GSN Review: Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored”

Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam distiller and creator of Little Book Whiskey, recently announced the fourth installment in his annual, limited-release series of blends — Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored.”

Lessons Honored includes three uncut and unfiltered American whiskies that bear a connection to his father, 7th Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, and the pair’s shared time working at the James B. Beam Distillery this past decade.

The blend includes a 4-year-old Kentucky straight brown rice bourbon, an 8-year-old Kentucky straight high-rye rye whiskey and a 7-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon.

“This year’s release is an ode to my dad and the lessons he has passed down to me about bourbon and life, all of which I hope to pass down to my own children,” says Freddie Noe. “A lot of them go back to honesty and integrity. He taught me to be true to myself, which is something that’s very important in our family, and to know when to slow down and be patient. Dad’s values carry over into our whiskey brands, and I’m proud to honor him with this special blend.”

The rice bourbon reminds Freddie of the first distilling project he handled on his own, after years and experiences under Fred’s guidance, the company says. The rye is an ode to Booker’s Rye, one of the first commemorative releases that Fred and Freddie tasted and selected together. The extra-aged bourbon rounds out the blend with flavors reminiscent of Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection, a spirit enjoyed by Fred, the company says. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Fred actually helped select this final component when Freddie sought his opinion on several different samples.

“Going into the selection and blending process for this year’s release, I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to honor my dad and the story I wanted to tell with this whiskey,” Freddie Noe says. “I knew right away these were the whiskies I wanted to work with, so I spent most of my time perfecting the blend to balance the flavors to create a whiskey that would make Dad proud. I think I did just that – all the way down to the blue neck tag which represents our favorite sports team, the Kentucky Wildcats.”

Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored” (122.8 proof)
Appearance: Dark copper.
Aroma: The rye is most prominent, with a nice spice driven nose, tempered only slightly by the rice distillate.
Taste: The flavor is mild and smooth, almost akin to a wheated bourbon. The sweetness kicks in after a bit, soon followed by the rye finally announcing its presence.
Finish: Long, with lingering cinnamon gum flavors ending the journey.
Overall: Watered down, this is a very easy going bourbon, perfect for pairing with a cigar or BBQ.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Little Book Whiskey

GSN Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2020 Edition

Heaven Hill Distillery recently announced the release of the fall 2020 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 14 years old. Comprised of barrels produced in fall of 2005, and bottled in fall of 2020, this the sixth national release in the series.

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 will disclose when the liquid was produced and bottled. It meets the strict requirements of a bottled-in-bond: the product of a single distillery from a single distilling season, aged a minimum of four years, and bottled at 100 proof or 50% alcohol by volume.

A previous 14-year-old edition was released as a visitors center and Kentucky allocated product, denoted with a red label. The fall 2020 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the first 14-year-old of the nationally released series and features Bourbon pulled from different rickhouses, at different floors, and on different production dates than the red label release.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2020 Edition (100 proof)
Appearance: Light maple syrup.
Aroma: Rich, enveloping nose of oak char, caramel, molasses, brown sugar and brown bread.
Taste: Intensely compact delivery of elderly bourbon in a wood forward package. The flavors are melded together in such a way, that it becomes one whole personality. Some water opens this up and allows some more subtle notes to breathe. But, this is not as sweet as the nose indicates.
Finish: Medium long.
Overall: These are very interesting releases, as you can trace the effects that just half a years aging has on a product. I will be curious to see if they go beyond 15 years.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Old Fitzgerald

GSN Review: The Whistler Irish Whiskey Cask Finish Series

The Whistler Irish Whiskey, from family owned Boann Distillery in the historic Boyne Valley of Ireland, has added its special Cask Finish Series to its U.S. portfolio. The series includes a unique line up of Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, Calvados Cask Finish and Imperial Stout Cask Finish whiskeys. The Imperial Stout and Calvados Cask Finishes are annual releases that will be produced in February of each year with limited availability. Currently 3,000 bottles for each of the Imperial Stout and Calvados Cask Finishes are available in the U.S., while the core range of Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish has ongoing production with national distribution.

