GSN Review: Booker’s 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Bourbon

Booker’s Bourbon recently announced its final release of 2018 – Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon – celebrating the legacy of late Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe and the founding of his namesake brand three decades ago. Widely credited with the creation of the small batch movement, Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon celebrates not only the mark Noe left on the Beam family of brands, but the impact he had on the whiskey industry as a whole.

Released in extremely limited quantities, Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon features a mingling of uncut, unfiltered 9-year-old and 16-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskies. Bottled at 125.8 proof, these barrels were aged specifically with Booker’s legacy in mind under the watchful eye of 7th Generation Master Distiller and Booker’s son, Fred Noe.

“It’s a great honor to release Booker’s 30th Anniversary in commemoration of my Dad and the path he paved when he introduced the world to Booker’s Bourbon,” said Fred Noe. “When we first started talking about an anniversary batch, I knew it would have to be something special, and during my final tasting of this extra aged liquid, I knew Dad would have been pleased. I’m proud to carry on his legacy every day and to share this special release in honor of the damn fine whiskey he created 30 years ago.”

Each bottle of Booker’s 30th Anniversary is packaged in a box made of reclaimed wood from the very rackhouses where Booker once walked as he selected his personal batches of Booker’s Bourbon.

Booker’s 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Bourbon (125.8 proof)
Visual: Dark Amber.
Nose: Intensely tight package of oak, malt, corn and spiced honey.
Taste: Dramatic entry with a highlight of warm, oaken malt spirit. Broadly flavorful with a spiciness akin to rye. Hefty body and appealingly warm fire.
Finish: Long with notes of caramel, baked apple, blackberry, brown bread and spice cake creating a dessert-like finish.
Overall: Yes, this is an excellent anniversary expression. Not only is it a limited release, but it is one that hits all the marks. Buy a bottle to keep for your special occasions.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Booker’s Bourbon

GSN Review: Dingle Irish Single Malt Whiskey, Pot Still Gin & Vodka

While Irish whiskey has become the darling of the spirits world, it wasn’t always that way. At the turn of the 21st century there were only 2 distilleries in Ireland – a far cry from the 100-plus distilleries in existence 200 years ago. Amongst the new generation of distilleries is Dingle, opened in 2012, southwest Kerry, Ireland. The Dingle Distillery was the first privately owned, purpose-built distillery to open in over 100 years in Ireland. And to this day, it remains one of the only distillers that sources grain, distills spirit, ages and bottles whiskey for its own exclusive releases. Dingle offers the flavors of Ireland in the form of Dingle Single Malt Triple-Distilled Whiskey Batch No. 3, Dingle Original Gin and Dingle Artisan Vodka, each produced in copper pot stills.

Dingle Whiskey is distilled using Irish malted grain in a timber mash tun, before being transferred into timber fermentation tanks (one of only two distilleries in Ireland at this time to process in this manner). Distillation takes place in three distinctive, hand-crafted Forsythes copper pot stills, which feature a unique design that incorporates a large boiling ball to encourage reflux, resulting in smooth, pure spirit. Dingle Distillery uses directly sourced casks, which they house for maturation in their facility (containing over 20 different cask types), located at the foot of the Dingle peninsular mountainous terrain. Baffled by mountains and the wild Atlantic, nature is left to run its course – continually maturing in the mild, moist climate of Ireland’s southwest coast.

Dingle Irish Single Malt Whiskey Batch No. 3 (93 proof)
Visual: Very pale gold.
Nose: Malt, grain, oak and a summery sheen of warmth.
Taste: More woody than expected, with hints of anise, cinnamon, and clove. The flavor is a bit rustic, but has a casual friendliness that no one would turn away.
Finish: Medium long, with some caramel and oak lingering.
Overall: An Irish that somehow manages to have a lot of American Single Malt characteristics. The higher proof does well to bring out more flavor from the minimum length of aging.
GSN Rating: B

Produced in Dingle’s own Copper Pot Still “Oisín,” Dingle Original Gin is a London Dry-style gin that features a unique character through its selection of locally foraged botanicals, including; bog myrtle, hawthorne, chervil and heather to provide a taste of Kerry’s landscape. Collected at 70% ABV and cut to 42.5% using pure water from Dingle’s own well 240 feet below the distillery, Dingle Gin is chill-filtered.

