1Bitters have been around for far longer than many realize.  For some it seems that the only version until the past ten years or so came from Trinidad in the iconic bottle with the oversized paper label.  However, there was an American bitters that sold as well until shortly after World War II.  Abbot’s Bitters were produced in Philadelphia, and they were called for in many classic cocktails pre- and post- prohibition.

Robert Petrie of Bob’s Bitters has recently sought to recreate these bitters.  He explains, “Having been developed over the past five years, this is the first reformulated Abbotts Bitters that has been commercially available since the 1950s. Abbotts was aged for six months in a medium charred oak barrel. This process produced a more rounded, mellow flavour with many layers of complexity. We believe we have brought Abbotts Bitters into the 21st Century and, with the help of the modern barman, it can be used in many cocktails, like the Manhattan, Martini, El Presidente.”

Along with this redacted blended bitters, Bob’s also offers ten single flavor bitters.  The idea being that if a bartender is looking to add just a touch of one particular flavor profile, it is right at hand.

Bob’s Abbotts Bitters: Lighter and more nutty than most aromatic bitters.  These are easy-going and smooth with little of the usual nutmeg and cinnamon heavy flavor.  Perfect in a Manhattan, and certainly a great addition to your bitters collection.  GSN Rating: A

Bob’s Cardamom Bitters: Reminiscent of Indian spice-driven cuisine, these are very well done and perfect for use in gin and rum based cocktails.  The cardamom flavor is slightly sweet, making them easy to blend into a drink without overwhelming the balance.  GSN Rating: A-

Bob’s Chocolate Bitters: Dry, bittersweet chocolate that has an edge.  The flavor is deep and rich with a slightly granular mouthfeel.  Honestly, a minute after tasting these, I’d swear I just ate some chocolate.  Nicely done.  These will work with everything from brandy to vodka.  GSN Rating: A+

Bob’s Coriander Bitters: Fresh and vibrant with a lively vegetal kick.  A tasty bitters that is well worth your time exploring in custom cocktails.  There’s a faint touch of Chartruese here that springs to mind.  GSN Rating: B+

Bob’s Ginger Bitters:  A decent amount of heat in these bitters balanced by a sweetness.  Even if you weren’t to use these in a cocktail, they would be a great digestion aid in tea.  Really tasty too.  GSN Rating: A+

Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters: Not too bitter, these are more like ruby-red grapefruit.  Luscious citrus offset by just enough bitter pith make these perfect for gin, vodka and rum cocktails.  Like breakfast fruit in a bottle.  GSN Rating: B+

Bob’s Lavender Bitters: Quite floral on the nose, the flavor is intense and much like eating a lavender breath lozenge.  There is more bitterness here than I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  You’ll just need to be careful with the amount you use.  A drop or two will do you fine.  GSN Rating: B

Bob’s Liquorice Bitters: Very unique and true to the real qualities of licorice.  Less anise and more of an intense sweetness that lingers for a long time.  I can see these working with Scotches, Mezcals and even Rauchbiers.  Definitely a bitters that fills a much-needed gap in the market.  GSN Rating: A

Bob’s Orange & Mandarin Bitters: We probably didn’t need yet another iteration of orange bitters, but these are different.  Almost burnt and caramelized orange peel is prominent, with a thick intensity.  You will need just a dash to add orange flavor to a cocktail.  GSN Rating: B+

Bob’s Peppermint Bitters: Bracing and minty, just one drop will transform your cocktail into a winter wonderland.  Try these in Genever cocktails, hot chocolate, Irish Coffee or to add a touch of coolness to a tropical tiki styled beverage.  GSN Rating: B+

Bob’s Vanilla Bitters: Much less sweet than the vanilla extracts you can find on your grocer’s shelves.  Nonetheless a pleasant and natural vanilla flavor pervades and adds plenty of dessert-like flavor to cocktails.  Great with bourbons, rums and vodkas.  GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Bob’s Bitters


A well made rum is truly a lovely thing.  We here at Good Spirits News have been enjoying a Dominican version recently sent to us for review.  Crafted by Rum Master Pedro Ramon Lopez Oliver in the Cuban style, the rum is produced using the Solera method.  Interestingly, the blend is created from small batch rums aged in ex-bourbon, sherry, port or single malt Scotch casks.  This gives an amazing depth and breadth to the flavor profile which rivals any spiced rum I’ve tasted.  Honestly, this rum is a bargain at only $27.99 a bottle.  You might as well pick up a case.

