Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

Highland Park, The Orkney Single Malt with Viking Soul recently announced the newest addition to its core range: MAGNUS. Exclusive to the US and Canada, this expression celebrates the distillery’s founder Magnus Eunson, a butcher and church officer by day, and bootlegger by night. Magnus was a direct descendant of the Vikings who settled on Orkney hundreds of years ago. His legacy of attention to detail and passion for whisky making remains today and little has changed in the way Highland Park is crafted in over 220 years. Jason Craig, Highland Park Brand Director, said: “Magnus Eunson set up his illicit still at a small cottage at High Park, overlooking Kirkwall and it remains the site of our home today. We say that our distillery was founded in 1798 –but in truth, that’s just the year that the authorities finally caught up with Magnus – he was certainly making whisky before that!”

The label in striking gun-metal foil on the bottle represents M for MAGNUS. It has been created in the decorative Viking art style called Urnes, which complements the recently redesigned 12 and 18 Year Old packaging, just released in North America. The design harks back to Viking storytelling and features the legend of a lion locked in battle with the forces of evil in the form of serpent-like dragons. The top of the bottle also features the heads of two serpent-like dragons as well as the brands signature The Orkney Single Malt with Viking Soul.

Gordon Motion, Master Whisky Maker, commented: “I wanted to create a whisky which had the lightly-peated characteristics familiar to the Highland Park family but with a sweeter and more profound vanilla flavor profile. The result is a whisky crafted using a high proportion of Sherry seasoned American oak casks along with refill casks which give MAGNUS its citrus, vanilla and lightly smoky taste.”

Highland Park Magnus (80 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Fine high sherry notes married with crisp, slightly smoked malt. Dessert in a glass.
Taste: Again, the sherry supports and works in tandem with the malt creating a lovely slightly sweet and ethereal whisky. There’s a delicacy which is befitting a tribute to a forefather of the distiller’s art.
Finish: Long with the sherry trailing off and leaving a soft woody char on the back palate that acts as a palate cleanser.
Overall: We at GSN are really loving these new Highland Park whiskies. For the price point, we recommend picking up a few for the upcoming holiday season as gifts, and one for you to proudly display on your backbar.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Highland Park Whisky


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Heaven Hill Distillery recently announced the 2017 limited edition release of Parker’s Heritage Collection – an 11-year-old, Single Barrel Bourbon bottled at 122 proof (61% abv) and non-chill filtered. The 2017 edition showcases what Master Distiller Parker Beam felt was one of his greatest achievements throughout his more than 50 years of distilling experience – the introduction of Heaven Hill’s single barrel Bourbons. Aged in Parker’s favorite rickhouse location, Deatsville, the sixth-generation Master Distiller would have described these bottles as “just good Bourbon.”

The annual release of Parker’s signature line is one of the most highly anticipated bottlings for whiskey and Bourbon lovers worldwide, as the collection produces an innovative, coveted product each year and now serves as a remembrance of the collection’s namesake. Parker’s Heritage Collection was originally conceived to showcase the extraordinary quality and broad range of Heaven Hill’s American Whiskey holdings, as Heaven Hill boasts the world’s second largest inventory of aging American Whiskey.

The late Heaven Hill Distillery Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam, for whom the acclaimed series is named, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2010. The past four editions from 2013-2016, including the “Promise of Hope” Bourbon, the “Original Batch” Straight Wheat Whiskey, the Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey, and the 24-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon respectively, have raised over half a million dollars toward ALS research and patient care through contributions made by Heaven Hill for each bottle purchased. Heaven Hill will continue with this cause-related campaign, and will contribute $10 from each bottle sold of this year’s release to the ALS Association. With every past edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection quickly selling out, the company expects to continue to generate significant dollars for this effort in Parker’s memory.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 11-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (122 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Intensely laden with high, shining notes of sweet corn and charred oak stave. A real olfactory powerhouse in the glass. Everything seems tightly bundled together in a “sum is greater than the parts” thesis.
Taste: Sweet, yet fiery, but in a hearty and tangible way. A firm melding of grain bill, depth of char, length of resting in the barrel and final proof at bottling. There is a lovely sherry patina that adds an elegance to the affair.
Finish: Medium long, with cheery sweet and savory notes strolling hand-in-hand.
Overall: A bourbon that deserves to be on your shelf for special occasions. Buy a bottle (or two) before they are gone!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Heaven Hill

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Amarula, the best-selling South African cream liqueur, recently announced the start of their new awareness and fundraising campaign in the U.S. to save the African Elephant. In partnership with the conservation group, WildlifeDIRECT, they launched a campaign titled “Don’t Let Them Disappear.” The global campaign aims to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle to protect the world’s declining African elephant population. The cornerstone of the campaign is a fundraising initiative whereby $1 from every bottle of Amarula sold in the U.S. between September 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, will go directly to WildlifeDIRECT’s global conservation efforts.

