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Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

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Founded in the high plains of western Colorado, Peach Street Distillers are best known for crafting Colorado’s first Bourbon, as well as gins, vodkas, grappas and brandies one very small batch at a time since 2005. They recently teamed up with Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (RTO+P) to debut the first in a limited edition seasonal batch of TuB Gin called “Hoppy Plum.”

“By working closely with Peach Street Distillers for several years we’ve become heavily entrenched in the process, and were able to notice a shift in what people are drinking and how they stock their at-home bars,” said Steve Red, RTO+P’s Chief Creative Officer. “We want to open up new mouths and minds to TuB Gin by releasing special, seasonal batches that will add a twist to entertaining and to the enthusiast’s tastes.”

“Collaborating with RTO+P on this re-launch has been an amazing experience because we are both so passionate about the TuB brand and overall quality of the product, adding the seasonal element to it just made sense. We’re located in one of the best regions for unique, fresh ingredients and wanted that to be a part of TuB’s next chapter,” said Moose Koons, sales manager at Peach Street Distillers.

This unusual “new world” style gin starts with their original citrus-forward spirit made with locally picked high desert juniper berries; but then is married with their Palisade Plum Eau De Vie and finally macerated with Palisade Chinook Hops. The forward flavor of Eau De Vie is of particular note, as Peach Street Distillers was the first distillery in the country to include it in their gin.

This is exciting, new territory for gin lovers, and we at the GSN offices were excited to try it when we first heard about the release.

Peach Street Distillers Tub Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fruity, bright plum nose with darker piney juniper counter-balanced with a slight pineapple hoppy note. Unique and engaging.
Taste: Quite smooth, but with a sharp juniper edge that quickly transforms into a round and fruity plum character. The hops lingers way in the back of the palate creating a peppery and full mouth palate of flavor.
Finish: Quite long with both the dry and fruity characters getting equal time.
Overall: Let me start by saying that of the dozens of new gins that are released by small batch craft distillers, many are honestly not ready for market. This expression more than makes up for what others lack. It is well-balanced, flavorful, expertly distilled and above all exactly what it claims to be. You will not be disappointed in this gin, and I would suggest picking up a few bottles since it is a seasonal limited edition. Very well done and a great example of the art of distillation and blending.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Peach Street Distillers

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Black Button Distilling, Rochester, NY’s first grain to glass craft distillery, recently announced the release of their Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin on October 15.

This half gin, half whiskey spirit is the latest innovation available from Black Button Distilling. “Craft distilling is all about innovation and trying something new. First we lowered the juniper and added a lot more orange peel to craft our citrus forward gin. Then we took that gin, threw it in some used bourbon barrels and let it rest for a year on oak. Now we have this delightful limited release spirit that is the best of both worlds,” said Jason Barrett, President/Head Distiller.

You can read about my recent visit to the distillery here.

Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin (84 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Juniper forward, but tempered by orange and lemon citrus overlaid with an unusual vanilla/char funk.  Not a Genever, nor an Old Tom style nose, but a scent that is totally unique like an exotic flower.
Taste: A powerhouse of bright citrusy gin encloaked with a darker and more woody, slight smokiness.  That leaves a vast playing field of mid-range space to work its magic.
Finish: The orange citrus goes on and on with the more botanical edge fading fairly quickly.
Overall: Honestly, this is almost a bottled cocktail, there is so much going on here in the interplay between botanicals, citrus and barrel. Stir with ice, strain and serve to a friend.  Have them take a few sips, and then tell them that there is no vermouth or bitters in it.  I guarantee they’ll be surprised. Another cutting edge spirit from Black Button.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Black Button Distilling

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1475738972-jagermeister70_2016Introduced 80 years ago, Jägermeister, German for “Master Hunter,” is the #1 selling imported liqueur in the United States. The iconic taste of Jägermeister is a safely guarded secret recipe consisting of 56 natural herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits including star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger roots, and 383 quality checks. The botanical ingredients are extracted in their raw, unprocessed form through a gentle, weeks-long process of cold maceration to create Jägermeister’s base. The base, housed in more than 400 oak casks, then “breathes” for one full year, which is key to creating the complex and balanced flavor of Jägermeister’s legendary taste profile.