South Bay Rum (80 proof)
Visual: Warm golden brown.
Nose: Spices, rich molasses and vanilla bean.
Taste: Incredibly smooth and richly flavorful.  Part cinnamon spice, part molasses, part vanilla and part oak.  Each element works to make a cohesive whole that excels on every level.  This is the kind of rum that you will begin a life long friendship with.
Finish: Nice and long with just a hint of the inherent wood aging at the end to give it some zing.  Lovely.
Overall: A beautiful rum for sipping on its own, making a Rum Old-Fashioned, or giving character and elegance to a Dark & Stormy.  Better yet, use this in your next Fish House Punch!
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: South Bay Rum

picture 34400Who was Martin Miller?  Surprisingly, he was the author of dozens of bestselling antique price guides.  Why name a gin after him?  It turns out he was the partner with two other businessmen, Andreas Versteegh and David Bromige who created the gin back in 1999.  You have to admit that the other two names don’t trip off the tongue quite as easily as Martin Miller’s.  Sadly, Mr. Miller passed away on Christmas Eve 2013 at the age of 67.  Luckily for us, the gin continues to find it’s way onto the shelves of some of the world’s greatest bars.

Martin Miller’s Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose:  Tangy juniper notes blend with a fresh lemony citrus scent.
Taste: Smooth and mild with more peppery notes picking up midway through the initial tasting.  Quite a lot of citrus character adds a summery warmth.
Finish: Clean, crisp and with a touch of minerality.
Overall: A great gin for martinis and gin forward cocktails.  Try this one on the rocks with some house-made tonic water, a squeeze of lime and pretend that it’s high summer already.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Martin Miller’s Gin

Knappogue-FamilyKnappogue Castle has an interesting and varied history.  Originally built in 1467 by the Clan MacNamara, it was their home for almost 300 years until the Cromwellian government of England seized it and gave it to one of their loyal Roundheads.  Upon the restoration of the English Royal crown five years later, the MacNamaras once again held it as their own until finally selling it to the Scott Family in 1800. About 120 years later during the Irish War of Independence, the castle served as the headquarters for the County Clare rebels.  After the war, it was sold to a local farmer purely for pastureland.  The building sat uninhabited for 45 years, until an American Scotch collector by the name of Mark Edwin Andrews bought it in 1966.  He along with his wife restored it to its beautiful condition today.  It is his whiskies that bear the name of this venerable castle, and they can be sipped while you visit the grounds.

Traditionally, Knappogue whiskies are vintage labeled as are many fine wines, but recently Mr. Andrews’ son has introduced 12, 14 and 16 year olds to the thirsty public.

Knappogue Castle 12 (80 proof)
Visual: Very pale gold.
Nose: Woody, with an autumnal and comfortable sense of antiquity.
Taste: Smooth, light and to the point.  A very traditional Scotch that knows what it’s aiming for.  Caramel, vanilla and just a hint of smokiness.
Finish: Warming, friendly and like stepping back in time with each sip.
Overall: This is the kind of Scotch I imagine James “All Creatures Great & Small” Herriot enjoying a snifter of after a day traversing the Yorkshire Dales.
GSN Rating: A-

Knappogue Castle 14 (92 proof)
Visual: Light yellow-gold.
Nose: Quite a bit of woody edginess.  Still the inherent malty sweetness is the baseline here.
Taste: Sweet vanilla with more than a touch of oak.  The two flavors work in tandem to create an interesting see-saw effect on the palate.  This is a more assertive whiskey that has a balanced finesse.
Finish: Masculine and self-assured.  You know you’ve just had a whiskey that has reached the age of consent.
Overall: This is surprisingly in line with some single pot still Irish whiskies I’ve had.  Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A

Knappogue Castle 16 (80 proof)
Visual: Golden yellow.
Nose: Rich deep caramel with fruity raspberry notes.
Taste: Refined, light and dry with more tannin than sweetness.  An almost gamey quality of roasted fowl.  Quite interestingly, elements of Thanksgiving spices come through towards the end.
Finish: Intensely spice driven and chewy.  A lot of ginger-like notes along with faint rosemary and sage creep in here and there.
Overall: Very unusual and surprising.  I felt like I had enjoyed a savory meal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Knappogue Castle

clontarf-1014-irish-whiskey Here we have a whiskey that commemorates a crucial battle in Ireland that took place almost exactly 1000 years ago.  On April 23rd, 2014, Brian Boru the High King of Ireland fought against Mael Morda mac Murchada the rebellious King of Leinster.  Unfortunately, High King Boru lost his life when some Norsemen in the hire of the Mael Morda slew him as they fled the battlefield.  Because of this, Ireland became many small kingdoms and all of Brian’s work toward uniting Ireland was lost for centuries.

