GSN Alert: November 23rd – National Espresso Day

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.

GSN Review: Egan’s Legacy Reserve Irish Whiskey

Egan’s Irish Whiskey recently added a new, limited-edition Legacy Reserve to its portfolio. The new expression ups the ante on its predecessors, the 10-Year-Old Single Malt and Vintage Grain, which were introduced to the U.S. markets in 2015 and 2017, respectively. A legacy brand, Egan’s has enjoyed a revival in recent years.

“We’ve been in the whiskey-making business for over a century and a half; that’s six generations of Irish blood in each bottle,” says Jonathan Egan, part of the sixth generation of the Egan Family. “Legacy Reserve is an ultra-premium single malt, about as perfect as an Irish whiskey can get.”

Legacy Reserve is limited to 1,000 bottles worldwide— an exceptionally rare spirit ideally suited for collectors and connoisseurs. Aged for 15 years in American bourbon casks, each bottle is hand-selected by Maurice and Jonathan Egan, whose forefathers Patrick and Henry Egan began the brand six generations ago.

“Legacy Reserve is meant to be had neat or on the rocks — that’s the Irish way, and the only way,” says CEO John Ralph. “We’re a bare-knuckles brand. With this bottle, we’re out to prove that small, thoughtfully produced legacy spirits have a viable place in the global market.”

Egan’s Legacy Reserve Irish Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Mildly sweet malt essence with a light touch of smoked vanilla bean.
Taste: A good dose of barrel wood heads out of the gate, followed by a chewy malt texture. There is a lot going on here in a very tight, compact package. Some dry spice creeps in towards the end, but overall this is exactly what it needs to be.
Finish: Long with a lingering tannic/vanilla afterburn.
Overall: Well done, quite quaffable and a special treat for those who rarely see Irish whiskies in this age range.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Egan’s Whiskey

GSN Review: RAFT Botanicals Cranberry Five Spice Cocktail Syrup

In 2012 wife and husband team, Genevieve and Dan Brazelton, started The Bitter Housewife with the mission to create a brand that made cocktails approachable through great tasting flavors, simple recipes, and lots of education. They expanded to add RAFT Syrups a few years later because bitter is always better with sweet. See our previous review of some of their more interesting syrups and bitters here.

Now, for a limited time only, they have a seasonal flavor syrup just in time for the holidays! RAFT Cranberry Five Spice is a tart, sweet, spiced syrup that tastes like the holidays. Bright cranberry is complimented with fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves.

Slow-brewed in Portland, Oregon with organic spices and organic cane sugar, RAFT uses no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors. It is also 100% vegan.

Cranberry Five Spice: Tart with a fresh cranberry flavor supported by a medium ginger spice heat. A touch of anise and clove hit the top notes. This is a fantastic syrup that will work well with just about any base spirit, or as the lead in a non-alcoholic cocktail or soda. The flavor is immensely appealing and shines through due to the bright cranberry and warmth of the spice blend.  Grab a few bottles so you don’t run out before the end of the year!

GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Improper Goods

GSN Review: Shots Box

Take a trip to your local liquor store and you’ll quickly realize that buying the ingredients for a cocktail is a pricey and sometimes disappointing adventure. Why pay for a whole bottle only to realize that it isn’t something that you really like?

Enter Shots Box, a monthly subscription service that brings a variety of interesting spirits and liqueurs from around the world to your doorstep. Their goal is to connect you to new brands, have you enjoy new cocktails that are more interesting than “the usual,” and provide an easy way for you to share and read opinions on different products written by people just like you.

Once you sign up, you receive a box of 10 mini bottles along with several recipe cards to create a single cocktail. Each card has clear and easy instructions along with a color photo of what the finished drink should look like.

GSN was sent the following minis to sample:
3 different gins
2 cream liqueurs
1 honey/bourbon liqueur
1 vodka
1 tequila
1 coconut rum
1 sambuca

The variety is interesting and will appeal to just about anyone interested in spirits. I would have liked to have had two less gins and instead an american whiskey along with a scotch.  But, perhaps these will be forthcoming in upcoming shipments.

In any case, it is a great way to try new products, saves a trip to the liquor store and all for the cost of one typical top shelf spirit. Plus, if you really like one of the spirits, you can order full-size bottles directly from the Shots Box website. They also have a selection of glassware, barware and cocktail-centric decor available for purchase.

GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Shots Box

GSN Review: Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin

A family-owned business since 1821, Luxardo has cultivated a reputation as Italy’s premier liqueur producer, known for their distinctive, all-natural cherry products. This past summer, Luxardo entered the fruit gin category with the release of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin, an infusion of the brand’s gin distillate with their proprietary Marasca cherry juice, imported by San Francisco’s Hotaling & Co.