Boann Distillery is the brainchild of the Cooney family, who have a long history in the Irish drinks industry. Founder Pat Cooney is a native of Drogheda and the establishment of a new industry in his hometown is a homecoming for him. Pat, his wife Marie and four of their children are all actively involved in running the business.  It’s been a Cooney family dream to lead a renaissance of Irish whiskey from their homeland of Drogheda, and that dream has become a reality with their new State of the Art Boann Distillery, and in late 2019 the first spirit flowed from the distillery’s copper pot stills, the first to flow in Drogheda in over 160 years.

Oloroso Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is triple distilled and features the distillery’s signature blend of 35 percent single malt whiskeys and 65 percent grain whiskeys, which are independently matured in ex-bourbon barrels for at least four years before being married together and finished in Bodega Sherry Oloroso Casks for at least 12 months.
Appearance: Light gold.
Aroma: High, sweet sherry notes with a more subtle malt base. Quite fruity.
Taste: The sherry flavor greets you at the entrance, but it quickly leads into a soft and simple young whiskey. The cask plays a minor role in terms of wood character, but overall everything holds together with a cohesiveness.
Finish: Medium long, with some of the fruit notes lingering.
Overall: A very friendly and easy going whiskey that we’ve been enjoying.
GSN Rating: A-

Calvados Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is a collaboration between Boann Distillery and famed Calvados producers Chateau du Breuil, in Normandy, France. The expression features the same base high malt content signature blend used in the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish. which makes these whiskeys incredibly interesting to try side by side as an investigation into the impact of different cask finishes. The signature whiskey blend is then married together and filled into Chateau du Breuil’s finest 10-year-old French Oak Calvados casks and left to finish for a period of at least 15 months.
Appearance: Very pale gold.
Aroma: Very bright high notes, with a slight apple tinge.
Taste: The Calvados flavor is subtle, but more apparent at first than the malt distillate. The flavor is very light and slightly dessert-like.
Finish: Medium, with a lingering note of fresh apple.
Overall: We’d be interested to see how this would fare with a longer aging in the Calvados cask, but this is another light and easy to drink affair.
GSN Rating: A-

Imperial Stout Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is a collaboration between Boann Distillery and its sister brewery, Boyne Brewhouse. This expression begins its life, when ex-sherry barrels, containing The Whistler 7-Year-Old Blue Note, are emptied by the distillery and sent the brewery for its 10.8 percent Imperial Stout beer, which is left to mature in the casks for a minimum of six months. Once the beer is fully matured, the casks are emptied of beer, and on the same day, filled with a bespoke whiskey blend of 50 percent wheat whiskey, 35 percent malt whiskey, and 15 percent grain whiskey, all individually matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being married together and finished in the Imperial Stout beer Casks for a further six months.
Appearance: Medium-light gold.
Aroma: Dark and appropriately stout-like. The marriage between the spirit and the cask is quite fetching.
Taste: Of the three whiskies, this one is the most unusual. A lot of chocolate and coffee notes come through and drive the expression. We like the intertwining flavors of a dark ale and a cherry whiskey.
Finish: Long and near chewy.
Overall: This is a great whiskey to serve with a cream or chocolate dessert. Or add a splash to your Irish Coffee. Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Boann Distillery

GSN Spirited News: September 22nd 2020 Edition

Woodford Reserve has launched Woodford Reserve Four Grain a new, limited edition whiskey. A blend of Woodford Bourbon, rye, malt, and wheat whiskies—all aged in new charred oak barrels—Woodford Reserve Four Grain is bottled at 45.2% abv and retail priced at $50 a 375-ml. Four Grain is the latest addition to the brand’s annual Distillery Series, which was created to showcase innovative expressions.

Denver-based Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey has announced Mountain Angel 10 Year Old, the oldest release yet from the Proximo-owned distillery. The 47.3% abv whiskey is made from locally sourced malted barley and aged in charred new American oak barrels, with some barrels losing up to 80% of their contents due to evaporation. The whiskey is rolling out now in extremely limited quantities; fewer than 500 bottles will be available in Colorado, California, and New York, with some bottles allocated as part of a special weekly tasting program at the brand’s distillery. Stranahan’s Mountain Angel 10 Year Old retails for around $130 a bottle.

