GSN Review: Still Austin Cask Strength Bourbon

Still Austin Whiskey Co., a homegrown distillery situated in the heart of South Austin, recently launched its first limited-release Cask Strength Bourbon, in on- and off-premise establishments throughout Texas and at the Still Austin Distillery Tasting Room. Unlike the company’s Distillery Reserve Series which typically yields up to 600 total bottles and is only available at the Tasting Room, the Cask Strength Bourbon is a limited-release, meaning a larger quantity will be available in the marketplace as well. This year, the team will make 1,100 cases available now and an additional 1,100 cases available in September.

Made from 100% Texas grains, the new expression contains the same mash bill as the company’s flagship straight bourbon whiskey – 70% Non-GMO white corn, 25% Elbon rye and 5% wildfire malted barley – but without utilizing the slow water reduction process, resulting in a higher proof.

The team asked Master Blender Nancy Fraley to search through their barrels of Straight Bourbon and select the most complex and full-flavored ones—those begging to be blended and released at “barrel proof,” meaning the whiskey was bottled at the same proof at which it was aged.

The artwork on the label, created by internationally acclaimed artist and native Texan Marc Burckhardt, is a slightly modified version of the Straight Bourbon artwork, a series which portrays “archetypical” Austinites. Each provides a sense of the people who have influenced and inspired the team, while paying homage to the Texas terroir. While the Cask Strength bottle also features The Musician, the black night sky is meant to be representative of the stronger, “darker” whiskey.

GSN’s Remarks: We love the flagship version of this stellar whiskey which garnered one of our highest ratings last year. This new higher proof iteration just dials up the nose, flavors and finish to 11. There’s everything to love about this spirit, and bottled at a cask strength of 118 proof, you can play around with dilution to find the balance that you favor. Mark our words, Still Austin will be a leader in American whiskies in a few years if they continue crafting spirits like these. GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Still Austin

Ole Smoky Flavored Whiskies

Ole Smoky Distillery now has five of their flavored whiskey offerings available in mini 50ML bottles, Salty Caramel Whiskey, Mango Habanero Whiskey, Peanut Butter Whiskey, Peach Whiskey and Salty Watermelon Whiskey. Handcrafted in small batches, Ole Smoky’s whiskey line launched nationally in the fall of 2017 and has expanded to 17 inventive flavors.

Ole Smoky is the first federally licensed distillery in the history of East Tennessee. Founded in 2010, Ole Smoky’s roots are traced to the Smoky Mountains’ earliest settlers, families who produced moonshine. Today, Ole Smoky retails in all 50 states and over 20 countries around the world and offers more than 25 creative moonshine flavors and 17 inventive whiskey flavors.

Ole Smoky Salty Caramel Whiskey: The salted caramel flavor here is a bit overwhelming. We found that it needed more whiskey for balance. GSN Rating: B

Ole Smoky Mango Habanero Whiskey: If you like it hot, this is the one for you. We expected a soft warming heat, but this one is quite spicy. One sip and our mouths were burning for several minutes. The mango flavor is nice though. GSN Rating: B-

Ole Smoky Peach Whiskey: One of our favorites. Peaches and whiskey marry well together. We like the sly sweetness, but the whiskey shines here. GSN Rating: A

Ole Smoky Salty Watermelon Whiskey: An odd one for sure. We’d never heard of salting fresh watermelon. This one doesn’t really work, as the two characters of watermelon and whiskey never mesh. GSN Rating: C

Ole Smoky Peanut Butter Whiskey: Another winner. Nicely nutty and balanced well with the whiskey, this one is perfect. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Ole Smoky

GSN Review: Larceny Barrel Proof B521 Bourbon

Larceny Barrel Proof is an ongoing offering released three times per year: January, May and September. Each release will have varying proofs and consist of barrels aged six to eight years. A naming convention for the release is shown on each bottle. The alpha character in the naming convention designates which batch of the year that bottle came from, the numeral that follows represents the month of the release, and finally the last two digits indicate the corresponding year of the release. For example, this latest release is B521, with “B” representing the second batch of this year, “5” representing May, and “21” representing the year 2021.

