GSN Alert: Cocktail & Spirits Book Preview – Winter 2021-22

Pouring with Heart: The Essential Magic behind the Bartenders We Love by Cedd Moses & Erik Cardona, Dale Degroff (Foreword) Lioncrest Publishing (November 11, 2021) Everyone thought Cedd Moses had lost his mind when he used his life savings to open ten bars in struggling Downtown Los Angeles. Not only would those venues help lift the communities around them—they’d go on to set a new standard for bars in LA, setting the stage for one of greatest bar success stories in American history. Moses attributes this remarkable success to one thing. Pouring with Heart. In this love letter to the bar world, Moses shares the secrets of what it truly means to be of service, pulling back the curtain on the magic a guest feels when in the presence of a bartender they love. Pouring with Heart demolishes the myth of bartending as a dead-end gig by using data and decades of experience to break down what it takes to cement a legendary career behind the bar.

The Inquisitive Bartender by Andrew Macharia Authorhouse Uk (December 12, 2021) Inspired by a seventeenth-century proverb-one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune-The Inquisitive Bartender presents your ultimate guide on the bartending landscape from fifth century through the present day. Author Andrew Macharia relies on his encounters with the beverages of numerous cultures and his knowledge of the art of mixology to share the rich history of pioneer mixologists in the Americas and beyond. He introduces key figures, dates, periods, and events over the centuries that have influenced others and shaped the bartending scene, including the Renaissance, the industrial revolution in Britain, the American revolution, and prohibition. This versatile narrative cuts across the bartending demographic and is ideal for bartenders at all levels-old school, current, and aspiring. It will transform you into a storyteller as you sling or imbibe your favourite cocktails. This bartender’s guide explores the history of bartending and alcohol throughout the centuries, providing both background and recipes for any bartender to use.

That’s the Spirit: The spirit lover’s guide to all things gin by Clare Voitin Heathcote Holdings Pty Ltd (December 13, 2021) Unmistakably, gin is in. With global growth close to hitting double digits annually, interest in this spirit is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Almost 30% of Australians are spirit drinkers, and with new and exciting craft gin brands popping up weekly, this comes as no surprise. But there’s more to the world’s fastest growing spirit than meets the eye. Not to be mistaken for just another on-trend ‘booze-in-a-bottle’, every gin has its unique point of difference. Whether it’s the botanicals included, style of gin produced or the distilling method used, every gin has a DNA and personality of its own. No longer considered the ‘mother’s ruin’, there’s a perfect gin for everyone. The fun is in embarking on your gin adventure and discovering your favourites. This book teaches you everything you need to know for your own gin journey – beginning with gin’s crazy, unexpected origins and travelling through the history of time to the here and now. Covering gin styles, botanicals commonly (and not so commonly) used and the finer details on how to drink your gin, this book very simply shares it all. If you’re not already on the ‘gin bandwagon’, there’s never been a better time to start than right now. All you need is an easy afternoon with this book in one hand and a gin in the other – before you know it, you’ll be your own gin expert with a wealth of knowledge, a bundle of great cocktail ideas and some clear guidance to discovering your favourite tipple. But be warned, there won’t be just one… and that’s the beauty of gin.

Bourbon [Boxed Book & Ephemera Set]: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey by Clay Risen Ten Speed Press (December 14, 2021) A visually stunning illustrated guide to the history, craft, and appreciation of Kentucky bourbon . Bourbon, we soon realized, was not just a good drink. It was a drink with a story, from a place, with an unbreakable tie to the people and the land that produced it. Whiskey expert Clay Risen explores the origins, history, and evolution of America’s distilling craft and culture in this luxurious boxed set. From boom to bust and back again, Risen tells the engrossing story of Kentucky whiskey, using interviews, photographs, and archival material to illuminate the singular region where bourbon was born. This meticulously researched book details how bourbon is made, how best to enjoy it, and how to build your own collection, along with profiles of the distilleries and makers that form the landscape of bourbon country.

Gin: The Ultimate Companion: The Essential Guide to Flavours, Brands, Cocktails, Tonics and More by Ian Buxton Birlinn (December 14, 2021) The 21st century’s own Gin Craze continues unabated, with exciting new crafted gins launched on a regular basis. Most recently, we have seen growing interest in Pink Gins and the development of a range of flavoured gins, not to mention the remarkable rise of tonics – with a tonic to suit every palate, and perhaps every gin. So naturally, leading spirits writer Ian Buxton has looked to revise and renew his focus on this most fashionable of spirits. In this book he brings his customary wit, industry knowledge and highly developed palate to this fast-evolving and dynamic market with enthusiastic, book-buying drinkers keen for more ginsights!