Infinium Spirits’ Templeton Rye has unveiled the 2020 release in its barrel finish series, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish. The 46% abv whiskey was distilled in Indiana by MGP and matured for five years before finishing for six months in rum casks previously used to mature Jamaican rum. This is the second release in Templeton’s barrel finish series and follows last fall’s Maple Cask Finish. Templeton Caribbean Rum Cask Finish is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. for roughly $45-$50 a 750-ml.

Chicago, Illinois-based High Road Spirits has added Italian malt whisky brand Puni to its import portfolio. The first and only Italian malt whisky, the Puni lineup ($90-$130 a 750-ml.) includes four expressions: Puni Gold, matured in first-fill, ex-Bourbon casks; Puni Alba, aged in Sicilian Marsala casks and finished in ex-Islay barrels; Puni Vina, a limited edition wine cask-matured whisky; and Puni Sole, finished for two years in Pedro Ximénexz Sherry casks. The whiskies will initially be available across Illinois, California, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Texas, and Florida, with more states to come.

Frankfort, Kentucky-based Castle & Key Distillery has released its latest seasonal gin, Autumn 2020 London Dry gin. The new, 49% abv expression was made from a combination of 12 botanicals, among them cedar leaf, spicebush, caraway, and orris root. Autumn 2020 London Dry gin is retail priced at $36 a 750-ml.; only 11,400 bottles were produced. Castle & Key opened in 2018, following the four-year restoration of the Old Taylor Distillery.

A new Irish single malt whisky—from Mark Reynier, who led the revival of Islay distillery Bruichladdich—is set to hit the U.S. market with four expressions, starting in October. Waterford Whisky’s single malts are all bottled at 50% abv and are non-chill filtered. Three of the releases are terroir-driven whiskies made from barley from Rathclogh, Dunmore, and Dunbell. They’ll retail online for around $95 a 750-ml. The fourth whisky, Gaia Organic, is the first certified organic Irish single malt, according to the company. It will retail at around $110 a 750-ml.

Dallas, Texas-based whiskey producer Oak & Eden is re-releasing its recurring seasonal Bourbon & VineCreated in collaboration with Marker Cellars Winery, Bourbon & Vine is bottled at 45% abv and finished in-bottle with a Cabernet Sauvignon-steeped French oak wood spiral. First launched in 2018, it was Oak & Eden’s first limited edition release. It’s available now in Texas, Colorado, California, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and the distillery’s website, where it retails for $60 a 750-ml.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Peg Leg Porker has added a new limited-edition whiskey to its lineup. Aged for 15 years, the Peg Leg Porker Tennessee Straight Bourbon 15-Year Pitmaster Reserve Label features a mashbill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley, and was finished through hickory charcoal after being de-barreled. The whiskey was bottled at 45% abv and retails at $400 a 750-ml. 15-Year Pitmaster Reserve will be available once a year, with 2,500 bottles made in its first release. Peg Leg Porker is owned by famed pitmaster Carey Bringle.

Vermont-based WhistlePig Rye has introduced the latest iteration of its limited edition The Boss Hog whiskey. Featuring a base of straight rye whiskey that’s aged for 17 years in American oak, then finished in rare Spanish oak, and finished for a second time in South American teakwood casks, The Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic is bottled at 52.6% abv-53.9% abv and retail priced at $500 a 750-ml. Like the six editions of The Boss Hog that came before it, Magellan’s Atlantic will be available at high-end retail shops and on-premise accounts across the U.S.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: September 22nd 2020 Edition

Washington, D.C.-based Atlas Brew Works has released Sunny Honey Saison. The new brew was made using honey harvested from Minnesota-based Bare Honey’s solar farms; these farms are unique in that they use pollinator-friendly plants as ground cover around the solar panels in an effort to support the bee population. Nonprofit Fresh Energy provided the honey. Sunny Honey Saison is available in 750-ml. bottles at Atlas Brew taprooms across D.C.

