6a00d83451bdba69e2015437daae76970c-450wiAnyone who is a serious student knows about the Volstead Act which ushered in the era of prohibition.  Not many know about the Cullen-Harrison Act which was signed by FDR on March 22, 1933.  It allowed for the sale of 3.2% beer and wine.  It then took until December 5, 1993 for the states to ratify the Act.  It was at this time that national prohibition was officially repealed.  But, get this: it took another 33 years until all 50 states repealed their own laws.  Mississippi was the last to go.

But some forms of prohibition still remain in what are known as “dry counties”.  See the map below.

Map showing dry (red), wet (blue), and mixed (yellow) counties in the United States.

Map showing dry (red), wet (blue), and mixed (yellow) counties in the United States.

For those of you unfortunate enough to live in one of these dry areas, I offer a non-alcoholic toast.  For the rest of my lucky readers, I suggest you remember our past by cracking open a craft beer and watching the short film below.




Founded in the high plains of western Colorado, Peach Street Distillers are best known for crafting Colorado’s first Bourbon, as well as gins, vodkas, grappas and brandies one very small batch at a time since 2005. They recently teamed up with Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (RTO+P) to debut the first in a limited edition seasonal batch of TuB Gin called “Hoppy Plum.”

“By working closely with Peach Street Distillers for several years we’ve become heavily entrenched in the process, and were able to notice a shift in what people are drinking and how they stock their at-home bars,” said Steve Red, RTO+P’s Chief Creative Officer. “We want to open up new mouths and minds to TuB Gin by releasing special, seasonal batches that will add a twist to entertaining and to the enthusiast’s tastes.”

“Collaborating with RTO+P on this re-launch has been an amazing experience because we are both so passionate about the TuB brand and overall quality of the product, adding the seasonal element to it just made sense. We’re located in one of the best regions for unique, fresh ingredients and wanted that to be a part of TuB’s next chapter,” said Moose Koons, sales manager at Peach Street Distillers.

This unusual “new world” style gin starts with their original citrus-forward spirit made with locally picked high desert juniper berries; but then is married with their Palisade Plum Eau De Vie and finally macerated with Palisade Chinook Hops. The forward flavor of Eau De Vie is of particular note, as Peach Street Distillers was the first distillery in the country to include it in their gin.

This is exciting, new territory for gin lovers, and we at the GSN offices were excited to try it when we first heard about the release.

Peach Street Distillers Tub Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fruity, bright plum nose with darker piney juniper counter-balanced with a slight pineapple hoppy note. Unique and engaging.
Taste: Quite smooth, but with a sharp juniper edge that quickly transforms into a round and fruity plum character. The hops lingers way in the back of the palate creating a peppery and full mouth palate of flavor.
Finish: Quite long with both the dry and fruity characters getting equal time.
Overall: Let me start by saying that of the dozens of new gins that are released by small batch craft distillers, many are honestly not ready for market. This expression more than makes up for what others lack. It is well-balanced, flavorful, expertly distilled and above all exactly what it claims to be. You will not be disappointed in this gin, and I would suggest picking up a few bottles since it is a seasonal limited edition. Very well done and a great example of the art of distillation and blending.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Peach Street Distillers

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Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Bark, stems, flowers, herbs, spices, leaves, roots, and other foraged flavors have long been part of beer, but botanic brews in America were displaced by carbonated sodas in the early 20th century.  At Forbidden Root, this early brewing tradition has been a springboard for great creativity and exploration. “We didn’t invent botanic beer, we simply embraced it,” says Director of Sales Lincoln Anderson.

Forbidden Root: Sublime Ginger (A 3.8% ABV wheat beer with a splash of key lime juice, ginger, honeybush, and lemon myrtle)
Flavor- Key lime and ginger stand out. A whisper of tartness, solid wheat presence that rounds it out.
Aroma- Light lime, rich wheat aroma, and a very slight ginger laying underneath.
Mouthfeel- Soft and velvety.
Body- Light body.
Head/Lacing- Creamy head with scattered lacing.
Hop profile- Low IBU, almost unnoticeable.
Malt profile- Sweetness of the malt is balanced well with the tartness of the lime.
Color- Hazy golden.
Carbonation- Tight crisp carbonation.
Rating- 4/5Forbidden Root: Money on my Rind (A 5% ABV witbier spiked with juniper berries and pure grapefruit, with grains of paradise)
Flavor- Juniper stands out, with a  pleasant grapefruit rind and juice on the back palate. Good balance of wheat and other flavors to round this brew ale out. Spices are light and come in at the finish.
Aroma- Wheat forward aroma, with a subtle juniper presence. Hops carry a floral note that is pleasant and leads you into the taste.
Mouthfeel- Well carbed and a slight metallic mouthfeel. Interesting.
Body- Light to medium body.
Head/Lacing- Low head with no lacing.
Hop profile- Very low hop profile, and subtle enough to not overpower the other lighter characters.
Malt profile- Nothing in the malt stands out on its own, but balances well.
Color- Hazy straw.
Carbonation- Average to high carbonation, but not too strongly carbonated.
Rating- 3.7/5 