To kick off the “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign in the U.S., Amarula hosted a visually-arresting event in New York City on August 12th, World Elephant Day, wherein a life-sized ice sculpture of an African elephant was placed in the sweltering heat of New York City to illustrate the rapid loss of the African elephant population at the hands of poachers. The lifelike sculpture was carved by famed second generation ice sculptor, Shintaro Okamoto, and consisted of roughly 85 blocks of ice, weighing an estimated amount of 18,000 lbs.

The African elephant plays a crucial and symbolic role in the creation and spirit of Amarula. Once a year, elephants begin their journey to feast on the sun-ripened fruit of the Marula trees, which grow wild across the sub-equatorial plains of Africa. This signifies to local communities that the fruit is ready to be harvested and ultimately turned into Amarula.  The Marula fruit is picked in the wild, transported to facilities where it is de-stoned and the skins are removed and the fruit pulp fermented. After fermentation, the Marula ‘spirit’ is distilled and  matures in French oak barrels for at least two years. Finally, it is blended with shelf stable cream and bottled.

Amarula Cream Liqueur (17% abv)
Visual: Beige.
Nose: Soft tropical fruit, caramel, vanilla and cream.
Taste: Smooth and enveloping with a rich creamy texture. A slight spicy tang with a more forward cocoa-mango flavor.  Quite unique and engaging.
Finish: Long with a lot of the sweetness tempered by a boost of Marula spirit.
Overall: One of the best cream liqueurs on the market. So much more depth of character than Irish cream. One taste and it’s unlikely you’ll go back to your old standby.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Amarula

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Auchentoshan breaks convention in the industry by marrying traditional craft with progressive thinking to produce a triple distilled scotch that reflects its Distilled Different ethos. This dedication to forward-thinking was the driving force behind the creation of the New Malt Order – a collective of highly skilled bartenders from around the world who collaborated to produce The Bartender’s Malt.

The New Malt Order team was responsible for every element of The Bartender’s Malt, from the careful selection of casked whisky to the packaging design and branding. The Bartenders’ Malt is derived from a collection of whiskies matured in a diversity of oak, including American and European, as well as a variety of Sherry casks.

“Each member of the New Malt Order has made an indelible mark on our Single Malt to create not just a new liquid but a new interpretation of our brand,” said Judith Giegerich, Senior International Brand Manager Malts for Beam Suntory. “We’re proud to champion the talents of dynamic bartenders from around the world who refuse to be constrained by tradition and look forward to sharing The Bartender’s Malt with the global bartending community.”

The New Malt Order was launched in 2016 to hero the best bartending talent from around the world. Twelve inaugural members were chosen from five countries to produce The Bartender’s Malt:

● Valerie Alvardo (United States)

● Kristina Magro (United States)

● Jonathan Shock (United States)

● Tommy Klus (United States)

● Jack Wareing (United Kingdom)

● Georgia Billings (United Kingdom)

● Jan Jehli (Germany)

● Lucia Schurmann (Germany)

● Michele Heinrich (Germany)

● Oliver Stern (Canada)

● Linus Morgan (Sweden)

● Charlotte Halsius (Sweden)

Auchentoshan The Bartender’s Malt Limited Edition #1 (94 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Light and airy malt nose with a hint of smoke. Young leather and milk caramel.
Taste: Quite rich and immediate, with a smooth entrance that leads to sharper and more defined tonalities. There’s a myriad of aspects here that lend a dry and intense woody forwardness.
Finish: Medium long with a soft warming aspect at the back of the palate. Hints of butter, vanilla bean and sandalwood lend a unique finish.
Overall: An excellent blended single malt that has more than enough character to please any whiskyphile.  What sets this apart from many single malts is the depth of character that allows it to breath fully in a cocktail. Kudos to the bartending team that brought this to life!
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Auchentoshan

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In January 2016, Painted Stave Distilling partnered with Fordham Brewing Company in Dover, DE on what would be become the third release in Painted Stave’s “Beers To Whiskey!” series. Painted Stave picked up over 3,000 bottles of Fordham’s Sunseeker Wheat Beer from the brewery and with the help of a dozen volunteers managed to pour all the beer into a holding tank in about 45 minutes. The unfiltered wheat ale was then distilled into 10 gallons of 124 proof whiskey in Painted Stave’s copper pot-still. The whiskey aged for 18 months in a Bourbon barrel before being harvested and bottled at 84 proof / 42%ABV.