Richmond, Virginia-based Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has partnered with convenience chain Sheetz on a watermelon wheat ale. Officially called Project Watt-Ahh-Melon Ring, it is available for a limited time exclusively at select Sheetz stores in Virginia and North Carolina. Its name derives from the fact that it was brewed using Sheetz watermelon gummy rings. It’s at 5.3% abv and retails for $8 a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans. Hardywood Park was founded in 2011 and distributes throughout Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Raleigh Triangle area of North Carolina.

Newport, Oregon-based Rogue Ales & Spirits is launching Pineapple Party Punch, a hazy Imperial IPA. Brewed with pineapple and toasted coconut in addition to a citrus-forward hop selection, it is at 8.4% abv and will be released next month on draft and in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans. Founded in 1988, Rogue distributes to all 50 states.

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Wasatch Brewery is releasing Great Deceiver Imperial Pilsner. Named for Satan himself, the new brew is at 7% abv and brewed with German Noble Hops to impart floral notes onto a bready malt backing flavor. Great Deceiver launches this month across Wasatch’s 20-state distribution footprint in 6-packs of 12-ounce cans. Founded in 1986, Wasatch is part of the Canarchy Collective of breweries.

Paso Robles, California-based Firestone Walker Brewing Company is reintroducing its Double Jack Double IPA. Originally launched in 2009 and discontinued in 2016, Double Jack is returning due to popular demand after a brief revival in a variety pack last year. The release is triple dry-hopped after four initial hop additions. At 9.5% abv, Double Jack is now available as a limited 6-pack of 12-ounce cans in all Firestone Walker markets.

Portland, Oregon-based Cascade Brewing is debuting new formats for two of its sour ales. Both Pistil Whipped (7.7% abv) and Sang Rouge (7.1% abv) are now available in 12-ounce cans for the first time. Pistil Whipped was originally brewed for the company’s Sour Flower Fest and features late infusions of saffron and chamomile. Sang Rouge was brewed from 2010 to 2015 and is a blend of sour red ales aged in red wine barrels. The new cans are available in singles or and 4-packs at Cascade Brewing’s Barrel House and Lodge locations in Oregon, and in limited distribution.

Rehoboth, Delaware-based Dogfish Head is launching Re-Gen-Ale in partnership with Indigo Agriculture. Releasing just in time for Climate Week, the brew was produced through the Indigo Carbon program, which provides growers with financial incentives to use techniques that store carbon in their soil. Dogfish Head will also purchase more than the amount of carbon credits needed to offset the production of Re-Gen-Ale. The release is available beginning this weekend on draft and in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans, retailing for $17, at Dogfish Head’s Rehoboth location.

Pacific City, Oregon-based Pelican Brewing Co. is launching a new year-round addition to its lineup. Cape Crasher IPA is a Pacific Northwest-style IPA at 6.8% abv inspired by Oregon’s rugged coastline and Shore Pine forests. It’s available now in 12-ounce bottles, 6-packs of 12-ounce cans, and on draft at Pelican’s brewpubs and other locations in Oregon. Founded in 1996, Pelican brews 40,000 barrels of beer annually and distributes to six states.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Bacardi Spiced Rum

Bacardi rum has relaunched their Oakheart Rum as BACARDÍ Spiced. The spirit is the same, but the name and the bottle have been redesigned to be more in line with their entire portfolio. Bacardi Spiced is aged in charred American Oak barrels to impart a hint of smokiness, then filtered through charcoal and finished by adding a blend of spices.

Best enjoyed in a Spiced & Cola, Spiced & Ginger and Spiced & Pineapple cocktail, Bacardi Spiced is available for delivery via Drizly, Instacart and Minibar, and at liquor stores nationwide.

