GSN Review: Laphroaig 16-Year-Old Whisky

Laphroaig has produced 900 cases of its new 16 Year Old, which will be available in Europe exclusively through online retailer Amazon and select US retailers. The whisky’s maturation in ex-Bourbon barrels is said to have softened “the famously rich peat smoke” and added flavors of leather and sweet vanilla.

John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, said: “Whilst this expression carries the iconic smoke of Laphroaig, this is married with sweeter notes of honey and caramel, creating a remarkable dram that’s perfect for the long evenings of late summer and into cozier nights of autumn.”

Beam Suntory GTR marketing director, Michael Cockram says: “This year marks Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary and with this milestone comes an exceptional liquid. Matured for 16 years, the liquid is truly unique and brings something special to travel retail shelves for the fans of Laphroaig.”

Laphroaig 16-Year-Old Whisky (96 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Heavy peat smoke and creosote. Below, there is a softer and quite subtle honeyed malt spirit.
Taste: Yes, there is that familiar Islay flavor, but this time it is tempered into a fine and smooth elegance that rises to a sweet and mellow expression. The smokiness adds a wash of lazy warmth and rustica to a nearly perfectly aged whisky.
Finish: Medium long, with some honeyed and caramel notes whispering goodbye at the finish.
Overall: A dream of an Islay whisky. Really expressive and lovely.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Laphroaig

GSN Holiday Gift Suggestion: Bespoke “Sipping” Blazer from Crown Royal XR

Treat yourself or that extra special someone to an exceptionally unique, luxurious and limited-edition gift this holiday season – the Crown Royal Blazer.

In partnership with renowned celebrity designer ALBA, Crown Royal presents the Crown Royal Blazer. The hand-stitched blazer is inspired by Crown Royal XR Extra Rare, the brand’s rarest whisky which is expected to run out very soon. The blazer features rich tones of gold and royal blue and embodies the sophisticated character of Crown Royal XR Extra Rare from the now-closed LaSalle Distillery. Much like the whisky it celebrates, the bespoke blazer is a carefully crafted collector’s item for the luxurious, modern individual.

The Crown Royal Blazer will be available for purchase in limited quantity for a limited time only beginning Monday 12/16– see here for link.

GSN Review: Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur

Shrubb season in Martinique is one of the great holiday traditions in the Caribbean. Shrubb from Martinique — with two B’s —is not to be confused with the infused, vinegar-based shrubs that many bartenders use in modern cocktails. A cousin to spiced rum and other Caribbean elixirs, Shrubb is one of the oldest and preeminent traditions of Martinique’s cultural heritage. The celebration of Shrubb kicks off around All Saints Day, November 1st, which also is a time of seasonal abundance of citrus on the island. Some of the peels and pulp from the harvest would be reserved for the family’s holiday shrubb. Large spiral zests of sun-bleached bitter orange peels are steeped into rhum, along with vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and other typical créole spices. It is bottled with sugar cane syrup and left to finish.

Generally, Shrubb is made at home, and each family is proud of their secret recipe. The Clément family added aged rhum to their brew and eventually bottled it for commercial sales. It was the first shrubb to hit Paris and was a sought-after ingredient by top pastry chefs in New York City.

Martinique’s Shrubb is typically an orange liqueur more closely related to Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and it can be used the way those spirits are, in classics like the Sidecar, El Presidente, White Lady, Cosmopolitan, and, of course, the Margarita.

Clement Creole Shrub Liqueur (80 proof)
Visual: Light orange-gold.
Nose: Rich orange notes overlaying a heady rum base. Bright, cheery and welcoming.
Taste: A viscous mouthfeel with a glossy orange citrus entry supported by a warming rummy canvas. The orange character is quite natural and has a nice balance of sweet and slight bitter peel.
Finish: Long and slow fade of orange with a slight heat at the tail end.
Overall: An excellent liqueur that is perfect for sipping on its own, or added to the classics. We suggest a holiday cocktail of 3 parts cranberry juice, 2 parts bourbon and 1/2 part Clement Creole Shrubb served over ice.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Rhum Clement USA

GSN Alert: December 5th – Repeal Day

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.

GSN Review: Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels

Angel’s Envythe Louisville-based distiller recently announced the limited-edition release of Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels. Just over 14,000 bottles will be available in select U.S. markets, including purchase directly from the Angel’s Envy distillery.

“Our annual Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon release started in 2012 with my father Lincoln, my son Kyle and me, and it has gone on to become a tradition in our family,” said Wes Henderson, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-founder of Angel’s Envy. “Each year’s hand-selected Cask Strength Bourbon is a little bit different, and we’re excited for our fans, who we consider part of our own family, to experience this year’s release and take part in this tradition with us for the eighth year.”

Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength (122.4 proof)
Visual: Dark reddish-orange.
Nose: Intensely rich and deep malt nose with a pointedly evocative Port nose. Reminiscent of an aged brandy blended with baking spices and dried fruit.
Taste: A very tight package of woody bourbon goodness wrapped with a mouthwatering patina of Port flavor. All of this opens up into a softer, yet still solid spirit when a splash of water is added.
Finish: Long and sweet. That Port hangs on for a long time.
Overall: Quite heady and a real powerhouse of a whiskey. Truly special.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Angels Envy

GSN Review: Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey

Egan’s Irish Whiskey recently released a special edition expression to commemorate 100 years since the passing of co-founder, Henry Egan. Egan was a spirit merchant, bonder, and bottler who made his mark on Irish history as a leading figure in the struggle for an independent Ireland. His fighting spirit lives on through Centenary, a blend of single malt and single grain Irish whiskey in XO Cognac casks of French Limousin oak, and limited to just 5,995 bottles world-wide.

Egan’s was established by brothers Henry and Patrick Egan in 1852 in Tullamore, County Offaly. Patrick was the commercial brains behind P. & H. Egan Ltd. while Henry was the company’s public face, as well as a political Irishman of conviction serving as secretary of the Tullamore Land League.

In 1887, Henry was involved in the ‘Tullamore Tweed’ incident, when Land League leaders William O’Brien, M.P. and John Mandeville were imprisoned at Tullamore Gaol (jail). The men refused to wear official prison garments, protesting their non-criminal status and declaring themselves as political prisoners. Henry managed to smuggle in a suit of Irish Blarney Tweed, a soft hat, and an emerald green tie for O’Brien to wear in defiance of the authorities.

In a nod to the ‘Tullamore Tweed’ incident, each bottle of Egan’s Centenary comes with an Irish tweed coaster, produced in partnership with Magee of Donegal.

“Egan’s Irish Whiskey is deeply rooted in tradition and history,” said John Ralph, CEO of Intrepid Spirits, the brand’s distribution partner. “Behind each bottle is a story, making each limited release a unique collector’s item for true connoisseurs.”

Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: High notes of grape spirit permeate the sweet malty base, creating a mouthwatering expressiveness. Very elegant and refined.
Taste: More of the oak comes through on the palate at the get go, which is followed by the rich, warming malt. But, this quickly gives way to strong front of Cognac flavor. Really an interesting journey in just a few seconds. The lasting impression is of a well aged spirit that is in both worlds.
Finish: Medium-long with a fruity finish.
Overall: A very nice Irish, that is one to pull out on special occasions and take your time savoring. No need to water this down, even at that higher proof.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Egan’s Whiskey

GSN Holiday Gift Suggestion: Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible 2020

Jim Murray has handed an unprecedented triple crown to Kentucky whiskey in the latest edition of his best-selling annual Whiskey Bible. Upon unveiling the 2020 “World Whisky of the Year” Awards, the renowned spirits writer and industry expert has created another first by giving all top three accolades for the finest new drams on earth to the same whiskey company, New Orleans-based Sazerac.

Top prize of “World Whisky of the Year” goes to the 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery, a whiskey Jim Murray describes as “melodious, mysterious and slightly exotic” with a nose of “near-perfect proportions” and with an “unfaltering” finish when tasted.

The runners-up, from 1,250 new expressions tasted throughout the world by Jim Murray this year, are both Buffalo Trace brands: bourbon William Larue Weller 125.7 proof, the latest version of last year’s victor, and Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof.

“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favoritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whiskey Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” stated Jim Murray. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more…and the results came out exactly the same!

“For the 1792 Distillery to win ‘World Whisky of the Year’ is extraordinary because when I first went there some 25 years ago, the then-owners had no interest in high-end whiskey. The oldest they produced was a 6-year-old, which I thought was one of the most complex on the market but still under cooked. I implored them then to bring out something much older.

“It is wonderful that my gut instinct of 25 years ago has been vindicated under the ownership of Sazerac, who have turned a potentially great distillery into something truly magnificent.”

This year’s release of the best-selling Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible is also notable in that it’s the first time ever that Dram Good Books, Ltd. (the book’s publisher) has released a North American version of the book. This unique edition has greater emphasis on the American and Canadian sections, highlighting the region’s whiskies in the forefront of the 384-page guide.

Jim Murray added: “It’s as though Kentucky knew we were producing this first North American edition. But we had strictly kept it under wraps. If Kentucky was ever going to steal the show, this was the year to do it. And, even by their own their high standards, they’ve exceeded themselves and duly obliged. Considering the quality of the whiskies they were up against worldwide, that’s quite amazing, really.”

“To not only be named ‘World Whisky of the Year ‘but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” remarked Mark Brown, President of Sazerac. “We could not be happier nor more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

Sectional winners include: the Taiwanese Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask (Single Cask of the Year); Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition (Scotch); Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare (Blended Scotch); Penderyn Single Cask no.M75-32 (European); Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (Japanese).

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020 (SRP $19.99) contains tasting notes for almost 5,000 whiskies and is available for purchase now on www.whiskybible.com and can be found at U.S. book retailers