Forbidden Root: WPA (A 5.6% pale ale with the subtle addition of elderflower, marigold, and sweet Osmanthus flowers)
Flavor- Lasting bitterness with several different floral qualities that creep in and out of the palate. The flower additions carry well and leave you with a slight grassy and fresh bitterness.
Aroma- Floral blast right out of the bottle.
Mouthfeel- Very dry and crisp.
Body- Light to medium.
Head/Lacing- Thin head with scattered lacing.
Hop profile- Cascade and Citra hops come through well giving a citrus rind quality that enhances the overall character.
Malt profile– Light malt gives the hops and subtle flowers a chance to really shine.
Color- Light amber.
Carbonation- Well carbonated, and the slightly higher carbonation does a lot for this beer to help you find the subtler notes.
Rating- 4/5

Forbidden Root, located in the West Town neighborhood, is Chicago’s first botanic brewery making craft beer inspired by nature. Forbidden Root loves barley, water, hops, and yeast, and uses those as a base to explore a rich world of wild ingredients.  Founded by Robert Finkel, Forbidden Root is a benefit corporation, meaning benefits, other than shareholder value, are built into their operating charter. They donate 100% of all non-consumable merchandise profits to charity. Craft Beer guru Randy Mosher is an equity partner and serves on the Forbidden team as Alchemist. Head Brewer is BJ Pichman, an accomplished brewer in the Chicago beer scene.

rsz_img_9893In honor of National Espresso Day, I was challenged to create an original and unique cocktail using Caffe Borghetti Espresso Liqueur.  Everyone who has tried this (even those who don’t like coffee drinks) has said it is absolutely delicious.  Celebrate with one today!

Roman Holiday
1 oz Caffe Borghetti Espresso Liqueur
0.75 oz 100 proof rye (I used James E. Pepper 1776)
0.5 oz fresh squeezed Meyer Lemon juice (if using regular lemons, adjust simple syrup to 1/2 ounce)
0.25 oz simple syrup
Rinse cocktail glass with absinthe and discard excess. Add all other ingredients to an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Strain into rinsed cocktail glass.

Garnish with a Meyer Lemon twist if desired.

1Nothing cures the rainy day blues like a good whiskey. As my luck would have it, Saturday, November 5th was wet and gloomy. Tucked away between Seattle’s Safeco and CenturyLink Fields, Piranha Shop hosted The American Whiskey Experience, a benefit event supporting Northwest Folklife. The venue offered an intimate space away from the dreary Autumn weather, most notable for its simple-yet-quirky decor (I’m looking at you, mounted deer head wearing a tie). At the back, guest Chef Dezi Bonow of The Carlile Room served up a delicious array of Southern-inspired foods that complimented the beverages perfectly. In total, there seemed to be about 20-30 attendees throughout the entire event.