Bacardi Spiced Rum (70 proof)
Appearance: Golden orange.
Aroma: A super vanilla forward nose with additional elements of cinnamon, orange sugar, and hot cross buns.
Taste: Very sweet and liqueur like, almost like liquid creme brulee. Other interesting notes include dark cherry, mild yellow curry powder, toasted coconut, carmelized butter, and french toast.
Finish: The finish is slightly bitter, with the wood notes coming out towards the end.
Overall: Overall, it has less body than many of the other spiced rums currently on the market, and seems designed specifically as a mixer; but will add some sweet and spice notes to tropical drinks calling for amber rum.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Bacardi 

GSN Alert: September 20th – National Rum Punch Day

A_Midnight_Modern_ConversationBack in my college days, I thought that punch equalled a 1.5l bottle of Silver Bacardi mixed together with a few cans of tropical flavored Hawaiian Punch.  After a few different occasions where this was the beverage of choice, I had enough to last me a lifetime and moved on to other less cloying things like IPA.  In fact, I hadn’t had any punch for a few decades until I read David Wondrich’s phenomenal book Imbibe! back in 2007.  I decided to make a batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch for my first effort, and there’s been no turning back for me.  Granted, there is a bit of extra work involved than just emptying bottles into a large bowl (oleo-saccharum, anyone?), but it pays off in spades.  Not only is a real punch incredibly tasty, but you realize why punches are gaining popularity again.  These days, many of the best bars offer punch bowls on the menu, and some are even served with antique cups.

Here’s the recipe for PFHP (luckily, it doesn’t actually call for any fish).

Philadelphia Fish House Punch
(Servings: 18 – 20)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, peeled and peels reserved
4 cups black tea (or water)
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups rum, Jamaican
2 cups cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Garnish: lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon peels, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum).
Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution.
Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
Ladle into individual glasses.

Another quite popular punch is Planter’s Punch, the recipe for which was first published as a poem in the New York Times on August 8, 1908.

Planter’s Punch
This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Pretty easy to figure out what the measurements are, if you’re handy with a jigger.

Cheers!

GSN Review: Vamonos Riendo Mezcal

Vamonos Riendo Mezcal recently launched in the U.S. offering a triple-distilled, high altitude, artesanal mountain spirit made from agave grown, slow-roasted and distilled in the high-altitudes of the Sierra Madre mountains. Vamonos Riendo Mezcal combines eight-year-old Espadín with 14-year-old Tobalá sourced from 6,500 feet above sea level, where there is more sunshine, scarce water and less oxygen. This natural stress requires the maguey to concentrate its limited resources in the heart of the plant, the piña, providing intense flavors and aromatics. High altitude palenques allow Vamonos Riendo to boil the fermented mash at a lower temperature. This prevents the ensamble’s intense flavors and aromatics from being burnt away and allows for a remarkably bright and flavorful mezcal.

With an emphasis on giving back, Vamonos Riendo has set up programs to support the Oaxacan community — both the land and its people. They are committed to sustainable cultivation by planting more magueys than they harvest. A partnership with non-profit S.A.C.R.E.D., allows them to help improve lives in the rural Mexican communities where heirloom agave spirits are made.

Vamonos Riendo Mezcal (84 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Light smoke infused into a vegetal scented spirit.
Taste: Minor smokey notes add a tinge of depth and darkness to a very light and easygoing mezcal.
Finish: The alcohol goes away fairly quickly, but the smoke leaves a longer impression even though it is very light overall.
Overall: Definitely an entry level mezcal. In some ways this is akin to a highland Scotch whiskey in terms of smoothness and light creosote flavor. That being said, it is very pleasant and has a fresh, vibrant character.A good one to pair with Mexican cuisine.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Vamonos Riendo Mezcal

To order go to: Sip Whiskey

GSN Review: Rogue Spirits Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey

Rogue Ales & Spirits and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who have collaborated on various projects since 2003, continue their partnership with the release of a limited-edition Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey.

This limited-edition whiskey started at the Rogue brewery in Newport, Oregon in 2016 as Morimoto Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Black Obi Ale. After fermentation, the wash was transferred from the Rogue brewery to the distillery to be distilled and barreled in American Oak barrels. The barrels rested in Rogue’s Ocean Aging Room where they absorbed the Pacific Ocean air for over two years before being transferred for finishing in Oregon Oak. The Oregon Oak barrels were built by hand at Rogue’s cooperage, Rolling Thunder Barrel Works, and previously aged Rogue’s award-winning Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout. A year and a half later, the barrels were blended to create a unique, bold and limited American Single Malt Whiskey. To complete this bottle, it features a label that was designed by Chef Morimoto himself.

