The 2020 GSN Black Friday Gift Guide

Once again we present (get it?), the first in our annual lists of recommended gift items for those who appreciate the good life. For Black Friday, we are featuring wines, food & cocktail books, alcoholic calendars for the 12 days of Xmas, unique barware, a trivia game, fashion accessories and boozy candies. So, without further ado, here is part one of Santa’s list for those who’ve been good this year.

We all know things are looking a little different right now, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a great (and safe) time with our friends and loved ones! The PortoVino Wine Purse, who happens to be the master of “Fashion meets Function,” has come out with an amazing collection of scarf masks that will add extra pizzazz to your purse and make a great stylish and safe mask option. The PortoVino Scarf Mask will make you feel stylish as you navigate our current COVID world. Simply insert the removable carbon filters into the pouch in the backside of the Scarf Mask to ensure you are safe. When not in use, tie it around your PortoVino for a great accessory that’s within easy reach.

From the D&D experts behind Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana comes a cookbook that invites fantasy lovers to celebrate the unique culinary creations and traditions of their favorite fictional cultures. With Heroes’ Feast (Dungeons & Dragons) THE OFFICIAL D&D COOKBOOK, you can prepare dishes delicate enough to dine like elves and their drow cousins or hearty enough to feast like a dwarven clan or an orcish horde. All eighty dishes—developed by a professional chef—are delicious, easy to prepare, and composed of wholesome ingredients readily found in our world. Heroes’ Feast includes recipes for snacking, such as Elven Bread, Iron Rations, savory Hand Pies, and Orc Bacon, as well as hearty vegetarian, meaty, and fish mains, such as Amphail Braised Beef, Hommlet Golden Brown Roasted Turkey, Drow Mushroom Steaks, and Pan-Fried Knucklehead Trout—all which pair perfectly with a side of Otik’s famous fried spiced potatoes. There are also featured desserts and cocktails—such as Heartlands Rose Apple and Blackberry Pie, Trolltide Candied Apples, Evermead, Potion of Restoration, and Goodberry Blend—and everything in between, to satisfy a craving for any adventure.

Bahlsen, one of the largest family-run European cookie makers, announced it has partnered with Baileys to bring the taste of The Original Irish Cream Liqueur to two new indulgent cookie offerings. The limited-edition cookies, available in Choco Leibniz Baileys and First Class Baileys, are now on shelves at grocers nationwide. For decades connoisseurs have served Bahlsen cookies with Baileys for a delicious dessert, but now the best of both can be experienced in one bite. The melt-in-your-mouth traditional Bahlsen cookies pair with Baileys’ creamy blend of flavors for a truly irresistible treat. Imported from Germany, Bahlsen cookies are made with the highest-quality ingredients and crafted by expert bakers. All of Bahlsen’s beautifully shaped cookie varieties are carefully nestled in trays, making them as delectable to look at as it is to eat them. Bahlsen Choco Leibniz Baileys and First Class Baileys are available at Jewel-Osco, Kroger (Houston), Raley’s, Club Foods and other fine retailers.

If you need a gift that’s equally boozy and brilliant, you know you can always count on Drinks By the Dram. This year they’re delighted to present the Drinks By the Dram Collection Series, a specially curated range of gift sets perfect for indulging in the spirit you love and even better for sharing the experience with family and friends. You can choose from Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Premium Rum, Premium Gin or Tequila & Mezcal collections, each one jam-packed with twelve 30ml wax-sealed drams of your delicious desire, all packaged in a handsome box that couldn’t be easier to wrap (we love to make things as easy as possible for you). They’re the perfect present for any spirit lover at any time of the year. And be warned, if you turn up to a party (socially distanced) with this (instead of that same old bottle of wine) you’re sure to be VERY popular. And don’t forget, a tasting set is for all year round, think birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas… …Speaking of which, you can pre-order our dram-filled Advent calendars now so you can spoil yourself and count down to the big day in style.

