Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

Fred Noe, Beam Family’s 7th Generation Master Distiller recently sent GSN a sample of his latest project, along with some information about this special bourbon.

“I’m proud to share the first release of our 2018 Booker’s Bourbon batch collection, called Booker’s Batch 2018-01, “Kathleen’s Batch.” This batch is named in honor of my good friend Kathleen DiBenedetto, who played an essential role in launching the Small Batch Bourbon Collection with my dad, Booker Noe, in the early 90’s. She was the first brand manager of Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Baker’s and Booker’s, and together with Dad, she helped pave the way for the premium bourbon category we all know and love today.

From the start, Dad put Kathleen to work at the distillery, assigning her to nearly every job until she knew the ins and outs of how bourbon is made, the Beam way. Each evening, Dad and Kathleen would sit at our kitchen table, and he would quiz her on all she had learned that day – believe me when I say he wasn’t easy on her, either! In September 2015, Kathleen’s contributions to the bourbon industry were recognized when she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, and she sure deserved it.

After more than 25 years with the Beam business, our family thinks of Kathleen as the daughter Dad never had. I know he’d be proud to honor her with a batch of his namesake Booker’s Bourbon. It’s a small token of “thanks” for the heart and hard work she’s put into our brands all these years.

Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” was selected by myself, Kathleen and the Booker’s Bourbon Roundtable. The batch is made up of barrels from five production dates aged in several different locations within three warehouses. The breakdown of the barrel locations is as follows:

4% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse ONE
6% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse F
3% came from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse F
19% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse H
30% came from the 5th floor of 9-story warehouse H
13% came from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse H
25% came from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse H

I hope you’ll join me in enjoying a glass of Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” in her honor.”

Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” Bourbon (127.4 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Nicely balanced nose of sweet corn, dried malt, and spicy rye. Warm, inviting and cheery.
Taste: Almost floral and fruity, but with a very clear bourbon presentation. Rose hips, wild strawberry, figs and of course a bit of char, caramel and vanilla.
Finish: Medium long with a lot more of the caramel lingering.
Overall: Definitely a lot of aspects to this bourbon that I’ve not encountered in other Beam spirits. I like the fact that it tastes completely unlike a traditional Kentucky bourbon; and yet at its heart, it so very much remains one.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Booker’s Bourbon


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Highland Park recently announced the global launch of their latest special edition, called THE DARK. This 17-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky has been exclusively matured in first-fill European oak sherry-seasoned casks and bottled at 52.9% ABV.

THE DARK is presented in jet-black bespoke glass; the serpent dragon embossed on the front takes its inspiration from Viking lore. THE DARK and THE LIGHT are inscribed in Viking runes on the bottle and oak cradle in a nod to the brand’s heritage. The rear of the glass bottle is embossed with “Made with Pride on Orkney” — a heartfelt tribute to the men and women of the distillery who create Highland Park single malt.

Orkney’s climate is mild, reaching highs of only 60 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and lows of around 35 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. The wild winds that assault the islands generate a landscape in which few trees survive. This creates the aromatic peat used in malting.

THE DARK’s oak cradle has two circles etched on the top and bottom to represent both the high sun of the summer solstice and the low sun of the winter solstice, key dates on the Viking calendar. They, in turn, embody the contrasting seasons and their influence on Highland Park whisky.

Jason R. Craig, brand director of Highland Park, commented, “THE DARK is the first of two special editions. It will be followed by THE LIGHT in spring 2018. Both editions share the story of the contrasting seasons of our Orkney islands home and the resulting perfect balance of Highland Park whisky.”

Highland Park’s The DARK Whisky (105.8 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Thick and rich evocation of smokey malt floor. Saddle leather, currant, and hearth all find a welcome home in this dram.
Taste: Intense mouth-bomb of slightly sweet malt, patinaed with a single broad stroke of smoke.
Finish: Long and with some gentle caramel tones softening the high ABV.
Overall: You can almost taste the combination of rustic island living and the celebratory sense of the passing of winter. A real star in the Highland Park special edition series.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Highland Park Whisky

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Brenne, the only Single Malt in the world to be aged in new French Limousin oak and Cognac casks, brings an entirely new taste profile to the world of Single Malt Whisky. Brenne isn’t trying to be Scotch made in a different country – this is truly a French Whisky.

After her career as a professional ballerina, Allison Parc discovered a passion for food and drink that immersed her in cultures all over the world.  Making an effort to visit local markets, wineries, and distilleries in her travels, she developed an appreciation of great taste experiences, especially within her favorite category: whisky.  After failing to find many of the “non- traditional” whiskies she discovered abroad in the US, Allison took it into own her hands and started setting up an import/export company for this sole purpose.

While exploring the world whisky scene for something that was focused on “terroir” (being ‘of the earth’), Allison encountered a third generation Cognac producer who had started distilling a unique Single Malt at his farm distillery in the heart of Cognac, France.  At that time, a majority of the oldest whisky was around three to four years old in new French Limousin oak barrels.  Upon tasting it, Allison immediately knew it was something special.  She and the distiller collaborated over a span of almost four years to refine the aging spirit and continue laying down more barrels as each year’s crop of barley was ready to be harvested.  A breakthrough occurred when Allison decided to incorporate his previously used Cognac casks in the whisky aging process.  This stimulated the whisky in a beautiful way; ultimately creating a new profile within the Single Malt category that became Brenne Whisky.