While the recipe for Jägermeister remains unchanged, a new bottle design was recently revealed. This is the fifth time the bottle has been redesigned over the course of the brand’s 80+ year history. All bottles, from the 50ml miniature to the 1.75L size, will have a new look in the more than 100 countries around the globe where Jägermeister is available.

The bottle redesign features:

  • A more defined shape, with higher, more squared-off shoulders
  • A more mature and realistic stag in its natural environment
  • A framed label with a reinvented shape
  • Bold logo type and additional depth and dynamism through fine lines
  • New copy that provides information on the product and the quality process

In addition, the bottle’s newly enhanced cap is ultra-premium and bears the signature of the spirit’s founder, Curt Mast, along with the year 1878, commemorating when his father, Wilhelm, created the company.

Another prominent feature of the new bottle is its height: The iconic packaging now stands taller than its predecessor. The 750ml size stands at 9.2” tall (compared with the old size of 8.5”); the 1L now stands at 10.5” tall (vs. 9.5”).

But, how does it taste?

Jägermeister (70 proof)
Visual: Very dark reddish-brown.
Nose: Quite herbal and autumal, not medicinal, but rather akin to a licorice/birch beer nose.  Slightly sweet and candy-like.
Taste: Very similar to horehound candy, with a more peppery, ginger-like heat.  A slight bitter tinge keeps things from being too sweet, but the balance of sugar keeps things on the liqueur spectrum.
Finish: Medium-long with more of the darker herbal notes lingering on.
Overall: A very good digestif that also makes for a few great cocktails.  Just don’t ruin it by mixing it with Red Bull.  Try Robert Hess’ Mahogany cocktail instead.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Jagermeister

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img_7175FEW Spirits recently announced a truly unique collaboration with legendary Grammy-winning band The Flaming Lips: Brainville Rye Whiskey. The whiskey is made from a combination of rye, corn and malted barley grown within 150 miles of the FEW distillery, and aged in new, charred American oak barrels custom-made in Minnesota. Like FEW’s award-winning regular rye whiskey, the mash is fermented using a French wine yeast.

Brainville Rye features an appropriately psychedelic LIPS-ian label designed by Justin Helton of Status Serigraph, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based studio. Helton has designed materials for some of today’s biggest musical acts, festivals and entertainment brands. Working with bands like Phish, The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Ween, The Black Keys; breweries including Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Great Raft Brewing; and festivals like Bonnaroo, Forecastle, Austin City Limits and Outside Lands, he’s created an array of designs for the music industry. The whiskey will be available as a limited edition of only 5,000. 

“Whiskey… it’s such a volatile drink. Upon pouring a drink It’s like accepting that you may become a werewolf … And really… Who doesn’t want to become a werewolf ???  says Flaming Lips lead singer, Wayne Coyne, in typical cryptic fashion.

The Flaming Lips Brainville Rye Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Royal gold.
Nose: Cinnamon, peppered toffee, gingerbread, maple cream, dark rye bread dough.
Taste: Very smooth with a laid back spice entry.  After a few seconds some elements of spearmint and rye toast wake up the palate.  What strikes me is the subtle port wine undercarriage which entwines its way throughout the journey.  Quite unusual and unlike any rye I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Finish: Medium long with notes of loaf sugar, hard caramel, maple sugar, and a light rye toast sprinkled with fine cinnamon sugar dust.
Overall: A very easy to drink and unusual rye.  This works well and makes for a refined and subtle rye whiskey that sadly will be never seen again after the limited edition sells out.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Few Spirits

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Jefferson’s Bourbon is proud to introduce the newest expression to its portfolio: Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish. Debuting nationwide this autumn, it features Jefferson’s Reserve bourbon aged and fully matured in Kentucky prior to being finished in barrels that once held Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum.

Founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, Trey Zoeller, started the aging process by procuring Kentucky straight bourbon that was originally aged for eight years in Kentucky. In December 2014, this bourbon went into old Gosling’s Rum barrels, which previously housed the Family Reserve Old Rum, named the Rum of The Year by The Caribbean Journal in 2012. The barrels themselves have a compelling history — they held bourbon for four years, then held Gosling’s for 16 years, then were sent back to Trey for this experiment, in which he rested the eight-year old, straight Kentucky whiskey. The bourbon aged for an additional 15 months in these barrels before bottling.

“A couple of years ago, I was with Malcolm Gosling and tried his Old Gosling’s Family Reserve and thought it was fantastic,” says Zoeller. “Not being a rum drinker, I poured a little Jefferson’s Reserve and topped it off with the Gosling’s Old Rum and loved it.  I immediately asked Malcolm if I could get a hold of his Old Family Reserve Rum cask.” 

This is not the brand’s first collaborative project. Zoeller has worked with nationally renowned Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, KY to create a special Chef’s Collaboration bourbon meant to pair especially well with Lee’s spicy Korean food. He’s barrel-aged a Manhattan and sold the finished experiment as a premium bottled cocktail nationwide in collaboration with Esquire magazine, and, most recently, he’s collaborated with James Beard Award-winning Chef John Besh in an experiment to float barrels of bourbon along the waterways from Louisville to New York City to determine the difference in maturation and taste from shipping methods of the past and today.

Zoeller put the brand on the map by daring to go where most other producers would not. He has sent bourbon barrels on global ship voyages – crossing several continents and climate zones in the process – and he has aged bourbon in wine barrels to see how it would affect its finish. In keeping with this brand ethos, Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Finish tests the boundaries of the traditional whiskey category while still keeping the core aging process steeped in tradition.

“Sometimes you act on a hunch and it turns out as you expected it to,” adds Zoeller.

Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish  (90.2 proof)
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Interesting rum forward nose that lends a patina to the corn distillate base.  Intriguing and evocative.  It conjures up images of 18th century saloons.
Taste: Incredibly smooth and mild in character considering the high-proof.  You’d swear this was more along the lines of 70 proof.  After a second taste, more wood and darker notes of molasses come through, with still plenty of the signature bright high corn base setting the tone.  The rum character actually fades away after a few minutes making you wonder where it could have possibly gone.
Finish: Medium long with a masculine, woody finish.  Cowboy stuff.
Overall: A very well done whiskey that has a layer of intrigue.  I’d definitely invest in a bottle for special occasions on a brisk autumn eve.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Jefferson’s Bourbon

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Stranahan’s was the first 21st century distillery to make whiskey in Colorado.  Founded in 2004 by Jess Graber and George Stranahan.  Interestingly, Stranahan began his career in the alcohol industry by founding Flying Dog Brewery.  After meeting Graber, a volunteer firefighter in 1998 at a barn fire located on Stranahan’s property, the two struck up an unlikely friendship while discussing the finer points of whiskey.  Six years later, they began distilling and in 2006, bottled their first product, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.  The company is now overseen by Proximo Spirits and the head distiller is Rob Dietrich.  They recently debuted Rocky Mountain Single Malt Whiskey in their expanding portfolio.

 

Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey (94 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Baked apple, egg washed pie crust, fresh hewn oak, grape must.
Taste: Smooth, delightful vanilla-forward and toasty.  Well balanced with wood and just a touch of char, the flavors open up over a few seconds. There is a maple creme brulee finish that leans this single malt toward the sweeter side.
Finish: Touches of green apple, and a sharp, tight finish that is clean and dry.
Overall: Very nice and a great sipper.  Add a splash of water to mellow things out, but nothing will be lost in translation.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Stranahans

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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

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