Of the 27 brands listed in the program, I had the opportunity (and stamina) to try about half of them:
2Redemption: Redemption had three rye whiskeys at their tasting bar: their flagship Straight Rye Whiskey, Straight High Rye Bourbon Whiskey, and Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
The Straight Rye was my personal favorite of the three, and was specifically designed with cocktails in mind. The flavor is spicy with apricot notes, and sits in the center of your tongue. This would be an excellent option for making your next Manhattan.
The Straight High Rye Bourbon offered a very different taste: it was smoky, and rose in the nose after sipping. The spirit is incredibly smooth, and offers a slightly herbal aftertaste.
The Straight Bourbon took a while to rise in the mouth, and was light on the nose. But once the flavor peaked you could distinctly taste the same apricot notes as the Straight Rye. The Straight Bourbon is decidedly drier, though, and best sipped alone.
4Knob Creek: Knob Creek’s offerings had a uniquely ‘salty’ taste to them, that reminded me of the way sea salt and caramel compliment each other. The extra savory kick really added something to these drinks: Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and the Straight Rye Whiskey.
Of the four, the Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the most impressive. The bottle I tasted from was a limited edition from 2001, that had sold out the first day of the tasting. I considered myself lucky to get a taste, and was not disappointed: the taste was light but packed a serious punch. The way I described it in the moment was a “gentle smack in the face”. Hints of caramel, molasses, and spice gave the drink a complex flavor palette, but one that did not overwhelm.
My second favorite was the Straight Rye, which immediately reminded me of one of my favorite brewed teas: lapsang souchong. Anyone who has had this particular tea can tell you it is like drinking a campfire; the Straight Rye was just as smoky, but smooth with a slow burn. This was definitely one I would be interested in tasting again!
Basil Hayden: Basil Hayden had one bottle of Old Granddad Rye, which I found hard to describe. The liquor had less body than most of the others I had tried before, with spiced fruity notes that were hard to pinpoint. The closest I could come to was a raspberry-peach flavor.
Bookers: Bookers Bourbon was one of the selections I immediately understood would be best served over ice. Full bodied, it has a sweet and slightly smoky edge to the flavor, which rises slowly in the mouth. You really have to let the drink sit on your tongue for a moment; as it warms, the taste moves from savory to something like ‘smoked creme brulee’. This was one of my favorites from the afternoon, and comes with a high recommendation.
7Templeton Rye: Templeton Rye boasts its Prohibition-era recipe, touting that they were the favorite drink of mobster Al Capone. If that is true, the man had good taste. Their 4-year standard Rye is sweet and fruity, with raspberry undertones. It is bold and full-bodied, and smooth on the tongue.
The 6-year standard Rye takes the flavors of the 4-year and kicks them up a notch. Heartier and richer, the fruit notes mellow out in favor of a dry smoky edge.
Noel (left) getting behind the action

Noel (left) getting behind the action

Rebel Yell: Rebel Yell’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was purportedly patented in 1936, soon after the Prohibition ended. Light-bodied, it offers some of the same creme brulee taste that Bookers Bourbon had, but much softer. The flavor washes over your tongue slowly as you sip.

Their biggest seller is the Small Batch Rye, which is still as light as the Straight Bourbon, but much smoother. The burnt smoky flavor of the former, however, disappears in favor of a wash of dark currant.
Something new I hadn’t seen before was their new line of infused whiskeys, that include flavors like ginger and root beer. Obviously meant for mixed drinks or boozy floats, they were interesting none-the-less. The ginger was the best of the options available, and retained a lot of the ‘spice’ of most ginger drinks.
Yellowstone: Their Bourbon Whiskey is a blend of 4, 6, and 7-year bourbons, and offers a complex citrusy taste, while staying smoky on the nose.
Their limited edition blend takes 4-year and 12-year bourbons, and brings them together for an incredibly smooth and balanced drink. This was perhaps the most well-rounded selection of the many that I tried. Lightly smoky, it takes about 15-20 seconds for the flavor to fully blossom on the tongue.
9Four Roses Bourbon: Four Roses had several options at their tasting bar, including their Yellow Label Bourbon, which smelled sweet and offered caramel notes in a light body. The brand has reportedly been actively expanding into the Seattle area, and can be found at most local bars these days.
Their Small Batch combines four corn recipes into one drink, giving it a strong spicy kick at the tip of your tongue. The body is light, but the taste complex.
Their Single Barrel OBSV is their most balanced and accessible whiskey; one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning to enjoy whiskies, who has not found ‘the one’ to get them started yet. The heat lasts on the tongue, but isn’t overwhelming. The body is also smooth and robust, and has enough sweetness to appeal to anyone.
11Bird Dog: Bird Dog offered two Bourbon Whiskies: an 8-year and a 10-year. They are the same recipe, with one benefiting from an additional two years of aging. Of the two, the 10-year was my favorite. The smokiness was up, and had a much richer body. This was another expression I would recommend sipping over the rocks.
12Buffalo Trace: Buffalo Trace was my second-to-last stop on the tasting tour. Their double gold Bourbon impressed me with its balanced body and taste, but I felt the drink would be better served on the rocks. The Sazerac Rye is made from a pre-Prohibition recipe, and can be described as an “excellent, smooth, and rich-bodied” whiskey that gives hints of apple on the nose after sipping. The bottles are relatively affordable, and would blend well in any drink.
132bar Spirits: I ended the afternoon at the only local distillery represented at the tasting: 2bar Spirits. Located in the heart of Georgetown, they operate a small storefront that showcases their unique flavors. The whiskies are mostly corn-based, giving them a much stronger kick than many of their competitors. My initial reaction upon tasting their flagship Rye was “refined moonshine”. Though heavy with corn flavor, the drink is incredibly smooth, and just slightly ‘sour’. I would highly recommend a taste to any adventurous whiskey lover, looking for something different!
GSN West Coast correspondent Noel Ozma Celeste Frodelius-Fujimoto attended the 12pm session of The American Whiskey Experience in Seattle, WA on November 5, 2016

