GSN Review: Barrell 2023 New Year Bourbon

According to the folks at Barrell, “In the whiskey industry, the past is always with you. But we’ve set ourselves apart by always keeping one eye on the future. Maybe that’s why we love celebrating the New Year so much. Each autumn, we create a very special blend of bourbons as a toast to the new beginnings and fresh energy of the year to come. Making New Year Bourbon gives us an opportunity to see the pillars of our brand through clear eyes, celebrate the inherent creativity of our blending process, and rededicate ourselves to our forward-thinking, quality-driven line of spirits. Released at the beginning of December, Barrell New Year Bourbon 2023 is a tribute to the optimism that every new year brings.”

Barrell Bourbon New Year 2023 contains a selection of 5, 6, 7, 8, 10-year-old straight bourbon whiskeys distilled in TN, IN, KY, OH, WY, NY, TX and MD, before blending and bottling in KY. Aged in American white oak barrels, the final product is 113.54 proof cask strength.

GSN’s Remarks: This is a rich, remarkably smooth iteration that has somewhat of a caramel apple character. A bit of heat, but not what you might expect. Upon the opening, it appears somewhat fruity and sweet; but after a few minutes, the wood joins in the fun, creating a dry and elegant finish. Interestingly, the flavors hit all three areas of the palate, each lending a different note. At the tail end, there is a slightly prickly cinnamon tone that seems to ask for just one more sip. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Barrell Bourbon

#Barrell #Barrell2023NewYear

GSN Review: Bosscal Mezcal

Bosscal is a family run business, with their first mezcal released in 2015. Bosscal owns their distillery in Durango, Mexico and produces under a NOM certification. There are currently three Bosscal Mezcals in market – Joven Mezcal, Pechuga de Conejo Mezcal and Damiana Mezcal.

Mountain to Market is the core philosophy of Bosscal. Mountain to Market refers to the brand’s dedication to artisanal and traditional distillery practices. The agave is wild grown, free of pesticides and hand-picked at age. Each plant is strategically picked with preservation in mind, ensuring the sustainabiliity of each harvest and ensuring a minimal environmental footprint.

Fourth-generation Mezcalero Uriel Simental Enriquez hand-selects mountain-grown durangensis agaves to create Bosscal. Together with his right hand distiller Alan Hernandez, they use only traditional, artisanal methods including cooking the agaves in traditional pit ovens lined with volcanic rocks; chopping and grinding the cooked piñas by hand; 2-day spontaneous fermentation; and then double distillation. It takes an average of 17 kilos of agave to make 1L of Bosscal, vs. the industry average of 10 kilos.

The entire line is newly packaged in hand-blown bottles shaped like the volcanic tufa rocks which create Durango’s unique terroir.

Note: GSN was sent samples of the Joven and the Pechuga de Conejo for review.

100% Organic Bosscal Joven – GSN’s Remarks: Lightly sweet with agave character, and enrobed in a smokey woodfire garment. Very clean, medium in body, and with a lingering soft creosote coloration. One of the better organic spirits we’ve had. Try it in a Division Bell, Loaded Pistol, Garden Sour or simply on its own. GSN Rating: A

Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo – GSN’s Remarks: Along with pechuga de conejo (breast of rabbit), Bosscal uses local apples in the distillate, creating a fruited meat character similar to what you might find in a mincemeat pie. There is still the smokiness, but when added to what the apple and rabbit bring to the table, it all seems quite festive and somewhat medieval. This is a traditional style of spirit that is nigh impossible to find outside of local villages and towns in Mexico. We applaud Bosscal for offering this well crafted and obscure mezcal to a wider audience. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Bosscal

#BosscalMezcal

GSN Alert: Convite Bartender Residency trips February-April, 2023


Convite, Oaxaca’s best-selling local brand of Mezcal, is launching a bartender exchange program designed to bring American bartenders to Oaxaca to live, work, and learn how to make Mezcal.

You will be able to live and work from Casa Convite in downtown Oaxaca as part of their immersive Bartender Residency. In exchange for room, board, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to make Mezcal, you will be asked to work short shifts at Convite’s bar and teach one master class for Oaxacan bartenders. This experience is like no other in the industry!


So, what does a week at Convite look like?
Day 1: Travel into Oaxaca and Meet the Team
Day 2: Visit the Market, Try Oaxacan Food, and Guest Bartend (7-11 PM)
Day 3: Visit the Palenque, Make Mezcal and Dinner at a Local Favorite
Day 4: Museo Gran Cochinilla Tour, Master Class Session, Mezcal Master Class with Jorge Vera with Special Tasting and One More Guest Bartending Shift
Day 5: Monte Albán Tour, Sporting Event
Day 6: Tour Agave Fields, Make Mezcal with the Experts
Day 7: Travel Home

How do I apply? Easy! Fill out this form, upload your proof of vaccination, and let us know what you want to share with Oaxaca.

Apply by January 10th, 2023, at Midnight PST for Convite Bartender Residency trips taking place February-April, 2023.

If you’ve already applied, you’re still being considered, but you can submit an updated application if you’d like!