Just like every drink he makes, veteran London bartender Cas Oh didn’t just throw his new book together. He carefully crafted a masterpiece; an absolutely stunning hardbound luxury book brought together with an embossed gold background. ‘CO Specs: Recipes & Histories of Classic Cocktails’ is rapidly expected to become the industry’s go-to guide for classic cocktail recipes and trivia – as well as making a special and memorable gift for the keen home mixologist. “This book has been in the making for years,” explains the author. “I’ve personally tested, refined and retested each of the 200+ recipes, often by combining the drink’s traditional ingredients with emerging trends in today’s mixology. The result is the absolute perfect way to make each drink to satisfy today’s demanding and discerning cocktail lover. You won’t find a more comprehensive guide anywhere.” Continuing, “But it’s more than a recipe book; this is a complete journey through the world of fine mixed drinks. The fable and history of each comes together to transcend time, as if they were ripped from ancient recipe books – but bound in hardcover and presented in a spellbinding way. You really need to pick up a copy of the volume to appreciate the quality that it exudes.”

No matter what your plans are this holiday season, San Simeon and Maddalena wines are the perfect addition to any table. These Riboli Family wine collections boast a variety of thoughtfully crafted wines that pair tremendously with all the holiday classics. For dinner tables that typically feature a variety of side dishes, look no further than the Maddalena 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine shows ripe red fruit, including raspberry, plum, and spicy black cherry. Barrel aging contributes notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak spice. The mouth is round with a rich, silky texture that is framed by soft tannins, making it pair beautifully with green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. San Simeon 2017 Chardonnay is a rich, mouth-filled wine with ripe tropical fruit flavors and complements of citrus and pear. This structured and well-balanced wine shows a lengthy finish that works subtly alongside freshly sliced turkey breast or seafood, and it will easily complement all other side dishes on the table. Lastly, embody the confidence that comes with Stella Rosa Gold. Others will say it is too “extra” but really, those others are “not enough.” Shine bright, baby! Apricot, honeydew melon, and peach in a semi-sweet 5% ABV wine.

Just in time for holiday gift-giving, Legends Drinkware, a collection of artisanal, hand-blown glassware for true die-hard sports fans is available for the holidays. Legends glasses are licensed sports memorabilia that anyone would be proud to give, and proud to show off. “As lifetime sports fans ourselves, we noticed that a lot of the gear you wear to support your team on game day was either for other people to see, like a t-shirt or hat, or wasn’t something functional, high-quality, and good-looking ,” says co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Stephan Pantinakis. “So we set out to make something that’s for the fan, and looks good on your home bar.” Currently available with logos from the University of Oregon, University of Alabama, University of Miami, and Florida State University blown into the bottom of the glass. Glassware celebrating the  University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Washington will be available soon. “The logo is in the bottom of the glass, so it’s enjoyed by the person drinking the beverage, the actual fan,” says Pantinakis. “With Legends, you can give a gift that is made to last and makes it fun and easy to celebrate game day, every day.” Legends 16 ounce pint and 10 ounce tumbler glasses are available now for $42, on sale from $60 for a limited time.

North Drinkware is best known for their premium hand-blown beer and whisky glasses (SRP: $48) which feature popular mountains in the base of each one, all made in Portland, Oregon. Their deep love for the mountains, craft beer, and good drinks inspired the start of the brand and allows everyone to bring the mountains home. Their premium glassware is sure to stand out in any home or on any bar and are made for those who appreciate premium handcrafted goods. Whether it’s one of their pints or tumblers, find the perfect gift for the beer lover or cocktail connoisseur in your life. In addition to the glasses they’ve partnered with Pendleton Woolen Mills to create a series of custom woven blankets featuring: Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Lake Tahoe (SRP: $325).This holiday they are also adding to their line and celebrating Mt. Washington, NH and Mt. Fuji in Japan.

There is no better way to enjoy the Fall season than treating yourself to the delicious chocolates from Maribel Lieberman of MarieBelle New York. From the New York City themed ganache, to their famous Aztec Hot Chocolate and signature brownies, MarieBelle New York has all your favorite chocolate delicacies for Autumn 2020. Woman-owned MarieBelle New York is a world-renowned luxurious global chocolate company. Their fine art edibles are produced in their Brooklyn factory with retail locations throughout New York City and Japan. MarieBelle’s flagship store in New York’s famous Soho District offers chocolate lovers a sumptuous shopping experience. MarieBelle’s newest New York retail shop is located in Midtown Manhattan’s stunning Japanese-owned Kitano Hotel. Each location pairs perfectly with our lavish and decadent chocolate designs. Customers can purchase MarieBelle’s tasty products on their website and are available for store pick up or walk in at the Kitano Hotel.