GSN’s Remarks: Similar to A121, this is a very baking spice forward bourbon with loads of caramel, nutmeg, cocoa and cinnamon. There is also a nutty vanilla note that is tempered by a slight bitterness akin to dried tobacco leaf or tea leaves. As always, this needs some dilution to fully appreciate. All in all, another winner from the folks at Larceny. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Heaven Hill Distillery

GSN Spirited News: June 15th 2021 Edition

Armagnac house Château de Laubade has collaborated with Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company to create the Traveling Barrel, a limited-release eau de vie de vin d’Armagnac finished in a Bourbon barrel. The 48.4% abv spirit is made from two barrels of 8-year-old Armagnac (one distilled from Ugni Blanc and one from Baco) that spent eight months finishing in a Gascony oak barrel used to mature a Bardstown Bourbon whiskey. Only 698 bottles of Château de Laubade the Traveling Barrel will be available in select retailers in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, California, and Washington state.

Seattle-based Westland Distillery has unveiled Westland American Single Malt Whiskey, its new flagship label, which will replace the previous core trio of Westland American Oak, Sherry Wood and Peated. Those expressions will be discontinued, though they will remain on retail shelves until supplies are depleted. Westland American Single Malt ($60 a 750-ml.) was distilled from six different types of barley and matured in five different cask types for 40 months on Washington’s Olympic peninsula. Going forward, Westland’s range will include the new flagship label and the annual releases from its Outpost Collection, comprised of Garryana ($150), Colere ($150), and Solum, whose first release is slated for 2023.

Campari America has added a new high-end rum to the Appleton Estate family. The new expression, Appleton Estate 15-year-old Black River Casks, is rolling out now and will be available nationally. The 43% abv rum was created by master blender Joy Spence, who is currently celebrating her 40th anniversary with Appleton, and takes its name from the Jamaican river used to proof Appleton’s rums. The 15-year-old rum retails for around $65 a 750-ml. In addition, Spence and Appleton have also relaunched the brand’s 21-year-old rum ($150) with a new bottle and flavor profile to retailers across the U.S.

The distilleries of Bardstown, Kentucky, including Heaven Hill, the James B. Beam Distilling Co., Bardstown Bourbon Company, Preservation, and Log Still have come together to celebrate their shared history, with each distillery contributing whiskey to a new limited-edition line of Bourbon whiskies. Beginning in September, the new whiskies—all sharing the same bottle design and housed in a gold-embossed navy blue box—will roll out to the distilleries’ on-site tasting rooms. The release dates will be spaced to allow collectors to make trips to each distillery and complete the set.

Diageo has added a new 8-year-old Bourbon whiskey to the George Dickel family. The 45% abv whiskey was created by Cascade Hollow distiller and general manager Nicole Austin, who selected barrels of whiskey that showed more traditional Bourbon notes, distinct from Dickel’s Tennessee whiskey offerings. George Dickel 8-Year-Old Bourbon is now rolling out in select markets across the U.S. for a suggested price of $33 a 750-ml.

Intrepid Spirits’ Mad March Hare Poitin has received a new bottle design. Inspired by Celtic art and mythology, the new design links Mad March Hare with the long history of poitin, which has been made in Ireland since the sixth century. Retailing at $30 a 750-ml., Mad March Hare is at 40% abv, with the new look hitting the market now.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch

Evan Williams Bourbon, recently announced a major redesign of Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch. Named after the year Evan Williams first opened his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River, the Bourbon’s new package celebrates Kentucky Bourbon’s first licensed endeavor. Returning to the original 90 proof, the small batch Bourbon is the second highest proof in the Evan Williams Bourbon family.

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch is in a new proprietary glass bottle with the Evan Williams signature blown in across the top. ‘1783’ is prominently displayed in gold foil accent across the top label, as well as ‘small batch’ to signify the Bourbon inside is a mingling of 300 barrels or less. The bottle is crowned by an upgraded capsule finish featuring the same Evan Williams signature repeated in the background. Crafted with Heaven Hill Distillery’s traditional Bourbon mashbill of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye, Evan Williams 1783 also retains an extra-aged quality as it is a marriage of barrels aged six to eight years.

Evan Williams, who also served as an early Trustee of the City of Louisville, served as wharfmaster, and built the first county clerk’s office and city jail, set up his early distillery in 1783. As the first licensed commercial distiller in Kentucky, Evan Williams laid the initial groundwork of entrepreneurial success for the Kentucky Bourbon industry. The award-winning Evan Williams Bourbon Experience invites hundreds of thousands of visitors to Downtown Louisville each year to walk through the same hand-crafted process Evan Williams began in 1783.