GSN Review: Puncher’s Chance Bourbon

Wolf Spirit Distillery launched Puncher’s Chance 100% Kentucky Straight Bourbon in September 2020, mid-pandemic. Famed sports and entertainment announcer Bruce Buffer, also known as the “Voice of Mixed Martial Arts,” explains: “A puncher’s chance means that anyone has the potential to succeed, whatever the odds, if he or she works for it. Being the underdog is often the greatest strength. Puncher’s Chance is the bourbon for everyone who believes and lives that credo”.

Puncher’s Chance Kentucky Bourbon is a marriage of 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old Kentucky Straight bourbons.

GSN’s Remarks: We like the blend here. It has a lot of warmth. Vanilla, toffee, caramel, and brown bread. The body is medium heavy, with a fairly long finish. Slightly dry, and a warming ginger-like heat at the tail end. A real bargain for the whiskey enthusiast looking for an affordable bottle that will please everyone but the most snobbish. Nice for sipping, but also a real hit in classic bourbon cocktails. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Puncher’s Chance Bourbon

#Puncher’sChance 

GSN Review: Broken Barrel Americana Whiskey

Broken Barrel Whiskey Co., whose portfolio of whiskeys showcase the impact a non-traditional barrel finishing practice has on flavor, recently added a fifth expression to its core lineup. Introducing Americana, a 100 proof (50% ABV) straight American whiskey featuring a mash bill of 80% corn, 14% rye and 6% malted barley. Americana explores blended American Whiskeys with an entirely new Oak Bill™ – a concept unique to Broken Barrel which denotes the combination of barrel staves from different types of barrels used in each expression – of 40% Charred American Oak, 40% Toasted American Oak and 20% American Apple Brandy Cask. 

“Previously, we offered a selection of Rare Americana offerings as part of our single barrel program for private groups and retailers,” said Seth Benhaim, Founder and CEO, Broken Barrel Whiskey Co. “The new Americana 100 proof whiskey was inspired by those bottlings, but is a much more accessible offering for Broken Barrel fans to enjoy regularly.”

While most whiskey is aged in barrels and then bottled, Benhaim believed that there was a missed opportunity in traditional barrel finishing – namely the reliance on one type of barrel used to finish one type of whiskey. He created Broken Barrel to expand the barrel finishing concept, involving not only broken barrel staves (vs. intact barrels), but also the combination of multiple barrel types all finishing aged bourbon in tandem. Once Broken Barrel whiskey ages for a minimum of two years, barrels are carefully selected, then emptied and batched in a large tank. The broken barrel staves from multiple different kinds of casks are then added to further age and finish the whiskey.

GSN’s Remarks: Quite smooth, but with a fairly hefty dose of char. We had hoped for more effort from the apple brandy cask, but the fruit comes through fairly late in the tasting. Still, overall, it has a very approachable entry. We’d be curious to see how a longer aged approach would work. Somewhat light in body, the char is secondary to the sweetness of the corn. We enjoy this in whiskey highballs and as a chaser with a lager ale. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Broken Barrel Whiskey

#BrokenBarrelAmericana #BrokenBarrel 

GSN Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2022 Edition

Heaven Hill Distillery recently announced the release of the Fall 2022 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. At 19 years old, the oldest to date in this specific line the whiskey is comprised of barrels produced in September 2003, and bottled in October of 2022.

Bottled in an ornate decanter, the fall edition denotes a black label, consistent across all fall releases. As was the case for the past editions, this edition’s tax strip, which has always been a signature of transparency on bottled-in-bond products, will disclose when the liquid was produced and bottled. It features Bourbon pulled from across three floors of rickhouse F and one floor of rickhouse X at Heaven Hill Distillery’s main campus. 

GSN’s Remarks: Loads of oak on the nose, along with more reticent notes of cocoa, vanilla bean and pipe tobacco. The initial tasting reveals a whole lot of sweet, with a unusual floral bent. The oak comes through here as well, but not as aggressive as one might expect. There’s actually a lot of disparate elements that keep popping up as the tasting progresses, but they are more curious than distracting. Everything is tied together with a friendly malted barley character that exudes southern hospitality. A different expression from what we have come to expect in this series, but a winner nonetheless. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Heaven Hill

#OldFitzgerald 

GSN Review: Empirical RTD Canned Beverages

Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, Empirical is a flavor company founded in 2017 by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen. The two deep-thinking visionaries are inspired by the role flavor plays in their ability to create and transport experiences. The company does things its own way, having custom-built machinery, developed hybrid fermentation techniques, augmented low-temperature distillation and traveled globally to source the highest quality ingredients. Taking a flavor-first approach means that Empirical does not pay attention to the conventional categories that traditionalists often want to cast its creations into. The result is something that is democratic, shareable and driven by the journey of creating unique and unexpected flavors. 

CAN 01 (10% ABV.) – The first can we made was based around pomelo, an homage to Chris’ Argentinian wife. Historically Buenos Aires is a port city and immigrants from all over the world would work there and drink a bitter – like a Vermouth – with pomelo soda after work every day. That kind of floral acidity that comes from pomelo – it just works in a long drink.

Having to peel all the pomelos by hand, we decided that we didn’t want to do that again – never ever again – so we went in a different direction. That’s when the gooseberries came in. Chris was playing with the idea of gooseberry and oolong tea together, then went to Argentina for a bit, and while he was away Lars put birch and douglas fir in the mix – the two flavors that pull it together – and then CAN 01 was done.

