The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Barware and Supplies

Looking for some stocking stuffers or unique gift ideas for the mixologist in your life? Look no further! GSN has got you covered. Check out our recommendations for the 2022 holiday season!

OLDKNOW Bev Co. Verte Absinthe Seltzer Having had many absinthe cocktails over the years, this was delightfully refreshing and light. Perfectly balanced and uniquely carbonated, we would easily buy a case of these for summer drinking. The first of its kind, and a welcome addition in a very crowded market. GSN Rating: A+

Dignity Raw Coconut Oil This is a great oil to use in fat washing a spirit. Try it in rum, tequila, bourbon or even Calvados for a unique flavor twist. We especially love the idea of supporting a company who is ethical and is making a positive change in the lives of people. Makes a great stocking stuffer for the mixologist or home chef. We also recommend picking up a copy of Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence to learn about the various techniques used in fat washing. GSN Rating: A+

Fresh Victor Cold-Pressed Pineapple & Ginger Root Juice Mixer – This is excellent! Our personal favorite of the Fresh Victor line. This works exceptionally well with tequila, rum, vodka and brandy. Hits the spot with a great balance of fruit and heat. GSN Rating: A+

Cocktail & Sons Fassionola Syrup – The strawberry character comes through loud and clear. The hibiscus has a softer touch, but is still noticeable. The other fruits don’t carry so much in terms of flavor, but add a tropical tartness to the affair. We really enjoyed this recreation of a lost syrup. Definitely try it in a Hurricane. You will never go back to pre-mixes or powders. We especially appreciate the support that the company shows to local farmers. Be sure to check out some of their many other syrups. They even have a few sample packs, along with seasonal releases like King Cake syrup and Watermelon & Thai Basil. GSN Rating: A

Pink House Alchemy’s Bee’s Knees Cocktail Kit – This really is a great little kit, with several bespoke ingredients that you’d be hard pressed to make yourself. We especially like the lavendar syrup which is becoming quite trendy in the cocktail world this year. Also of particular note is the bee pollen lavendar rimming sugar. It really ties the whole drink together with a floral and bee-centric focus. We prefer to use gin in our Bee’s Knees, but vodka will also work as well. We also highly recommend the other products that Pink House Alchemy crafts. Great stuff! GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Ruby Artemisia Spirit Restorative – A modern take on an ancient restorative – A play of floral citrus, herbaceous bitterness, and tangy botanicals emulate the elegance and complexity of a classic aromatized wine. GSN’s Remarks: The flavor is slightly tart, with a limey kind of character. There is a somewhat round and softness to the expression which has some botnaical persona. We definitely agree that it is somewhat in keeping with a vermouth. Almost a combination of sweet and dry. Quite interesting ,refreshing and well balanced. GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Black Ginger Spirit Restorative – A bracingly bitter take on a dark classic – A grounding core bitterness balances with smooth layers of flavor, notes of spice, and botanical aromatics. GSN’s Remarks: In some ways, this expression is less bitter than the Rose Bermagot, but there are more dark and low notes here. Surprisingly, there is no ginger heat, but rather a funky flavor of wet grasses and herbs. The flavor is somewhat difficult to decribe. More of an amaro, but lighter and drier. This liquid is conducive to contemplation and relaxation. GSN Rating: A

Fresh Victor Cold-Pressed Cucumber & Lime Juice Mixer – Really nice. The cuke comes through just enough to balance the lime with some cooling flavor. Perfect for gin and vodka. GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Spirit Rose Bergamot Restorative – Reimagining a classic Italian bitter without the sugar – Enlivening bitter-sweetness and lush, bright flavors join with the elegant complexity of heady floral and citrus aromatics. GSN’s Remarks: More of that tartness comes through, but this time with a distinctly bitter edge. There’s definite notes of spearmint here as well, creating a colling effect, The whole endeavor is quite uplifting and bracing. The botanicals are more forward here with a grassy, somewhat herb driven profile. All ends with a very long finish. GSN Rating: A-

CleanCo Non-Alcoholic Clean V – Interestingly, for an apple flavored N/A vodka, the ingredients list juniper distillate. The familiar pine flavor is unapparent. However, the flavors of apple and cinnamon speak loud and clear. It’s almost as if the producers have clarified a mulled apple cider. It’s quite good and again has a clean taste. Light, and with that non-alcoholic heat remaining on the fade. GSN Rating: A-

Drinkmate OmniFizz We tried a multiplicity of liquids to see just how well they would carbonate. The best tended to be clear juices, wines and teas. For thicker juices like orange, pineapple or tomato, the results were not as appealing, but considering the low price point, we can’t argue. Of course adding a bit of fizz to cocktails is really the draw here for readers of GSN. We tried carbonating a few classics: Negroni, Margarita and Lemon Drop. All worked well and added an interesting texture to the libations. Cleaning was easy and operation is quick and simple. It’s well worth getting a unit and experimenting. Who knows? You may come up with a new favorite for your home bar! GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – CDB, THC, Delta-8 & Smoking Supplies

Now that many states are relaxing their laws regarding CBD, Delta-8 and THC products, there are many options for the smoker and imbiber to choose from. GSN recommends the following items for the high holidays!

Vessel Helix Onyx One-Hitter – This is one slick looking unit. We also like the cool touch of metal, plus the simplicty and aesthetic that make this piece a modern artistic statement. Small enough to fit in your pocket, this is a great tool to grab and go. Cleaning is simple and the unique design helps cool the smoke. We continue to be impressed with Vessel’s products, and this one is no exception. GSN Rating: A+

Loki Delta-8 Seltzer A light and summery flavor profile with no sweetness, as it should be. The high is definitely milder than one from Delta-9-THC, which makes this perfect for a relaxing afternoon. There are 20mg of Delta-8, so you may want to start out by drinking just a few ounces and wait for 15-20 minutes to see how you feel. Dosing can be a little tricky. We would definitely suggest having no more than one can every 2-3 hours. All in all, a tasty beverage even if it didn’t have any psychoactive effects. GSN Rating: A-

KLAUS Mezzrole Cannabis-Infused Beverage An interesting blend of grassy, spicey, tangy and salty flavors, the first thing you’ll notice however, is the cannibis forward nose. Smelling like a loaded bud, this is a curious beverage. Apparently based on a classic Ti’ Punch cocktail, the flavors are tropical and vibrant. What’s nice is that the entire affair is alcohol free, so no need to worry about mixing booze with your buzz. Speaking of which, the 10mg of THC can be pretty intense for newcomers, so take your time and slowly sip this beverage. If you find you you’ve arrived, save the rest for another time. It’s a deep and heady high which will lend a helping hand at the end of the day. GSN Rating: A-

Vessel Ember Ashtray We like the weight of this ashtray, nearly 4.5 ounces. We also like the elegant simplicty of the design. It could be a museum piece. Vessel also makes a solid brass one, if you prefer a bit of bling. GSN Rating: A-

Flora Essence Hemp Spirit Very light, with a lemony flavor hiding the somewhat astringent and bitter hemp taste. Very easy to drink, not at all sweet, and perfect for mixing with sparkling water. The CBD itself adds a mellow kick and creates a feeling of relaxation. You might try pouring some into an ice cube tray and use them in a glass of mineral water. We look forward to trying the Delta 8 when it is available in New York. GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – For Coffee Lovers

The cooler temperatures are a perfect time to warm up with a cup of java. Here are some GSN recommended gift ideas for the coffee lover!

Lardera Chestnut Grinder – This is the Lardera version of the popular TIMEMORE Chestnut Grinder. It feels great in the hand, looks stunningly artistic, and is a breeze to use. We experimented with different grinds and found that you can achieve everything from espresso (super-fine) to pour over (fine) to French Press (coarse) with a few simple clicks of the dial. We really love the idea of bringing this until with us while traveling so that we can enjoy local beans wherever we might be staying. Everything you need to wake up and smell the coffee is here in one convenient and well made unit. GSN Rating: A+

Couplet Coffee We were sent a bag of their Blissful Blend for review. The beans were perfectly roasted (i.e. not burnt), and came in a fun a cheery bag. They made a great cup of coffee. We always enjoy supporting small businesses, especially if they are unique and focused on minorities. If you’re looking to do the same, we recommend Couplet Coffee. GSN Rating: A

Lardera Wood Collar Coffeemaker – An affordable and beautifully crafted pour-over for coffee lovers. We love the mid-century modern look, and the ease of cleanup. We also appreciate the stainless steel filter which you can order separately. Never again worry about running out of paper filters. We are impressed once again with the quality of the Lardera line of products. GSN Rating: A

Lardera Smart Electric Kettle – This kettle looks as if it belongs in a modern art museum. Very eye catching and sleek. We like the balance in our hand and the handle is comfortable when pouring. The touchpad is easy to use and unobtrusive. As for speed, we put it to the test, and yes, it heats water to boiling extremely quickly. If you’re in a rush, this will trim a few minutes off of your morning cup each day. About our only critique is the pour spout. It allows less water to flow than a typical kettle, thereby adding a few seconds to your pour. Plus, there is a chance that it could break off if accidentally dropped. But, these caveats aside, the Lardera is a gorgeous kettle that looks great on the counter. GSN Rating: A

Lardera Coffee Scale & Timer – This is another sleek unit for the countertop from the folks at Lardera. It’s also a breeze to use. All you have to do is turn the unit on, add your pour-over unit and set the weight to zero. Then add your pre-ground coffee until you achieve the weight you want. Reset the weight once more to zero and then start the timer when you begin the pour-over. When you’re done, press the timer again to indicate the end. Once this is programmed into the unit, you can simply use the auto-timer mode. It alllooks so scientific and adds a touch of flair to your morning routine. We only wish it also had the option to use batteries. GSN Rating: A-

GSN Review: Kentucky Owl Confiscated Bourbon

Kentucky Owl’s Confiscated (96.4 proof and 48.2% ABV), from master blender Dixon Dedman pays tribute to the barrels the government seized from Dixon’s great-great grandfather, C.M. Dedman, just ahead of Prohibition. Those barrels were never seen or tasted again. More than a century later, Confiscated is now available in all 50 U.S. states.

“An important part of Kentucky Owl’s history is the seizure of all that inventory, which ultimately ended my family’s run in the bourbon business for the time being,” said Dixon. “Confiscated is a reminder of the opportunities lost and a celebration of C.M. Dedman’s legacy. I don’t believe in making whiskies to hide flavor and character, and this one will stand up neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.”

GSN’s Remarks: Ultimately smooth entry with notes of tree and vine fruit: fresh apple, pear, and white grape, along with softer flavors of coffee cake, cinnamon toast and mild oak. The body has a medium mouthfeel, with a lot of present flavors forward on the palate. The finish is medium long, with a refreshing peppery finality. What we love about this bourbon is that it just keeps getting better with each sip. One of the most friendly and approachable bourbons we’ve ever had. If indeed this is the kind of whiskey that was apprehended by Prohis back in the bad ol’ days, we are glad that it has finally been granted freedom after 100+ years. Confiscated gets our vote for Bourbon of the Year! GSN Rating: A+++

For more information go to: Kentucky Owl Bourbon

#KentuckyOwl #ConfiscatedBourbon

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Amaros, Vermouths & Aperitifs

GSN recommends several amaros, vermouths and aperitifs for the 2022 holiday season! Pick up several bottles to enjoy before and after your holiday meals!

La Pivon Rojo Vermouth – Dark notes of burnt caramel and cola syrup shoot out of the gate, followed by a lively and bright wine fruit base. Fewer herbs are noted, but there still is the telltale wormwood bitterness at the final flourish. Another exemplary job of blending and crafting. This may become our new favorite sweet vermouth for cocktails. GSN Rating: A+

La Pivon Blanco Vermouth – Light and refreshing with a fruit forward appeal. Plenty of herbality is here though, with a mild bitterness, and semi-dry finish. Very well made, smooth and balanced. A real treat for those used to the usually somewhat tart and acidic French styles. GSN Rating: A

Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro – We’ve been loving this in the GSN offices these past few weeks. A soft, slightly sweet and dark flavor offset with a lot of herbal, citrus and spice flavors with gentian being the most prominent. At times reminiscent of chamomile in spite of having none in the mix, this makes for a great aperitif to start the evening. Try it with a large cube of ice and a twist of orange peel. GSN Rating: A

St. George Bruto Americano – Softly bitter and mildly sweet, this is a very drinkable aperitivo. In some ways reminiscent of sweet vermouth married to a kraut liqueur, the flavor is expressive, highly herbal and well balanced. We’ve been enjoying a small glass before dinner, but also it is a great addition to your cocktail arsenal used in traditionally bracing cocktails such as the Negroni, Americano and Boulevardier. Another winner from St. George. GSN Rating: A

Amaro Montenegro – A classic amaro for a reason. This has everything you’re looking for. Medium bitterness, light sweetness, medium-heavy body, and medium herbality. We like this as a nightcap at the end of the day. But also try it in some classic cocktails in place of sweet vermouth. GSN Rating: A-

Amaro Lucano – A tasty and traditional amaro that has just the right amount of bitterness. Somewhat viscous, with a heavy mouthfeel, there is a good balance between the sweet and bitter, with rich notes of foraged forest floor herbs and garden herbs. We like this in a Manhattan in place of sweet vermouth, for a darker take on the classic. We’ve also been enjoying it on the rocks with an orange wheel. Quite refreshing and a great opener to the evening’s festivities. Alla Salute! GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Agave Spirits

Agave lovers rejoice! Presenting GSN’s recommendations for the 2022 holiday season! Pick up some exquisite anjeo sippers, reposado and blanco mixers for your holiday fiesta!