Black Button Distilling, Rochester, NY’s first grain to glass craft distillery, recently announced the release of their Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin on October 15.

This half gin, half whiskey spirit is the latest innovation available from Black Button Distilling. “Craft distilling is all about innovation and trying something new. First we lowered the juniper and added a lot more orange peel to craft our citrus forward gin. Then we took that gin, threw it in some used bourbon barrels and let it rest for a year on oak. Now we have this delightful limited release spirit that is the best of both worlds,” said Jason Barrett, President/Head Distiller.

You can read about my recent visit to the distillery here.

Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin (84 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Juniper forward, but tempered by orange and lemon citrus overlaid with an unusual vanilla/char funk.  Not a Genever, nor an Old Tom style nose, but a scent that is totally unique like an exotic flower.
Taste: A powerhouse of bright citrusy gin encloaked with a darker and more woody, slight smokiness.  That leaves a vast playing field of mid-range space to work its magic.
Finish: The orange citrus goes on and on with the more botanical edge fading fairly quickly.
Overall: Honestly, this is almost a bottled cocktail, there is so much going on here in the interplay between botanicals, citrus and barrel. Stir with ice, strain and serve to a friend.  Have them take a few sips, and then tell them that there is no vermouth or bitters in it.  I guarantee they’ll be surprised. Another cutting edge spirit from Black Button.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Black Button Distilling

1475738972-jagermeister70_2016Introduced 80 years ago, Jägermeister, German for “Master Hunter,” is the #1 selling imported liqueur in the United States. The iconic taste of Jägermeister is a safely guarded secret recipe consisting of 56 natural herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits including star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger roots, and 383 quality checks. The botanical ingredients are extracted in their raw, unprocessed form through a gentle, weeks-long process of cold maceration to create Jägermeister’s base. The base, housed in more than 400 oak casks, then “breathes” for one full year, which is key to creating the complex and balanced flavor of Jägermeister’s legendary taste profile.

While the recipe for Jägermeister remains unchanged, a new bottle design was recently revealed. This is the fifth time the bottle has been redesigned over the course of the brand’s 80+ year history. All bottles, from the 50ml miniature to the 1.75L size, will have a new look in the more than 100 countries around the globe where Jägermeister is available.

The bottle redesign features:

  • A more defined shape, with higher, more squared-off shoulders
  • A more mature and realistic stag in its natural environment
  • A framed label with a reinvented shape
  • Bold logo type and additional depth and dynamism through fine lines
  • New copy that provides information on the product and the quality process

In addition, the bottle’s newly enhanced cap is ultra-premium and bears the signature of the spirit’s founder, Curt Mast, along with the year 1878, commemorating when his father, Wilhelm, created the company.

Another prominent feature of the new bottle is its height: The iconic packaging now stands taller than its predecessor. The 750ml size stands at 9.2” tall (compared with the old size of 8.5”); the 1L now stands at 10.5” tall (vs. 9.5”).

But, how does it taste?

Jägermeister (70 proof)
Visual: Very dark reddish-brown.
Nose: Quite herbal and autumal, not medicinal, but rather akin to a licorice/birch beer nose.  Slightly sweet and candy-like.
Taste: Very similar to horehound candy, with a more peppery, ginger-like heat.  A slight bitter tinge keeps things from being too sweet, but the balance of sugar keeps things on the liqueur spectrum.
Finish: Medium-long with more of the darker herbal notes lingering on.
Overall: A very good digestif that also makes for a few great cocktails.  Just don’t ruin it by mixing it with Red Bull.  Try Robert Hess’ Mahogany cocktail instead.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Jagermeister

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