So we started using hops and pomelo juice and heating it up along with different spices and fortified alcohol and stuff, to begin with. We ended up with pomelo, Sichuan peppercorn and lemon verbena.

GSN’s Remarks: Lightly carbonated, the nose is very pomelo forward, with a breakfasty “wake up” note. Somewhat tart, but with a slight dryness from the twin tree infusions. Very drinkable and surprisingly delicate considering the high ABV. This is a great replacement for the typical boring brunch Mimosa. GSN Rating: A+


CAN 02 (8% ABV.) – This creation happened because of Chris’ obsession for fruit beers that have been aged in wood and more particularly Kriek beers. Chris had hop vinegar involved for this one for a while – it stayed in till almost the end, it was so close to being the right ingredient but it didn’t quite work.

It so happened that during this time Chris had got some young pine cones from Germany and had been making kombucha with them. The day we were due to sign off the can after maybe 50 different trials and a shit ton of stuff, he checked his kombucha and asked Lars to taste it. To which he replied “can you do another version of the can with this?”

We tried to sign off the can again a few days later, but then Sasha happened to get hold of a Maqaw pepper. Chris put some in alcohol and Lars tasted it and was like, “this is it”.

GSN’s Remarks: Wow, the pine just leaps right out in front of everything else. In some ways this is reminiscent of a spruce beer, but with a sour cherry patina. The fruit plays a secondary role to the pine, but somehow it works. Overall, it is quite light and will appeal to hopheads and fans of Dogfish Head brews. This one gets our vote for most unusual RTD we’ve ever imbibed. GSN Rating: A-


CAN 03 (4.5% ABV.) – This one opens with citrusy front notes of lemongrass, lemon myrtle, and Andaliman pepper. Carob, coffee chaff, and golden Yunnan tea provide a warming earthy depth with the fragrant coconut-like fig leaf rounding out this highly refreshing blend.

Inspiration for CAN 03 came during a research trip to Ibiza when Chris and Lars ran into fresh carob, something that child-Lars was forced to eat as a “healthy” alternative, and thus something he later eschewed.

But as the two of them sat at an outside bar under the broad branches of a Carob tree, that sweet fresh scent swirling in the lush heat, the sea framed by fig trees, a reconciliation of carob began to coalesce.

GSN’s Remarks: Reminiscent of a light ginger beer mixed with kombucha. Tart, lemony tones sing the soprano notes, while a mild cocoa essence hits the contrabass. Very easy going and low in alcohol, this could well be a session drink, especially on a hot day. Unique and refreshing. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Empirical

#Empirical 

GSN Review: Empirical Spirits

When Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen set off in creating Empirical in 2017, they were guided by a child-like curiosity about how the world works. This perspective blended with their knack for tinkering, exploration, and continual refinement. The result? A powerful blend that pushes Empirical to focus on creating the best flavors possible. They’ve custom-built machinery, developed hybrid fermentation techniques, augmented low-temperature distillation, and traveled the world to source the highest-quality ingredients. 

They currently have four releases, plus two limited edition spirits. GSN was sent samples of the former.

Symphony 6 (Ingredients: Pilsner Malt, Belgian Saison 2 Yeast, Lemon Leaf, Tangerine, Fig, Coffee Leaf, Vetiver, Ambrette Seeds, Black Currant Buds, Citric Acid, Carmine, Water) The aromatic power of leaves has always been an object of fascination at Empirical; one we fully delved into to create Symphony 6. Our journey started with mandarin and lemon leaves imparting a refreshing bright acidity and light fruity notes. To create contrast, coffee leaves brought darker tones and leathery length. The combination resulted in an elegant base to work from; it was the start of a conversation and interplay between light and dark notes. It needed some more flesh to create a full narrative arc, a melody telling the story of Symphony 6. Fig leaves then came into play; green and earthy flavors evoking the cooling sensation of finding shade after a sun-drenched day.

We looked further into the world of perfumery to bring up high notes of black currant buds with biting, green, sulfurous and liqueur-like layers. Ambrette seeds and vetiver roots highlight the darker tones of coffee leaves revealing distinct musky and warm characters.

The maceration and blending of Symphony 6 come in several movements to allow each botanical to shine.

The fresh lemon and mandarin leaves are macerated separately, then blended to be distilled together. The coffee leaves come in treated like tea through a bruising, oxidizing and drying process. They are macerated and distilled before being combined with the citrus cuts to create our flavor canvas.

Black currant buds, fig leaves, ambrette seeds and vetiver roots are macerated and distilled separately to then be added to the base. The final blend is once again macerated with coffee leaves to finish off. Color, reminiscent of that perfect twilight moment, is added through carmine.

– Serve over ice, with a Mediterranean-style tonic

GSN’s Remarks: The initial notes are of coffee, followed by some fig and very light citrus. An intriguing spirit that is light, yet full of dark, brooding flavors. In some ways it is like a distant cousin of an amaro, but much birghter and lighter in body. We like this in lemon forward tropical drinks, as well as enjoying as a pick-me-up ice cold shot. Well done, and unique. GSN Rating: A


The Plum, I Suppose (Ingredients: Pilsner Malt, Pearled Barley, Plum Kernal, Marigold Flower, Belgian Saison 2 Yeast, Aspergillus Oryzae, Sugar, WLP600 Kombucha Scoby, Water) The Plum, I Suppose relies on the balance between two very different components. The kernel inside the plum stones is the foundation of this spirit, lending a marzipan, bitter almond flavor. Distilled marigold kombucha contributes floral and tannic notes somehow reminiscent of plum skins.