How to Distill: A Complete Guide from Still Design and Fermentation through Distilling and Aging Spirits by Aaron Hyde Harvard Common Press (December 21, 2021) In How to Distill, you’ll learn every aspect of home distilling, from the fundamentals to controlling flavor development to packaging. Whether you want straightforward information for your first moonshine distillation or you’re a home distiller looking to learn more and perfect your gin or bourbon, you’ve come to the right place. In this book, certified industry expert and knowledgeable home distiller Aaron Hyde lays out the how and why of all the key processes, starting at the mash and fermentation, through distilling, and ending with expert information on aging and blending spirits. You’ll find: An Overview of Distilling and the Process: The fundamentals of distillation, concise distillation theory, still design, distilled products, and ingredients are all covered. Pre-Distillation: Move on to learn about the fermentation process, making your own wash from sugar or cereal mashing grain. Distilling: The main event! A robust section on distilling covers modern distillation techniques, the distillation process, key decisions during distillation, process control, collection, and further distillation runs. Post-Distillation: Work your way through flavor development and control, polishing spirit, the aging process, quality considerations, blending, and packaging considerations. Recipes: Whether you’re interested in making bourbon whiskey, scotch whisky, gin, rum, or vodka, you’ll find an easy-to-follow recipe. With reliable, tested information throughout, this is the new standard for distilling.

Liquid History: An Illustrated Guide to London’s Greatest Pubs by John Warland (Author), Dan Cruickshank (Foreword) Bantam Press; Illustrated edition (January 1, 2022) An illustrated guide to London’s best pubs and their extraordinary history, presented by the founder of the world-famous Liquid History Tours. Pull up a stool for a thirst-quenching trundle through London’s liquid history in search of the city’s greatest pubs. We pop in for a pint in Shakespeare’s local, pull up a stool at Jack the Ripper’s bar, and push open the bloodstained doors of the Bucket of Blood. Exploring the watering holes of London’s writers and artists, its most notorious criminals and celebrated figures, from architectural marvels to secretive backstreet boozers, we help join the dots for London’s ultimate knees-up. Liquid History is a beautifully illustrated love letter to London’s finest hostelries, written by the city’s leading pub tour guide and host of the celebrated Liquid History Tours. Profiling over 50 timeless boozers, this book tells the story of London’s history and the taverns that have hosted, harbored, and refreshed its leading characters.

Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails with 60 Recipes by Derek Brown (Author), Julia Bainbridge (Foreword) Rizzoli (January 18, 2022) From Dry January to Sober October, moderation is having a moment. This book from spirits expert Derek Brown (newly mindful drinker himself) will show the sober and sober-curious how to mix complex, sophisticated low- and no-proof drinks. It will include recipes, techniques, and sources. Not long after his son was born, Derek Brown decided to cut back on his drinking. But as a bartender, bar owner, and cocktail and spirits expert, he wanted do so using the techniques and expertise of mixology to create a new arsenal of libations that were sophisticated, satisfying, and tasty. Creating these drinks isn’t as simple as removing the alcohol. No- and low-proof cocktails still have to be balanced and still have to be delicious, but they don’t operate exactly like cocktails with alcohol. The drinks Brown presents in this book are meticulously choreographed around taste, texture, body, and piquancy to result in surprisingly complex “adult beverages” minus the booze. Drawing on historical research, meticulous tweaking of classic cocktails to create lower-proof versions, and entirely new concoctions inspired by an evolved home bar, in this book, Derek shares sixty recipes for no- and low-proof cocktails, as well as a guide to the ingredients and equipment you need to imbibe in Mindful Mixology at home.

Detroit Tiki: A History of Polynesian Palaces & Tropical Cocktails by Renee Tadey (Author), Dave Chow (Foreword) The History Press (January 31, 2022) When the South Sea craze swept over the nation in the mid-twentieth century, the wave of island-themed décor and tropical cocktails did not pass by Detroit. The Tropics and Club Bali offered a warming escape from dreary Midwest winters. At its completion in 1967, the Mauna Loa was the most expensive restaurant built east of the Mississippi. With its lush interior and celebrity patrons, it did not disappoint. The Chin Tiki, with its exquisitely handcrafted features, was no less an exceptional destination. Even today, long after the Polynesian craze has faded, a new generation has taken up the tiki torch and brought island flavor and flair back to the city. Join author Renee Tadey on a sweeping journey through the tiki destinations of Detroit.

Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth by Nancy Matsumoto (Author), Michael Tremblay (Author), John Gauntner (Foreword) Tuttle Publishing (March 8, 2022) This stunning guide invites you into the story of sake—an ancient beverage finding its way in a modern world. Whether you’re a sake novice or an experienced connoisseur, Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake offers fascinating insights, practical tips, and rich stories about this popular beverage. Authors and experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay personally undertook the challenge of visiting 33 artisanal sake breweries in Japan, the US, and Canada to interview makers and document every stage of the sake brewing process. Nancy’s celebrated journalistic background combined with Michael’s sake sommelier experience have led to an engaging and informative look at the world of sake. With over 300 color photos and a lively narrative, this fascinating book provides: A comprehensive introduction to the science and history of sake brewing in Japan. A look at how fine craft sakes are brewed today using traditional methods and no additives—only rice, water, koji, and yeast. Histories of Japan’s venerable breweries, some of them over 300 years old! An answer to why some breweries are able to turn out a superior quality of sake. A discussion of rice varieties and “terroirs” where exceptional sakes are produced. Current trends in the world of sake, including the fine sakes now brewed outside Japan. Tasting notes and recommendations for top craft sakes you have not heard about yet. This book also includes personal recipes from several top Japanese brew masters along with food-pairing tips and the authors’ own personal recommendations for the best sake bars in Japan and overseas!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry, with Cocktail Recipes by Martyna Halas & René van Hoven Yellow Pear Press (March 15, 2022) Once known as a sailor’s drink, rum has matured into a refined spirit. In some Caribbean countries, rum is offered as a libation to the gods. In others, it is aged and savored on the rocks. But in the most magical places, rum is distilled by women. Inside Rum Rebels, you’ll find personal anecdotes from master blenders, fabulous recipes for artisan rum cocktails, and the inside scoop on how rum is made from the women behind Appleton, Zacapa, Cachaça, Brugal, and more. The art of cocktails, rum, and women. A pirate staple, rum has been the drink of rebels since the Old World. Now, there’s a new generation of rebels―the business women curating the taste of today’s best rum companies. Part rum cocktail book, part ode to feminism, Rum Rebels is a story of female empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Looking at more than a dozen rum distilleries, each chapter of Rum Rebels profiles women in leadership, their rum, and the perfect cocktail pairing. Learn how rum is made. Alongside women leaders and pioneers, this worldwide master class explores everything from palates to aging, providing first-hand stories from today’s leading rum distilleries. Whether a beginner or a seasoned rum enthusiast, Rum Rebels is the perfect read for anyone curious about the craft of rum distilling, artisan cocktails, or female leaders in history.

GSN Review: Fuji Single Grain Whisky & FUJI Whisky World Blend

Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners (‘DVWP’) recently announced the U.S. debut of FUJI Whisky, the grain and blended whiskies from Japan. Launching in the U.S. for the first time in the brand’s history, FUJI Single Grain Whiskey, the brands flagship blend, and FUJI Whisky World Blend are now available at select establishments nationwide on and off premise.

Mt. Fuji Distillery was established in 1973 employing Scottish, American, and Canadian whisk(e)y making methods under a single roof, an amalgamation that celebrates whiskey’s worldwide heritage. Named after one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks, Mt. Fuji Distillery is situated just miles from the peak of Mt. Fuji and is one of the few whiskies in the world to use the mountain’s snowmelt in its production. The snowmelt’s 50-year journey from Mt. Fuji’s peak to the depths of an underground aquifer to the distillery results in a uniquely soft water that is the foundation for FUJI’s distinctive whisky expressions.

Master Blender Jota Tanaka refers to it as the “precious gift.” Tanaka is an Icon of Whisky Award Winner 2017, with 30 years of experience in the industry both in Japan and the U.S. and is only the second Master Blender in Mt. Fuji Distillery’s 48-year history.

The FUJI World Whisky expression showcases malt and grain whiskies, including three different types of grain whiskey. The expression is a blend of Japanese and Scotch whiskies. GSN’s Remarks: Slightly sweet maltiness on the entry with plenty of high notes of wood. Light, elegant and approachable. Perfect for a highball with club soda. There’s nothing here that will hit you over the head with flavor, just a rock solid whisky that has a sprightly, approachable character. GSN Rating: A-

The FUJI Single Grain Whiskey is a blend of three different grain whiskeys, each distilled in three different methods, each possessing its own unique flavor profile. The American features a more heavy, rich, floral fruity style; the Canadian type is medium, luscious, and delicately fruity; and the Scotch type is known for its lighter, soft, yet compelling qualities. GSN’s Remarks: 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++

For more information go to: FUJI Whisky

#FujiSingleGrainWhisky #FUJIWhiskyWorldBlend

GSN Review: HINE Cigar Reserve XO Cognac

The House of HINE recently announced the U.S. release of HINE Cigar Reserve XO, a cognac crafted to sip alongside premium Cuban cigars. The result of a collaboration between the House of HINE, a family-owned and operated cognac producer founded in 1763, and Hunters & Frankau of London, the UK’s exclusive distributor of Havana cigars established in 1790, HINE Cigar Reserve XO marries the expertise of these two longstanding industry leaders to orchestrate an experience that caters to the desires of cigar aficionados.

