Renowned for their comprehensive Japanese selection, Landmark Wines takes pride in a unique array of products from different places throughout the globe, offering a strong selection of European liquor and an entire wall is dedicated to affordable wines under $15 for those on a budget.
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Liquor has been a social tool throughout history and also serves as an introduction to new fascinating cultures. Chelsea's Landmark Wines upholds this concept by offering their customers a glimpse into other cultures through its wide assortment of wines, liquors, and spirits.
“We are lucky to be in New York, where we have the largest option of spirits and wines anywhere in the U.S.” says James Kumm, propietor of Landmark wines. Despite the United States’ huge selection of liquors from Europe, Asia, and other places of the world, this selection is still just a fraction of the spirits available internationally. It is Kumm’s belief that Americans have much to discover about Eastern spirits, and he seeks to share this piece of Japanese culture with the masses in New York City. Landmark Wines makes an effort to be more representative of the authentic Eastern culture by choosing unique Japanese and Asian liquor varieties to sell to its customers. The key to Landmark Wine’s approach is to weed out inferior products so as to provide a choice, well-rounded selection of international wine and spirits. Kumm’s expansive knowledge of Japanese liquors is essential in this process.
While renowned for their comprehensive Japanese selection, Landmark Wines takes pride in a unique array of products from different places throughout the globe. Landmark Wines offers a strong selection of European liquor, from countries including Ireland, Holland, and Italy, to name a few. Small family brands, like Kettle One owned by the Nolet family in the Netherlands, can be found alongside more renowned European brands. They carry whiskeys and bourbons, including Rye whiskeys, Irish whiskeys, 12 year and 18 year Japanese whiskeys made by only a handful of producers. Also available at Landmark wines are products of Tuthilltown Spirits, New York State's first whiskey distillery in the Hudson Valley, producing a variety of distilled spirits since the prohibition era. At Landmark Wines, you can find liquor such as handmade Manhattan Rye and Baby Bourbon from Tuthilltown’s selection.
“The spirit of Japan begins with schochu, beer, then sake,” says Kumm. Though shochu is widely popular in Japan, it is not yet sold on a large scale in America. It is traditionally a blue-collar liquor and is available mainly at authentic Japanese restaurants and bars in New York City, a few of these located in the East Village, far West Chelsea and Mid-town East. This authentic Japanese spirit is very flexible in its application just as Western spirits are - it makes a great substitute in many vodka recipes or drunk on the rocks. Schochu contains about 24% alcohol and is stronger than clear spirits. You will also find different types of Asian specialty liquors from countries such as China and Korea. Kumm believes that New York receives a very small sampling of global cultures when it comes to liquor and so his goal is to offer something more representative and authentic from the East.
Just as expansive as their shochu collection is Landmark Wines’ selection of sake. Sake, often referred to as Japanese rice wine, has become a popular drink in America and is one of the specialties at Landmark Wines. Kumm explains how most sake products' availability is limited to a small number of U.S. markets, sometimes as low as only three states. Because of their large Asian communities, these markets generally include New York City and Los Angeles. With his background of Eastern spirits, Kumm uses his talent to order a distinct sake selection for his store. Sake is extremely elegant liquor and can hold its own in comparison with other alcohol from across the globe. Kumm believes that the “fresh fruit of alcohol”, as he labeled sake, is something that should be experienced by all in its ideal state - it is best drunk immediately after being bottled. He shares his knowledge with his customers, who are usually beginner sake drinkers, to better understand the transparency of the delicate beverage. Though it is considered Japan’s most expensive drink, there are plenty of affordable options at Landmark Wines. Among them are a variety of Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginja sake.
For those on a budget, an entire wall is dedicated to affordable wines under $15. Its shelves are stacked with over 40 wine varieties produced all over the world. Landmark Wines even sells over 30 organic varieties, each produced without sulfites on small sized vineyards with low yields. Landmark Wine's expert is available to assist customers on Fridays and Saturdays.
Landmark wines has been providing its customers with an extensive selection of domestic and international choices since 1990. To Kumm it is vital to understand the product in order to enhance the drinking experience. It is this passion and knowledge of liquor that makes Landmark Wines what it is - a contributor to the constantly evolving tastes of American society.
Written by George Morales | Edited by Rebecca Benison