Our head of R&D Chris was doing a deep-dive into the idea of what we consider a tea (shaved woods, fresh fig leaves, dried fruits, etc.) things that were teas in the sense that they were dried “herbs”, but not necessarily a typical tea. That’s how we got to marigold: it has a tonic, floral note to it that adds both vibrance and aromatics to the final spirit.

The Plum, I Suppose is an instance where two very different ingredients combine to form a third completely different expression. The name is a reference to the Robert Frost poem, “The Rose Family.” One gets the sense of a delicate umeshu, a slight plum fruit flavor over an undercurrent of bottom notes that are ephemerally familiar. The top notes are what brought us to the name; there is no fruit in the spirit at all.

The kernel inside plum stones is the foundation of this spirit. Rather than tasting of stone fruit, the kernel lends a marzipan, bitter almond flavor. Distilled marigold kombucha brings another side of floral and tannic notes reminiscent of plum skins; the combination is sort of the suggestion of plum, hence the reference to the Robert Frost poem. Perception of sweetness with a refreshing finish. Keep refrigerated.

– Serve neat or over ice with citrus soda

GSN’s Remarks: Lovely, marzipan character, like a distilled version of an orgeat. Rather than sweet, this is quite dry and has a soft herbal character. Very delicate, but enthralling. I agree that there is a plum character here as well. Try it with a few drops of saline solution and fresh lemon juice to create an Umeboshi cocktail. This spirit is excellent and has a lot of potential behind the bar. GSN Rating:A+


SOKA (Ingredients: Sorghum Syrup, Sorghum Cane Juice, Thai Rice Chong Yeast, Water) Fermentation is a large part of our creative process, as is our constant search for new sources of sugar, the key to it all. So, when sorghum came to mind, it got us thinking. This truly ancient grain is the fifth most produced cereal crop worldwide, playing a large role in beer production across Africa and Asia. But what about the stalk that supports it? Where are all the sorghum-based spirits of the world? And so we delved further, looking into sorghum’s rich history, properties and high sugar content.

To begin with, we started fermenting cane juice from European sorghum, blending it with strain upon strain of yeast from our neighbor White Labs Copenhagen until we came across a winner: Thai Rice Chong. The resulting ferment delivered aromas and flavors reminiscent of freshly cut grass, green apples and barnyards. We were hooked – and we had a vision.

Excited and ready for more, we headed to Kentucky to source sorghum syrup from fifth-generation sorghum producer Danny Ray Townsend, before moving to Wisconsin to get our hands on sorghum juice from veteran hobbyists-turned-experts Richard and Brenda Wittgreve.

With our juice in place, time was of the essence to avoid contamination and keep the flavor intact. First we pressed the juice before taking it to a distillery in Milwaukee where it fermented over three days. The next step? To preserve all the wonderful esters, which meant turning to vacuum distillation. But our equipment was in Copenhagen, so we took what we could find at hand, gave it a tweak here and there, and voila: a distiller was born, and the problem solved.

Following this, the leftover wash from distilling the juice was used to ferment our syrup, leading us to the next and final stage: the blending and bottling of SOKA.

– Serve neat, in a ti punch or twist on a Mojito

GSN’s Remarks: Very much like a Cachaça. Simple, lightly sweet, and with a dry finish. There isn’t a whole lot going on here, but the distillation is clean and crisp. We like this in a daiquiri or a caipirinha. GSN Rating:A-


Ayuuk (Ingredients: Pasilla Mixe, Pilsner Malt, Purple Wheat, Yeast WLP566, Water) The smoky Pasilla Mixe chili is the sole botanical and the source of all the complexity in Ayuuk. We source it directly from Mixe farmers in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, and macerate it in a spirit made from Danish heritage purple wheat and pilsner malt. After distillation the best fractions are rested in a sherry Oloroso cask, allowing the flavors to infuse and mature with each other, giving a smooth, distinct and savory finish.

– Serve over ice, with Ginger Beer

GSN’s Remarks: Smoked chili pepper on the nose. The chili has very little heat, but adds a rich smokiness. The sherry cask doesn’t add much sweetness, but rather a slight tannic oakiness. A very nice sipping spirit, that makes for a great addition to the creative bartender’s backbar. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Empirical

#Empirical #soka #ayuuk #symphony6 #theplumisuppose

GSN Review: CleanCo Non-Alcoholic Spirits Part II

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and creator Spencer Matthews, CleanCo offers cocktail lovers a non-alcoholic alternative when they seek moderation combined with the taste and nose of their favorite spirit, but without the sugars or calories.

Following his own desire to reframe his relationship with alcohol in 2018, Matthews discovered there were no options in the market that could match the taste and mouth feel of full-strength spirits in a mixed drink. CleanCo is for people who want to enjoy a full-flavor alternative, when the occasion calls for it, that also gives the sensation and taste of their favorite spirit.