Another Round: 200 Trivia Questions For Cocktail Nerds by the Editors of Punch Magazine Shake up your next cocktail hour with these 200 multiple-choice trivia cards that cover drink-making pop culture, history and lore, recipes and techniques, and travel. What’s the one drink mentioned by name in The Great Gatsby? Which faux pas do bartenders consider bad luck when garnishing a drink with olives? Prove your cocktail expertise with this trivia game written by the editors of PUNCH, an award-winning online magazine covering wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails. An enclosed booklet offers instructions, tips for bartending, and 10 unique cocktail recipes. Whether you’re hosting a proper trivia night and playing competitively or setting the cards out as conversation starters, Another Round is the ultimate ice-breaker.

Grand Reserve is a unique rewards program that is designed specifically for wine enthusiasts. As consumers, we are used to seeing loyalty and rewards programs for banks, airlines, hotels, supermarkets, and even discount retailers. We signed up for credit card and rewards programs, earning a point here and a mile there. The miles are impossible to use: there is never a seat on the flight you want, nor did we ever have enough miles to bring the family along. It made us want to take a break, grab a nice bottle of wine, and just relax at home. That’s when it struck us: we needed to make a rewards program for people like us, people like you: wine enthusiasts. We know wine isn’t like other things you buy. The joy of wine is found in the variations from vintage to vintage, from vineyard to vineyard, from varietal to varietal. So, we set out to find a way to reward you when you buy wine, without forcing you to buy the same bottle from the same store, over and over. With Grand Reserve, you earn points at every winery, wine club, or wine shop. We don’t care which one. You can use these points for wine-related merchandise. From corkscrews and glasses, to books and experiences, we have hundreds of products from which you can choose. Each one will help you expand your love of wine.

GSN Review: Callisto California Dry Botanical Rum

Callisto Rum, a botanical rum inspired by the spirit of California, recently launched online, serving over 30 states. 

Originally from Bermuda, Callisto founder Giles Templeman grew up surrounded by the rum and hospitality industries. He spent his summers working in local hotels, and once he was of age, bartending for tourists. “I understood rum to be a versatile drink to be enjoyed anytime,” says Templeman, “but I realized that not all Americans understand rum that way. The common view of rum in the US is that it’s either spiced for cooler seasons, or something to be enjoyed in vacation cocktails. So I set out to do something different.”

While earning his MBA in California at UC Berkeley, Templeman was inspired to create a new kind of rum, one that honors the traditions and history of the centuries-old Caribbean spirit, while being fresh and distinctly Californian. “Californians are so bold and innovative, and the state has such diverse geography. That’s what inspired me to create Callisto. Like California, rum isn’t just one thing. It doesn’t have to be just the vacation cocktail, it can be your go-to spirit for any classic cocktail–we especially love it in a negroni.”

By infusing the rum blend with local botanicals, Callisto captures the essence of California’s great outdoors in every sip. Its blend of lightly aged rums is infused with a unique mix of Californian flowers, herbs, seeds, roots, and bark.

Callisto California Dry Botanical Rum (80 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: The familiar sweetness of rum is present, but there is a floral and somewhat gin-like quality as well. It’s smells like spring.
Taste: Dry, spicy and akin to an unsweetened spiced rum. There is quite a broad palette of flavors, all of which have a fresh and lively flavor.
Finish: Quite long, with a dry and somewhat spicy fade.
Overall: Quite unique amongst rums. We recommend this in place of gin, as well as using it as a adjunct in tiki-style libations. Well worth a try.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Callisto Spirits

GSN Review: Freeland Spirits Gin

Freeland Spirits Gin is small batch crafted using a unique blend of traditional heat distillation along with vacuum distillation, which allows us to use fresh, Pacific Northwest ingredients. Fresh herbal essences of rosemary, mint and crisp cucumber lift the nose. Grapefruit and lemon peel brighten the brisk juniper and bold spice. Pink peppercorn, coriander and star anise mingle with 10 additional dried botanicals in the copper pot still.

