Moon Import

Moon Import was founded at the end of the 1970s by Pepi Mongiardino, who worked for Pernod from 1970 to 1979. His work allowed him to traverse Italy, visiting the best restaurants, caves and bars on the peninsula promoting Pernod products. When the company shut down its activities on the peninsula, Pepi Mongiardino chose to remain in his country rather than follow his work to France or Germany. Following a meeting with Silvano Samaroli in Cantarelli, a famous restaurant from the era near Parma, he decided to create his own company. He named his company is a play on his primary activity, that of an importer: Moon Import.

He began seeking distilleries for which he could distribute their whisky, and his choice was Bruichladdich. Fate would have it that an Italian would respond to his call and the next day, after a visit of the distillery, the dead was done. This activity as an importer continued with Tamnavulin and Tullibardine, with whom Moon Import had obtained distribution rights after having ceded its rights with Bruichladdich to another large importer of the time, Rinaldi.

                                                                                        Bruichladdich 1965 15 year old Royal Wedding

 

In 1982, with a wealth of advice provided by his mentor, Pepi Mongiardino specific barrels at distilleries he visited, and then through individual producers. This first series, the half-moons and alembics, were followed by the iconic birds, costumes, the sea and animals for which he found illustrations in a German encyclopedia from the 18th century. At this point, the whiskies were being bottled at 46% abv, whereas the first series were cask strength. These series, generally sourced from one or a handful of specific casks, were limited to only a few hundred bottles.

Among other iconic Moon Import series, we can site the sailbot series, De Viris Illustribus, Horae Solaris or Menses. Rum enthusiasts will also find their pleasure with certain series. Moon Import is the perfect symbol of a certain era in the history of whisky, specifically the history of whisky in Italy, where the talents of distilleries who craft their art and capable tasters who select the best casks so auspiciously combined. These same qualities could also be found in other actors from the era, independent bottlers or collectors, of whom I hope to be able to speak in further articles.

Lagavulin 1988 Moon Import Horae Solaris

50%, 70cl, 1998, 1,300 bottles

Bottled during the Horae Solaris series, Lagavulin occupies a particular place in my personal pantheon of this grand Islay distillery. I had tasted it in an excellent whisky bar in Roppongi on the advice of my bartender. It was also my first experience with a bottle from Moon Import.

I remember a crystal-clear whisky, a tangy freshness and a minerality rarely encountered elsewhere, if not for certain Caol Ilas or Longrows and another Lagavulin from 1988 selected by another prominent Italian bottler: Silvano Samaroli with whom Pepi Mongiardino created the colourful Dreams series in 1999. It’s a Lagavulin that goes against the tide, and I highly recommend giving it a taste.

Caol Ila 1990 Samaroli & Mongiardino Dreams

45%, 70cl, 1999, 1,020 bottles

Since we were talking about it... Here’s a Caol Ila that’s carefully crafted with a subtle equilibrium between its smoky and marine notes and a certain gentleness brought on by the aging. Altogether it is both precise and smooth. Purists, you’ll have to forgive me, but I cannot help but think it would go marvellously in a highball or a mizuwari.

 

Clément Gaillard, Golden Promise Whisky Bar.

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