Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

soltado_0128_straighthrFrom Destiladora Juanacatlán, a small distillery in the lowlands region of Jalisco, Mexico, Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila is produced at one of only two farmer-owned, co-op distilleries in the country of Mexico.

Twice distilled, and filtered 10 times, their añejo tequila is made from 100% blue Weber agave and aged 28 months in American white oak.  After aging, Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila is infused with fresh, locally grown organic Serrano peppers and cinnamon.

As part of their core values and brand mission, socially responsible Soltado has supported local and national charities through dollar matching programs, event donations, and by leveraging their fan base to drive awareness. From humanitarian causes, animal welfare, health related foundations, and urban farming initiatives, Soltado Tequila remains a purpose driven brand.

Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold with a slight copper tinge.
Nose: Verdant spiciness with a slight agave sweetness, but ultimately leads back to spice. Fresh tequila aroma with a slight earthiness. Mellow and pleasant.
Taste: Initially soft tequila, but then a massive wave of chili spice overpowers any subtleties. After a minute, the tequila comes through again and finishes with a mildly honeyed finish.
Finish: A slight lingering smoky sweetness.
Overall: A tequila that will appeal to chili-heads.  Great in a Bloody Maria, but also adding a splash of this to a chocolate liqueur like Bailey’s will make for a great wintertime/cold weather cocktail.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Soltado Tequila

Read Full Post »


Hitting U.S. shelves and backbars this autumn, The Nikka Whisky Distilling Company and U.S. importer Anchor Distilling Company introduce two new expressions that reflect the celebrated Japanese whisky company’s acclaimed distilleries: Yoichi Single Malt and Miyagikyo Single Malt, both non-age statement whiskies, each reflecting the unique characters of the respective distilleries – Yoichi, located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo, near Sendai located in the northern part of main island, Honshu.

Considered the founding father of Japanese whisky, Masataka Taketsuru opened his first distillery, Yoichi, in 1934, located where the environs most closely resemble Scotland’s coastal distilleries, which offers briny flavor characteristics, and direct coal distillation with small pot stills is used to hark back to Scotland’s whisky production traditions, as studied by Taketsuru in 1918. Nikka’s second distillery, Miyagikyo, opened in 1969, is located in a river valley, thereby emulating the distilleries found in Scotland’s Speyside region; it employs indirect steam distillation and larger copper pot stills.

Miyagikyo Single Malt is distilled from 100% malted barley. Slightly peated with Sherry Cask influence. Aged in New American Oak, Ex-Bourbon Oak, Sherry Casks and many others, with the Sherry Casks providing a dominant flavor component. Notes of fruit and rich malts due to specifically selected yeasts.

Yoichi Single Malt is distilled from 100% malted barley. Portions of heavily peated malt aged in New American Oak, Sherry Casks and a variety of casks coopered in the Nikka cooperages. The terroir of the distillery introduces brininess from the ocean breeze.

Nikka Miyagikyo (90 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Notes of dark cherry, slight smoke, sherry cask and blackberry.
Taste: Smooth, round and initially quite fruity, but suddenly a blast of creosote hits, creating a BBQ glaze flavoring.  This then softly fades into a dry, salinity which acts as a palate cleanser.  Quite the journey.
Finish: Medium long with some of the malty notes making a late entrance.
Overall: Thought provoking, meditative and the kind of whisky that makes you contemplate.
GSN Rating: A

Nikka Yoichi (90 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Dark, salty malt with a wood smoke patina finished with bright sherry.
Taste: Warm, sweet malt with just the right amount of peat smoke balanced by a sea salt briskness.  A touch of water brings out more delicate shades of dried apricot and Fuji apple.
Finish: Medium long with a lasting sweetness with a gentle kiss of peat.
Overall: Really well done and exceptionally blended.  One of the finest Nikka whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.  World class.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Nikka


Read Full Post »


Seeing as The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York City has won top spot in the World’s Best Bar Competition in 2016, the appearance of this relatively new Irish whiskey seems timely.  Hell-Cat Maggie was the nom de plume of a female member of the ultra violent 1850’s Irish American street gang, the Dead Rabbits.  She apparently fought with tooth and nail, the former being filed into sharp fangs and the latter covered with brass claws.  I’m sure she was a fearsome sight to behold.

In any case, today she is still remembered in the 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York, and now this whiskey which is made by the Cooley Distillery in County Louth, Ireland.  It is imported and bottled by the Phillips Distillery in Minnesota and is a blend of unmalted column still whiskey and malted pot still whiskey and aged for at least three years.

Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Malty with fresh-cut green apple, brown bread and gingerbread overtones.
Taste: Light, thin and a bit toasty.  Pleasant, but with very little character, and certainly no citrus or vanilla.
Finish: Medium long with a slightly sweet, bready quality.
Overall: A serviceable whiskey, but one that doesn’t stand out amongst the competition.  Definitely an entry-level Irish whiskey.
GSN Rating: B

Cara Seymour as Hell-Cat Maggie

Cara Seymour as Hell-Cat Maggie

Read Full Post »


Clyde May was an Alabama farmer, war hero, moonshiner by trade, but a craftsman by heart who set out to make the best whiskey Alabama ever tasted. Using copper stills, Alabama spring water and the finest local grains, Clyde perfected his own unique finish – Alabama Style – by aging small batches in charred oak barrels, adding oven-dried apples to produce a hint of green apple that set Clyde May’s Whiskey apart.

Paying homage to Clyde May himself and his dedication to his craft, this non-chill filtered straight bourbon is a 5-year-old spirit. Using simple and traditional ingredients, the bourbon mash is patiently aged in heavily “alligator” charred new American oak barrels.

Clyde May’s was named the Official State Spirit of Alabama in 2004.

Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Darkening orange-brass.
Nose: Wood char, sweet corn, pie spice, and even a touch of fresh pineapple.
Taste: Initially sweet and tangy, it quickly evolves into a more complex spirit with a keen balance of wood and corn.  Quite flavorful and barrel forward, the lasting effect is of a self-assured and confident bourbon that has a brash yet fun-loving character.  There’s even a bit of rye spice here which adds to the appeal.
Finish: Medium long with the woody notes taking the train home.
Overall: A very endearing bourbon, especially on a cold autumnal day.  Just the thing to lift your spirits and part the clouds.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: May’s Whiskey

Read Full Post »


After a successful introduction in Berlin, Our/Vodka opened micro distilleries in eleven cities across the US, Europe and Australia with local partners. Our/Detroit will open during the summer and 10 other cities will follow including New York, Amsterdam, London and Melbourne.

“Our/Vodka does not have much in common with other spirit brands. In every city, we partner with local entrepreneurs who love their city – and together, we open boutique distilleries with a grassroots approach, that represents the local community,” says Åsa Caap, founder of Our/Vodka and former Innovations Director at Pernod Ricard. The distillery in New York will double as a tasting room, shop and event space, while the Detroit distillery will partner with local organizations for events and communal forums.

Our/Vodka is made with the same recipe, but every distillery will use ingredients sourced as local as possible. Each city not only lends its name, but also a specific local character to the vodka. The local partners will market the vodka in their own fashion.“This is about building a unique business in each city. Our/Berlin is run by fashion people, Our/Detroit by three entrepreneurs and Our/New York by skate and bike aficionados. Of course they will end up differently, and that’s the beauty of it,” says Kalle Söderquist, Creative Director for Our/Vodka.

Our/Vodka comes in a small bottle with a crown cap. Its motto: “Keep it simple. It’s vodka.”

GSN has received two of these vodkas so far.  We will review the others as they become available to us.

Our Detroit (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Clean, crisp and bright with a nice balance of minerality and refined distillate.
Taste: Medium body and mouthfeel with a slight edge of sweetness.  You can taste the base note of corn, which is grown in Windsor, Canada. Upbeat, warm and appealing.
Finish: Short and poignant.  No off notes or lingering flavors.  Just a clean refreshing pop.
Overall: Beautifully distilled and rendered.  A vodka that has a lot of friendliness.
GSN Rating: A-

Our Los Angeles (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Dry, crisp and ethereal.  More minerality than the Our Detroit.  It smells like a European vodka.
Taste: Organic wheat base with vine fruit and some berry characteristics.  A hint of vanilla adds to a dessert-like quality.
Finish: Medium long with a bit of the vanilla character hanging on for a few minutes. You’re left with a “round” mouthfeel.
Overall: Very nice and chewy.  This makes for a fine sipping vodka on its own, but will also stand up in a cocktail with more aggressive components.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Our Vodka

Read Full Post »


The makers of Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, the original spicy chile liqueur, recently announced the launch of Ancho Reyes Verde, a limited edition offering that provides bartenders and mixologists an additional unique option for their creativity. Remarkably, while both products are made using the poblano chile, some slight shifts in the production process yield distinctly different flavor experiences.

