Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

Galliano, the heritage Italian liqueur brand best known for Galliano L’Autentico, the herbal golden liqueur in its tall, slender bottle, recently announced the brand’s L’Aperitivo expression. The Italian bitter or “amaro” is the latest addition to Galliano’s portfolio which also includes Galliano Ristretto. Maraschi e Quirici distillers produce the liqueur near Turin, the recognized birthplace of aperitivo hour, and where Galliano products have been made since 1896.

The word “aperitivo” has its origins in the Latin “apenre”, which means to open. Aperitivo hour is the simple, elegant Italian ritual of meeting up with friends for afternoon socializing over small bites and drinks after work and before dinner. The host or hostess pours light (low alcohol) drinks and serves small appetizers in order to get the conversation going and wake up the taste buds. Bittersweet Italian liqueurs are an essential part of aperitivo and make perfect thirst quenchers and appetite stimulants.

Galliano L’Aperitivo is a unique blend of 50 ingredients including herbs and Mediterranean citrus such as orange, bergamot, bitter orange, chinotto, tangerine and grapefruit. 80 percent of the ingredients are sourced from the Alpine region of Northwest Italy.

Galliano L’Aperitivo (24% abv)
Visual: Ruby.
Nose: Intensely herbal with a predominance of bergamot. More fruity than some similarly colored amaros (note: this product uses red food coloring). Spicy and engaging with a mouth-watering juiciness.
Taste: A good balance between citrus, sweetener and dry, medium bittering herbs. The flavor envelope opens up in gradual stages and ping-pongs between these three elements quite nicely. Very smooth and agreeable.
Finish: Fairly long with the bitter herbal notes lingering after the sweetness and citrus package has faded.
Overall: Really well done. This compares favorably with more venerable Italian amaros in this style and I can see where this will be quite useful in 21st century bespoke cocktails.  CinCin!
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Galliano


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Cognac Park Fins Bois Organic is one of the only certified-organic Cognacs produced in France.  Here’s what brand ambassador Naomi Schimek has to say about it:

“The differences between organic spirits and conventional ones may not be as easily detected on the consumer’s palate as say, a bowl of fresh strawberries. However, the difference it makes in the livelihood of the people working the fields, the health of bees and other living creatures and the future of agriculture cannot be overstated. As a matter of fact, quite recently France banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides which are thought to increasingly be behind the collapse of bee populations. This is a great step as we move further and further away from post WWII industrialization and closer to a world without harmful chemicals in our food, drink and atmosphere.

The challenge might be for larger houses of Spirits such as Cognac houses, where a certified Cognac is 20% less productive than non-Organic and so become more expensive; not anyone can make afford an ‘organic’ certification”.

Park Single Cru Organic Fins Bois Cognac (80 proof)
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Fresh, almost Calvados fruit-styled nose with a lush richness and rustic simplicity. Clean, direct and honest.
Taste: A lot of oak and sparkling grape brandy make for an interesting pairing. A Cognac that looks towards its roots and a more farm style approach in flavor.  I can only imagine that the rough edges, albeit minor, would smooth out gracefully with a few more years in the cask.
Finish: Medium long with oakey caramel and a slightly tannic, tea-like edge.
Overall: A fine Fins Bois Cognac that has appeal.  Perfect for mixing in cocktails and to get the party started straight up.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Cognac Park

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Uncut, straight from the barrel without chill filtering, the nose, taste, and finish created by twelve years of aging are preserved in their simplest form with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof.

Each Barrel Proof release is a unique proof, because it is made from an authentic and unaltered batch of 200 barrels or less.

All releases have a unique identifying four-digit code, found on the label beginning in January 2017. The digits indicate the bottle’s release order and date, so you can easily track the Barrel Proof you’re enjoying.

Check out our previous review of ECBPB No. A117 here.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. B517 (124.2 proof)
Visual: Deep harvest amber.
Nose: Dusky, autumnal corn sweetness with a high almost wine-like top note. Light on char, but rich in character. Chewy and down to earth.
Taste: A lot of flavor in the mid-range with flavorful and well-balanced oak and corn, touched with hesitant spiciness and fruit. Hearty and warming with a lot going for it. A fine sipper.
Finish: Medium long with some clove and prune coming through towards the end.
Overall: An excellent bourbon which to my palate slightly exceeds the first 2017 release in craft. Recommended.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Elijah Craig

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WhistlePig recently announced the launch of FarmStock, the company’s much-anticipated estate release featuring whiskey distilled, aged, and bottled on its farm in Vermont. It is the culmination of the company’s founding vision to create a truly farm-to-bottle distillery, housing nearly every aspect of the whiskey-making process in one location.

FarmStock is “Crop One” of what will be future triple-terroir releases. It’s composed of 20% 1.5 to 2-year aged whiskey made entirely on the WhistlePig farm, 49% 5-year aged whiskey from Alberta Distillers finished in WhistlePig’s Vermont oak, and 31% 12-year aged whiskey from MGP’s Lawrenceburg distillery.

“Finally, we are ready,” said Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller of WhistlePig. “I keep getting asked, ‘When are we going to see the distillate from YOUR still?’ I didn’t want to just release a white whiskey. We worked tirelessly to create a product that showcases our young estate whiskey in context with the elegance of our premier aged rye. FarmStock provides a unique opportunity to tell the story of our transition to a triple-terroir product using our water, our grain, and our wood to age the product. It is truly the best of all worlds.”