They currently have four expressions: Clean T (Tequila), Clean G (Gin), Clean V Apple (Vodka) and Clean R (Rum).

Note: See our previous reviews of Clean T and Clean V Apple here

Clean G – GSN’s Remarks: The overall flavor is more lemon than juniper. I barely get any pine notes. There is a bit of prickly heat akin to mild ginger, but the overall effect is of a tonic than a gin. Still, it is tasty and will work well on its own as a N/A Martini if well chilled. GSN Rating: B

Clean R – GSN’s Remarks: Notes of vanilla bean and mild caramel come through, with a flavor reminiscent of a spiced rum. This works quite well, and again there is a soft, spicy heat that hits the back of the palate. This is one of the better N/A “spirits” that we’ve had and it deserves some experimentation in the bar. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Drink Clean

#CleanCo #DrinkClean

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Whiskies

Can’t afford that 20-year-old bottle of Pappy or 27-year-old Redbreast? Check out some more afforable whiskies that have garnered the highest marks from the GSN staff this year!

Kentucky Owl Confiscated Bourbon – Ultimately smooth entry with notes of tree and vine fruit: fresh apple, pear, and white grape, along with softer flavors of coffee cake, cinnamon toast and mild oak. The body has a medium mouthfeel, with a lot of present flavors forward on the palate. The finish is medium long, with a refreshing peppery finality. What we love about this bourbon is that it just keeps getting better with each sip. One of the most friendly and approachable bourbons we’ve ever had. If indeed this is the kind of whiskey that was apprehended by Prohis back in the bad ol’ days, we are glad that it has finally been granted freedom after 100+ years. Confiscated gets our vote for Bourbon of the Year! GSN Rating: A+++

The FUJI Single Grain Whiskey – A completely different animal than the World Whisky. This is more fulsome, fruitier, sweeter and nectar-like. Round, hitting a full spectrum of the the palate with malt, spice, wood, and a smooth tree fruit essence. Excellent neat, this also holds up well with a large rock. Great showcase for the master blender’s skill. GSN Rating: A++

Peg Leg Porker 8-year-old Tennessee Rye Whiskey – Remarkably spicy and rye forward. Quite dry, with a curious mellow smokiness that tastes like woodfire, as opposed to charred oak. Unusual, unique and full of flavor, the finish is quite long and begs for several sips after the first. What really impresses us is the ultra-smoothness of this release. At 105 proof, you’d expect burn, but there simply isn’t any. Really, really well done, and tasty as heck. This spirit captures the essence of southern BBQ in a way that no other bourbon has ever come close to. Highly recommended! GSN Rating: A++

Teeling Wonders of Wood Single Pot Still Chinkapin Oak Whiskey – Remarkable. The Chinkapin cask aging imparts a wonderfully nutty, and slightly spicy patina over the sweet barley distillate. A warm, round, open and welcoming expression. Notes of banana, ginger, buttered toast, sweet tobacco leaf, and light baking spices add a festiveness to the affair. Long finish, with the semi-dessert flavors percolating for several minutes. A lovely Irish in the top five we’ve ever enjoyed. Irish whiskey fans, do yourself a favor and buy a bottle or two as soon as you can. You’ll return to it again and again. GSN Rating: A++

Kentucky Owl Takumi Edition Bourbon Whiskey – A unique whiskey that has a gentle wood-forward entry. Delicate and still self assured, the blend of agings have a cohesiveness that still allows each to shine. Most notably, the various barrels have made their mark on the final product, leaving notes of oak, light berry, young tobacco, brown bread, baking spice and tea. The mouthfeel is medium heavy with a roundness carried by the high notes. At the end of the long finish, there is a soft fade into light rye spice. A true artistic expression, we highly recommend this latetst release from Kentucky Owl. GSN Rating: A++

Teeling 32-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey Purple Muscat Finish – The nose is rich with berry fruits, warm caramel and a touch of vanilla bean. The flavors burst in the mouth with a wash of grape that never overwhelms, but supports and melds with the malted barley. For such an ancient aging, there is plenty of character here. The higher proof helps by bringing out the more subtle characteristics of an elder Irish whiskey. The mouthfeel is smooth and balanced throughout the palate, and the finish lingers with just a hint of the Muscat at the end. Very tasty, very well done, and very rare indeed. We are pleased to give this expression a GSN Rating of: A++

Barrell Vantage – Barrell releases just keep getting more interesting. With this latest expression, they’ve hit all the marks of a truly great whiskey. Distillate, choice of oak, char, length of aging, and bottling at proof. The flavor is expressive, rich and chewy, with a lot of sweet backbone. The mouthfeel is warm, slightly heavy and hits every corner of the palate. The finish is exquisite, leaving you begging for “just one more sip”. A real winner and it should be on the shortlist for American Blended Bourbon of the year. GSN Rating: A++

Stellum Black Rye Fibonacci Blend #1 – Sweet and spicy rye greets the palate with a warm wash of caramel tinged goodness. The mouthfeel is very round and semi-heavy mainly due to the eye popping 115.12% proof. Adding some water to bring down the fire, reveals a more tempered spirit with softer notes of nut bread, coffee cake and pecan pie. This is a whiskey that keeps on giving. One sip will not do. To celebrate your bottle, try a few ounces in your next, very special Sazerac. Truly exceptional. GSN Rating: A++

Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak Finish Whiskey – Light, malt forward and slightly sweetened from the wine barrel aging, this is really a lovely and exceptional Irish whiskey. Warm, round, smooth and full of conviviality. The salinity you might expect from a maritime distillery is present, but only in the same way a skilled chef or mixologist would use. It’s easy to see that the master distiller uses the same approach in terms of aging, and blending the final product. This is just one pleasant experience from beginning to end. Sláinte! GSN Rating: A++

Wyoming Whiskey National Parks No. 2 – This is a delicious whiskey that not only excels in flavor, but in body and mouthfeel. The limestone water comes through loud and clear, adding a depth and roundness, while at the same time a touch of graininess that is quite appealing. The distillate itself is classic, with loads of warm, malt, baking spice, toffee, oak, praline and light pepper. The finish is lighty sweet, but has a tea-like tannic edge, leaving the palate dry and ready for another sip. If you can, grab a bottle of this exceptional release before its gone. GSN Rating: A++

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Spring 2022 Edition – These OFBIB releases keep getting better and better. The latest one features an olfactory palette of heavy spice, sweet notes of caramel, fresh cocoa and young tobacco. These all carry through to the palate where they become even more pronounced. Drinkable at full strength, the body is medium-light, with a round and warming middle tonality. The finish is extraordinarily long, with oak-laden tannins continuing to percolate on the tongue. With a splash of water, things open up into a softer and more mellow mood, but do not lose any of their personality. This particular release is excellent and shows what an extra year in the barrel can do to transform a great whiskey into an exceptional one. GSN Rating: A++

Barrell Bourbon Batch 32 – Another sure fire winner from the folks at Barrell. This expression has a definite chewiness with a round and tobacco leaf like character. Slightly fruity with elements of stewed prune, apricot and baked pear. All of this is tied together with a pecan pie flavor profile. Even at full proof, this is one smooth bourbon. add a gentle splash of branch water and it opens up into a very easy going and elegant spirit. At once sweet, it also has the self assuredness of an seasoned statesman. GSN Rating: A++

Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17-Year-Old Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Remarkable flavors explode out of the bottle with this one. A bright, spicy, warm, and rich paquet of tradional bourbon essences express the joy of a richly aged bourbon. This is so good, that a single sip is enough to appreciate the time and skill that went into this lovely spirit. A generous serving of terroir is apparent, with summer heat, aging wood and venerable spirit all reflecting the place of origin. You can never go wrong with Heaven Hill offerings, but this one goes the extra mile with intense, yet well balanced flavors. Without getting into all of the usual flavor notes, let’s just say that this release is a treasure. GSN Rating: A++

Egan’s Legacy Reserve Volume IV Irish Whiskey – A remarkable Irish. Take each of the best qualities of classic uisce beatha, than mulitply them several times. A warm, welcoming entry of lightly sweet malt with a light touch of Moscatel indicates the direction of the spirit. A medium body, with a smooth and mellow mid-range, highlighted with a tender caress of oak, and a loving embrace from the wine casks. The finish is fairly long, ending with light vine fruit. A testament to time, the skill of blender, and the craft of the distiller. GSN Rating: A++

Cascade Moon 13 Year Old Rye – The nose effuses fresh baked rye bread married to a sweet, yet char driven element. Wonderfully evocative and luscious. On the tongue, the spirit is sweeter than expectations, giving notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel creams all patinaed by a slight burnt toast edge. The bitterness of the grain and the barrel keeps the focus on the peppery rye. Rye whiskey is always a treat, but when it deleivers as well as this one does, it becomes an experience. Grab a bottle if you can. Highly recommended. GSN Rating: A++

GSN Review: Uncle Nearest Straight Rye

Nearest Green Distillery has announced that it will add three permanent expressions to its national portfolio before the end of 2022: Uncle Nearest Straight Rye Whiskey, Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Black Label and Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Rye. Uncle Nearest Straight Rye is the brand’s first new whiskey available to purchase online and at retailers across the country since the 2019 release of its 1884 Small Batch Whiskey.

The November 10 release follows the sold-out launch of the distillery exclusive Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Rye Whiskey. The 100-proof straight rye, was hand-selected by four-time Master Blender of the Year and great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green, Victoria Eady Butler. “It took us a while to release our 100-proof straight rye whiskey. If we were going to add rye to our lineup, it had to be worthy of all the accolades and awards our other whiskeys receive,” said Butler. “My great-great-grandfather’s legacy of excellence requires us to take our time to do things differently. I’m confident he would have been so proud of this straight rye whiskey.”

Due to the challenges around growing rye in Tennessee, the whiskey originated in Canada – according to the exact American specifications required to be a straight rye whiskey – and was then aged in New York for a minimum of four years before moving to Tennessee, where it is was rested in used Uncle Nearest barrels for additional maturation. The liquid was then tasted, barrel by barrel, and blended by Victoria.