Freeland Spirits is one of very few women owned and run distilleries in history.

Freeland Spirits Gin (90 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Herbal with cheery citrus tones and a touch of cucumber. The juniper remains in the mid-range.
Taste: Quite fruity, offset by a dry and botanical palette. It is here the the juniper becomes apparent, adding a brisk piney dryness.
Finish: Medium-long.
Overall: A very nice blend of botanicals that have an openness and yet at the same time have a cohesive flavor. A perfect gin for modern cocktails.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Free Spirits

GSN Review: Shady Vodka RECOUNT 2020 Limited Edition

Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery’s phase II has recently opened Shady Distillery in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s historic Sistrunk.  Shady Distillery is part of the Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery (a hip food hall) that opened in September.

Using a blend of old world and new world technique, the distillery prides itself on not cutting corners or mass producing its products while making every drop count. Its namesake and interior theme are inspired by Florida’s long history of controversy, and suspect events. The Distillery will be creating craft spirits inspired by these shady moments in time.

Shady Distillery’s American craft made Shady Vodka is a small batch handcrafted vodka that is 7 times distilled from corn and is gluten free and carb free with no sweeteners or additives. The proprietary finishing filtration process has created an 80-proof smooth vodka that is best served “Straight Up Shady”.

The limited-edition Shady RECOUNT 2020 vodka (81 proof) reminds its drinkers to embrace the uncertainties that surrounded the election of 2020, which will forever be cast as the “Shady Year”. In years past, Florida has played a critical role in the outcomes of our national elections so it’s only fitting that the local distillery throws its hat in the ring and casts its uncertain shade of doubt on an outcome that could possibly be controversial.

Shady Vodka Recount 2020 (81 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Peppery, with a hefty mineral cast. Slightly sweet and herbal.
Taste: Sweet entry, with a creamy marshmallow flavor. Almost buttery and round in mouthfeel.
Finish: Bright peppery notes lead the fade out.
Overall: We thought this surprisingly sweet for a vodka, and a little rough around the edges, but it has some character which is not unpleasant. A good vodka for mixing.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Shady Distillery

GSN Spirited News: November 17th 2020 Edition

Stoli Group USA has introduced the latest releases for Kentucky Owl: Rye Batch No. 4 and Bourbon Batch No. 10. The brand’s latest rye release, called “The Last Rye” is a blend of 10- to 13-year-old whiskey bottled at 56.4% abv. Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch No. 10 is a 60.1% abv non-age-stated blend of whiskies that, according to the company, marries some of its oldest and oakiest whiskies with younger, fruitier spirits. Both are now available across the U.S. at a suggested price of $300 a 750-ml.

Louisville, Kentucky’s Barrell Craft Spirits has announced the Private Release Bourbon Series, a new line of limited editions. The releases are blended from four Bourbons—sourced from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana—of varying ages combined to make 49 different recipes. Each offering is bottled at cask strength and will retail for around $110 a 750-ml. Only 150-180 bottles will be available for each batch and a list of retailers is available on Barrell’s website.

Newport, Oregon’s Rogue Ales & Spirits has launched the Single Barrel Project, a new collection of one-off whiskey releases. The series will consist of four releases per year and will be exclusive to retailers in Oregon. The first release is a 6-year-old single malt finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from North by Northwest Wines in Washington State and bottled at 48% abv. The second release, coming in January 2021, is an 8-year-old Oregon rye whiskey finished in a second-use Zinfandel barrel. The third release is an Oregon single malt finished in cherry wood and will be released in March 2021.

Appleton Estate, part of the Campari America portfolio, has announced a new collection of rare pot still rums, set to launch in early 2021. The Hearts Collection consists of three vintage-dated rums, aged between 21 and 26 years. This collection marks the first time that Appleton will release a series of rums entirely composed of pot still spirits. The three vintage releases—1994, 1995, and 1999—will be available in extremely limited quantities; only 3,000 bottles of each will be distributed worldwide.

