GSN Review: Laphroaig 16-Year-Old Whisky

Laphroaig has produced 900 cases of its new 16 Year Old, which will be available in Europe exclusively through online retailer Amazon and select US retailers. The whisky’s maturation in ex-Bourbon barrels is said to have softened “the famously rich peat smoke” and added flavors of leather and sweet vanilla.

John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, said: “Whilst this expression carries the iconic smoke of Laphroaig, this is married with sweeter notes of honey and caramel, creating a remarkable dram that’s perfect for the long evenings of late summer and into cozier nights of autumn.”

Beam Suntory GTR marketing director, Michael Cockram says: “This year marks Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary and with this milestone comes an exceptional liquid. Matured for 16 years, the liquid is truly unique and brings something special to travel retail shelves for the fans of Laphroaig.”

Laphroaig 16-Year-Old Whisky (96 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Heavy peat smoke and creosote. Below, there is a softer and quite subtle honeyed malt spirit.
Taste: Yes, there is that familiar Islay flavor, but this time it is tempered into a fine and smooth elegance that rises to a sweet and mellow expression. The smokiness adds a wash of lazy warmth and rustica to a nearly perfectly aged whisky.
Finish: Medium long, with some honeyed and caramel notes whispering goodbye at the finish.
Overall: A dream of an Islay whisky. Really expressive and lovely.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Laphroaig

GSN Review: Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur

Shrubb season in Martinique is one of the great holiday traditions in the Caribbean. Shrubb from Martinique — with two B’s —is not to be confused with the infused, vinegar-based shrubs that many bartenders use in modern cocktails. A cousin to spiced rum and other Caribbean elixirs, Shrubb is one of the oldest and preeminent traditions of Martinique’s cultural heritage. The celebration of Shrubb kicks off around All Saints Day, November 1st, which also is a time of seasonal abundance of citrus on the island. Some of the peels and pulp from the harvest would be reserved for the family’s holiday shrubb. Large spiral zests of sun-bleached bitter orange peels are steeped into rhum, along with vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and other typical créole spices. It is bottled with sugar cane syrup and left to finish.

Generally, Shrubb is made at home, and each family is proud of their secret recipe. The Clément family added aged rhum to their brew and eventually bottled it for commercial sales. It was the first shrubb to hit Paris and was a sought-after ingredient by top pastry chefs in New York City.

Martinique’s Shrubb is typically an orange liqueur more closely related to Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and it can be used the way those spirits are, in classics like the Sidecar, El Presidente, White Lady, Cosmopolitan, and, of course, the Margarita.

Clement Creole Shrub Liqueur (80 proof)
Visual: Light orange-gold.
Nose: Rich orange notes overlaying a heady rum base. Bright, cheery and welcoming.
Taste: A viscous mouthfeel with a glossy orange citrus entry supported by a warming rummy canvas. The orange character is quite natural and has a nice balance of sweet and slight bitter peel.
Finish: Long and slow fade of orange with a slight heat at the tail end.
Overall: An excellent liqueur that is perfect for sipping on its own, or added to the classics. We suggest a holiday cocktail of 3 parts cranberry juice, 2 parts bourbon and 1/2 part Clement Creole Shrubb served over ice.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Rhum Clement USA

GSN Review: Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels

Angel’s Envythe Louisville-based distiller recently announced the limited-edition release of Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels. Just over 14,000 bottles will be available in select U.S. markets, including purchase directly from the Angel’s Envy distillery.

“Our annual Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon release started in 2012 with my father Lincoln, my son Kyle and me, and it has gone on to become a tradition in our family,” said Wes Henderson, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-founder of Angel’s Envy. “Each year’s hand-selected Cask Strength Bourbon is a little bit different, and we’re excited for our fans, who we consider part of our own family, to experience this year’s release and take part in this tradition with us for the eighth year.”

Angel’s Envy 2019 Cask Strength (122.4 proof)
Visual: Dark reddish-orange.
Nose: Intensely rich and deep malt nose with a pointedly evocative Port nose. Reminiscent of an aged brandy blended with baking spices and dried fruit.
Taste: A very tight package of woody bourbon goodness wrapped with a mouthwatering patina of Port flavor. All of this opens up into a softer, yet still solid spirit when a splash of water is added.
Finish: Long and sweet. That Port hangs on for a long time.
Overall: Quite heady and a real powerhouse of a whiskey. Truly special.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Angels Envy

GSN Review: Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey

Egan’s Irish Whiskey recently released a special edition expression to commemorate 100 years since the passing of co-founder, Henry Egan. Egan was a spirit merchant, bonder, and bottler who made his mark on Irish history as a leading figure in the struggle for an independent Ireland. His fighting spirit lives on through Centenary, a blend of single malt and single grain Irish whiskey in XO Cognac casks of French Limousin oak, and limited to just 5,995 bottles world-wide.

Egan’s was established by brothers Henry and Patrick Egan in 1852 in Tullamore, County Offaly. Patrick was the commercial brains behind P. & H. Egan Ltd. while Henry was the company’s public face, as well as a political Irishman of conviction serving as secretary of the Tullamore Land League.

