The Tyrconnell recently announced the debut of one of the most aged expressions within its cask finish portfolio, The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Released to select U.S. markets earlier this year, only a limited quantity has been produced due to its age and unique finish.

Aged for 15 years in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Madeira wine casks from Portugal’s Madeira Island, The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish is the oldest Madeira cask finished Tyrconnell released.

By 2007, The Tyrconnell distilling team was experimenting with different finishing techniques after discovering how amenable their light, soft and fruity whiskey was to a cask finish. One of the first modern Irish whiskeys aged in Madeira casks, The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish, was released in 2007 alongside The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask Finish and The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish, all permanent expressions in the brand’s portfolio.

“We knew we had discovered something special when we first began experimenting with finishing The Tyrconnell in Madeira casks,” says John Cashman, Global Brand Ambassador. “Because we are in the fortunate position of being one of the oldest Irish whiskey-producing companies, we have the patience to wait 15 long years to present something truly remarkable. The 15 Year Old Tyrconnell finished in Madeira casks is a beautifully rich and spicy spirit, one that I like to enjoy neat or over a few cubes.”

The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish (92 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: A lovely Madeira nose greets you, wrapping a sweet malty and somewhat cask driven spirit.
Taste: Very smooth and creamy in mouthfeel. A warm, but not overwhelming wine character just tints the distillate to make this a duality. The higher proof offers a tight package, but with a splash of branch water, it opens up into a broader field. A lot of the character comes out a few minutes after tasting.  This one takes time to present.
Finish: Soft, vanilla, caramel and a medium Madiera brushstroke end things on an upbeat, friendly note.
Overall: Excellent, and a treasure for any Irish whiskey enthusiast.  Perhaps someday, we will be lucky enough to have this expression available year round.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: The Tyrconnell Whiskey



You’ve probably heard the name before – after all, people have been enjoying Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey since the 1800’s. What you might not know is that in 1897, a law was passed in the United States called the Bottled-in-Bond Act, and Old Overholt was one of the first whiskeys to take advantage of it. It meant that all whiskeys must be aged for four years, bottled at 100 proof, and contain liquid from a single distillation season. This was meant to keep distillers honest and guarantee the highest integrity whiskey for those enjoying it.

In the spirit of this history, the distillery decided to give it another go and do things the old-fashioned way by bringing you Old Overholt Bonded Straight Rye Whiskey – the first bonded release from Old Overholt in more than 50 years.

Old Overholt Bonded Straight Rye Whiskey (100 proof)
Visual: Medium copper-orange.
Nose: Heavy rye nose with a decent amount of baking spices.
Taste: Slightly sweet, a bit thin, but with a definite rye flavor. Nice flavor profile and character.
Finish: Medium long with a lingering spiciness.
Overall: An easy mixer for cocktails that need a little extra oomph. Choose this one over the regular Old Overholt every time.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: The Olds Whiskeys


The Glenlivet recently announced the U.S. launch of limited-edition The Glenlivet Code, a single malt introduced without cask information or tasting notes. Inspired by the iconic British Code breakers, the latest innovation is a unique combination of flavors that will measure the senses of even the most discerning whisky drinker by entering a digital tasting experience where they will be challenged to “Unlock the Taste” of the mystery whisky.

“With The Glenlivet Code, we had a unique opportunity to create a whisky that has never been crafted before, using new casks and techniques to push the boundaries of what people expect from The Glenlivet,” said Master Distiller, Alan Winchester. “This year’s limited edition is a labyrinth of flavors that will test the senses of even the most discerning whisky drinker and we’re excited to invite consumers worldwide to take on the ultimate challenge by unlocking its mystery taste. The interactive experience will allow whisky enthusiasts at all levels to build their knowledge of the category while also developing a deeper understanding of The Glenlivet.”

To begin the decoding challenge, consumers are invited to scan a code on the back of The Glenlivet Code bottle carton using the Shazam app to enter a virtual underground room. There, they will be greeted by a hologram of The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, Alan Winchester, who will challenge them to decode the taste of the liquid by selecting four aromas for the nose and four flavors for the palate from several possible combinations. After decoding the flavors of the new whisky, participants will be given a score which they can post on their social channels to see how they rank against their peers. The official tasting notes will be revealed at the end of the year to give consumers the time to discover and enjoy the liquid themselves.