Chinaco Reposado Tequila – One of the finest tequilas we’ve ever enjoyed. Exquisitely smooth, full of character and flavor, the agave has been tamed into submission by the barrel aging. There’s a somewhat savory note akin to spice cake along with feathery light vanilla and honey. The body is even, with a long and dry finish. Although you could mix this into a cocktail, it would be a shame since this is a stellar sipper. A world class spirit that deserves a place on the top shelf at your bar. Salud! GSN Rating: A++

IZO Bacanora Silver Agave Spirit – Lovely light creosote nose of rustic woodfire. The entry is somewhat sweet, with a soft vegetal note. This is quickly followed by smoke, campfire and a musky patina which opens and then closes slowly like an umbrella. At the tail end of the burnt presentation, the mezcal comes into play with a slightly fruity, tropical essence. If you enjoy Islay whiskies, or Mezcals, you will want to buy this latest release from IZO. Exceptionally evocative and beautifully crafted, IZO’s Bacanora Silver hits all the marks. GSN Rating: A++

Producer Mezcal Arroqueño – A single sip, and you are transported into the heart of Oaxaca. Wood fire, sweet agave, slight fruitiness and a mineral terroir that comes from the water that brings this spirit down to proof. One of the most authentic tasting mezcals that we’ve enjoyed over the years. The flavors of each element are in total balance with one another, with the end result being a smooth and vibrant tasting experience. One of the key elements is the open air fermentation, which inevitably brings a unique touch to every batch. Very well done, and a testament to the skills of maestro mezcalero, Juan Pacheco Santos. GSN Rating: A+

Quechol Texanum Sotol (46.3% ABV) – More smokey than the Wheeleri, but also more integrated into the whole. Elelments of caramel creams, peanut brittle, green pepper and quite a bit of black pepper make this a spicy dessert-like spirit. The Texanum seems to have more fruit characteristics as well, with plum, fig and cinnamon apple. Overall, this release seems more suited to being a straight sipper, but again, it will make for very expressive cocktails. GSN Rating: A+

Mijenta Tequila Blanco – Quite vegtal on the nose and on the palate. Fresh agave flavor in the forefront, with lighter notes of butterscotch, wood and dark caramel. There are hints of mint, green pepper, black pepper, and toasted marshmallow that appear towards the end of the finish, which is quite long. We like this one neat as a shot or for a leisurely sip. There is a lot of terroir and subtle flavor here that would get buried in a typical Margarita or other citrus based cocktail. We highly recommend! GSN Rating: A

Inspiro Tequila – Light agave flavor, with a sweet, vegetal presentation. Vanilla and toffee notes become apparent after several seconds. Very clean, slightly oaky, and lively. A fresh and easy going tequila perfect for margaritas or Ranch Water. Plus, we love the socially active ethos. GSN Rating: A

Maverick Spirits Agave Blanco – If you love tequila, you will love this American iteration of an agave spirit. For many, a blanco tequila is their first foray into the category. Maverick’s version is virtually interchangable, with more character than you will usually find in a major brand’s expression. There is a light smokiness on the palate which adds a slight drying and semi-woody quality on top of the fruit forward character. Overall, this is fresh, smooth, and has a depth of body from the minerality of the water used to bring it down to proof. We like this one a lot, and look forward to trying their Reposado and Anejo releases when they eventually come to town. GSN Rating: A

Quechol Wheeleri Sotol (45.5% ABV) – Light smokey entry with a sweet anise and fennel penumbra. As it opens up, there are notes of black pepper, sandalwood, mace and roasted chipotle pepper. Refined, yet rustic at the same time, this has a Mexican terroir, but is in a category all its own. This spirit begs to be experimented with in cocktails. GSN Rating: A-

Casa del Sol Reposado – Here, the vanilla has moved into caramel and butterscotch territory. The Cognac influence comes through with crisp, bright high notes of brandy sweetness, adding an unusual dessert-like character. Again, the agave seems subdued, but the flavors work well together. GSN Rating: A-

Casa del Sol Anejo – The extra aging adds more spice and tannin to the affair. The sweetness is also tempered, while adding a dry and more pointed brandy coloration. A definite sippig tequila, this is still different than any other tequila on the market. The finish is long and leaves a clean palate. GSN Rating: A-

Convite Una’ Mezcal – A moderate creosote smokiness greets the nose, which plays out upon the first tasting as well. After the initial campfire burst begins to fade, mezcal pina flavor remains, with a bright fresh fruitiness. Well distilled, clean, and with a pleasant lingering finish, this is a fine mezcal that also helps save lives. 10% of the profits from the sale of each bottle go towards breast cancer treatment in Mexico through FUCAM., A.C. We recommend sipping Convite Una’ neat, or use it as the base a mezcal cocktail. GSN Rating: A-

Mezcal Amarás Espadin Joven – A light, floral agave scent greets the nose. Notes of campfire are subdued and tantalizing. Upon first sip, the creosote is more apparent, but still quite mild and approachable. The overall agave flavor is quite rich and flavorful, with dry, yet lush vegetal notes. The body is medium, while the finish is medium-long. This is a very nice sipping mezcal that will work wonderfully in cocktails as well. GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Vodka

GSN presents their 2022 holiday season picks for the vodka lover! Pick up a few bottles for gift giving or for your holiday get togethers!

Vestal Black Cherry Vodka – A luscious cherry spirit that has a natural and vibrant flavor. We’ve tasted many cherry vodkas over the years, but this one reigns supreme. Leaning in its favor is that this expression is 80 proof, adding some oomph to the overall flavor. Sweet, but not cloying, the cherry flavor comes through loud and clear with a freshly picked taste. Perfect for everything from adding to desserts, whipped cream, and even a splash in your next Manhattan. This is exceptional. GSN Rating: A++

Vestal Polish Potato Vodka – Smooth, vanilla forward, creamy and full bodied. Light notes of caramel cream, pepper, and ginger heat. A vodka that speaks its mind and has penty of personality to go around. GSN Rating: A

Mutiny Island Vodka – A lightly sweet and tropical character with some body upon entry. Easy going and fresh, this vodka is great in tropical libations, but also maes for a fun and lively sipper. As if that weren’t enough, we applaud the initiatives supported by Mutiny Island Vodka to help St. Croix, the Virgin Islans and the environment through this lovely spirit. Our current favorite vodka of the month. GSN Rating: A

Vestal Unfiltered Vodka – Suprisingly, the unfiltered version has a lighter body. Even smoother than the flagship expression, but with fewer sweet notes, and more nutty ones. Peanut brittle, roasted pecan, and hazelnut all come to mind. Some spice and heat are present, but are more subtlely expressed. GSN Rating: A-


The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Gin

Presenting GSN’s recommended gins for the 2022 holiday season. Some great gins were released this year and some old favorites are still on our annual list. Check them out!

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Limited Edition Ceramic Bottle – We’ve previously reviewed Drumshanbo here, but we wanted to review this gorgeous new limited edition bottle. This looks absolutely killer on the back bar and stands out like a thing of beauty. The color scheme is perfect for winter, but also has the classic colors of Chinese qīng-huā. This is a gorgeous bottle that will be kept long after the gin is gone. And while I think of it, it’s time for a Martini. Cheers! GSN Rating: A+

Gin Mare Capri – The citrus is immediate and palate forward, bringing a lively and fresh lemon essence. The basil peeks through after a minute, and the juniper adds a cooling effect at the tail end. The body is medium soft, with a smooth and jovial entry. We particularly enjoyed the brightness and Mediterranean flavor of the botanicals. This gin is exceptionally mouthwatering and is perfect for summery cocktails. GSN Rating: A+

Castle & Key 2022 Rise Seasonal Gin – The rose comes through as a subtle floral roundness, adding depth and a curious elegance to the gin. The other notable element is the tarragon which intertwines with the licorice, adding a dash of sweetness . Overall, the spirit is in keeping with a fresh and somewhat dry botanical expression, while the juniper stays in the background The finish is long and has lasting notes of lemon zest and pepper. We like this in gin based fruit-forward cocktails, or in a simple G&T. Well made, and a real treat. GSN Rating: A

Hendrick’s Neptunia Gin – A dry, juniper forward gin with a healthy dose of citrus. It may be our imagination, but there also seems to be a salinity here which ramps up the flavors and brings them to the fore. After several seconds, notes of orange zest and peppercorn come through, ending with a near creamy mouthfeel. Quite tasty and zesty. Definitely try this with a top quality tonic, or if so inclined, in a Winston Churchill style martini. GSN Rating: A

Tulchan Gin – Laden with a hearty infusion of juniper, this is a strong gin with a lot of character. Slightly sweet and floral, it has a medium body and a super long finish. Bright, friendly and in a nouveau London Dry style, this makes a great starter for gin cocktails, whether a traditional Martini or a modern Gin Gin Mule. GSN Rating: A

Citadelle Gin Juniper Décadence – Bright juniper nose. Fresh, near creamy mouthfeel with vanilla and lemon top notes. The piney juniper flavor comes through at the midpoint with a hearty and welcoming greeting on the palate. Going deeper, there is a fresh cut wood essence that reminds us of the winter holidays. A medium long finish, ending on a slightly sweet tone. Overall, a welcome addition to the Citadelle portfolio. A lovely gin for a Martini to showcase the inherent flavors. GSN Rating: A

Latin Secco Premium Gin – Very much in the vein of a London Dry, this is a juniper forward gin with a light touch of citrus. The botanicals play a distant role, but add some body behind the scenes. Elegant, fresh and perfect for just about any gin based cocktail. GSN Rating: A-

Portofino Dry Gin – Warm and bright citrus greet the palate, with a fresh and lively garden-like portfolio of herbs and flowers playing a strong supporting role. The juniper of course takes center stage, with a bracing and pine-like flavor that lasts long in the finish. There are hints of spice that tickle the tastebuds as well, giving this gin a memorable ending. We like this one in fruit forward cocktails and punches. GSN Rating: A-