Dingle Pot Still Gin (85 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Heavy juniper and medium citrus.
Taste: Smooth and in the “London Dry” style, with perhaps a bit more orange coming through. Crisp, clean and lively.
Finish: Medium long with the juniper tending to fade agreeably.
Overall: A fine gin that will work with any number of cocktails. Recommended.
GSN Rating: A

Quadruple-distilled before a fifth distillation in Dingle’s Copper Pot Still “Oisin,” Dingle Vodka is produced in small 500-liter batches.

Dingle Pot Still Vodka (40 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, dry and crisp with a heavy minerality. Some slight vanilla.
Taste: Initially slightly sweet with a vanilla character, but it quickly is tempered by a chalky and dry flavor. The body is semi-creamy and viscous.
Finish: Medium, with most of the minerals tending to stay on.
Overall: A vodka with terroir and character. Don’t waste this in a mixed drink, this is perfect for sipping on its own.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Hotaling & Co.

GSN Review: Traverse City American Cherry Bourbon

Chris Fredrickson founded the Traverse City Whiskey Company in 2012 after discovering his great-grandfather’s distilling patents at the family farm two years prior. The company offers several different whiskies, but GSN was sent their American Cherry Edition for review.

As Chris said, “Since cherry farming is a true marker of Traverse City, our American Cherry Edition is infused with Northern Michigan cherries. We use our Traverse City Straight Bourbon as the base whiskey and each barrel, after it’s completed aging, is macerated with ten pounds of local fruit for ten days so the whiskey takes on the subtle essence of cherry or apple.”

“We work with generational coopers in Kentucky and Tennessee to get top-quality American oak with a lighter char to help the whiskey mature with more complexity and elegance.”, Chris added.

Traverse City American Cherry Bourbon (70 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: A blast of dark cherry on the nose supported by a medium soft bourbon essence.
Taste: The bourbon is very subdued and lets the cherry flavor carry the spirit. It seems as if this is the 2-year-old version of their Straight Bourbon. On the other hand, the cherry flavor works nicely here and is not medicinal or cloying by any means.
Finish: Medium long with more of the cherry holding on, than the bourbon.
Overall: This is a fruity whiskey that will appeal to younger folks. Try it with a cola, or as a shot and it does the job.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: TC Whiskey

GSN Review: Coconut Cartel Guatemalan Dark Rum

Rum lovers, take note. Coconut Cartel combines rum aged in Guatemala by some of the world’s best rum makers with coconut water creating a smooth, rich taste that is unlike anything available on the market.

Coconut Cartel was inspired by a fresh cold coconut spiked with a shot of Central American aged rum. What you’ll find inside the bottle embodies just that, a unique blend of Central American dark rum infused with real coconut water to proof. The natural minerality in the coconut water makes this blend uniquely smooth, with notes of vanilla at first and a touch of coconut as the finish.

Mike Zig, founder of Coconut Cartel explains, “Premium Rum is finally having its moment in the sun, and the timing couldn’t be better to launch a fresh new face in somewhat a dull space. We are excited to change people’s perception of what they think rum is (hint: it’s not just what you chugged in college).”

Coconut Cartel Guatemalan Dark Rum (80 proof)
Visual: Medium-dark gold.
Nose: Loads of vanilla, caramel and a slight hint of coconut. This is a dark rum that grabs you instantly with a rich and mouthwatering nose.
Taste: One of the smoothest rums I’ve ever tasted, this is soft, extremely approachable and luscious. The coconut water which brings it down to proof, works beautifully to add a tropical note that colors the rum, but never overpowers it. Essences of the oak aging add the final touch of elegance.
Finish: Medium long, with a sweet and oaky tang.
Overall: Considering that the bottle we were sent is hand numbered “Batch No. 01”, this tastes like it has been carefully crafted over the years and has been a mainstay in the world of rum for decades. A world class winner that any rum enthusiast will be happy to own.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Coconut Cartel

GSN Review: Trois Rivières Blanc Martinique Rhum

Trois Rivières, a pioneering, centuries-old rhum agricole from the Caribbean isle of Martinique, is now available in the United States. Awarded the coveted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), a protected domination of origin currently reserved for only a handful of municipalities in Martinique, in 1996,Trois Rivières today produces a wide variety of aged and unaged rhum agricoles previously unavailable to American consumers. These include Trois Rivières Blanc, Trois Rivières Ambré, Trois Rivières Cuvée du Moulin, Trois Rivières VSOP Réserve Spéciale, and its flagship Trois Rivières Cuvèe de L’Ocèan, a blanc agricole made from cane grown in shallow sea water on a single plot of land, resulting in a true sense of terroir.