Diageo has released the 2020 Distillers Edition Collection of Scotch whiskies to retailers across the U.S. The six releases cover a wide range of Scotch styles and vintages, bringing new whiskies from Oban (2006, 43% abv, $95), Talisker (2010, 45.8%, $85), Lagavulin (2005, 43% abv, $110), Cragganmore (2008, 40%, $85), Dalwhinnie (2005, 43%, $90), and Glenkinchie (2008, 43% abv, $85) to market. The Cragganmore bottling underwent a second maturation in Port casks, while the other five entries saw a second maturation in Sherry casks.

Oregon-based Westward Whiskey is launching a new permanent line extension, Westward Oregon Pinot Noir Cask ($90), into national distribution, after a limited rollout in its home state. Pinot Noir Cask joins the original Westward American Single Malt ($70) and Stout Cask Finish ($90) offerings in the core range. Along with the new whiskey, Westward has unveiled a new bottle design and logo that pays homage to its Northwest provenance. Diageo’s Distill Ventures took a minority stake in Westward in 2018.

Tennessee whiskey brand George Dickel, part of the Diageo portfolio, has introduced a new single barrel expression. The new whiskey is aged at least 15 years in new American oak casks, ranges in abv from 40%-52.3%, and will be available to purchase via the barrel or the bottle ($60 a 750-ml.). George Dickel Single Barrel is currently available in California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, with more markets to come in January.

San Diego, California-based Cutwater Spirits, owned by Anheuser-Busch, has added a new Añejo Tequila to its spirits lineup. The Tequila is distilled at Tequila Orendain (NOM 1110) and, following distillation, matured for over a year in Cutwater’s whiskey barrels. Cutwater Añejo Tequila is bottled at 40% abv and packaged in a bottle made entirely from recycled glass. The spirit is now available at select retailers for around $50 a 750-ml.

Wilderton, a new non-alcoholic botanical spirit alternative, has launched in the U.S. with two zero calorie, gluten free offerings. Wilderton Earthen is made with peppercorns, pine-smoked tea, and patchouli, among other botanicals; and the brand’s Lustre is made with lavender, bergamot, rose, and lemongrass, among others. Wilderton retails for $33 a 750-ml. and is currently available on the brand’s website, with product available on Amazon and in other retail locations soon.

Minnesota-based Tattersall Distilling has introduced two bottled-in-bond Bourbons: High-Rye Bourbon and Wheated Bourbon. According to the company, these are the first bottled-in-bond spirits made in Minnesota since before Prohibition. Both Bourbons are made from local grains and have been aged in Minnesota white oak barrels between four and five years, with suggested retail pricing at $50 a 750-ml. Tattersall’s new entries will be distributed to select Minnesota retailers.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: November 24th 2020 Edition

New York-based Regatta Craft Mixers has launched new 6-packs of 7.5-ounce cans for all five mixers in its range. The new format is rolling out now across the U.S. and offers consumers more convenient options for serving Regatta’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer, Light Ginger Beer, Dry Citrus Tonic, Royal Oak Ginger Ale, and Pacific Sea Salt Club Soda. Regatta’s new 6-packs will retail for around $7.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: November 17th 2020 Edition

U.K.-based 6 O’Clock gin has launched in the U.S. through the company’s Tampa, Florida-based subsidiary. The initial rollout will cover cities in Florida and Georgia before expanding into other markets, and will bring four of 6 O’Clock’s gins—London Dry (43% abv), Brunel (50% abv), Damson (40% abv), and Sloe (26% abv)—to the market. In the U.S., 6 O’Clock gin is backed by banking executive Susie Martinez and her son Daniel, plus Robert Rothman, CEO of Black Diamond Capital and one of the owners of the Washington Football Team.

Bardstown, Kentucky’s Heaven Hill Distillery has announced a new limited edition Bourbon to celebrate the company’s 85th anniversary. The single barrel whiskey is bottled at 53.5% abv—a tribute to the distillery’s original barrel entry proof—and matured for 13 years. The whiskey comes in a custom wooden box with twin H’s on either side and blue satin interior trim. Heaven Hill 85th Anniversary 13-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be available soon at the company’s Bourbon Heritage center and in limited Kentucky retailers for a suggested price of $300 a 750-ml.

Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard) has announced the return of the Blue Spot, the fourth entry in the Spot family of single pot still Irish whiskies. The cask strength whiskey is coming back to market after a 56-year absence and completes the family of luxury-priced whiskies. The Blue Spot is blended from whiskies aged in Bourbon, Sherry, and Madeira casks and bottled with non-chill filtering. The Blue Spot is rolling out in Ireland, UK, France, Canada, Northern Ireland, and Global Travel Retail now, and will launch in the U.S. in February 2021 with a suggested retail price of around €80 (around $94.50).

Conecuh Brands has announced the latest three additions to the Clyde May’s whiskey portfolio. First up is Clyde May’s 6 Year Single Barrel Bourbon, a 51% abv whiskey retailing at $50 a 750-ml. Joining the new Bourbon is an 8-year-old straight rye whiskey, bottled at 52% abv and made from a blend of 8-, 9-, and 10-year old rye whiskies. Finally, the company is releasing Clyde May’s 12 Year Cask Strength Alabama Style Whiskey, a 60% abv whiskey finished with apple flavoring. The cask strength 12-year-old whiskey will retail for around $130 and only a few thousand bottles will be available across the U.S.

Ready-to-drink, bag-in-box cocktail brand BarBox is debuting across the Florida, California, Colorado, Illinois, and New York markets. Retailing at $25, each BarBox contains 14 four-ounce cocktails, with initial offerings including a Cosmopolitan (24% abv), Negroni (26% abv), and Vodka Sour (20% abv), recommended to be served over ice. The St. Petersburg, Florida-based company was founded by brothers Matthias and Jacob Kozuba.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: November 17th 2020 Edition

Armada, Michigan-based Blake’s Hard Cider has launched Berry Cranders, the latest addition to the cidery’s Blake’s Limited Series. The 6.9% abv cider is semi-sweet and made from a blend of sweet and tart apples with added cranberries and ginger. The cider is rolling out now throughout the company’s 19-state distribution footprint and is available online in 6-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Brooklyn Brewery has partnered with Four Roses Distilling to launch Brooklyn Black Ops beer, aged in Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon barrels. The 12.4% abv Russian Imperial Stout was re-fermented with Champagne yeast and is rolling out late this month. 2,000 cases of cork-topped, 750-ml. bottles will be sold in the U.S., with a suggested retail price of $25 each.

Masq Fusions has debuted its new line of hard teas in the Southeastern United States. The initial lineup of Masq Hard Teas consists of three flavors—Blueberry Lavender, Dragonfruit Açaí, and Lemon Ginger—all canned at 4% abv with 110 calories per 12-ounce serving. The teas are made from a base of Yerba Mate with added fruit juices and herbs, and are slightly sweetened with monk fruit and blue agave. Masq Hard Teas are now available in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee for around $10 a 4-pack of 12-ounce cans.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Alert: International Poitín Day – November 18th

International Poitín Day occurs every year on November 18th to celebrate the resurgence of Ireland’s most notorious spirit, Irish poitín. Poitín is Ireland’s original spirit—in fact it is thought to be the oldest potable spirit in the world—dating back to the 6th century when records show it was distilled by monks on the island. Long before Irish whiskey came into existence, poitín was being made in nearly every town and village across the country until 1661 when the British Crown outlawed poitín in an effort to control, and therefore tax, all distilled alcohol production in Ireland. For 300 years, fervent drinkers continued to produce their own poitíns, keeping them under the counter and out of sight. Though a beloved part of Irish culture, it wasn’t until 1997 that the Irish government re-legalized the production and sale of poitín.
International Poitín Day is now in its sixth year, celebrating the history, the tradition and the resurrection of the formerly illicit spirit. In the past ten years, poitín has been experiencing a renaissance, with several premium producers making their own unique recipe.