Clontarf 1014 (80 proof)
Visual: Medium-light gold.
Nose: Nutty, caramel cream, and oak wood.
Taste: Light, smooth and sweet with a fair amount of vanilla.  I’m somehow reminded of a maple-frosted cinnamon bun.
Finish: Long lasting sweetness.
Overall: A very dessert-like Irish whiskey.  This will be a good choice for your next Irish Coffee.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Clontarf 1014

2_91746175_3One doesn’t normally think of vodka when Irish spirits are mentioned.  Yet, here we have one.  Boru is a quintuple distilled grain vodka made with Irish spring water.  It is named after Brian Boru who was High King of Ireland from 1002-1014 AD.  In fact, he was killed in battle on Good Friday exactly one thousand years ago.  So, perhaps you would do him the honor of toasting his memory in a few weeks.  Slainte!

Boru Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Oddly buttery and sweet.
Taste: Quite sweet with a malty character.  The minerality plays second fiddle to the main very thick almost glycerine-like mouthfeel.  This is a heavy vodka that has a spun sugar essence.
Finish: Lasting sweetness percolated with hints of ginger spice and fresh-cut grass.
Overall: Quite different, and definitely a vodka that will stand up to anything you add to it.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Boru

imagesThe first peach brandy made at George Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon in more than 200 years will be unveiled on April 1, the Distilled Spirits Council and Mount Vernon jointly announced. Some 400 bottles of the peach brandy will be offered at the Distillery & Gristmill at Mount Vernon, retailing at $150 a 375-ml. bottle. The brandy was recreated at the distillery in 2010 by a team of craft distillers who used 18th century techniques, double-distilling the product in copper pot stills heating it by wood fires, then aging it two years in toasted oak barrels. The distilling team was led by Ted Huber of Indiana-based Starlight Distillery, Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling in New York, Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in California, Dave Pickerell of Vermont-based WhistlePig Whiskey and Hillrock Estate Distillery in New York, Joe Dangler of A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Virginia and Scott Harris of Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., also in Virginia.

indexNetherlands-based distiller Lucas Bols is launching what it calls the world’s first-ever “alcoholic foam” in the U.S. market. The product is packaged in 200-ml. bottles and has three different flavors: Blue Curaçao, Crème de Cassis and Amaretto. A pump at the top of the bottle puts out up to two liters of the fizzy foam. “The foams can be as easily applied in-home as in-bar with cocktails, coffees, shots and desserts,” said Bols CEO Huub van Doorne. “On hot or cold drinks, the foam will hold for a minimum of 15 minutes.” The suggested retail price is $17.99 a bottle.

indexProst Beverage Company is introducing Tim Smith’s Original Climax Moonshine to the U.S. market following successful test launches in a handful of states. Climax can currently be found in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Ohio, Maryland and Washington D.C. for around $29.99 to $34.99 a bottle. A new distillery is set to open next month, allowing the company to expand in June to Kentucky, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Mississippi and Alabama, with a pending agreement in Virginia. Tim Smith, star of the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners,” and Prost Beverage plan to donate $1.00 for every nine-liter case of Climax sold to the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. Flavors are planned for later this year and 2015.

imagesCIL U.S. Wine & Spirits, the American subsidiary of Cognac producer Camus, has been named the exclusive U.S. distributor for GDL Imports’ Trianon Tequila. Billed as a small-batch, handcrafted Tequila, the super-premium Trianon range includes Blanco ($39.99 a 750-ml.), Reposado ($45.99), Anejo ($49.99) and Trianon Triple Bottle ($79.99) expressions. Under the CIL U.S. agreement, Trianon—which launched in Tennessee in late 2012—will initially expand its presence into Florida, New York and Georgia.

indexTexas-based Garrison Brothers Distillery is set to enter the New York market. This distillery is releasing an initial 3,000 bottles of its Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey to bars and retail outlets in New York, which joins Texas and Arizona in its distribution footprint. Billed as the first straight Bourbon whiskey entirely produced outside Kentucky or Tennessee, the distillery has made available its spring 2014 vintage and will later release its fall vintage across New York state. The Bourbon retails in the $85-$95 range.

indexTwo years after launching the D’ussé Cognac brand with a VSOP offering, Bacardi is extending the upscale label with an XO expression. D’ussé XO, produced at the Chateau de Cognac by maître de chai Michel Casavecchia, is made from a blend of eaux-de-vie aged at least 10 years. Introducing the new offering to a small group of journalists and mixologists in New York last night, Bacardi said D’ussé XO, retailing at $230 a bottle, would hit 11 U.S. markets in May, targeted to select high-end accounts.


All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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