Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

GVine-x2G’Vine Gin is crafted on the grounds of Maison Villevert, a 16th century family estate in the heart of Cognac country under the supervision of its Founder and Master Distiller, Jean-Sébastien Robicquet. Uniquely crafted from grapes, it is infused with ten botanicals including aromatic juniper berries, green cardamom, cubeb berries, liquorice, lime, coriander, quassia amara, nutmeg, ginger root and the rare vine flower. This flower exists for just a few days before maturing into a grape berry and is handpicked as soon as it blooms each year in June. It is then macerated in grape spirit and distilled in a florentine pot still. The resulting vine flower essence is then married with the other nine botanicals in G’Vine’s Lily Fleur copper pot still.

There are two expressions of G’Vine Gin: Floraison and Nouaison.  Each brings a unique profile to the bar.

G’Vine Floraison (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Lightly floral with a sweet essence like spun sugar candy.  Quite refreshing and evocative of spring.
Taste: Less juniper and more of a lightly textured young brandy.  The botanicals are well-balanced, but subtle.
Finish: Crisp, clean and bright.  This gin “pops’.
Overall: An interesting iteration on the ever-increasing variations on a venerable spirit.  A perfect gin for sipping on its own.  Used in a Martini, you might want to cut back on the dry vermouth.
GSN Rating: B+

G’Vine Nouaison (87.8 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A more present sense of juniper.  Darker and heftier.
Taste: Fruitier, but also more botanical.
Finish: Sweetly intense with a dry, strong edge.
Overall: I’d recommend this for use in gin forward cocktails over the Floraison.  It holds its own better and stands out when blended with citrus, liqueurs or mixers.  Tasty.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: G-Vine

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1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

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Tequila Herradura, announces the release of the fourth Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2015 – Directo de Alambique (Directo)This small-batch tequila is produced using only blue agave plants, fermented with natural yeast in the open air at Casa Herradura, a process entirely unique in the industry. Finally, it is bottled direct from the still at 110 proof.

Tequila Herradura is credited with introducing the first-ever Reposado in 1974 and Extra Anejo tequila in 1995. Coleccion de la Casa is a great example in the industry of how four of the primary sources of flavor– agave, water, fermentation, and distillation, absent of maturation impacts the character of the final product creating a totally new flavor profile. As with the other three editions, Master Distiller Maria Teresa Lara, one of the only female Master Distillers in the tequila industry, was the force behind Directo de Alambique. Directo will be available nationwide for a limited time beginning January 2016.

Herradura Reserva 2015  (110 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Intensely deep agave with a bright high tone of smoked wood.
Taste: The smoke comes through even more so here.  Followed by a fresh lemon essence and leading into a dry and somewhat salty finish.  There is an amazing amount of body here with a real heft and balance between the flavors.  Aggressive, self-assured and quite masculine.
Finish: Long and evocative.  The flavors all fade at the same slow pace and leave you thinking about each.  A contemplatory spirit in every way.
Overall: A killer tequila however you would like to enjoy it.  Personally, I think this is fine on its own, with perhaps a lime wheel to give it the slightest citrus edge.  Herradura continues to impress.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Herradura

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DeLeón Tequila is produced in the town of Purísima del Rincón in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The city name literally translates to “Purest of the Corner” and the town is named after the Immaculate Conception. DeLeón Tequila was founded and created by Brent Hocking in 2008 and introduced to the US market on Cinco de Mayo, 2009. In December 2013 it was announced that Sean “Diddy” Combs would become a partner of DeLeón tequila following the success of his work with Cîroc Vodka. A few weeks later it emerged that Sean Combs had in fact bought DeLeón Tequila in partnership with Diageo, with whom he had worked on growing the Cîroc brand. Following the purchase, Diageo and Sean Combs each own 50% of DeLeón Tequila.

DeLeon Platinum Tequila (80 proof)
Visual: Crystal.
Nose: Quite floral and grassy with tinges of fresh butter and spanked mint.  Fresh and slightly citrusy.
Taste: Very smooth with a laid back entry.  This quickly evolves into a saline and mineral laden character that supersedes the agave flavor.  On the one hand, this makes for a memorable shot, on the other it calls for care when using it in a cocktail as these flavors can conflict with some fruit liqueurs.
Finish: Medium long with a hefty peppery finish that cleanses the palate.
Overall: A well done tequila that has a lot of offer in character.  I like it as a sipper with Mexican food or with sangrita to bring out the dense richness of the tequila.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: DeLeon Tequila

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“The yuzu is a citrus fruit and plant originating in East Asia. It is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda, a slow-growing species of the Citrus subgenus Papeda, which has characteristic lemon-scented foliage and flowers.