Brenne Estate Cask (80 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Soft and fruity with a peach melba nose. Quite dessert-like.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and rounded, with more of the fruit/vanilla flavor.
Finish: Long with lingering and alternating waves of wood, malt, wine and a touch of char.
Overall: A lovely whisky that sets the standard for wine cask aged whiskies. This one will not disappoint.
GSN Rating: A

Brenne Ten: Limited Edition 10 Year Old (80 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Intense woodiness draping a malty sweetness. Some raspberry notes.
Taste: Again, very smooth, but with a sharper edge and a touch more caramel. Very much in the tradition of what you’d expect in a decade old single malt. Hearty.
Finish: Long with a dry crispness and warm cask finish.
Overall: A very nice whisky that has the feeling of a sunny autumn day.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Drink Brenne

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 Kevin Mowers launched Bom Bom in early 2016 with the intent of creating something unique, delicious, and versatile. After great effort “Coco Mochanut” received a Gold award from a recent Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) tasting. And rightly so, the Bom Bom line checks everything off the list. “Nilli Vanilli” was rated the best cream liqueur of 2017 by the International Review of Spirits. Ironically, there is no cream at all.

Both flavors offer a variety of sweet summer cocktail options. Bom Bom is also unique in the sense that they market their line as gluten-free and/or vegan. It’s refreshing (pun intended) to see milk-based beverages use alternative ingredients such as almond milk. The recognizable chalky nut taste adds a remarkable texture.

Bom Bom Nilli Vanilli (14% ALC)
Visual: Milky
Nose: Sweet aroma of vanilla with a hint of banana; very reminiscent of the classic childhood snack “Nilla Wafers”.
Taste: Sweet creamy taste with a distinct chalkiness that comes from their unique use of almond milk allowing the drink to remain Vegan-Friendly.
Finish: The slow build of the rum comes afterwards, a slightly molasses taste teases at the end.
Overall: A nice beverage that can be used in many different summer cocktails as a refreshing change to citrus classics.  
GSN Rating: B

Bom Bom Coco Mochanut (18% ALC)
Visual: Chocolatey / Milky
Nose: The strong chocolate scent masks the additional coconut and coffee smell, very similar to a coffee shop/bakery.
Taste: Complex mix of coffee and chocolate, with no overwhelming coconut. Served over ice balances the flavors.
Finish: A warm reminder from the rum compliments and completes the sweet creaminess.
Overall: A mix between a fresh brewed mocha java with a kick and the best chocolate Necco Wafer you have ever had.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Drink Bom Bom

Review by Autumn Ellen Rose

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Fourteen can be an awkward age for some. But for Rogue Spirits, it was time to grow up and get a new wardrobe. That’s why they’re putting their two-year-old Dead Guy Whiskey, three-year-old Oregon Rye Whiskey, five-year-old Single Malt Whiskey and two gins – Spruce Gin and Pinot Spruce Gin – in bottles that make them look their age.

Back in 2004, then-Mayor Bud Clark cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the first Rogue distillery in Portland’s Pearl District. Oregon’s first rum distillery since Prohibition had arrived but they were just getting started. Over the next three years, they hand crafted four spirits: three styles of rum and their Spruce Gin, introduced in January of 2007. The more recently released Pinot Spruce Gin has been aged for approximately six months in used barrels from the Chehalem Winery in Newberg, Oregon.

Both gins contain Spruce, Juniper Berries, Ginger, Fresh Cucumber, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Tangerine, Grains of Paradise, Angelica Root, Coriander & Free Range Coastal Water.

Spruce Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Quite a bouquet of fruit, cucumber, spruce and juniper. There’s even a surprising note of banana.
Taste: A heft of cucumber on the initial entry, quickly followed by dry and crisp juniper. The citrus takes a bit longer to arrive, but leaves a refreshing lemon-orange flavor.
Finish: Smooth, clean and remarkably fresh tasting. The combination of veg and fruit makes for a lively exit.
Overall: A lovely gin in the new world style. Ideal for complex gin based cocktails that need body.
GSN Rating: A

Pinot Spruce Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Light pinkish apricot.
Nose: Mostly juniper, but also a fruity touch of red wine. Very slight oak.
Taste: Most of the subtleties found in Rogue’s flagship gin have been greatly softened by the time spent in an ex-wine cask. Instead, a warm and fruity sweetness pushes forward and teases the palate.
Finish: Fairly long, with a lot of the fruit staying on for a lengthy visit.
Overall: This is almost a cocktail in itself.  Try stirring a few ounces with some ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.  An unusual gin that works on its own, but also will play well with non-vermouth based concoctions.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Rogue


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In 1872, Earl Grigory Stroganoff opened a distillery in the town of Podolia in Nemyriv, Ukraine. In 1992 Nemiroff, the first in Ukraine joint venture for the production of alcoholic products, was created on the basis of the distillery in Nemyriv. The vodka is produced at two factories in the city of Nemyriv.

The natural water purity, that defines the taste of vodka, is a unique advantage of Nemiroff. The artesian water is filtered by minerals, which are more than 540 million years old, drawn from deep sources, which are protected from external influences by a granite slab.

Nemiroff makes several styles of vodka, both regular and flavored. GSN received these two with spiffy new bottles for the US market.

Nemiroff Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, clean, rainwater.
Taste: Very smooth with a lot of minerality, nice body and a dry, crispness. Quite a bit of character and zero sweetness.
Finish: Medium with a semi-chalky finish on the palate.
Overall: A bargain and not only a fine sipper, but a great in vodka forward cocktails such as a Kangaroo.
GSN Rating: A

Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Pale yellow.
Nose: Mild honey and dried grassy herbs.
Taste: Mild spice heat and just a touch of honey flavor. The main taste is of a herb blend that is reminiscent of buffalo grass, but not overwhelmingly so. If you’re thinking that this will be sweet & hot, you’d be wrong. It’s just right.
Finish: Medium long, with more of the minerals coming through.
Overall: A tasty flavored vodka that has enough kick (80 proof) to stand well on its own, plus give bartenders a new toy to play with when creating an original cocktail.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Nemiroff Vodka

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The Rogue Revolution began in 1988 in the basement of the first Rogue Public House on Lithia Creek in Ashland, Ore. where American Amber Ale and Oregon Golden quickly became popular brews. Before long, founder Jack Joyce was looking for a second location.

In 1989, Jack found himself in Newport, Ore., stuck in an unusual snowstorm when he met Mohava Niemi, aka “Mo” (founder of Mo’s Restaurants) who extended her signature hospitality and fed him some of her famous clam chowder. Over a bowl, she told him she’d always dreamed of living above a bar and described the perfect spot for the next Rogue Brewpub: Mo had a large building with three apartments upstairs, a sweater shop, an art gallery, 1,100 sq. ft. of empty storefront and an 800-square-foot garage.

Mo offered to rent Jack the vacant storefront and the garage under two conditions:

1. Rogue promises to “feed the fisherman,” Mo’s way of saying give back to the community. The vast majority of Newport’s residents are fisherman who work on the waterfront, a huge part of Newport’s economy.

2. A photo of Mo in a bathtub forever hangs over the bar. It’s still there today and a copy of the photo hangs in every Rogue Meeting Hall.

The Rogue Bayfront Public House soon opened in that storefront and John Maier, who joined Rogue in May of 1989, brewed the first batch of Rogue beer there in the back room. Before long, this would become the world headquarters of Rogue Ales & Spirits when the Ashland location was forced to close due to flooding. The brewpub in the back of the Bayfront Public House would eventually be moved to a larger facility on South Beach, which is now also home to Brewer’s on the Bay, Rogue House of Spirits, Rogue Spirits Distillery and Rogue Rolling Thunder Barrel Works.

Dead Guy Whiskey is distilled from the same malts as Rogue’s Platinum medal-winning Dead Guy Ale, including the Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts grown on the Rogue Barley Farm in Oregon’s Tygh Valley. Dead Guy Whiskey is Ocean-aged by both the Pacific Ocean and nearby Yaquina Bay.

Dead Guy Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Quite malty and beer-like. A bit of a funky amalgamation of scents. Wet fur, old hardwood, damp leaves and dark beer.
Taste: My initial impression is of fresh tobacco leaves and tanned leather. Very dry and intensely compact bundle of flavors. Burnt caramel, brown bread, and toasted bread all make appearances here.
Finish: Long, with an almost effervescent quality at the base of the palate.
Overall: Very different, but in line with other beer based whiskies I’ve had. Definitely unusual and of a kind, this will appeael to those who like to experiment.
GSN Rating: B+

Oregon Rye Whiskey uses Rogue Farms Dream™ Rye, Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malt; Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

Oregon Rye Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Nicely balanced with a punchy rye kick. Woody and rustic, but tamed into a friendly beast.
Taste: A lovely fresh rye loaf flavor. The spiciness is tempered somewhat by the malt blend, but this only serves to meld the flavors in a more beneficial way.  Bakery in the glass.
Finish: Medium long with some sweeter caramel notes coming out towards the fade.
Overall: Good gosh, but this is a wonderful rye whiskey. Perfect on its own, but eminently mixable in cocktails.
GSN Rating: A

Rogue Farms Oregon Single Malt Whiskey uses Rogue Farms Risk™ Malt, Free-Range Coastal Water & Rogue’s Proprietary Pacman Yeast.

Oregon Single Malt Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Darkening orange
Nose: Lots of high ester notes laid over a softer and fresh oaky base. Quite bright and bouncy.
Taste: Quite light and smooth. A hint of vanilla and caramel, but more of a soft malt-forward palate. There’s also more than a touch of salinity.
Finish: Medium, with a slight bitter wood note that cleanses the palate.
Overall: Really easy to drink this one. The aging is perfectly balanced, leaving the whiskey to shine.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Rogue

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