The whiskey was followed by the release of Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Black Label on Black Friday, November 25, and next up will be Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Rye on December 15. These rollouts are part of the brand’s ‘12 Weeks of Christmas’ which includes special promotions for Uncle Nearest fans such as bottle signings at the distillery, and limited time offerings like the Legacy Collection Ultimate Gift Set containing all seven Uncle Nearest whiskeys, available to purchase at the distillery the weekend of December 22. Following the launch of the Single Barrel Black Label at Nearest Green Distillery, it will be solely available at the distillery and on Reservebar.com starting on Monday, November 28 through the first half of 2023. The Single Barrel Rye will follow suit.

GSN’s Remarks: A terrific rye that hits all the marks. Slightly sweet entry with a bushel of rye heat immediately following. A lot of body here with a medium-heavy mouthfeel. Loads of baking spice, and holiday nut roll are apparent, with the oak cask keeping everything from going off the rails. The finish is exceptionally long, with a hint of cinnamon, allspice and black walnut. This is so good you’ll want a few bottles! GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Uncle Nearest

#UncleNearestRye

GSN Review: Spirit Works 8-Year-Old Rye

When husband and wife team, Timo and Ashby Marshall, founded Spirit Works Distillery ten years ago in Sonoma County, they had already shifted their vision quite a bit. Fresh off of an environmental research vessel, their dream was to set roots down and grow sloe berries (a tiny relative of the plum) and botanicals for the creation of high quality sloe gins, the kind of spirits that Timo’s family in the UK had been creating for generations. During the process of researching the local industry and sorting out their best approach, they caught the craft distilling bug.

Bolstered by the support of talented colleagues in the region, the Marshalls set their sights on becoming producers rather than ingredient suppliers, opening Spirit Works Distillery in 2012 in Sebastopol’s then new Barlow district, with a portfolio of sustainably-minded, grain-to-glass craft vodka and gin. Over time, they expanded their offerings, incorporating a Sloe Gin (the nation’s first); a Barrel Aged Gin; A Navy-Strength Gin, and a collection of whiskies, including Straight Wheat and Rye Whiskies, and a Four Grain Straight Bourbon whiskey. 

“It is so incredibly rewarding for Timo and I to have reached this 10-year milestone”, states Spirit Works co-founder and head distiller, Ashby Marshall. “As you’ll see, we have many more exceptional spirits to come, but we couldn’t be more proud of the team we work with here, the partnerships we’ve developed over the years and the high quality spirits, truly made with passion, we create here every day.”

In honor of this benchmark decade of growth and success, Spirit Works Distillery announces the release of a limited edition 8 Year Rye Whiskey, the oldest whiskey bottling in the brand’s portfolio. Selected from some of the distillery’s oldest stocks, the barrels harvested for this whiskey are among the first ever produced at Spirit Works Distillery. The Distillery is also introducing a “Founder’s Reserve” line of exclusive whiskies, to include the new 8 Year Rye Whiskey; Bottled-in-Bond whiskies, beginning with a wheat, and Private Barrel selections available to retail outlets, labeled as “Distiller’s Select”.

GSN’s Remarks: Lightly fruity on the palate, with an apple cider note. Light in body, with the rye spice kicking in after a few seconds. Smooth, easy going and slightly chewy on the finish. The oak remains forward toward the end, with the rye grain leaving a lasting percolation on the tongue. A nice whiskey for rye cocktails such as a Ward 8, Algonquin or Commodore. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Spirit Works Distillery

#SpiritWorksDistillery

GSN Review: Everleaf

Everleaf, a non-alcoholic aperitif, first introduced by bartender and conservation biologist Paul Mathew in January 2019, has crossed the pond to the U.S.. Paul Mathew’s background as a conservation biologist, as well as a bartender and bar owner, having opened The Hide, The Arbitrager, and Demon, Wise & Partners in London provided inspiration and knowledge into the creation of Everleaf. Everleaf’s products are anchored to different parts of the natural world, which act as both inspiration for flavor profiles and sources for key botanicals. 

Paul researched plants, sustainable sourcing, dehydrating samples, macerating, and extracting to get the perfect blend of complementary yet surprising flavors. But then there was the texture. Alcohol’s unique viscosity is usually missing from non-alcoholic drinks. What solutions could the natural world offer to create something similar? Again, he found answers on both land and sea from plants such as acacia trees and seaweeds. After over a year of experimentation and development, Everleaf was born.

The result is a vibrant non-alcoholic aperitif that works wonderfully with light tonic water, to create a light and refreshing spritz.  

Everleaf Forest: Complex & Bittersweet with saffron, vetiver and honeyed orange blossom. GSN’s Remarks: Slightly sweet and tangy, there is a lightly bitter edge on the finish. The saffron comes through quite clear, and the overall effect is of florality and herbality. Well balanced and flavorful. GSN Rating: A-

Everleaf Marine: Crisp & Refreshing with dulse, olive leaf and sea buckthorn. GSN’s Remarks: Definitely evocative of the sea, this also has a somewhat tangy entry. Some slight brininess with a hint of dried seaweed. Nothing is too forward however, and all is held in check. The is a somewhat dry and peppery note at the finish. Unique and refreshing. GSN Rating: A

Everleaf Mountain: Vibrant & Aromatic with juniper, myrtle and everlasting. GSN’s Remarks: More dry and bitter than the others, Mountain seems more akin to an amaro with a lot of bitter notes. Some grassiness and light berry notes. This one will appeal to lovers of Campari or Aperol. GSN Rating: B+

Everleaf is available to purchase online via www.everleafdrinks.com as well as on Boisson and Drink No Low.