GSN’s Remarks: What we’ve always loved about Evan Williams has only become better. The sweet corn character, the slight pop of rye on the tongue, and the smoothness of the malt are showcased through the higher proof. Folks, this has been one of our “go to” bourbons on our speed rail for years. You really can’t do better at this price point. We applaud Heaven Hill for recognizing that this spirit deserves to be dialed up to 11. Great stuff. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Heaven Hill Distillery

GSN Review: Detroit City Distillery’s Summer Rum

Detroit City Distillery (DCD), an independent craft distiller of small-batch artisanal spirits, has brought back its limited-edition spirit, Summer Rum, made in collaboration with some of Detroit’s best bartenders. As the name suggests, Summer Rum is only available for the summer and will be available until Labor Day weekend at the Distillery, local bars and liquor stores.

Summer Rum is a blend of rums from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and the U.S. Virgin Islands and is distilled from sugar cane. Local bartenders from Standby, The Skip, Grey Ghost, Second Best, Kiesling, Takoi and the Monarch Club helped blend this rum, making it a spirit that is uniquely-Detroit.

“Everyone in the bar industry is anticipating the return of The Roaring Twenties and expecting a summer for the ages. When we made Summer Rum in collaboration with some of our favorite bartenders, we called it ‘Detroit’s industry love letter to rum.’ This year, that message has new meaning, because we all survived one hell of a year. We hope this rum is the celebratory drink of many and customers will support our hospitality workers like never before.”, shares Detroit City Distillery Co-Owner Michael Forsynth.

GSN’s Remarks: A quite flavorful rum with notes of vanilla, grassiness, cane juice, papaya, caramel and allspice. The body has some build to it, making it great for white rum forward cocktails, but also on its own as a lovely sipper. We are impressed with the skill of the blending and the high quality of the distillations. There is not one wrong note played in this symphony of rum. Do yourself a favor and buy a case. It won’t last long over the 2021 post-Covid “Roaring Twenties” summer to come. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Detroit City Distillery

GSN Review: Barceló Imperial & Barceló Imperial Onyx Rums

Founded by Julian Barceló in 1930 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ron Barceló is uniquely different from other Dominican rums because it’s made from 100% estate-grown fermented juice of sugarcane as opposed to molasses. Its entire portfolio is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, with the exception of Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario (less than 600 annually-made bottles for the U.S). To date, Barceló is the Dominican Republic’s # 1 exported dark rum in the world, according to the IWSR data base, and first to reach carbon neutral footprint since 2016.

GSN was sent Barceló Imperial & Barceló Imperial Onyx Rum for review.

Imperial is aged for 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels of American oak that have a #3 or #4 char. GSN’s Remarks: Exceptionally smooth with a dry entry which offsets the inherent sweetness. As the journey progresses, more notes of bitter cacao, nutmeg, mild cinnamon and dark bread make an appearance. The finish is fairly long with a gentle fade. A great rum for an Old Fashioned, Planter’s Punch or a Hurricane. GSN Rating: A

Imperial Onyx is a rich blend of premium rums aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks with a “heavy char” grade. The spirit is then filtered through onyx stones. GSN’s Remarks: This one ramps up the sweetness, while at the same time staying tempered by the char. Elements of brown sugar, baking spices, and even a touch of bourbon itself are apparent. A real fine spirit that we recommend sipping neat or over a large rock. A real bargain to boot at around $45 a bottle. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Ron Barcelo USA

GSN Review: Crystal Head Vodka Pride Bottle

Crystal Head Vodka, known for its signature skull bottle, recently announced that its limited-edition Pride bottle in celebration of diversity and equality is back by popular demand with the addition of availability in the 1.75 L size. Crystal Head Vodka’s Pride bottle uses a one-of-a-kind proprietary decoration process unique to the brand. A true collector’s item, 2021 is the last year to purchase this Pride bottle design.

A proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, Crystal Head Vodka is committed to using its platform as a tool to educate and support, not only from Pride bottle profits, but through continuous, year-round global efforts with partners including Stonewall Sports program, The Test Positive Awareness Network, Kaleidoscope Trust, and Lurie Children’s Hospital Transgender Youth Program, to name a few. 

The Pride bottle houses Crystal Head Original Vodka, which is crafted from locally sourced Canadian corn. It is distilled four times into a neutral grain spirit and blended with pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada. The vodka is filtered seven times, three of which are through layers of Herkimer diamonds. 