“It has been an honor to work with Chef Morimoto for nearly 20 years to make unique and interesting beers and spirits,” says Dharma Tamm, Rogue President. “This new single malt whiskey is no exception – the combination of Morimoto Signature Imperial Pilsner and Black Obi, Rolling Thunder barrels and distiller selected proof make this something truly special. It has been a labor of love that we’ve spent years making.”

“My relationship with Rogue Ales & Spirits goes back nearly two decades and is the longest partnership of my career,” said Chef Morimoto. “The Morimoto-branded beers have been guest favorites in my restaurants around the world, and I’m very excited to introduce this very special single malt whiskey to them this year.”

Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey (85 proof)
Appearance: Medium gold.
Aroma: Slight beery nose with a rich, malty undercoat. Lightly effervescent and sparkling high notes of spice.
Taste: The beer flavor comes through loud and clear, but it pairs beautifully with the whiskey, almost creating a similar flavor profile of a beer with a whiskey chaser. Some hops temper the natural sweetness of the malt, leaving a dry and breezy finish.
Finish: Medium-long with the beer notes closing the show.
Overall: This is one of the most successful beer cask aged whiskies we’ve tried. The flavors meld so well, you’d swear that this was the most natural pairing in the world. A real success.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Rogue.com

GSN Review: Shaker 33 Update

We previously reviewed the Shaker 33 when it was a Kickstarter five years ago. We thought we should revisit it and see how it stands up in 2020.

The shaker itself seems sturdier and the seal fits exceptionally well. We had no issues with getting the cap or strainer to twist and lock and visa-versa. The strainer seems to have a better design as well with a variety of differing hole sizes that make pouring quite easy.

The unit is solid, sturdy and built for nearly a lifetime of use. We like that it is lightweight, sizable (so you can batch up to four cocktails), and frosted. This allows for a bit of show when shaking, but also has a classier look than a clear shaker would. Overall, we still recommend this shaker, which will work equally well for a beginner or a professional.

GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Shaker 33

GSN Spirited News: September 15th 2020 Edition

Evanston, Illinois-based Few Spirits has launched Immortal rye, a new whiskey proofed down to bottling strength with tea. The 46.5% abv whiskey is made by blending cask strength Few rye with 8 Immortals tea from Denver’s the Tea Spot. The whiskey does not contain added sugar or other additives. The whiskey’s label art showcases a dragon print that was shown at the 1893 World’s Fair. The initial release is limited—only 6,000 bottles—and is rolling out now across the U.S. for around $45 a 750-ml.

Japanese whisky maker Nikka is releasing a pair of new whiskies finished in apple brandy barrels in an homage to the company’s origins producing apple juice and other apple products before launching the first Nikka whisky in 1940. The first release is Yoichi Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced at Nikka’s founding distillery on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The second is Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced in Sendai, Japan. Both are at 40% abv and retail for $250 a 750-ml. Imported by San Francisco-based Hotaling & Co., they will be distributed in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Tennessee.

Benriach single malt Scotch whisky, part of the Brown-Forman portfolio, has revamped its core lineup and unveiled two new expressions. The newcomers include Smoky Ten and Smoky Twelve whiskies, retailing at $60 and $65 a 750-ml., respectively. Those offerings join the Original Ten ($54) and Original Twelve ($60) in the range, which has been repackaged and will be hitting the market in its new incarnation next month. Benriach will follow with Twenty-One, Twenty-Five, and Thirty-Year-Old single malts in the U.S. next year.

Heaven Hill has announced the 2020 iteration of Parker’s Heritage. This year’s whiskey is a 10-year-old Bourbon matured in heavily charred barrels. The spirit was distilled from a mash of 72% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye, and aged in level 5 char barrels, as opposed to Heaven Hill’s typical level 3 char barrels. The whiskey is bottled at 60% abv and is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. for around $120 a 750-ml. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle goes to fund research and patient care for those diagnosed with ALS.

Tequila Partida has debuted Roble Fino, a line of luxury sipping Tequilas. The new range includes a Reposado ($100 a 750-ml.), aged for a minimum of 6 months in ex-Bourbon barrels and then aged for two more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; a Reposado Cristalino ($115), finished in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; and an Añejo ($125), aged for 18 months in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished for five more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks. All three Tequilas are now rolling out in New York, California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, with additional markets to follow.

Beam Suntory has launched this year’s version of Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon. The 40% abv whiskey is made from the company’s high-rye mashbill. It serves as the higher-end limited release for the brand and sits alongside the flagship Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, and other limited releases like 10-year-old rye, and Caribbean Reserve Rye. Basil Hayden’s 10-year-old is now available across the U.S. for around $70 a 750-ml.

Diageo has released Captain Morgan Sliced Apple, the latest flavored offshoot for the spiced rum brand. The 35% abv rum is made from the original spiced rum with added ginger and apple flavoring. Captain Morgan Sliced Apple is now available across the U.S. for around $16 a 750-ml.

San Francisco, California-based Gold Bar Spirits Co. has launched Rickhouse Cask Strength Straight BourbonThe whiskey is distilled from a mash of 80% corn and 20% rye and is bottled at 51.5% abv. With this new release, Gold Bar continues its partnership with the San Francisco 49ers, with Rickhouse named the official whiskey of the team’s Faithful to the Bay campaign. Rickhouse is now available in major retailers across the U.S. and on the company’s website for around $35 a 750-ml.

Minnetonka, Minnesota’s Dashfire has announced a new line of hard coffees, set to launch throughout the state at the end of the month. The 14% abv RTDs will come in three flavors—Rum Café Mocha, Rum Golden Latte, and Bourbon Cold Brew—and all will be available in individual 200-ml. cans. Southern Glazer’s will distribute Dashfire’s hard coffees in Minnesota and the company is planning for a wider release through Vision Wine & Spirits in the future.

Moët Hennessy-owned Belvedere has long looked to differentiate itself by bringing the concept of terroir to the vodka category. Now the brand is introducing its new Heritage 176 expression and a “Made With Nature” platform, highlighting its Polish origins and craftsmanship. Heritage 176 is rolling out across 20 U.S. markets, retailing at $35 a 750-ml. The new offering nods to the 19th century practice of malting rye by kiln-heating—which Belvedere says unlocks distinctive flavors in the resulting liquid—with its distillers applying fire to malt the rye before distillation. It’s intended to be served over ice with a lemon twist.

William Grant & SonsHudson Whiskey has rebranded with more mature offerings and a new, more accessible price point. The distillery’s Baby Bourbon is now Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, a 46% abv whiskey retailing at $40 a 750-ml. Manhattan Rye has relaunched as Do the Rye Thing, also bottled at 46% abv and retailing for $40. The company’s Maple Cask Rye, a whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels, has rebranded as Short Stack and will retail at around $55. The company also has launched Back Room Deal, a new rye whiskey finished in barrels used to age peated Scotch, which will retail at around $55 a 750-ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: September 15th 2020 Edition

Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing has announced Jai Low IPA, a new sessionable brew from the maker of Jai Alai IPA. The 4% abv ale is inspired by English ordinary bitters and is made with Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade, Motueka, Centennial, and CTZ hops. Jai Low comes in at 120 calories per 12-ounce serving. Jai Low IPA will roll out this fall in 6- and 12-packs of 12-ounce cans across the brewery’s national distribution footprint. Cigar City Brewing is part of the Canarchy Collective of brewers alongside Oskar Blues, and Perrin, among others.

Detroit, Michigan-based Atwater Brewery is adding its fruit-forward Pog-O-Licious IPA to its year-round lineup. Initially released as a summer seasonal containing passion fruit, orange, and guava, the brew exceeded sales projections earning a place in the brewery’s core collection. At 6.5% abv, Pog-O-Licious is available in 6- and 12-packs of 12-ounce cans throughout Michigan as well as in Atwater’s Staycation variety 12-pack, where it joins flagship Dirty Blonde and Better Life Choices IPA, among others.

Austin, Texas’ Lone Star Brewing is launching Das Bier Y’all, a seasonal German-style kolsch with peach flavoring. It follows Lone Star’s first seasonal, Rio Jade Mexican-style lager, and likewise honors a tradition that has shaped Texas—in this case its German heritage. It is at 4.8% abv and is now available for purchase in select locations throughout Texas through early spring 2021, retailing for $8 a 6-pack of 12-ounce cans. Lone Star Brewing is owned by Pabst Brewing Co.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Prairie Sustainable Seasons Vodka

Prairie Organic Spirits recently expanded its portfolio of farm-crafted spirits with the launch of its first-ever vodka botanicals collection, Prairie Organic Sustainable Seasons. Crafted with sustainably sourced ingredients that are USDA certified organic, allowing for unique flavor profiles within each expression. From tart grapefruit to crisp apple and even sweet watermelon, the inspiration for each flavor combination was carefully selected based on the sustainable ingredients available. Each 60 proof bottle is naturally-flavored and free of chemicals, pesticides and gluten, contains zero sugar, carbs or fat and has only 75 calories per every 1.5 fluid ounce serving.

“As we looked to grow our Prairie Organic Spirits portfolio and add a botanicals expression line, we wanted to ensure that it stayed true to our roots and mission of using only sustainably sourced ingredients grown on organic farms, and the Sustainable Seasons line does just that,” said Meghan Murray, VP of Marketing at Phillips Distilling Company. “By infusing our award-winning organic vodka with the perfect balance of fresh fruit and herbal flavors, our new botanicals line is the perfect accompaniment to any cocktail – and a true farm-to-bottle experience that tastes just as delicious as it sounds.”

In addition, Prairie Organic Spirits is giving back to the community that harvests the corn to produce these spirits – the organic farmers. In partnership with the Rodale Institute, Prairie Organic Spirits created the Spirit of Change Fund that champions the next generation of organic farmers by helping more farmers go organic. By donating one percent of all sales, Prairie Organic Spirits is advancing its mission to help make a better future for our land and farmers.

The new Prairie Organic Sustainable Seasons are available in three flavor combinations:

  • Grapefruit, Hibiscus & Chamomile 
  • Watermelon, Cucumber & Lime
  • Apple, Pear & Ginger

GSN’s Thoughts: The apple-pear-ginger vodka has a nice apple character that is light and fruity. The pear is more subtle, while the ginger adds a gently warming heat that gradually grows over a minute and then fades. The grapefruit-hibiscus-chamomile vodka is even more subtle, with the grapefruit being the most noticeable flavor. Again, it is light and fruity, but the fade is quick and slightly dry. Of the three, the watermelon-cucumber-lime is our favorite. All three flavors stand out in equal intensity with a very flavor forward blend that will stand up to a mixer ranging from club soda to tonic water. Overall, these are a welcome addition to the flavored vodka world, being subtle, naturally flavored and unsweetened.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Prairie Organic Spirits

GSN Alert: September 15th – National Crème de Menthe Day

Qtimthumb.phpuick!  How many classic crème de menthe based cocktails can you name? Go!

That’s what I thought.  Highlight the area to the right to see if you got them all -> Grasshopper, Stinger

Crème de menthe is one of those liqueurs that once you try, you will never forget.  For obvious reasons it is used in a fair amount of obscure Irish cocktails, but personally I avoid those.

Crème de menthe is not a cream based liqueur, but rather a category of spirits known as crèmes, which are more syrupy and sugar laden than standard liquors.  It is made from Corsican mint or peppermint and is either colorless (white) or vibrantly green.  Most products today use food coloring to achieve the effect.  The flavors are exactly the same however.

If you want to try making your own at home, here’s a recipe courtesy of Marcia Simmons, co-author of DIY Cocktails which I have previously reviewed here.

DIY Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (divided)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

  • Measure out 1 cup of mint leaves and tear them in quarters Place mint leaves in a sealable glass jar and pour vodka on top. Shake and let steep for 12 hours.
  • After steeping is complete, strain mint leaves from infused vodka. Return infused vodka to the jar.
  • Bring the water and sugar to a boil, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then add syrup to mint-infused vodka.
  • Take the additional 1/2 cup of mint leaves, tear them, and add them to the jar. Shake and let steep for 10 hours.
  • Strain twice to remove all mint leaves, keep in resealable bottle. Keeps for two months.