Opihr Spices of the Orient Gin – At first sip, the gin seems very traditional, with perhaps more citrus than a typical London Dry, but I soon realized that this was only the gateway into the heart of the gin. Laying beneath the juniper and lemon zest, is a small furnace of warming spices and percolating heat. Peppery, yes, and with a lasting gingery texture. In fact, the heat goes on for several minutes. But not to fear, the overall effect is cooling. In a cocktail, this gin works well with curries, vindaloos and masalas. Try some more citrus forward libations to add a tropical color. Very nicely done. GSN Rating: A-

Clonakilty Minke Irish Gin – A soft mouthfeel with a citrus greeting on the entry. As it develops, there are some high notes of juniper and spice. The florality comes in at the tail end, with the lavendar adding a cooling effect. Overall, this is a friendly and mild gin that is perfect for a G&T or a tropical forward cocktail. GSN Rating: A-


The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Rum

Here are the GSN recommended rums for the 2022 holiday season. Some great sippers as well as cocktail and faux-tropical (tiki) libations!

Burning Mast Rum – This is an amazing rum. Having tried many pepper infused spirits over the years, we thought we knew what to expect from this one. But, instead of the heat overhwhelming the rum, it compliments it, adding a warmth with no harsh burn. The initial taste is sweet and round, what you’d expect from an aged rum. But, after a few seconds, the fire kicks in, lending a hot experience that is on a level with fresh ginger. The warmth lasts for several minutes, but never overwhelms. This is a perfect rum for experimentation in cocktails. Everything from ginger ale highballs to tiki drinks. Try adding some to your next Pina Colada. Burning Mast is killer with pineapple and coconut. Kudos to Kirk & Sweeney for a stellar product! GSN Rating: A+++

Renegade Pre-Cask Single Farm Origin: Hope Rum – A fresh, grassy nose with a bright sugar cane patina. Upon tasting, the entry is crisp and warm with a somewhat sweet character, but the cane and water source used to bring the spirit down to proof are the showstoppers here. There is an initimacy and immediacy that carries you to the sunshine of the island. A very long finish leads to a slightly dry and chalky ending. Overall, this is exceptionally elegant, while at the same time authentic to its origins. Great for mixing in rum forward cocktails. GSN Rating: A+

Renegade Pre-Cask Single Farm Origin: Lake Antoine Upper Crater Lake South – Somewhat smokey entry, with a deeper, more earthy character. The sweetness is more rounded here, with a mid-palate juiciness, balanced by tight, high notes of vegetal cane. A more introspective rum that has an almost wood-like tannic edge. Quite a different experience from the Hope expression. We would tend to slowly sip this one, or add a splash of cocount water. Again, a fantastic expression that showcases the terroir and hard work that went into creating a gem of a rum. GSN Rating: A+

Hercules Mulligan Rum & Rye – If you’ve ever enjoyed a Rock & Rye, this is in a similar vein. Sweet, yet balanced with enough bitters to create an intriguingly penumbral flavor experience. The mix of rum and rye also achieves an interesting profile. Medium spicy rye spirit with a bread-like top note, is countered with warm, sweet and slightly oaky rum. Whilst all of this is happening, the whole affair is watched over by a lovely ginger heat. One sip, and you’ll want another. This is a great shot, neat pour or RTD served in a rocks glass with a few cubes of ice. We really enjoyed this new product and recommend it highly. GSN Rating: A+

Faraday West Indies Rum – Lovely toffee and caramel notes at the get go, with a semi-dry cocoa penumbra. The initial sweetness lightens up quickly and passes into an earthy, wood driven territory. The pot still rum gives a lot of flavor, the column still adds smoothness and the agricole gifts terroir. Light in body, yet full of flavor, this is an excellent rum for enjoying straight, on the rocks, as a mixer or as the base in a cocktail. Very nice indeed. GSN Rating: A

Canerock Jamaican Spiced Rum – Very much in line with a traditional spiced rum, Cane Rock adds a few novel twists to their expression. The initial impression is of heavy vanilla, followed by a more subtle yet clear presence of coconut. After some seconds, a gentle wave of ginger heat comes into play, adding a warming touch that carries through to the finish. Overall, the spices themselves add some savory and exotic notes. We’d recommend this as a terrific sipping rum, but most notably it will make stellar faux-tropical libations. Try it in your next Jet Pilot, Painkiller or Navy Grog. GSN Rating: A-

Rum Rubirosa 8 – The 8-year-old ramps up the sweetness with a somewhat heavy breakfast syrup flavor. Quite sweet and more of a sipping rum overall. The more subtle flavors peek out after a few minutes with cinnamon toast, coffee cake, and candied pecans. We like the chewiness and long, long finish. GSN Rating: A-

Ron Barceló Organic Rum – The nose is bright, woody and elegant. A dry and lightly sweet entry, with a hefty dose of oak cask. A round character on the mid-palate, while there is a somewhat tannic edge towards the sides of the tongue. Very friendly and full of character, this is a great spirit for tropical styled cocktails and aged rum forward classics. We appreciate the care and unique aspect that went into the crafting of this rum, and fully support their efforts to go the extra mile to keep our planet sustainable. GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Brandy

Here are the brandies and Cognacs that GSN recommends this holiday season. Stock up for gift giving or having on hand for cocktails.

Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac – Lively, fruity, and somewhat herbal, with notes of aromatic flowers on the nose. The flavor is rich, full and has a deep and somewhat rustic character that brings out the grape character expressively. Quite unlike the usual cognacs available in North America, this one has a unique character that can only be described as intriguingly terroir driven. To fully appreciate this spirit, let it breathe a bit before imbibing. A truly special release that recreates a flavor that was until recently, unavailable to all but a lucky few. GSN Rating: A++

HINE Cigar Reserve XO Cognac – A dark, rich, grape spirit infused with oak, perky spice high notes and warm nutty low notes. The breadth of flavors works excpetionally well with a high quality cigar. Adding a bookended effect between the tannic, dry tobacco leaf, and the sweet, woody cognac. The finish is excpetionally long, ending with a warm vanilla note that has a familial relationship to a new cigar. Even if you don’t smoke, this is an exceptional flavor experience. GSN Rating: A+

St. George Pear Brandy – A lovely freshly cut pear aroma greets the nose. Very fruit forward flavor with a round and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. The pear character comes through loud and clear. This is one of the best tree fruit brandies we’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Obviously, they know what they are doing at St. George. We do like this as a digestif, but also it is amazing in a variety of brandy based cocktails. GSN Rating: A+

Yebiga Rakija Serbian Plum Brandy – A true fruit brandy in that there is nothing but the distilled expression in the bottle. The plum flavor carries through with a light stonefruit sweetness. Slightly musky, somewhat dark and with a semi-creamy mouthfeel, this is a spirit begging to be utilized in a cocktail. Although, we did enjoy it neat as an after dinner aperitif. Well crafted, smooth and full of terroir, we recommend adding Yebiga to your back bar. GSN Rating: A

Humboldt Organic Apple Brandy – A lovely apple nose reminscent of fresh pressed cider. The flavor is warm, with a mellow sweetness that retains the flavor of the fruit, while adding a round and smooth body. The finish is medium long, with a dry and semi-tannic ending. This is a great spirit for sipping neat while enjoying  creamy cheeses such as Brie or Tallegio, with roasted pork loin, or alongside an apple tart for dessert. A wonderful addition to the Humboldt portfolio, and one which we would welcome year round. GSN Rating: A-

Revanche Cognac – Normally, with a Cognac, there are certain levels of quality ranging from VS, VSOP and XO. With Revanche, these are all blended together, which makes for a unique flavor experience. A light, yet rich Cognac with plenty of caramel, vanilla, and grape notes. This is an easy drinking and smooth spirit, that has the rough edges smoothed out. Fine to sip on its own, we also recommend this for the classics such as a Sidecar, Between the Sheets, Vieux Carre or in a Milk Punch. Very nice. GSN Rating: A-

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Wine & Champagne

Here are the GSN recommended wines and Champagnes that we reviewed in 2022. Pick some up to give as gifts or for your holiday gatherings!

Champagne Telmont Reserve Brut – Loads of bubbles with a straw-like color in the glass. The nose has a buttery, yeast laden, tree fruit, and marzipan quality. Nothing too complex, but lightly sweet, with some savory notes. Finishes with a medium long fade. A really nice and affordable Champagne. Cheers! GSN Rating: A

Beau Joie Brut Champagne – Notes of apple, citrus, sweet flowers and buttered bread on the nose. The entry has loads of tart fruit, along with more subtle flavors of baked goods, cocoa, toast, and soft vanilla. A dry and balanced finish. A great Champagne to pair with any protein based entree, it also works hand-in-glove with fruit tarts, butter cookies and soft creamy cheeses. A fun bubbly that has class and character. GSN Rating: A-

Twin Suns Reserve Rose 2021 – This is a fresh, lively and berry-forward rose. Very drinkable and with a beautiful pink tint. This makes for a perfect beginning bottle for your Passover celebration. GSN Rating: A-

Malborough Sauvignon Blanc – GSN’s Remarks: A lot of grapefruit character comes through, with a semi-dry finish. Easy going, fruity and a great wine to pair with grilled shrimp, goat cheese, brussel sprouts and pork tenderloin. GSN Rating: A-

GSN On the Road: The Lake House in Canandaigua Italian Wine Pairing Dinner

TASTE OF ITALY || WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH – On a rainy Wednesday evening, we had been invited to attend the inaugural wine pairing dinner at The Lake House in Canandaigua’s Rose Tavern. The event was a tasting tour of Buglioni wines, one of the most popular producers in Northern Italy. 