GSN’s Remarks: Honestly, the bottle is jaw dropping. Everyone who has seen it in our offices has wanted one for themselves. If the regular clear skull version is cool, the rainbow bottle is mega cool. This makes a stunning statement of support for LGBTQIA+ community, as well as a centerpiece for your bar. But, what of the liquid inside? Crystal Head is a clean, slightly sweet vodka that has a modest amount of minerality and body. Some slight notes of corn, mint, and oddly enough, lemon zest. The profile is balanced, mellow and easy-going. A fine vodka for everything from shots to cocktails. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Crystal Head Vodka

GSN Review: Cocalero Negro

Cocalero Negro is the newest addition to the Cocalero family, a portfolio featuring South American-inspired botanical spirits. Since its international release in 2013, the Cocalero brand has experienced surging popularity as top bartenders and mixologists look for more low-ABV options and interest in botanical spirits continues to rise. While Cocalero Negro is not easily categorized, it spans many current popular trends, including low ABV spirits, botanical liquors, spiced liquors, non-gin juniper-influenced spirits, and playfully colorful cocktail components. Cocalero Negro is infused with a proprietary recipe of natural botanicals and herbs.
“During my travels in South America, visiting Bolivia and surrounding countries, I was taken by the rich culinary traditions there, often involving the Aji Panca,” comments John Ralph, CEO of Intrepid Spirits. “A deeper dive led me to historic references of the chili’s use by the Inca Empire in ancient ceremonies and rituals. I am delighted by the flexibility of the flavor profile—it pairs perfectly with everything from ginger beer to soda water, from margaritas to hot chocolate.”
Cocalero Negro, in deference to its South American roots, is inspired by a variety of Andean herbs and spices, including the Aji Panca. These peppers are a deep red when picked, showing a rich smoky tang and mild spice. When dried in the Andean sun they turn black and gain a further level of complexity, accentuating their depth of flavor. Aji Panca is a cornerstone of many traditional South American dishes.

GSN’s Remarks: While were not entirely impressed with the flavor of the standard Cocalero, with this new expression, they hit it out of the park. Adding the warm and effusive heat of the chiles brings everything into balance. The herbality, the grassiness, the sweetness of the liqueur, and the unique spiciness of the Aji Panca all work together to create a wonderful whole. We could drink several shots of these, but also this is absolutely a perfect ingredient for cocktails that would normally call for a ginger liqueur, or tiki-styled libations where you’re looking for a little something extra. Overall, we highly recommend this new product for your bar. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Cocalero

GSN Review: Tia Maria Matcha Cream Liqueur

Tia Maria Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur recently announced the launch of Tia Maria Matcha in the U.S. Market. Created with natural Japanese green matcha tea extract, it provides a natural caffeine and floral twist on the creamy liqueur.

“With the launch of Tia Maria Matcha, we are bringing our consumers a truly unique product while infusing excitement into the brand. Matcha is extremely popular in coffee shops and it is known around the world for its earthy notes and natural caffeine, so pairing it with our premium Tia Maria flavor was a complimentary fit.” said Ignacio Llaneza, Vice President Brand & Trade Marketing at Disaronno International LLC.

Tia Maria Matcha encourages consumers to slow down from busy schedules and “take your matcha time.” Reinforced with the hashtag #takeyourmatchatime. Tia Maria Matcha proposes a new ritual by mixing two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of matcha powder in a dish and rimming the glass of their Tia Maria Matcha serve. (see below)

GSN’s Remarks: We’ve been hoping someone would make a matcha cream liqueur, and here it is! We really are impressed with the flavor profile, which has the slight bitterness of matcha, but also balanced with a gentle sweetness wrapped in a milkshake-like texture. Plus, the color is very appealing in the glass. Overall, this is well done, original and something that will appeal to tea lovers. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Tia Maria

The perfect Tia Maria Matcha serve includes:

Tia Maria Matcha Ritual

  • Mix two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of matcha powder in a dish
  • Chill your glass for 10 minutes or wait until you have moisture on the glass
  • Dip the glass rim into the mix of matcha powder and sugar
  • Fill the glass with ice and add Tia Maria Matcha


  • 40 ml Tia Maria Matcha
  • 40 ml Vodka


  • Create your perfect green matcha rim on half of a coupe or martini glass
  • Pour Tia Maria Matcha and vodka into a cocktail shaker. Top up the shaker with ice.
  • Shake the ingredients together. Pour in the contents of the shaker using a strainer and sieve into the glass.

GSN Spirited News: June 8th 2021 Edition

Campari America has launched the latest limited-edition whiskey from the Wild Turkey Distillery: Russell’s Reserve 13-year-old. The 57.4% abv Bourbon is non-chill filtered and bottled at barrel strength, and showcases the combined decades of experience in the industry from master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell. The whiskey is now available across the U.S. for a limited time at a suggested price of $70 a 750-ml.