The base of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin is made using the recipe for Luxardo’s London Dry Gin (a product not currently available in the U.S.), which can be traced back to the Ginepro di Dalmazia that the family produced in the 1900’s. The recipe contains a selection of nine botanicals, including juniper, coriander, iris, angelica, sedge, licorice, cinnamon, cardamom, and bitter orange. Once distilled in traditional copper pot stills, the gin is infused with Luxardo’s Marasca cherry juice, made from cherries cultivated exclusively by the Luxardo family in the orchards of the Euganean Hills in the Veneto region of Italy. The result is a bright, rich, and sour taste that retains the strong juniper and spice of the original distillate. Each bottle is outfitted with an artisanal label designed to reflect 19th century Italy, further celebrating the family’s history.

Matteo Luxardo, export director and sixth generation of the Luxardo family shares, “The recipe marries two of our oldest recipes to create a flavored gin, rather than a traditional sloe gin, meant to be used as the main spirit in a cocktail or enjoyed in unusual gin and tonic serves.”

Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin (37.5% ABV)
Visual: Garnet.
Nose: Funky blend of ripe cherry, juniper and baking spices. The licorice and cinnamon are at the forefront.
Taste: Not exactly sweet, but definitely fruity. The cherry juice tempers the gin down to an undercurrent. What really makes the flavors pop are the unusual botanicals which create a deep heat on the back of the palate.
Finish: Long and spicy. The cherry fades into a slight cooling effect from the juniper at the tail end.
Overall: Unlike anything else in the world, this is akin to a sour amaro. Perfect for holiday themed libations, I see this getting heavy use at craft cocktail bars this season.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Hotaling & Co.

GSN Review: Beefeater Pink Gin

Beefeater Pink, the latest expression to come from Beefeater, fuses natural strawberry flavor, citrus and classic juniper botanicals, in a gin that is visually vibrant with its statement-making shade. It is the first innovation to be launched by The Gin Hub, a new, stand-alone entity that brings together three of Pernod Ricard’s award-winning and pioneering gin brands under one roof: Beefeater, Plymouth and Seagram’s gin.

Beefeater Pink is crafted in London by Master Distiller Desmond Payne MBE – a pioneer of today’s global gin boom.  Payne was inspired by Beefeater’s founder James Borrough’s creative curiosity. A pharmacist by trade before becoming a distiller, Borrough’s wonderful inventions included raspberry gin, cherry brandy, British Brandy, bitters and mint.  Beefeater continues to embrace Borrough’s passion for blending craftsmanship with experimentation and has created this natural strawberry flavored gin for the new generation of drinkers.

The transparent glass bottle was created to enhance the natural vibrancy of the gin. With its graffiti style logo inspired by stencil art, Beefeater Pink also captures the contrast between tradition and modernity that optimizes the spirit of London – the home of Beefeater Dry Gin.

Sophie Gallois, Managing Director of The Gin Hub, adds: “We know that the gin industry is booming and there is a real appetite for new and innovative expressions that offer consumers a different drinking experience. In Spain, for example, the pink gin trend accounts for 40% of all value growth within the total gin category, so there is huge potential to tap into.”

Beefeater Pink Gin (37.5 proof)
Visual: Pink crystal.
Nose: A curious mix of juniper and fresh strawberry. Dessert-like, but not cloying.
Taste: Medium strawberry flavor on top of a crisp, yet subtle juniper base. The botanicals play a secondary role in the mix, preferring to let the strawberry lead the way.
Finish: Medium long, with the strawberry lasting for several minutes.
Overall: Almost a cocktail on its own, this will appeal to “tini” lovers. Also, not a true pink gin, in the sense that there are no bitters used. Nonetheless this is very drinkable, approachable and lovely.  Great for spring and summer cocktails, this is excellent in gin based punches.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Beefeater Gin

GSN Review: Mi CAMPO Tequila

Mi CAMPO is a recent entry to the popular  mid-tier tequila offering. This is a market which has started to see strong contenders these past couple of years and Mi CAMPO has entered the fight without turning a blind eye to this fact. Ten years ago you’d be hard pressed to find anything respectable at this tier but these days there are some decent contenders and Mi CAMPO is pulling in strong to this market.

Mi CAMPO Blanco
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A surprisingly sweet and pronounced bouquet somewhat reminiscent of vanilla caramel.
Taste: Sweet vanilla, mild pepper; and despite the strong sweet bouquet, the taste is mildly sweet.
Finish: A hint of anise & herbal finish.
Summary: If you want a blanco that’s delightful to smell and easy to drink, this is one of the best bangs for the buck on the market. I would recommend this as an easy entry into blancos.
GSN Rating: B+

Mi CAMPO Reposado
Visual: Clear with a faint golden amber hue.
Nose: A hint of vanilla and pepper, with no sweet tones like the blanco.
Taste: A more pronounced vanilla tone with a hotter pepper taste.
Finish: A warm pepper taste.
Summary: A more standard reposado that traditionalists will prefer, offering a good bang for the buck.
GSN Rating: B

Review by Travis Owens for Good Spirits News