The impetus for HINE Cigar Reserve XO began 35 years ago when sixth generation HINE Honorary Chairman, the late Bernard Hine crossed paths with Hunters & Frankau Managing Director and eventual Chairman, the late Nicholas Freeman. The two shared a mutual affinity for cognac and cigars, which prompted the idea of creating a world class cognac specifically designed to pair with the most expressive Havana cigars. Following a decade of tastings, samplings, and trips back and forth between London and Jarnac, the inaugural bottling of HINE Cigar Reserve XO was introduced in Europe in 1996. Twenty-five years later, this exclusive HINE offering has made its U.S. debut in partnership with American importer, Hotaling & Co.

HINE Cigar Reserve XO features a blend of twenty eau-de-vie produced using Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fins Bois grapes aged for over 15 years. Crafted in a style to stand up to the intensity of a strong and flavorful cigar, Cigar Reserve is the only expression in the HINE portfolio blended with Fins Bois grapes, known for their concentrated flavors and robust aromatic profile.

GSN’s Remarks: A dark, rich, grape spirit infused with oak, perky spice high notes and warm nutty low notes. The breadth of flavors works excpetionally well with a high quality cigar. Adding a bookended effect between the tannic, dry tobacco leaf, and the sweet, woody cognac. The finish is excpetionally long, ending with a warm vanilla note that has a familial relationship to a new cigar. Even if you don’t smoke, this is an exceptional flavor experience. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: HINE Cognac


GSN Review: Widow Jane The Vaults 2021

Widow Jane Distillery recently announced the release of The Vaults 2021, the third edition in an old-and-rare whiskey collection from the New York-based brand. The 2021 release marries 15–17 year old bourbons that have been carefully selected by Widow Jane president and head distiller Lisa Wicker from the brand’s stocks housed at its Conover Street rickhouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Just over 3,000 bottles of The Vaults 2021 are being released to the public, in select markets, throughout the 2020-21 winter season.

Each release of The Vaults is intended to deliver intense flavors including a bold but balanced expression of the woods in which each was aged and finished. The 2021 blend of bourbons from Tennessee and Indiana is finished in Adirondack oak casks air-seasoned outside for 42 months. The casks were constructed in a traditional French method, with a tighter construction than the American oak from the original aging period, and were given a heavy toast, which allowed the sugars in the wood to caramelize and enhance the already strong backbone of the whiskey. The casks received a three-and-a-half level char. 
As is the case with all Widow Jane whiskeys, like their signature 10 Year Old Bourbon, The Vaults 2021 is non-chill filtered and proofed with limestone mineral water from the legendary Rosendale Mines of New York, 100 miles north of the distillery. 

GSN’s Remarks: Delectable, delightful and delicious. A perfect marriage of distillation and aging showcased in a high-proof and venerable spirit. The nose alone will tantalize your senses with heavenly notes of caramel, cocoa, vanilla, and sweet roll. The flavor is compact and intense with even more sweetness. Caramel corn, pecan pie, fresh pipe tobacco and baking spices all come into play in an ever shifting landscape of flavor. The finish is long and has elements of pfeffernusse, molasses and mellow smokiness. This whiskey is a real treat and shows just how masterful the distiller’s skills truly are. We could enjoy a pour of this every night. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Widow Jane

#WidowJane #TheVaults2021

GSN Review: Burning Mast Rum

Kirk and Sweeney, the flagship Dominican rum produced by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation, recently announced the debut of its new Burning Mast rum. Burning Mast is barrel finished in red pepper barrels which imbue the liquid inside with red hot flavors for an entirely unique profile.

“We love a little spice here at 3 Badge and are thrilled to elevate Kirk and Sweeney with such an unexpected flavor profile,” noted August Sebastiani, president of 3 Badge Beverage Corporation. “We took the traditional Kirk and Sweeney Reserva rum production recipe and turned it up with these red pepper barrels, creating something enticingly different.”

The rum adheres to strict regulations in order to be called “Dominican Rum”. The process begins with hand harvested, high quality sugarcane processed into grade three Blackstrap Molasses for fermentation and distillation. The rum is then aged in a variety of American and French oak barrels, with the distiller conducting various steps of dumping, blending and re-barreling through the years. Burning Mast is a blend of 81% Kirk and Sweeney Reserva rum and 19% Kirk and Sweeney Reserva rum finished in red pepper barrels for 11-19 days.

The distinctive vintage shaped bottle pays homage to the early 20th century when rum-running was prevalent. An intricately silkscreened design wraps around the circumference of the bottle with a prominent heat meter located on the front. Illustrating the St. Elmo’s Fire phenomenon, the Kirk and Sweeney schooner is featured in the dark of night with burning masts, navigating its way through a storm. The front label glows with a gradient meant to mimic those flames.

Kirk and Sweeney is named for a wooden schooner, best known for smuggling rum from the Caribbean to the Northeast during the early years of Prohibition. Rum Runners took to the high seas under glowing masts caused by St. Elmo’s fire, a rare phenomenon that gives the appearance of burning masts during thunderstorms, a truly extraordinary event and the inspiration for the name.

GSN’s Remarks: This is an amazing rum. Having tried many pepper infused spirits over the years, we thought we knew what to expect from this one. But, instead of the heat overhwhelming the rum, it compliments it, adding a warmth with no harsh burn. The initial taste is sweet and round, what you’d expect from an aged rum. But, after a few seconds, the fire kicks in, lending a hot experience that is on a level with fresh ginger. The warmth lasts for several minutes, but never overwhelms. This is a perfect rum for experimentation in cocktails. Everything from ginger ale highballs to tiki drinks. Try adding some to your next Pina Colada. Burning Mast is killer with pineapple and coconut. Kudos to Kirk & Sweeney for a stellar product! GSN Rating: A+++

For more information go to: Kirk and Sweeney Rum

#kirkandsweeneyrum #burningmast

GSN Brews News: January 4th 2022 Edition

Baltimore, Maryland’s DuClaw Brewing Company has launched three new seasonal beers. First up is Spruce Willis, an 8.2% abv double IPA named for the famed actor from the Die Hard series of action movies. Next up is the PastryArchy Macchiato Milk Stout, a 6.5% abv beer brewed with vanilla beans and DuClaw’s own coffee blend. Finally, DuClaw has released Sour Me Pomegranate, Passion Fruit, & Plum, a 5.5% abv fruited sour ale made with Saaz hops, in addition to its namesake fruits. All three are now available in 16-ounce cans and on draft in select locations throughout DuClaw’s distribution footprint.

Minneapolis-based Hairless Dog Brewing has announced updated recipes and packaging for its three core brews, Citra Lager, India Pale Ale, and Black Ale. The company, which specializes in non-alcoholic beers, has also introduced a Dry January Survival Kit. Prices for the kit start at $20 and include a choice of three Hairless Dog 0% abv beer varieties and merchandise. In contrast to most non-alcoholic brews—in which alcohol is removed after brewing—Hairless Dog says its production process never introduces alcohol into the liquid to begin with and therefore retains a fuller flavor in the finished product.

Diageo’s Bulleit whiskey brand has teamed up with Kentucky-based West Sixth Brewing to create Bourbon Barrel Brownie, a limited edition offering marrying the brewery’s beer and Bulleit Bourbon. The Imperial brown ale comes in at 10.5% abv and is matured in ex-Bulleit barrels with added cocoa nibs. Bourbon Barrel Brownie is available for a limited time in four-packs of 12-ounce cans in Northern Kentucky for a suggested price of $12.

Oregon-based Square Mile Cider has introduced a new look across its portfolio. According to the company, the new branding pays homage to Square Mile Cider’s home base of Portland, Oregon, and highlights its commitment to using local, Pacific Northwest-grown fruits in all its ciders. Along with the rebrand, the cidery has launched two new flavors: Peach Lemonade Hard Cider and Raspberry Lemonade Hard Cider. The two new flavors—along with the existing Original Cider and Rosé Cider—are distributed across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho in 12- and 19.2-ounce cans.

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Limited Edition Ceramic Bottle

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is the creation of PJ Rigney. His travels brought him to the wild and unspoiled landscape of Drumshanbo, Ireland where he created The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney, using medieval copper pot stills, and began a quest to fuse oriental botanicals with local Irish ones. Slow distilled by hand with gunpowder tea, Gunpowder Irish Gin combines 8 pot still and 4 vapor infused botanicals in the oriental tradition of distilling.

This season, they have released their flagship spirit in a limited edition ceramic bottle featuring illustrations that tell the brand’s story inspired by the iconic Willow pattern.

GSN’s Remarks: We’ve previously reviewed Drumshanbo here, but we wanted to review this gorgeous new limited edition bottle. This looks absolutely killer on the back bar and stands out like a thing of beauty. The color scheme is perfect for winter, but also has the classic colors of Chinese qīng-huā. This is a gorgeous bottle that will be kept long after the gin is gone. And while I think of it, it’s time for a Martini. Cheers! GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

#drumshanbo #gunpowderirishgin

GSN Review: Stellum Black Rye & Stellum Bourbon

Earlier this year, Stellum Spirits launched its flagship Stellum Bourbon and Stellum Rye whiskeys to celebrate the modern-day whiskey drinker. Now, during the winter season, the brand introduced Stellum Black: a limited-release premium expression of the inaugural offerings, designed to carry the same classic, cask strength flavor profiles into a more refined, elegant, and complex blend. 

Produced by Barrell Craft Spirits, Stellum Black reveals a natural evolution of the inaugural cask strength bourbon and rye whiskey blends, using a meticulous blending approach to layer older reserve barrels into the original blends. The result is something both entirely new and deeply familiar.

“For Stellum Black, we maintained the soul of Stellum while creating a new dimension of flavor by adding reserve barrels from our stocks,” said Joe Beatrice, Barrell Craft Spirits Founder. “We’ve refined this layering technique over time which produces whiskeys focused on both immediate flavor and a long-developed complexity. The result is an entirely new set of whiskeys that has its roots firmly planted in the inaugural whiskeys.” 

Stellum Black Bourbon and Stellum Black Rye were distilled and aged in IN, KY and TN, and bottled at 109.22 proof (54.61% ABV) and 114.26 proof (57.13% ABV), respectively.

Stellum Black Bourbon – GSN’s Remarks: Heady char and cask on the nose, creating a woody, dark, expression of barrelhouse. Upon the first taste we find burnt sugar, molasses and toasted nuts along with spicy elements of mexican chocolate. Very dry and woody on the back of the palate. This is the flagship Stellum ramped up to 11. Oak, tannin and wood are the key indicators here. Things become more balanced and amenable when brought down to a comfortable proof with some water or ice. GSN Rating: A-

Stellum Black Rye – GSN’s Remarks: Sparky and perky nose of rye spice. A quite complex melange of dark bread and dried cooking herbs. Very engaging and inquisitive. A very friendly welcome. The first notes of flavor are as expected. Spice driven, but also with plenty of chewy caramel and chocolate. The rye plays well with its neighbors, making a perfect marriage of the best of a bakery and a barrelhouse. For a rye, this one sings. Really worth the upgrade from the flagship expression, and exceptionally well blended. It would be interesting to find out more about the ratios of the various ages involved in this blend. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Stellum

#StellumRye #StellumBourbon #StellumBlack

GSN Review: Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye

Hard Truth Distilling Co. recently announced the release of Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye, the first whiskey distilled, aged, and bottled on Hard Truth’s 325-acre campus in Brown County, Indiana. Batch #001 is a small batch of thirty, 2-3 year old barrels, uncut, unfiltered and bottled at barrel strength. It is the first release in what will become a series of sweet mash whiskeys that Hard Truth offers. Over the next few years, Hard Truth will introduce whiskeys from four unique rye mash bills and four unique bourbon mash bills, bringing a variety of flavor profiles to market.

“We’re on the forefront of a new era of whiskey-making as sweet mash pioneers here in the state of Indiana, ” said Hard Truth Master Distiller Bryan Smith.

Most whiskeys are produced using a sour mash method — a process that uses leftover mash from previous distillations in each new batch of whiskey. Historically, this was done out of necessity because the high acidity of the leftover mash helps ensure no bacterial contamination or other infection in the new batches. Advances in distilling systems and sanitization processes, however, have made sweet mash — a process where each new batch starts entirely fresh — not only a possibility, but an way to create whiskeys with characteristics unique to the method.

GSN’s Remarks: Quite evocative on the nose, with a spice driven profile that instantly shouts “rye”. The first sip features sharp rye characteristics. Bready, grainy, peppery, chewy and held together by the vanilla/caramel cohesion of the barrel. But, there is also a fruity sweetness here. Like baked apples with brown sugar. As the flavor progresses, notes of cocoa, and lightly roasted coffee bean come into play, leaving the palate with a dry finish. As an aside, we love the design of this bottle and the beautiful cork. Really a thoughtful and artistic ensemble. Hard Truth has a real winner here for rye lovers. Time for a Sazerac cocktail! GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Hard Truth Distilling


GSN Review: Paddle Wheel 200 Year Oak Bourbon

Brain Brew CEO Doug Hall has helped find, filter and fast track ideas for for leading international companies for over 40 years. In 1997, Doug Hall and his Eureka! Ranch team started working as innovation partners with Edrington in Scotland – distillers of The Macallan, Highland Park, Famous Grouse, Brugal Rum and other brands.

While working with Edrington, Doug was fascinated to learn that 70% of the flavor and 100% of the smoothness of a whiskey comes from the wood the whisky is aged in. When whiskey ages in a barrel, alcohol reacts with the wood as it heats and cools throughout the seasons. As a chemical engineer Doug wondered if there was a way to improve this interaction of whisky and wood. Doug’s curiosity lead him to do dozens of experiments over the years.

In the early days of Brain Brew, Doug set up a tasting of their most recent discoveries In Edinburgh Scotland with three long time friends and whisky industry experts. The clear winner of the tasting was a product tentatively called Kentucky Club.  It was finished with 200 Year Oak. Eventually Kentucky Club became Paddle Wheel as the Brain Brew Crew decided to celebrate their home town.  The idea was very simple.  Create a bourbon that is as close to a luxury Cincinnati bourbon of the 1800s as possible.  

GSN’s Remarks: The nose is appealing, with the usual hints of oak, vanilla and some char. On the palate, we were struck by the very light flavor of a young, toddler-like whiskey. Not a lot of heft or body, and the flavor sings with only one mid-range note. Some tinges of maple, black pepper, and cinnamon tease the tongue, while the finish has a slightly bitter tannic edge. A perfectly serviceable spirit which will work well in a Mint Julep or a highball. We’d be interested to see how it would fare under longer aging. GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Brain Brew Whiskey


GSN Review: Dexter Three Wood Bourbon

Dexter Three Wood Straight Bourbon is returning bourbon to its 1800s roots – “Of the people, by the people, for the people” – paying homage to Edmund Dexter, one of the leading bourbon pioneers of his time.  Edmund Dexter’s blends were so renowned that even Charles Dickens and King Edward VII visited him at his home in Cincinnati.

As Doug states, “In a marketplace where the really great bourbons are impossible to find – we are excited to have plenty of Dexter Bourbon available for this season.” 

The history of bourbon dates back to the pre-prohibition era in the 1800s when most whiskey was purchased from whiskey merchants who were barrel blenders. Merchants would buy whiskey from farmers, and then, they would blend various barrels together to create different tastes depending on their customer’s preferences.  In Cincinnati, the Queen city of the West, there were over 100 barrel blenders. But there were more around the world, including the famous Johnnie Walker, in Scotland. 

The flavor of Dexter Three Wood is a result of WoodCraft Finishing with three woods – vintage 200-Year Oak, Maple Wood and Cherry Wood.  Each of these woods provides a different element.

The Dexter Bourbon Company was founded by Doug Hall and Joe Girgash. Doug Hall is also the Co-founder and CEO of Brain Brew Custom Whiskey and the Founder of Eureka! Ranch, with one of its long-term clients being Edrington, distillers of The Macallan. They also have a collaboration with Edrington to produce Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon.

GSN’s Remarks: A nice vanilla forward nose with fragrances of baked apple crumble, maple sugar, and cherry cola. The flavors explode in an array of honeycomb, caramel cream and baking spices. Quite peppery and tantalizing on the tongue. The finish is medium length ending with a touch of cracked peppercorn. All in all, and really friendly and approachable whiskey that has a nice portfolio of woods. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Brain Brew Whiskey


GSN Alert: National Bloody Mary Day – January 1st

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

What to kill that dull ache in your head after a night of too much Champagne?  What to eat on a queasy stomach?  How about the best of both worlds?  A drinkable foodstuff?  Enter January 1st’s national libation, the Bloody Mary (or if you prefer The Red Snapper).  Rather than going into the history behind the drink, although quite fascinating, instead today I will provide you with some of the original recipes as first published in the 40’s and 50’s and let you pick one that seems appealing.

Red Snapper – Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion by Crosby Gaiges 1941
2oz tomato juice
2oz vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 dash of lemon juice
Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
Shake well and serve in a Delmonico glass

Bloody Mary – Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe 1946
3oz Vodka
6oz Tomato Juice
2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Juice of half a lemon
Shake together with ice or mix in Waring mixer and serve cold in highball glass

Bloody Bloody Mary – Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier 1951
1½ oz Vodka
3oz Tomato
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
Dash celery salt
Shake and serve in an Old Fashioned glass over a lump of ice, garnish with a mint sprig

Bloody Mary – Esquire’s Drink Book by Frederic Birmingham 1956
8oz Tomato Juice
3oz Vodka
Juice of two lemons
White of one egg
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery leaves
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Craft Beer Marketing Awards Celebrates Growth as it Expands for 2022 Award Season

(New York, NY) – The Craft Beer Marketing Awards (CBMAS) has announced that its 2022 Awards Program is now open and accepting beer–related marketing and design entries from around the globe (including hard seltzer, cider, and mead).

Entries are being accepted from October 30, 2021 and will be accepted through January 14, 2022.

Founded in 2019, the CBMAS is the only awards competition in the world to celebrate the very best of craft beer marketing and design. The CBMAS has developed to accepting entries from around the globe, presenting a marketing trends seminar at this years’ Craft Brewers Conference, recognizing influential beer industry insiders with CBMAS “People of the Year” Award and started a podcast, Marketing on Tap, sponsored by EGC Group, available on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts and iHeartRadio. 

The CBMAS honors the individuals and teams involved in building these amazing beverage brands. Breweries, their agencies, artists, and marketing partners are all invited to enter their best work.  

“The CBMAS has grown significantly as a unique platform celebrating the beer industry’s incredible marketing and design that wasn’t being recognized until now.” said Jim McCune, Co-Founder of the CBMAS. “We’ll continue to award the very best work in the industry, and showcase that work, and the folks that created it to the world.”

Notable multi-award winners from the 2021 competition include: Brooklyn Brewery and the New York State Brewers Association in New York, Arrowhead Ales Brewing in Illinois, EBBING Branding and Design in North Carolina, Founders Brewing Company in Michigan, Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, New Realm Brewing Co. in Georgia, Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Florida, and White Labs Brewing Co. in San Diego. International winners include Balter Brewing Co. and Dollar Bill Brewing in Australia, Brewpoint and Cold Town Beer in the United Kingdom, Hey Joe Brewing Company in South Africa, and Smugglers Trail in Canada, among many others.

For a full list of 2021 winners, click here for the 2021 CBMAS winner’s Gallery.

New Categories

“We had such incredible feedback over the past two award seasons, and great suggestions for some new categories,” said Jackie DiBella, Co-Founder of the CBMAS. “We know breweries and their partners are passionate about what they do. We wanted to make sure our categories matched the depth and breadth of their work.”

The 2022 CBMAS consist of 38 categories that cover all aspects of brew marketing—from labels to logos, and tap handles, to taprooms. This year, 11 new categories have been added by popular suggestion:

  • Best Can Design – Painted Cans or Sleeves
  • Best Can Design – Best Beer Series
  • Best Can Design – Collaboration
  • Best Can Design – Non-Alcoholic Craft Beverage
  • Best Brand Identity – Sell Sheets
  • Best Brand Identity – Beer Release Calendars
  • Best Brand Identity – Best All-Around Marketing Story
  • Best Use of Social Media Video – IG Reels, IGTV, or TikTok
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Best Guerrilla Marketing Campaign
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Best Live Entertainment Stage or Setting
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Collaboration Marketing Assets

The CBMAS judging process is a robust, credible, and transparent digital scoring system ranked by an influential and respected, worldwide panel of more than 300 beer, marketing, and design experts. 

To see the full list of categories, click here.

Expanding Industry Associations

CBMAS presenting sponsor three years in a row is Hillebrand, the world’s leading global beverage logistics company.

“The CBMAS is an amazing way to recognize the great marketing that craft beverage makers and marketers do!” said Prabh Hans, VP, Domestic Services of Hillebrand North America. “The work by the CBMAS team is led by their passion for the industry and it shows. Looking forward to supporting this amazing awards platform as it continues to showcase all of the great work!”

New 2022 CBMAS Gold Sponsor is Arryved, based in Boulder Colorado, which specializes in point-of-service for craft breweries, restaurants, and other craft destinations.

“Craft beer is one of the most creative industries in the world,” said Alex Ostler, Head of Marketing for Arryved. “We’re excited to sponsor the Craft Beer Marketing Awards to recognize what you, the creators, are doing to showcase your brew.” 

The CBMAS has also formed memberships with well-known industry organizations like The Brewers Association (BA), New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA), and many of its judges are affiliated with various beverage and beer industry associations located around the world.

CBMAS Worldwide Entry Regions

Entries are divided up into 5 regions across the globe: 

  • The Americas
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
  • APAC – Asia and Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand)
  • MENA – Middle East and North Africa  

Winners in each category are awarded a CBMAS Crushie Award. Winners can upgrade their win with a Crushie Trophy designed by the same Manhattan-based awards company that creates the Emmy, Golden Globes and the MTV Moonman. 

Platinum and Gold Crushies will be awarded to winners in each region. Global Crushies will be awarded to winners who opt-in to be judged at a global level in addition to their regional entry. 

 Entry Timeline

• Entry Period: October 30, 2021 – January 14, 2022 

• Judging: February 7 – March 25, 2022  

• Winners Announced: Week of May 2, 2022 @ CBC event (TBD) and live stream

The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place in person with a virtual feed during the week of the 2022 Craft Brewers Conference in May in Minneapolis, MN. Entries are now open to anyone involved in marketing within the brewing industry—including cider and hard seltzer—across the world. For additional information, visit


The Craft Beer Marketing Awards was established in 2019 to give recognition to the best of the best in the marketing realm of the brewing industry. With categories that range from the “Best Can Design” to “Coolest Taproom” and “Best Website Design” to “Best Use of Social Media,” there’s an opportunity to showcase the best work in every area of marketing in the brewing industry across the world. For more information, and to listen to the Marketing On Tap Podcast, visit


GSN Alert: December 31st – National Champagne Day


National Champagne Day recognizes the wine that puts the pop in every New Year’s Eve celebration. 

Genuine champagne only comes from France’s Champagne region. French law protects where and how it’s made. With some exceptions, only Champagne made according to set specifications and within the French region may label their wines using the term “Champagne.” Other foods and beverages fall under this type of protection in France and other parts of the world.

Champagne, France, is located northeast of Paris and provides ideal temperature and soil to produce the grapes required for Champagne. Only eight varieties of grapes are allowed production in the Champagne region. Primarily, the three grapes used to create Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

Unlike other wines, Champagne ferments in the bottle allowing the vintner to trap the CO2 in the bottle. The bubbles give Champagne its effervescence.

While Champagne can be spendy, if you’re looking for a little pop on New Year’s Eve, there are other varieties of sparkling wine available from Italy, California, and even the South of France. They offer a sparkle that won’t put a fizzle in your pocketbook. Then again, splurging and ringing in the New Year is the perfect opportunity each year to celebrate.

Courtesy of National Day Calendar