The Glenlivet Code will be available at U.S. retailers from the end of April 2018. Consumers can log onto www.TheGlenlivet.com to find out more about the digital experience and share their experience on social media using #TheGlenlivetCode.

The Glenlivet Code (96 proof)
Visual: Medium-light gold.
Nose: Baking spice, slight tree fruit, vanilla and soft smokiness.
Taste: Dry, woody and autumnal. A bit of gingery heat and cinnamon tones. A curious pear taste at the very end.
Finish: Medium long, with a fruity finish.
Overall: Very interesting. The challenge is shorter than I expected, but a fun experience.  The actual whisky itself is very good, and different enough that it is obvious that the barrels used in aging are unusual.  Perhaps a combination of beer and wine?  We shall see later this year.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: The Glenlivet

Fred Noe, Beam Family’s 7th Generation Master Distiller recently sent GSN a sample of his latest project, along with some information about this special bourbon.

“I’m proud to share the first release of our 2018 Booker’s Bourbon batch collection, called Booker’s Batch 2018-01, “Kathleen’s Batch.” This batch is named in honor of my good friend Kathleen DiBenedetto, who played an essential role in launching the Small Batch Bourbon Collection with my dad, Booker Noe, in the early 90’s. She was the first brand manager of Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Baker’s and Booker’s, and together with Dad, she helped pave the way for the premium bourbon category we all know and love today.

From the start, Dad put Kathleen to work at the distillery, assigning her to nearly every job until she knew the ins and outs of how bourbon is made, the Beam way. Each evening, Dad and Kathleen would sit at our kitchen table, and he would quiz her on all she had learned that day – believe me when I say he wasn’t easy on her, either! In September 2015, Kathleen’s contributions to the bourbon industry were recognized when she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, and she sure deserved it.

After more than 25 years with the Beam business, our family thinks of Kathleen as the daughter Dad never had. I know he’d be proud to honor her with a batch of his namesake Booker’s Bourbon. It’s a small token of “thanks” for the heart and hard work she’s put into our brands all these years.

Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” was selected by myself, Kathleen and the Booker’s Bourbon Roundtable. The batch is made up of barrels from five production dates aged in several different locations within three warehouses. The breakdown of the barrel locations is as follows:

4% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse ONE
6% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse F
3% came from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse F
19% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse H
30% came from the 5th floor of 9-story warehouse H
13% came from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse H
25% came from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse H

I hope you’ll join me in enjoying a glass of Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” in her honor.”

Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” Bourbon (127.4 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Nicely balanced nose of sweet corn, dried malt, and spicy rye. Warm, inviting and cheery.
Taste: Almost floral and fruity, but with a very clear bourbon presentation. Rose hips, wild strawberry, figs and of course a bit of char, caramel and vanilla.
Finish: Medium long with a lot more of the caramel lingering.
Overall: Definitely a lot of aspects to this bourbon that I’ve not encountered in other Beam spirits. I like the fact that it tastes completely unlike a traditional Kentucky bourbon; and yet at its heart, it so very much remains one.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Booker’s Bourbon

Highland Park recently announced the global launch of their latest special edition, called THE DARK. This 17-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky has been exclusively matured in first-fill European oak sherry-seasoned casks and bottled at 52.9% ABV.

THE DARK is presented in jet-black bespoke glass; the serpent dragon embossed on the front takes its inspiration from Viking lore. THE DARK and THE LIGHT are inscribed in Viking runes on the bottle and oak cradle in a nod to the brand’s heritage. The rear of the glass bottle is embossed with “Made with Pride on Orkney” — a heartfelt tribute to the men and women of the distillery who create Highland Park single malt.

Orkney’s climate is mild, reaching highs of only 60 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and lows of around 35 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. The wild winds that assault the islands generate a landscape in which few trees survive. This creates the aromatic peat used in malting.

THE DARK’s oak cradle has two circles etched on the top and bottom to represent both the high sun of the summer solstice and the low sun of the winter solstice, key dates on the Viking calendar. They, in turn, embody the contrasting seasons and their influence on Highland Park whisky.

