GSN Review: Little Book Bourbon Whiskey Chapter 03: The Road Home

Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam distiller and creator of Little Book Whiskey, recently announced the third installment in his annual, limited-release series of blends – “Little Book Chapter 3: The Road Home.”

Following the first two blended whiskies within the Little Book series – 2017’s “The Easy” and 2018’s “Noe Simple Task” – the third chapter delivers on Noe’s passion for creating one-of-a-kind blends, while also honoring his family roots in Kentucky. Little Book Chapter 3: “The Road Home” features a blend of four Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskies, one from each brand of the original Small Batch Bourbon Collection created by his grandfather Booker Noe in the early 1990s.

“‘The Road Home’ is about going back to your roots – literally and figuratively,” Noe says. “With the birth of my son this year I spent a lot more time at home, reflecting often on family and our legacy. I wanted to create something that honored the legacy and values passed down to me by my family. Whenever I drive down the road to the distillery, the same one my granddaddy Booker drove down, I’m reminded of his adventurous spirit, especially of his creation of the Small Batch Collection in a time when no one was drinking premium bourbon. I like to think he passed that same spirit along to me, which ultimately led me to blending.”

Noe’s inspiration is manifested in the composition of the final blend, which features uncut and unfiltered whiskies of the original Small Batch Bourbon Collection, including: 9-year-old Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s Bourbons, an 11-year-old Booker’s Bourbon and a 12-year-old Baker’s Bourbon.

“This particular blend carries a lot of sentimental value for me,” Noe explains. “Each of the individual bourbons are special to me, just as they were to my granddad, and I really wanted to make sure they came through the final blend in a way that would make him proud.”

Little Book Bourbon Whiskey Chapter 03: The Road Home (122.6 proof)
Visual: Medium dark brown.
Nose: Very open and woody, with a fresh-cut scent of oak. Underneath, there is a dark baking spice nose ranging from brown bread to spice cake. Appealing and surprisingly spicy.
Taste: A lot of old wood on the tongue with a dry, yet familiar sweetness. The overall effect is spread out with a surprising variety of flavors that still manage to express themselves as parts of a greater whole. A mellow and summery bourbon.
Finish: Long, with a slight cinnamon gum finish.
Overall: A unique blending of the elder Small Batch stars. A special whiskey that grows on you.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Little Book Whiskey

GSN Review: Bauchant Liqueur

Bauchant was one of the first orange liqueurs to debut in the US, coming stateside in the early 1970s. Its recipe has remained unchanged since its creation over 40 years ago. The Cognac base is a combination of VS and VSOP Cognac; while the orange flavor is derived from, a unique entry in the category, both bitter and sweet orange (most triple sec and curacao liqueurs tend to use only a single type of orange). In order to achieve the orange blossom flavor profile, Bauchant utilizes 3 different orange varieties – Andalusian, Mandarin, & Tangerine.

Bauchant Liqueur (80 proof)
Visual: Gold.
Nose: Bright, tangy orange peel nose overlaying a rich Cognac base.
Taste: Sweet orange with a balanced citrus forward character. The flavor goes well with the brandy, making this more expressive than a triple sec.
Finish: Fairly long with the orange notes taking a gradual and soft fade.
Overall: A really nice liqueur that hits all the marks we’re looking for in this style.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Palm Bay

GSN Review: La Progresiva 13 Rum

Cuban state-owned sugar producer Azcuba looks after Cuban sugar production, a state monopoly. Azcuba grows and harvests sugar cane, produces over a million tons of raw sugar every year, operates more than 150 different industrial plants across the nation, and makes and markets sugar derivatives from candy through to antibacterial gel. It was formed in 2010, replacing the Cuban Ministry of Sugar, and operates a number of joint ventures in sectors including bioenergy. Ron Vigia SA is Azcuba’s first rum joint venture since Havana Club International formed in the 1990s.

Ron Vigia’s production will focus on Ciego de Ávila Province, a region steeped in rum history. The 50-50 joint venture, valid for 30 years, will own a significant maturing stock of local rum, allowing Ron Vigia spirits to be distributed internationally by The Island Rum Company, Their portfolio includes: Black Tears by Vigia, the first dry spiced spirit made with Cuban rum; La Progresiva 13 by Vigia, a dry sipping rum which launched this fall; and La Progresiva 500 by Vigia, a rare limited edition crafted to celebrate Havana’s 500th anniversary debuting near the holiday season.

La Progresiva Mezcla 13 Rum (82 proof)
Visual: Dark amber.
Nose: Slight smoke and char with a heady dose of oak cask.Lively, vivacious and elegantly appointed.
Taste: A quite dry approach with a lot of tight woody notes. Burnt caramel, dried apple, even a bit of salinity are present, making this a dessert-like rum. There is a deep richness in the mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium long with a somewhat tannic finish on the back of the palate.
Overall: A classy Cuban rum that excels in character and flavor. A current GSN favorite, especially during the cooler autumnal weather of New York.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Ron La Progresiva

GSN Review: Tanteo Tequilas

Tanteo’s tequilas, coming from the southeast of the Jalisco, Mexico lowlands and just west of the Jalisco highlands, focus heavily on a variety of pepper infused tequilas, carving a unique niche in the field.

Tanteo won one of four best new tequilas in 2017 with their habanero tequila and is their original 100% agave spicy tequila. Tanteo infuses artisanal blanco tequila with fresh picked peppers by hand. The result is an award-winning artisanal tequila in a class of its own.  The use of peppers is a strong part of both their flavor and marketing as even the bottle of jalapeno tequila is inspired by the pepper itself.

While most tequila distilleries have been traditionally overseen by a few wealthy patriarchal Mexicans, Tanteo uses a cooperative distillery in the town of Juanacatlan employing mostly women (currently 80% of the work force including the management) with a goal of making a positive impact on their community.  The Tanteo distillery moved into what was formerly a denim factory that had closed, bringing jobs back to an area that was hit with economic loss.

Tanteo Blanco
Visual: Clear, as to be expected from a blanco.
Nose: A cooked agave front, with a cool lightness afterward.
Taste: A heady beginning with definite notes of agave and an earthy tonality.
Finish: A simple and smooth finish.
GSN Rating: B+

Tanteo Chipotle
Visual: A mid-tone yellow, not far off from the color of a reposado.
Nose: A mellow tone with a hint of smoked peppers.
Taste: Initially the kick of alcohol hits your palette and then quickly washes into the chipotle pepper flavor.
Finish: A smooth finish, with the burn of chipotle on your lips.
Personal notes: Peppered tequilas can be a dangerous game for some as some distilleries may rely on pepper oils which bring heat to the tequila but little flavor.  After tasting Tanteo’s Chipotle, I definitely got the impression that the whole smoked pepper soaks in the tequila before going through a final filtering which brings a more fun experience to a flavored tequila.  I would actually recommend this straight up, it’s not necessary to use it in a mixed drink but that would work fine as well.
GSN Rating: A+

Tanteo Jalapeno
Visual: Clear with a faint greenish undertone seen in the bottle but imperceptible in the glass.
Nose: A fresh jalapeno scent, as if you’ve cut one in half and added it to the glass.
Taste: The jalapeno taste is strong with this one, smell and flavor wise more so than the chipotle but less spicy.
Finish: A soft warming afterword.
Personal notes: While fine to sip, this tequila would make the perfect margarita or any tequila drink where one would want the flavor of fresh jalapeno in the drink.
GSN Rating: A

Tanteo Habanero
Visual: Clear.
Nose: The habanero is virtually imperceivable.
Taste: Initially, you’ll experience the blanco but once the haberno essence hits, it’ll take a quick 90° turn into a peppery and warming sensation.
Finish: A cool burn.
Personal notes: If you want more hot bite and less pepper flavor than the jalapeno then this is an ideal tequila.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Tanteo Tequila

Review by Travis Owens for Good Spirits News

GSN Review: Chivas Regal 13 Year Old Manchester United Special Edition

Chivas Regal, the Official Global Spirits Partner of the English Premier League’s most beloved soccer team, Manchester United, has unveiled a special new blend for U.S-based soccer and whisky fans alike: Chivas 13 Manchester United Special Edition. The 13-year-old Scotch pays tribute to Manchester United’s record 13 Premier League title wins while under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.

This special edition blend has been created exclusively for the U.S. market where Manchester United has over 8 million fans, and is the first 13-year-old Scotch to be released by Chivas in the U.S. Portions of the blend are selectively finished in American rye casks to magnify the sweet, delicate notes of the unrivaled Chivas house-style.

“At Chivas we believe that blended is better, in life and in Scotch – a belief that was also brought to life on the field during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at Manchester United,” said Sandy Hyslop, Director of Blending at Chivas. “This whisky has been crafted to celebrate his rare genius and unique ability to drive success year after year, with a blend of different players. Just as Sir Alex’s legacy lives on, we hope that, with our first ever 13-year-old and its inimitable selective American rye cask finish, we’ve created a blend that won’t soon be forgotten.”

The Chivas 13 Manchester United Special Edition packaging features a stand-out color palette of vibrant red, black and white, showcasing Manchester United’s team colors, together with iconic imagery of the Club and Sir Alex Ferguson’s signature in gold script.

Chivas Regal 13 Year Old Manchester United Special Edition (80 proof)
Visual: Dark gold.
Nose: Rich, malty nose with a heady dose of spicy wood char. The rye notes are sky high, while the deeper malt notes hold the field.
Taste: Very smooth and clean entry with a regal amount of cask flavor coming through. Again, the rye adds a picadillo of spice and exotic flavor. The soft sweetness of the whisky remains true to form and finishes with a classy nod.
Finish: Medium long, with the slightly cinnamon-like notes playing tag with the mellower malt.
Overall: A really fine spirit from Chivas. Any true Scotch lover will appreciate the art in this expression.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Chivas

GSN Review: Diplomatico Planas Rum

Due to Venezuelan law, rum cannot be bottled until it is as least two years old. However, in the case of Diplomatico Planas, some of the rums are aged up to six years in ex-bourbon barrels. Distilled through a unique system of copper pot stills, columns and batch kettle, and produced from molasses and sugarcane, Diplomatico Planas is aged up to six years in American white oak barrels, previously containing bourbon and malt whisky. This blend is then charcoal filtered up to six times, removing all color.

Diplomatico Planas Rum (94 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh and sweet rum nose with more than just a hint of wood. There is a lively young character here.
Taste: A lot of body and a slight smokiness creates the sensation of a very young and dry whiskey. This may be due to the ex-malt cask aging. I like the crisp dryness which is unusual in a blanco rum.
Finish: Medium long with a subtle smoke a slight funk on the fade.
Overall: A delicious rum that will up your game in classic cocktails as well as adding a boost to tiki libations.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Ron Diplomatico

GSN Review: El Tesoro Extra Anejo Tequila

El Tesoro de Don Felipe Tequila and Master Distiller Carlos Camarena recently introduced El Tesoro Extra Añejo as a permanent addition to its tequila portfolio. This tequila has been aged in ex-bourbon barrels for four to five years, with the first batch laid in barrels years ago by Camarena’s late father, Don Felipe J. Camarena Orozco.

El Tesoro released its first extra añejo – El Tesoro Paradiso – in 1994 before the Consejo Regulador de Tequila (CRT) officially established an “extra-añejo” tequila classification. The addition of the new El Tesoro Extra Añejo to the portfolio further celebrates the Camarena family’s passion for pushing boundaries in aged tequila, while still honoring El Tesoro’s agave-forward flavor and the family’s traditional methods of tequila making.

“Some families pass along heirlooms, but my family passes on a passion for making exceptional tequila,” says third-generation El Tesoro Master Distiller Carlos Camarena. “I always say that we have two faces at El Tesoro – one that looks to the past and respects the tequila-making traditions of my family, and one that looks toward tomorrow for ways to push the category forward. While most extra añejos are aged for three years, my father understood that we could create an exceptional Extra Anejo by resting it for more than four. Tasting this tequila today, I agree we made the right decision!”

As with all El Tesoro Tequilas, Extra Añejo begins with the same techniques that Camarena’s family has upheld since 1937. The process begins with the 100% estate-grown blue agave which grows for up to eight years in the mineral-rich soil of the Jalisco highlands. The terroir gives El Tesoro a more rounded, fruity and floral taste, and each agave harvest brings unique character and complexity to the liquid. Once the agave reaches peak maturity, it is harvested by hand, cooked in old fashioned hornos (ovens) for three days, then crushed solely using the two-ton volcanic rock tahona stone. It is then double-distilled to proof before the tequila is rested in American oak ex-bourbon barrels for four to five years.

El Tesoro Extra Anejo Tequila (80 proof)
Visual: Slight amber, almost yellow.
Nose: Cooked agave with hints of vanilla.
Taste: Toasted agave with sweet overtones. A lightly warm but not overpowering front, leaving a smooth feeling on the tongue.
Finish: A smooth burn afterwords that turns into a cooling effect at the back of the palate.
Overall: A very enjoyable tequila that excels with the extra aging process.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: El Tesoro Tequila

Review by Travis Owens for Good Spirits News