This very limited whiskey (only 130 bottles made) will be released to coincide with the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday,
August 21st. Painted Stave and Fordham Brewing will be launching the whiskey at the Delaware AeroSpace Education
Foundation’s (DASEF) Environmental Outpost in Smyrna during their eclipse watching party starting at 1pm. The party
is open to the public and family friendly. DASEF will have their observatory open as well as telescopes and eclipse
watching glasses available to enjoy the celestial event. There will be food trucks and activities for sky watchers of all
ages. Whiskey, Painted Stave cocktails and Fordham and Dominion beer will be available for eclipse watchers over 21.

DASEF Eclipse Party, Monday August 21st, 1pm- 4pm, @ 585 Big Oak Road, Smyrna, DE 19977

Look for additional releases in the “Beers To Whiskey!” series to appear occasionally in the years to come.

SunSeeker Wheat Whiskey (84 proof)
Visual: Deep sunny yellow-gold.
Nose: An almost effervescent nose. Hints of hop bud, and a light and tantalizing wheat bread body.
Taste: Sweet and almost cake-like with a nice spicy aftertaste. Peach fruit, vanilla and a faint touch of raspberry make for an interesting flavor profile.
Finish: Medium long with a definite fruitiness leading the exit.
Overall: Unusual to say the least and a very well crafted experiment. I really enjoyed this and it is a testimony to the ongoing creativity of Painted Stave.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Painted Stave

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Each year, Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, crafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic). For several years, Friends of Laphroaig have been yearning for a Cask Strength version of the popular Laphroaig Quarter Cask expression, which shares a double maturation in two American oak barrels. This year, that dream became a reality with Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask.

The 2017 bottling of Cairdeas features different ages of Laphroaig matured for more than five years in first-fill bourbon casks, then laid to rest for a second time in smaller quarter casks. After six months of further maturation, the liquid from 177 of the casks was bottled at Cask Strength — no color added, no chilling and a simple barrier filtration.

Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask 2017 Edition (114.4 proof)
Visual: Pale yellow.
Nose: Smokey olfactory patina laid over a rich malt base. Freshly lit Cuban cigar with a neat snifter of Scotch.
Taste: Heavy char and distressed oak, yet still well-balanced with the distillate which is malt forward and almost chewy in approach. Very much an Islay whisky.
Finish: Long with a lot of the creosote lingering well after the grain bill has retired.
Overall: It’s Laphroaig. A perfect whisky for pairing with an after dinner smoke. It is all it needs be.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Laphroaig


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John Distilleries Ltd. (JDL), one of the world’s leading specialists in the creation and production of Indian distilled beverages, recently announced the launch of its ‘Bold’ expression.

A peated single-malt whisky, Bold joins the Paul John U.S. portfolio that also includes Brilliance, Edited, Select Cask Classic and Select Cask Peated.

“Paul John Whiskies have had a sparkling run in the United States thus far, and we’re excited to introduce our American audience to yet another award-winning whisky,” said Paul P. John, chairman of Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky. “It is indeed an honor to be recognized on such a global level and I hope to continue creating great whiskies that win the world over.”

Paul John Single Malt Whisky is an award-winning spirit distilled in the tropics of Goa, India. Crafted from six-row barley grains that are grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, this single malt is aged for a minimum of five years.

Paul John Bold Whisky (92 proof)
Visual: Light yellow.
Nose: Bold lives up to its name, quite smokey and traditional in approach. No surprises here.
Taste: Medium sweet with nice rounded caramel and vanilla notes. There’s also a stone fruit character that adds to the picture. The smoke here is more subtle than on the nose.
Finish: Medium long with lingering creosote and warming woodiness.
Overall: A really nice whisky that easily keeps pace with European world-class versions. Of the few Indian whiskies I’ve had, Paul John is simply the best.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Paul John Whisky

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