GSN Review: Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Teeling Whiskey recently announced the release of a new expression of Teeling Whiskey and their first release of Peated Single Malt, Blackpitts. Blackpitts joins the very limited offerings of Peated Single Malt from Ireland that are currently available and helps revive an ancient way of making Irish whiskey, using smoke created by burning peat or turf, as it is widely known, while malting the barley. This was a practice extensively used in Ireland before the wide availability and use of coal in the Irish whiskey industry.

Inspired by the ancient Blackpitts area just behind the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery based in Newmarket in the old Liberties area of Dublin City, this area was synonymous with many industries and in particular malting houses. Blackpitts was traditionally home to some of the largest barley malting houses in Ireland. By using smoke from peat to dry the barley during the malting process, the resulting peated malt produces a distinctive smoky taste profile, which is the signature of a Peated Single Malt.

However, what makes Teeling Blackpitts special is the triple distillation process, which gives it distinct character from traditional Scottish Peated Single Malt. This is combined with signature Teeling cask maturation using both ex-bourbon and ex-Sauternes white wine casks, then bottled at 46% with no chill filtration. The inspiration for the use of these casks came from a previous bottling of Teeling 24-Year-Old Single Malt which was honoured as the “World’s Best Single Malt” in 2019 at the World Whiskies Awards.

Bottled in a traditional dark green bottle, it has a distinctive screen printing design and metallic label and tin to make it stand out from the rest of the Teeling Whiskey range. Blackpitts Peated Single Malt will be available in Ireland at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery and available for online purchase at The Celtic Whiskey Shop. Blackpitts whiskey will hit US shelves in January 2021 and will be available for purchase on ReserveBar at that time.

Teeling Blackpitts (92 proof)
Appearance: Pale gold.
Aroma: Medium amount of peat reek with a smooth, malty finish. The Sauternes adds a high, softly fruity note. Overall, though the lasting impression is of smoke.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and balanced entry with notes of honey, caramel and vanilla cake. The peat creates a patina of darker color, but is surprisingly reticent on the palate. It really only comes through at the tail end of the tasting.
Finish: Medium long, with the creosote flavor ending on the far back of the palate.
Overall: Quite tasty. Of the few peated Irish we’ve had, this one is excellent. This will appeal to lovers of both Irish whiskey and Highland Scotch lovers.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Teeling Whiskey

GSN Alert: Bacardi Tiki Rumba

Looking to mix up your fall evenings with some high energy rum-filled entertainment?

BACARDÍ Rum is excited to share it’s bringing the tropical flavors, smooth sounds, and good vibes of the Caribbean to rum lovers at home this fall with its first-ever virtual Tiki Rumba – connecting people across the U.S. through delicious rum cocktails and great music!

Consumers can join in on the tiki action, as hosts Tiki & Slow Jams invite DJs from across the U.S. to showcase unique tropical sounds and mix up signature tiki BACARDÍ cocktails like the Cuatro Mai Tai, made with BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro.

Available for a limited time on Cocktail Courier, attendees can purchase an easy at-home Cuatro Mai Tai kit that yields up to 16 cocktails for you and your friends to mix up and enjoy during the virtual sessions.

Interested in joining in on the Tiki Rumba fun? Follow the steps below!

  1. RSVP to a free Tiki Rumba event of choice via https://bacarditikirumba.com/
  2. Purchase a Cuatro Mai Tai kit for delivery; link to purchase: https://www.cocktailcourier.com/cocktail/bacardi-mai-tai/
  3. Tune in and learn how to mix up a delicious tiki masterpiece at home
  4. Enjoy the taste of BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro + rum vibes of Tiki Rumba!

Alternatively, those not able to attend the live events each week can also check out the Tiki Rumba site for cocktail recipes, pre-recorded cocktail demos and curated Tiki Rumba playlists from the local DJs.