The fruit looks somewhat like a grapefruit (though usually much smaller) with an uneven skin, and can be either yellow or green depending on the degree of ripeness. Yuzu fruits, which are very aromatic, typically range between 5.5 and 7.5 cm in diameter, but can be as large as a grapefruit (up to 10 cm or larger). The yuzu’s flavour is tart, closely resembling that of the grapefruit, with overtones of mandarin orange.” – Wikipedia entry

Iichiko Yuzu is a blend of barley shochu and yuzu fruit juice.

Iichiko Yuzu (8% abv)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Slight hint of lemon-lime citrus.  Very mild and reticent.
Taste: A rounded and slightly tart lemon flavor.  Imagine a very subdued lemonade that has been watered down and slightly boozy.
Finish: Semi-long with the sweet citrus character leaving a lemon candy sensibility.
Overall: Quite refreshing and summery.  A Japanese limoncello in a manner of speaking.  This tastes much better chilled than at room temperature.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Iichiko

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“Shochu is the national spirit of Japan, and while most Americans’ first free association of alcohol and Japan will be sake, shochu is more popular and has outsold sake in Japan for the past decade. Still, the two have a lot of similarities, and while shochu fans and producers like to remind everyone who will listen that shochu and sake are two very different things, the easiest way to describe the spirit is as a spirit that tastes sort of like sake. Sake is confusing enough, because it is almost always described as rice wine, but it is actually brewed, more like rice beer than rice wine (it also is not usually called sake in Japan, but rather nihonshu or seishu). It has far more alcohol than either wine or beer, usually around 30-35 proof, though still much less than hard liquor.

Shochu on the other hand is a distilled spirit, most akin to vodka in the sense that it is typically clear and can be made from different raw materials, unlike most spirits (bourbon from corn, rum from sugar cane, etc.), and is most often distilled from barley, rice, sweet potatoes, or buckwheat. More than half of all shochu is made from barley, the top choice. The production process is far more complex than vodka’s however, and there are myriad styles of shochu based on whether it is distilled once or multiple times, there is shochu fermented with mold, there are shochus aged in wood, and so on. Shochu is on the weak side for a distilled spirit as far as alcohol, at only about 60 proof, which also makes it easier to drink and much lower in calories (it contains zero sugar and has about a quarter of the calories per ounce of vodka).” Information from an article by Larry Olmstead published on Forbes.com, August 6, 2013.

Iichiko Kurobin (50 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Beer-like with a lot of high fruit notes.  Quite engaging and crisp.
Taste: Immensely smooth and well distilled.  Like a watered down vodka, but with more of a slight sour tang instead of minerality.
Finish: Clean, short and dry.  Only a hint of spice and bitterness linger briefly.
Overall: A very well done shochu.  I would recommend this to anyone who is curious about this spirit.  Try it chilled and at room temperature and see how the character changes.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Iichiko

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Where did the term “Yippee Ki-Yay” come from? Is it a real expression of joy popular with cowboys in the 19th century Western United States? Is it part of the greatest one liner in movie history? Was it influenced by the phrase ‘Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay’ from the 1936 hit song “I’m an Old Cow Hand from the Rio Grande” about a 20th-century cowboy who has little in common with cow punchers of old and sung by Bing Crosby in the film “Rhythm on the Range” (also sung later by Roy Rogers and Frank Sinatra) and considered one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time? We’re not sure. What we do know is that Yippee Ki-Yay is a blend of Utah’s High West Distillery Double Rye whiskies that have been aged in both Vya vermouth and Qupé Santa Maria syrah barrels.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Reddish orange tea.
Nose: Spiced fruitcake.  The wine notes add a grapey character to the spicy rye.
Taste: Quite unusual and yet it works.  The sweet, fruity character tempers the bread-like rye base and makes it more of a cocktail on its own.  I am reminded of a Manhattan that has a wintery flair.
Finish: Fairly long, with a lot of the wine character playing out longer than the rye itself.
Overall: An experiment that works.  The more I have, the more I’m convinced.  If making a whiskey based punch, this one will shine.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: High West

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