  • The chiles used to create Verde are harvested earlier in the maturation process, while still green, and then fire roasted; those in Original are late harvested and sun-dried, turning them to ancho chiles
  • While Original uses the hand-scissoring maceration process, Verde is mashed
  • Finally, Original uses only mesh press filtration while Verde uses both mesh and paper

The Ancho Reyes story began in 1927 with a post-revolutionary recipe from the town of Puebla de Zaragoza. During this time, Mexico was experiencing a different kind of Roaring 20’s—a chaotic, post-revolutionary time that celebrated the emergence of a new, personal independencía. Artists, intellectuals, and bohemians formed a provocative avant-garde movement that spread from cantinas to cabarets. At the center of these gatherings were unique menjurjes – or homemade concoctions – created from a blend of native ingredients and local spirits. One of these elixirs was created by the Reyes family, using Puebla’s signature crop: the beloved ancho chile.

Spirits industry visionaries Daniel Schneeweiss and Moises Guindi brought this historic recipe into the modern-day and now evolve that recipe further with Ancho Reyes Verde.

Ancho Reyes Verde (80 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Spicy, rich Poblano pepper with just a hint of sweet honeysuckle.
Taste: Initially thick and viscous in mouthfeel, the sweetness of the liqueur seems slightly warming, but it quickly grows to a roaring heat that never overwhelms.  This is the brighter, more verdant and vegetal of the two Ancho Reyes chili liqueurs.  Well balanced and exceptionally memorable.
Finish: Both the sweetness and heat go on for several minutes.  A very intense, clean and expressive finish.
Overall: This is one of a kind and brilliant for use behind the bar.  It works in everything from a shot followed by a cerveza chaser, to a quarter ounce used in a Margarita, or a heftier dose in a Bloody Mary.  The heat works well to wake up the palate and at the same time increase the appetite.  Use this in conjunction with small plates of tapas.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Ancho Reyes


Read Full Post »


GSN has previously reviewed several New Holland spirits (here and here).  This time around the good folks at New Holland sent our offices a line up of some of their whiskies, including one aged in a beer barrel.  We decided to reevaluate a few of our earlier reviews in addition to trying the new Zeppelin Bend Reserve.

Beer Barrel Bourbon is first aged in new American oak barrels for several years, before a three-month beer-y slumber. Aged bourbon is finished in second-use Dragon’s Milk beer barrels for 90 days.

distilleries-new-holland-artisan-spirits-new-holland-beer-barrel-bourbon-2-250x350Beer Barrel Bourbon (80 proof)
Visual: Rich gold.
Nose: Surprisingly bright and almost effervescent.  Somewhat reminiscent of a root beer scent.
Taste: Slightly sweet and caramel indicative, but with a distinct leaning toward the root beer, sarsaparilla spectrum.  Quite interesting and tasty.
Finish: Medium short, with more of the herbal notes lingering than bourbon essence.
Overall: Light and easy-going.  Perfect for sipping neat. Perhaps not for everyone, but I’ve never had a bourbon quite like this, and I find myself gravitating toward it after an evening meal.
GSN Rating: A-

A straight-malt whiskey, twice distilled and aged in new American oak with a heavy char. Twice distilled to 140 proof. Barreled at 120 proof in heavy-charred American white oak. After a 3-year minimum maturation time in the barrel, the whiskey is transferred out and proofed to 90 proof with deionized water. Zeppelin Bend Reserve goes through a second aging for an unstated length of time in sherry casks.

New Holland - all_112715Zeppelin Bend (90 proof)
Visual: Sunny gold.
Nose: Dark autumnal forest funkiness overlying a chewy and malty nose.
Taste: Tenderly sweet with hints of clove, black cherry, wood smoke and walnut.  A rich mouthfeel gives way to a mid-range of baking spices and toasted bread.
Finish: Long with a softly fading cinnamon tonality.
Overall: Again, a unique take on straight whiskey and one that has more than enough character to distinguish it from others in the crowd.  This is designed for mixing in whiskey cocktails that call for character.
GSN Rating: A

distilleries-new-holland-artisan-spirits-new-holland-zeppelin-bend-reserve-v1-250x350Zeppelin Bend Reserve (90 proof)
Visual: Dark gold.
Nose: Bright and rich sherry nose undergirded with a supportive malt canvas.  Elegant, dessert-like and mouth-watering.
Taste: Rich, sweet, absolutely luscious sherry/malt blend.  This is a very direct and to the point sweet straight-malt, with a powerhouse of flavor that keeps developing over a long time.  One sip and you’ll contemplate, two and you’ll be in heaven.
Finish: Long, long, long.  Which is a good thing, because otherwise I’d be going back to the glass sooner than I should!
Overall: This is just about as perfect an American craft whiskey as it gets.  Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: New Holland Brew

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: