatures, even devising a paste made from rye flour to seal in the vapors.

Cases of 1512 rye are finally moving beyond California state lines, and you'd be well advised to pounce immediately. "One ice cube brings out the anise and coriander tones that are underneath the hood," Cimino explains. "You're just not gonna get that with white dog."

Look for an aged version of 1512 to debut in a few months and an experimental cherry-smoked bourbon to drop next year.

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