When we checked in, we were greeted with a glass of the house Prosecco, and also had the opportunity to try some of the craft cocktails at the bar. These were novel twists on classics like the Negroni, The French 75 and the Manhattan. At 6pm, the evening started with an introduction from both the GM of the Rose Tavern and the distributor of the wines. Courses came out leisurely, and in between we were given information on the wine’s production and styles, along with brief informational talks by the head chef about each food pairing.

Over the course of two hours, we learned quite a bit about the unique wines from Buglioni, and enjoyed a wide variety of tapas sized platings. We also got to know some of our fellow diners and spent the evening in pleasant conversation.

All in all, it was a fun and lively night. Whether you enjoy wine, beer or spirits, we recommend attending one of the upcoming pairing dinners the next time you visit the Finger Lakes. 


Course 1: JB’s bread, borlotti beans, sardines, evoo || Paired with Vigliacco Brut Rose

Course 2: Bay scallop, fall apple, radicchio, puttanesca || Paired with Musa Trebbiano Di Lugana

Course 3Fried ravioli, braised pork, guanciale, vanilla, mascarpone, sauce Rose || Paired with Classic Ripasso Bugiardo

Course 4: Bison, saffron polenta, gremolata, marrow, garden herbs || Paired with Recioto Della Valpolicella

Course 5: Cheese (Old Chatham Creamery Camembert, Lively Run Cayuga Blue & FLX Gold), Truffles (Rosemary Orange, Black Cherry & Pistachio, Maple Prosciutoo, Epsresso and Basil Pine Nut) || Paired with Amarone Della Valpolicella

There are many more wine, beer and cocktail events taking place during the winter months at The Lake House in Canandaigua. Find out more at: Wine, Beer & Spirits Series

GSN Review: Beau Joie Brut Champagne

The inspiration for Beau Joie came as the founders of Toast Spirits spent time in the Champagne region of France learning the craft and artistry of production. They sought to create something new, a quality champagne from a brand that also represents disruption, revelry and the fearless quest for pleasure. In 2011, Beau Joie Champagne was born.

The grapes in Beau Joie are grown and sourced throughout the Champagne region, with a  focus on sites that highlight the best that each varietal has to offer to the final assemblage, from vines that are 25 to 50 years old. Chardonnay brings elegance, finesse, and minerality, Pinot Noir gives body and structure, and Pinot Meunier brings weight and roundness to the wine. The grapes are picked overnight and into the early morning to maintain higher acidity and lower sugar levels. They are pressed immediately upon arrival at the winery and go directly into stainless steel tanks to begin fermentation. Following the completion of the first fermentation, the wine is blended and prepared for secondary fermentation. Beau Joie’s wines do not undergo malolactic fermentation, which ensures that their wines stay lean and to preserve the natural aromas.

  • Dosage: 3.5g/L
  • Assemblage: 40% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier
  • Age: No less than 4 years

GSN’s Remarks: Notes of apple, citrus, sweet flowers and buttered bread on the nose. The entry has loads of tart fruit, along with more subtle flavors of baked goods, cocoa, toast, and soft vanilla. A dry and balanced finish. A great Champagne to pair with any protein based entree, it also works hand-in-glove with fruit tarts, butter cookies and soft creamy cheeses. A fun bubbly that has class and character. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Beau joie Champagne


GSN Review: Peg Leg Porker 8-year-old Tennessee Rye Whiskey

In 2014, Carey Bringle founded Peg Leg Porker Spirits, the world’s only spirits brand owned by a Pitmaster himself. With more than six years of various industry nominations including “The Best BBQ” in both media and by peers, the name Carey Bringle and the Peg Leg Porker brand have grown from a must-stop barbeque place in Tennessee to a way of life. Carey recently announced the limited-edition release of his 8-year-old Tennessee Rye Whiskey in time for the holiday season.
Distilled and aged in Tennessee, the 105-proof offering features his signature Hickory Charcoal finishing process and a 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley mash. “This is our first release in three years,” explains Bringle. “We paid attention to every detail and the result was a finish that is more reminiscent of a 90-proof whiskey. Simply smooth. And as a Pitmaster, I wouldn’t be doing it justice if there wasn’t a smokey note. It’s expectedly unexpected.” 
Peg Leg Porker Spirits are currently available in eight states, including Tennessee, Georgia, New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with more on the list this year. “We only produced 1,200 six-pack cases,” Bringle said of the whiskey. “It’s going to be a hot commodity this holiday. We’re expecting that we’ll blink, and it will be gone—like a puff of smoke.” 

GSN’s Remarks: Remarkably spicy and rye forward. Quite dry, with a curious mellow smokiness that tastes like woodfire, as opposed to charred oak. Unusual, unique and full of flavor, the finish is quite long and begs for several sips after the first. What really impresses us is the ultra-smoothness of this release. At 105 proof, you’d expect burn, but there simply isn’t any. Really, really well done, and tasty as heck. This spirit captures the essence of southern BBQ in a way that no other bourbon has ever come close to. Highly recommended! GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Peg Leg Porker Spirits