In 1887, Henry was involved in the ‘Tullamore Tweed’ incident, when Land League leaders William O’Brien, M.P. and John Mandeville were imprisoned at Tullamore Gaol (jail). The men refused to wear official prison garments, protesting their non-criminal status and declaring themselves as political prisoners. Henry managed to smuggle in a suit of Irish Blarney Tweed, a soft hat, and an emerald green tie for O’Brien to wear in defiance of the authorities.

In a nod to the ‘Tullamore Tweed’ incident, each bottle of Egan’s Centenary comes with an Irish tweed coaster, produced in partnership with Magee of Donegal.

“Egan’s Irish Whiskey is deeply rooted in tradition and history,” said John Ralph, CEO of Intrepid Spirits, the brand’s distribution partner. “Behind each bottle is a story, making each limited release a unique collector’s item for true connoisseurs.”

Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: High notes of grape spirit permeate the sweet malty base, creating a mouthwatering expressiveness. Very elegant and refined.
Taste: More of the oak comes through on the palate at the get go, which is followed by the rich, warming malt. But, this quickly gives way to strong front of Cognac flavor. Really an interesting journey in just a few seconds. The lasting impression is of a well aged spirit that is in both worlds.
Finish: Medium-long with a fruity finish.
Overall: A very nice Irish, that is one to pull out on special occasions and take your time savoring. No need to water this down, even at that higher proof.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Egan’s Whiskey

GSN Review: Black Button Bespoke Coffee Liqueur

Black Button’s Bespoke Coffee Liqueur is made with locally roasted beans from Central New York’s CDGA Coffee Co. and steeped in Black Button’s 20-Plate vodka along with vanilla beans and finished with cane sugar.

10% of all coffee bean revenue from CDGA is given to a local charity. Black Button and CDGA continue this tradition by donating 10% of revenue from sales of Bespoke Coffee Liqueur to Habitat of Humanity of Wayne County.

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.

Black Button Bespoke Coffee Liqueur is available starting November 29, 2019 at their Rochester and Buffalo, NY tasting rooms.

Black Button Bespoke Coffee Liqueur (48 proof)
Visual: Nearly opaque brown.
Nose: Fresh ground dark roast coffee bean overlaid on a less present vodka base.
Taste: Somewhat viscous mouthfeel, bitter espresso flavor, very little sweetness, only enough to keep it from being too intense. I don’t pick up the vanilla until the very end.
Finish: Long and somewhat burnt with a real coffee finish.
Overall: This reminds me more of espresso with a kick than a liqueur. I’d have a shot of this for breakfast. What would make for a remarkable holiday cocktail would be a blend of the Bespoke Coffee Liqueur and the Black Barrel Bespoke Bourbon Cream over ice to bring up the sweetness.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Black Button

GSN Review: Tequila Chamucos Reposado

Chamucos are believed to be dark, shadowy creatures who appear in dreams and only visit briefly at night. Chamucos have a playful but secretive nature and they thrive on frightening with clever but mostly harmless pranks. Some have been startled when awakened by the presence of the dark creature sitting at the edge of their bed watching as they slept. When spotted, the Chamuco will always vanish into the darkest places. The tequila’s slogan “Si amanece nos vamos” means, “If dawn comes, we will leave.” What is commonly referred to as the “Angel’s Share,” where mysterious losses from barrel aging occurs, is thought to be consumption by “Chamucos,” thus the origin of the brand name.
Chamucos Tequila was originally conceived in 1992 by two friends; Oscar nominated Mexican film director, Antonio Urrutia, and his close friend Cesar Hernandez, a hand-blown glass bottle artist. US Importer Mark Howard was interested in creating his own tequila brand and saw a bottle while visiting Cesar’s glass factory. The recipe was the collaboration of the group (Cesar, Antonio and Mark) lead by renowned Master Distiller, Ing. Hector Davalos.
A “Highland” tequila using only organic, Los Altos agave, Chamucos is distilled in specially designed Stainless Steel Alambique stills and aged in medium toasted virgin American white oak barrels & virgin French oak barrels for six months.

Tequila Chamucos Reposado (80 proof)
Visual: Pale citrine.
Nose: Medium agave nose with some mild oak. Light caramel and toasted coconut float above it all.
Taste: Very mild flavor, but the cask flavor is apparent. Quite fresh and clean with more of the caramel coming through along with some cocoa.
Finish: A fairly quick fade that ends on a slight herbal note.
Overall: I’d like to have this aged a bit longer to become more expressive, but as it is, is has a shy character that is easy to work with. Perfect for Margaritas and Bloody Marias.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Tequila Chamucos

GSN Review: Hard20 Spirited Water

Hard20 Spirited Water (5% ABV) Comes in four flavors: Berry, a mix of all-natural strawberry, raspberry and blueberry flavor; Mango; Citrus, a combination of all-natural lemon and lime flavor; and Dragonfruit Pear.

Basically think of these as fruit infused water with a kick. These are great for a hot day and come in plastic bottles for use near the water. The flavors are not overwhelming and there is no sugar added. so, they make for a carb and gluten free libation.

GSN Rating: B-

For more information go to: Hard2O