Jason R. Craig, brand director of Highland Park, commented, “THE DARK is the first of two special editions. It will be followed by THE LIGHT in spring 2018. Both editions share the story of the contrasting seasons of our Orkney islands home and the resulting perfect balance of Highland Park whisky.”

Highland Park’s The DARK Whisky (105.8 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Thick and rich evocation of smokey malt floor. Saddle leather, currant, and hearth all find a welcome home in this dram.
Taste: Intense mouth-bomb of slightly sweet malt, patinaed with a single broad stroke of smoke.
Finish: Long and with some gentle caramel tones softening the high ABV.
Overall: You can almost taste the combination of rustic island living and the celebratory sense of the passing of winter. A real star in the Highland Park special edition series.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Highland Park Whisky

Brenne, the only Single Malt in the world to be aged in new French Limousin oak and Cognac casks, brings an entirely new taste profile to the world of Single Malt Whisky. Brenne isn’t trying to be Scotch made in a different country – this is truly a French Whisky.

After her career as a professional ballerina, Allison Parc discovered a passion for food and drink that immersed her in cultures all over the world.  Making an effort to visit local markets, wineries, and distilleries in her travels, she developed an appreciation of great taste experiences, especially within her favorite category: whisky.  After failing to find many of the “non- traditional” whiskies she discovered abroad in the US, Allison took it into own her hands and started setting up an import/export company for this sole purpose.

While exploring the world whisky scene for something that was focused on “terroir” (being ‘of the earth’), Allison encountered a third generation Cognac producer who had started distilling a unique Single Malt at his farm distillery in the heart of Cognac, France.  At that time, a majority of the oldest whisky was around three to four years old in new French Limousin oak barrels.  Upon tasting it, Allison immediately knew it was something special.  She and the distiller collaborated over a span of almost four years to refine the aging spirit and continue laying down more barrels as each year’s crop of barley was ready to be harvested.  A breakthrough occurred when Allison decided to incorporate his previously used Cognac casks in the whisky aging process.  This stimulated the whisky in a beautiful way; ultimately creating a new profile within the Single Malt category that became Brenne Whisky.

Brenne Estate Cask (80 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Soft and fruity with a peach melba nose. Quite dessert-like.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and rounded, with more of the fruit/vanilla flavor.
Finish: Long with lingering and alternating waves of wood, malt, wine and a touch of char.
Overall: A lovely whisky that sets the standard for wine cask aged whiskies. This one will not disappoint.
GSN Rating: A

Brenne Ten: Limited Edition 10 Year Old (80 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Intense woodiness draping a malty sweetness. Some raspberry notes.
Taste: Again, very smooth, but with a sharper edge and a touch more caramel. Very much in the tradition of what you’d expect in a decade old single malt. Hearty.
Finish: Long with a dry crispness and warm cask finish.
Overall: A very nice whisky that has the feeling of a sunny autumn day.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Drink Brenne

Amaretto_Bottles_4 Today is National Amaretto Day.  I’ll bet you had no idea.  Well, break out that dusty bottle from where it’s languishing in your closet and fix yourself an Amaretto Sour while I tell you a little background behind this unusual liqueur.

Amaretto Sour
2 oz Amaretto liqueur
1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
½  fresh organic Egg white
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters

Dry shake (without ice) all ingredients. Add ice, shake again and strain into ice-filled glass.

Amaretto literally means “a little bitter”.  The original recipe contained bitter almond, but today’s liqueurs tend to be quite sweet.  We’ve all tasted a brand at least once.  Usually our first experience was sneaking a swig from our parents liquor cabinet.  Memorable and probably not our finest drinking moment.  “It has essence of tree nut, with elements of cane sugar”.

Yet, Amaretto has a long and distinguished heritage.  And it’s not necessarily almonds that you’re tasting.

Interestingly, the world’s best-selling brand DiSaronno contains no almonds, but rather uses a blend of seventeen herbs, fruits and most importantly apricot pits.  In fact, this recipe has been around since 1525, so who’s to say whether the product is supposed to be almond or apricot pit flavored?

Lastly, Portland bartender extraordinaire Jeffery Morganthaler claims to have perfected the world’s best Amaretto Sour.  You can check out his version here.

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