Conecuh Brands has released two new whiskies in the Clyde May’s family. First up is Clyde May’s Special Reserve Straight Bourbon, a new 55% abv permanent addition to the portfolio. It’s aged for five years and retails for $70 a 750-ml. Conecuh has also unveiled this year’s edition of Clyde May’s cask strength release, a 13-year-old Bourbon bottled at 56% abv, which is available in limited quantities for $180 a 750-ml.

Brown-Forman has added a new single barrel rye to the Old Forester brand. The unfiltered rye whiskey is bottled at barrel proof and is the first expansion for Old Forester rye since the whiskey was introduced in 2019. Old Forester Single Barrel Rye is now available across the U.S. for around $80 a 750-ml.

Danish whisky brand Stauning, part of the Diageo-backed Distill Ventures portfolio, is launching in the U.S. Initial offerings include Stauning rye whisky (48% abv, $80), Stauning Kaos triple malt (46% abv, $90), and Stauning Smoke (47% abv, $100), a peated and heather smoked malt. Situated on a fjord in West Jutland on the west coast of Denmark, Stauning’s whiskies are made from local grain, floor-malted in-house, and distilled in 24 direct-fired small copper pot stills.

Roscoe, New York’s Do Good Spirits has announced the latest version of Bootlegger New York Craft Barrel Aged gin. The 46% abv spirit is made with juniper, orris root, coriander, lemon verbena, and bitter orange peels before maturing in 30-gallon barrels used to age the distillery’s Bourbon. Bootlegger Barrel Aged gin is available in limited quantities at the distillery’s tasting room and through its website for a suggested price of $55.

Beam Suntory has released the second bottling of Booker’s Bourbon for 2021: Tagalong Batch. This edition aged for six years and five months and comes in at 63.95% abv. Tagalong Batch gets its name from the story of Booker Noe learning the family business from his grandfather Jim Beam by tagging along to the distillery. The whiskey is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. where it will retail for a suggested price of $90 a 750-ml

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Alert: June 10th – World Gin Day

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.



GSN Review: Carolans Cold Brew

Carolans Irish Cream, recently launched Carolans Cold Brew. With a foundational flavor of Irish Whiskey blended with farm fresh cream and naturally harvested honey, Carolans Cold Brew offers a new flavor experience on its own, over ice, mixed in coffee or in a cocktail. One in four consumers mixes Irish Cream with coffee, according to Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, and the Cold Brew beverage category itself is growing at double digits. Carolans Cold Brew also builds on the success of Carolans Salted Caramel as the second line extension to the family.

GSN’s Remarks: We actually prefer this over the flagship Carolans for two reasons. The coffee tempers the overall sweetness of the liqueur, and it also has a slightly bitter tinge which makes it less like a dessert in a glass and more like a mixed drink. CCB tastes better very cold, and will stand up to dilution if served on the rocks. At only 17% ABV, this could be a new brunch favorite. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Carolans

GSN Review: Bushmills The Original, Black Bush and Red Bush Whiskies

At one time there were many hundreds of different Irish whiskeys. Over the years these have disappeared. Only Bushmills, the oldest and a handful of others established prior to the 20th century have remained. Another unique aspect of the Old Bushmills Distillery is that malt distilling, blending, maturation and bottling are all carried out on the same site.

The distillery is situated on the rugged north coast of Ireland and holds the title of Ireland’s oldest working distillery. Bushmills has offered a generous range of triple distilled blends and single malts for over 400 years. Among the first of the Irish whiskeys to be imported to the U.S., American drinkers fond of whiskey and other brown spirits have enjoyed the range of characterful smooth spirits from Bushmills since the 1800s.

GSN was sent three different expressions from their expanding portfolio.

The Original: Light, with a green apple flavor at the forefront, soon followed by notes of caramel and a slight tannic quality. Very easy going, and drinkable. The body is mild, with a long and fleeting finish. Overall a pleasant blended whiskey that is perfect for cocktails or a simple shot. GSN Rating: B+

Red Bush: Stronger than the flagship expression, this one also has a deeper and more wood driven character with plenty of caramel, toffee and burnt sugar to add in the mix. A longer finish and one with a decent mouthfeel and body. This is a great sipper and will add a boost of character to a mixed drink. GSN Rating: A-

Black Bush: The best of the bunch here. A fine whiskey that has all the elements entirely cohesively working to achieve a really superb expression. Deep, rich, smooth and with a library of flavors ranging from slight smoke to young leather; to black tea to toasted bread. This is a perfect whiskey for sipping on its own to fully appreciate its beauty. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Bushmills