“FarmStock is our story,” said Raj Peter Bhakta, Founder of WhistlePig. “It’s the realization of years of hard work to redefine how we understand craft and quality. As our first triple-terroir release, this is a historic whiskey deserving of two bottles: one to enjoy with good company and one to be collected for years to come.”

Whistlepig Farmstock Rye Whiskey (86 proof)
Visual: Medium-gold.
Nose: Mouth-wateringly rich woody rye spice. A lot of depth with a young leather, toffee and wild strawberry peculiarity.
Taste: Surprisingly, my first impression was of oyster brine. There is a sea salt aspect which is faintly reminiscent of an Islay whisky. And again, a fruity strawberry impression creeps in after a few seconds, but quickly dissipates into a hearty and more familiar rye spice. There is a lot to be discovered in this whiskey.
Finish: Fairly long with a soft bread-like finish. The rye goes on for several minutes however.
Overall: Highly unusual, amazingly broad in aspect and a spirit that creates a contemplative experience. Recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Whistlepig Whiskey

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The Corbin Cash distillery was started by David Souza, a 4th-generation sweet potato farmer whose distillery is located on his family’s 100+-year-old sweet potato farm in Atwater, in California’s Central Valley. Corbin Cash specializes in spirits made from sweet potato, a seriously unusual ingredient.

At Corbin Cash, everything from the propagation and planting of sweet potato plants to harvesting is all done by hand. Planting is a two-step process starting with growing the plants in a greenhouse, and then transplanting them to the field, where they produce a crop over the next 90 to 120 days. (Sweet potato harvesting can start as early as August and go as late as November.) Although a machine brings up the sweet potatoes from 20 inches below the ground, each individual sweet potato is hand-picked off the vine and placed in large wooden bins. There are approximately 10 people on each of 14 crop harvesters that gather a maximum of 1 acre per day. Additionally, it takes 5 forklift and truck drivers each to move the product from field to storage.

The distillery is completely sustainable. After each year’s sweet potato crop is harvested, and turned into Corbin Cash Barrel-reserve Sweet Potato Liqueur, Souza plants Merced rye in same field. From that rye, he makes a rye whiskey and an American blended whiskey. Spring water used in production is recycled back to the farm for irrigation, and the spent mash is used as fertilizer or cattle feed.

Corbin Cash Sweet Potato Liqueur (70 proof)
Visual: Deep yellow-gold.
Nose: Tons of spice. Cinnamon, clove, vanilla bean, honey butter and pound cake. Dessert in a glass.
Taste: Soft sweet potato flavor with a rush of spice. Almost a liqueur, but not as heavy in mouthfeel.
Finish: Fairly long, with the spice hanging on, but the chewy sweet potato flavor winning out in the end.
Overall: I handed out blind samples to several of the GSN staff and asked them to guess what it was. Without fail they all suggested a spiced rum. And yes, this is the closest in flavor to that spirit.  But, the sweet potato flavor adds a new and flavorful dimension that you won’t find in a molasses based rum. I like this a lot and commend Corbin Cash for creating something entirely new in a world that is overly saturated with more of the same old, same old.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Corbin Cash

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world-gin-day-20141-lst136433In honor of World Gin Day, here is a list of the gins that Good Spirits News has reviewed over the years.  Hopefully you will pick up a bottle and make yourself a favorite gin cocktail.



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Having once been part of Denmark and Norway, Orkney became the raiding headquarters for Norwegian Vikings in the 8th and 9th century, shaping a unique past for the island. Magnus Eunson, who founded Highland Park in 1798, was a direct descendent of those first Viking pioneers.  Even today, 1 in 3 Orkney islanders bear Scandinavian DNA and share a fierce pride for the rich Nordic ancestry woven into the islands’ traditions and culture.

It is this enduring culture and legacy that is the inspiration for Valkyrie, set to launch in June 2017, the first in a series of three Viking Legend releases inspired by Viking history and mythology. Highland Park approached Danish designer Jim Lynvgild, himself a modern-day Viking and expert in Norse mythology, to design striking new packaging for the three special edition whiskies. Valkyrie’s unique one-off design is inspired by two important Nordic sources – a typical Viking pendant from around 300-700AD discovered in Uppland, Sweden and the ancient Hammar Stone of Gotland which details the epic journey of the Valkyries.

In his distinctive style, Lynvgild has interpreted the ancient legend of the Valkyries – avenging horse-backed angels who combed the battlefields for the bravest of their fallen warriors – in an expressive, story-telling illustration for Highland Park. Using embossed metallic detailing, he represents the Valkyries as shield-maidens of Odin, offering their god a drink of mead from a curved horn. The larger illustration features a winged Valkyrie with coiled hair and a necklace that pays homage to the goddess Freya’s magical Brísingamen torc (necklace).

Jason Craig, Highland Park brand director, added: “The whisky itself, created by our Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, dials up more of our smoky notes by incorporating more of our heathery peated malt.  This creates a richer, fuller phenolic note that has balance due to the sweeter, heathery character of our moorland peat, but it is a slight departure from our core 12 Year Old whisky.”

Highland Park Valkyrie (91.8 proof)
Visual: Rich golden-yellow.
Nose: Heathery smoke, toasted brown bread, young leather, dried currants, oak stave and malt.
Taste: Smooth and well-crafted with just enough char on the palate to please. Softer elements of caramel and butterscotch add a sweetness. Underlying it all is a cheerful and welcoming single malt distillate that achieves high marks.
Finish: Medium long with lingering sweet toffee notes.
Overall: A wonderful addition to the Highland Park portfolio.  Easily one of the better values on the market. If you can, buy a few bottles.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Highland Park Whisky

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