BACARDÍ MAI TAI

  • 5 oz BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro rum
  • 75 oz Orange Curacao
  • 5 oz Lime Juice
  • 75 oz Orgreat
  • Orange Bitters

METHOD: Shake and serve over crushed ice in a tiki mug. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel and/or mint sprig 

LINK TO PURCHASE: https://www.cocktailcourier.com/cocktail/bacardi-mai-tai/

GSN Review: Raasay “While We Wait” 2018 Single Malt Scotch

This is Raasay’s fourth release in the While We Wait series. Designed as a peaty and fruity single malt, each iteration of Raasay While We Wait has been crafted through the vatting of two malts from a single Highland distillery – a heavily peated and an unpeated malt.

While We Wait has been matured in Bourbon barrels and finished in Tuscan Montechiari wine casks. The 2018 release uses a higher proportion of second-fill Tuscan Montechiari wine casks, said to give the whisky a “finer balance between the influence of French oak and smoke”.

Earlier this year, the island distillery unveiled plans to release up to 20 casks of new make spirit for whisky fans to purchase every year.

Raasay “While We Wait” 2018 Single Malt Scotch (92 proof)
Appearance: Medium gold.
Aroma: Moderately smokey with a hint of vine fruit at the end. Bright, crisp and autumnal.
Taste: A gorgeous entry with a perfect blend of malty sweetness, mild smoke and oak. There is a roundness and warmth in the whisky that begs for contemplation.
Finish: The sweetness lingers for quite awhile, while at the same time the peat keeps things in line. The finish is slightly dry and toasty.
Overall: A very nice un-traditional Scotch. We appreciated the interaction between the ex-wine casks and the heavily peated malt, something we were not sure would work to advantage. It does. Recommended.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Raasay Distillery

GSN Review: The Tweeddale Grain of Truth Single Grain Scotch

Grain of Truth is a wheat and barley based grain whisky, matured in Bourbon casks and finished in sherry casks. Grain whisky has been traditionally used as a major part of blended whiskies, particularly as a basic base for a blend. Here they use 50% barley, and 50% wheat to give the spirit more complexity, and finish the whisky in sherry casks.

The original Tweeddale whisky was blended and bottled by Richard Day, the Co-founder Alasdair’s great grandfather. Alasdair inherited the original Tweeddale blending recipes. In the original Tweeddale Blend from the late 1800’s, Alasdair’s great grandfather used sherried grain whisky

Grain of Truth works on its own, or in a rusty nail with Drambuie. Or just to make a fancy whisky and ginger ale with Fentimans Ginger Ale.

The Tweeddale Grain of Truth (92 proof)
Appearance: Medium gold.
Aroma: High, sweet sherry notes top the aroma pyramid, with a bright and luscious entry. Softer notes of barley edge their way into the mix, followed by the lightest hint of peat.
Taste: Beautiful entry with an ultra smooth character due to the high wheat content in the grain bill. The sweetness lingers, but never overwhelms. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Finish: Long and relaxing with a pleasant, almost fruity fade out.
Overall: There is hardly a note of creosote on the palate, making this a perfect scotch for the Irish whiskey lover.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Tweedale Whisky

GSN Review: Hampton Water 2019 South of France Rosé

A few years ago, award-winning music icon, Jon Bon JoviJesse Bongiovi and acclaimed French winemaker, Gérard Bertrand launched the rosé wine label, Hampton Water, which was named in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2018, the highest ranked rosé. Hampton Water features a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, grape varieties characteristic of the French Mediterranean region, along with Syrah.

The venture was inspired by Bon Jovi’s son, Jesse Bongiovi, former Notre Dame football player, who played a pivotal role in the brand’s creation. The idea to create a wine, emblematic of a bon vivant lifestyle, emerged during time spent in the Hamptons, between Bon Jovi and his son. Rosé, a popular drink for the Bongiovi’s, had initially been dubbed ‘pink juice’ by Bon Jovi, until Jesse and a friend inadvertently coined the name, Hampton Water, and an idea was born.

GSN’s Thoughts: One of the best rosés we sampled, with a nice balance of fruit, herbacity, dry tannins and a round fulsome mouthfeel. We found ourselves easily enjoying a few glasses by itself, but this is a wine that also begs to be paired with a charcuterie plate. What makes this rosé stand out is the choice of grapes in the blend, which fill in all of the spaces you might normally find in a bottle under $25. This is a gem at a price point that makes it a steal. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Hampton Water Wine