Martinique’s oldest plantation, founded in 1660, Trois Rivières has always been a beacon of excellence in the world of sugar production, and later, cane-based spirits. Its name is derived from the three rivers – the Bois d’Inde, Oman and St. Pierre – which border the 1,700 acres of land overlooking the Caribbean Sea, and it is this particularly warm microclimate, home to magnesium-rich clay soil, that gives the rhums of Trois Rivières their rich and distinctive flavor.

Unlike more common industrial rums produced from sugar byproducts, Trois Rivières rhums are made using freshly pressed juice from its estate grown sugar cane, and without the addition of molasses or supplemental flavoring agents. Produced in a single, 22-level copper column still, all of Trois Rivières’ aged rhums spend a minimum of three years in oak casks, and leverage the intensely warm climate to create a finished spirit equivalent to a much older whisky or Cognac without a decade-long wait.

Trois Rivières Blanc (100 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Agricole funk, with a clean and grassy scent. Some vanilla and butter notes as well.
Taste: Crisp minerality with a fine boost of high proof rum flavor. Some of the more vanilla aspects move in at the tail end of the tasting. Quite flavorful and balanced.
Finish: Long with the cane flavor marching on for several minutes. This is a rum that stays with you.
Overall: An excellent rum for tiki and faux tropical drinks. This will cut through and stand up to any fruit juices you throw at it. The body is rich and welcoming.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Plantation Trois Rivières

GSN Alert: February 2nd – National Pisco Sour Day

1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

GSN Review: Collabor&tion Bourbon Whiskies

Collabor&tion is the culmination of nearly two years of work between the Bardstown Bourbon Co. & Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. Two deluxe expressions of 10-year-old straight Bourbon whiskey finished for 18 months: one in C&K American Brandy barrels and the other in Muscat Mistelle barrels.

Steve Nally, Bourbon Hall of Fame Master Distiller for BBCo, and Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller for C&K, hand-selected the bourbon for the project, blended it, and chose the barrels for the finishing process. The bourbon used to produce Collabor&tion was distilled in Indiana in 2006 by Lawrenceburg Distillers and is made from a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.

“Exceptional bourbon will always carry beautiful dark fruit notes (figs, raisins, dates) as well as apple and pear to complement the classic honey, spice and butterscotch. Aging in brandy barrels not only accentuates these notes – it layers more on top of that foundation to create an incredibly rich, smooth and complex whiskey” says Nally.

O’Daniel adds, “A Mistelle barrel is a unique vessel. Mistelle is unfermented grape juice (in this case Muscat) fortified with un-aged brandy (Muscat eau-de-vie) and then aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months. The empty barrels are deeply and highly caramelized with the grape sugars and fruit essences. The whiskey exiting these barrels is pure joy.”

Collabor&tion Brandy Barrel Finish (113 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Rich, wood forward nose with a sheen of high notes. Soft caramel, light grapeiness, lush dried date and fig. Very enticing, open and evocative.
Taste: The brandy essence comes forward, but quickly turns into a shower of fig and light clover honey. Dessert-like, but not overly sweet, just a compact bomb of flavor. Really smooth and balanced despite the firepower behind the high-proof.
Finish: Long with a lot of the dried fruit keeping pace with the fade.
Overall: An exceptional spirit that hits all the marks. Well done and highly recommended.
GSN Rating: A+

Collabor&tion Mistelle Barrel Finish (94 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Even more vine fruit on the nose, with a sharp edge of oak wood. This would be the sister of the Brandy finished whiskey. Lighter, more ethereal and vivacious. The wood and fruit nose work in tandem to deliver a solid unifying scent.
Taste: Quite sweet and grape forward, but entirely unlike a sherry cask aged spirit. The fruit character plays the leading role, but also allows the bourbon itself to shine.
Finish: Long and with a lot of the sweetness playing out over the minutes.
Overall: A truly fine “dessert” whiskey that will pair well with crème brûlée or pipe tobacco. A brilliant match of spirit and cask. Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Bardstown Bourbon