For more information go to: Everleaf Drinks

#Everleaf #Everleafdrinks

The Good Spirits News 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Barware and Supplies

Looking for some stocking stuffers or unique gift ideas for the mixologist in your life? Look no further! GSN has got you covered. Check out our recommendations for the 2022 holiday season!

OLDKNOW Bev Co. Verte Absinthe Seltzer Having had many absinthe cocktails over the years, this was delightfully refreshing and light. Perfectly balanced and uniquely carbonated, we would easily buy a case of these for summer drinking. The first of its kind, and a welcome addition in a very crowded market. GSN Rating: A+

Dignity Raw Coconut Oil This is a great oil to use in fat washing a spirit. Try it in rum, tequila, bourbon or even Calvados for a unique flavor twist. We especially love the idea of supporting a company who is ethical and is making a positive change in the lives of people. Makes a great stocking stuffer for the mixologist or home chef. We also recommend picking up a copy of Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence to learn about the various techniques used in fat washing. GSN Rating: A+

Fresh Victor Cold-Pressed Pineapple & Ginger Root Juice Mixer – This is excellent! Our personal favorite of the Fresh Victor line. This works exceptionally well with tequila, rum, vodka and brandy. Hits the spot with a great balance of fruit and heat. GSN Rating: A+

Cocktail & Sons Fassionola Syrup – The strawberry character comes through loud and clear. The hibiscus has a softer touch, but is still noticeable. The other fruits don’t carry so much in terms of flavor, but add a tropical tartness to the affair. We really enjoyed this recreation of a lost syrup. Definitely try it in a Hurricane. You will never go back to pre-mixes or powders. We especially appreciate the support that the company shows to local farmers. Be sure to check out some of their many other syrups. They even have a few sample packs, along with seasonal releases like King Cake syrup and Watermelon & Thai Basil. GSN Rating: A

Pink House Alchemy’s Bee’s Knees Cocktail Kit – This really is a great little kit, with several bespoke ingredients that you’d be hard pressed to make yourself. We especially like the lavendar syrup which is becoming quite trendy in the cocktail world this year. Also of particular note is the bee pollen lavendar rimming sugar. It really ties the whole drink together with a floral and bee-centric focus. We prefer to use gin in our Bee’s Knees, but vodka will also work as well. We also highly recommend the other products that Pink House Alchemy crafts. Great stuff! GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Ruby Artemisia Spirit Restorative – A modern take on an ancient restorative – A play of floral citrus, herbaceous bitterness, and tangy botanicals emulate the elegance and complexity of a classic aromatized wine. GSN’s Remarks: The flavor is slightly tart, with a limey kind of character. There is a somewhat round and softness to the expression which has some botnaical persona. We definitely agree that it is somewhat in keeping with a vermouth. Almost a combination of sweet and dry. Quite interesting ,refreshing and well balanced. GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Black Ginger Spirit Restorative – A bracingly bitter take on a dark classic – A grounding core bitterness balances with smooth layers of flavor, notes of spice, and botanical aromatics. GSN’s Remarks: In some ways, this expression is less bitter than the Rose Bermagot, but there are more dark and low notes here. Surprisingly, there is no ginger heat, but rather a funky flavor of wet grasses and herbs. The flavor is somewhat difficult to decribe. More of an amaro, but lighter and drier. This liquid is conducive to contemplation and relaxation. GSN Rating: A

Fresh Victor Cold-Pressed Cucumber & Lime Juice Mixer – Really nice. The cuke comes through just enough to balance the lime with some cooling flavor. Perfect for gin and vodka. GSN Rating: A

RASĀSVĀDA Zero-proof Spirit Rose Bergamot Restorative – Reimagining a classic Italian bitter without the sugar – Enlivening bitter-sweetness and lush, bright flavors join with the elegant complexity of heady floral and citrus aromatics. GSN’s Remarks: More of that tartness comes through, but this time with a distinctly bitter edge. There’s definite notes of spearmint here as well, creating a colling effect, The whole endeavor is quite uplifting and bracing. The botanicals are more forward here with a grassy, somewhat herb driven profile. All ends with a very long finish. GSN Rating: A-

CleanCo Non-Alcoholic Clean V – Interestingly, for an apple flavored N/A vodka, the ingredients list juniper distillate. The familiar pine flavor is unapparent. However, the flavors of apple and cinnamon speak loud and clear. It’s almost as if the producers have clarified a mulled apple cider. It’s quite good and again has a clean taste. Light, and with that non-alcoholic heat remaining on the fade. GSN Rating: A-

Drinkmate OmniFizz We tried a multiplicity of liquids to see just how well they would carbonate. The best tended to be clear juices, wines and teas. For thicker juices like orange, pineapple or tomato, the results were not as appealing, but considering the low price point, we can’t argue. Of course adding a bit of fizz to cocktails is really the draw here for readers of GSN. We tried carbonating a few classics: Negroni, Margarita and Lemon Drop. All worked well and added an interesting texture to the libations. Cleaning was easy and operation is quick and simple. It’s well worth getting a unit and experimenting. Who knows? You may come up with a new favorite for your home bar! GSN Rating: A-