GSN Review: Rum Rubirosa

For generations, the Dominican Republic has produced rums in small batches using artisanal distillation techniques with initial aging in American white oak barrels and finishing in French white oak cognac barrels. At the dawn of the 21st century, Rubirosa’s master blender takes rum in a new, cutting-edge direction through blending.

Rum Rubirosa, was created as a tribute to the famous Dominican diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa, style icon and last great playboy of the 20th century. Among the jet set of the fifties, he was considered the “Most Interesting Man in the World”. Rubirosa was always ready for a cocktail. He played polo, loved women, flew planes, drove race cars, and searched for sunken treasure in the Caribbean. This man about town inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond.

Rum Rubirosa comes in two expressions; a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old.

Rubirosa 4 – GSN’s Remarks: Light body with a somewhat sweet entry, quickly followed by mild spice and medium wood notes. Caramel, vanilla and some tobacco essences work in unison to make for a easy going, and terrific blending rum for cocktails and highballs. GSN Rating: B+

Rubirosa 8 – GSN’s Remarks: The 8-year-old ramps up the sweetness with a somewhat heavy breakfast syrup flavor. Quite sweet and more of a sipping rum overall. The more subtle flavors peek out after a few minutes with cinnamon toast, coffee cake, and candied pecans. We like the chewiness and long, long finish. GSN Rating: A-

We enjoyed each of these expressions in different ways, yet you can easily tell that they are siblings. A welcome addition to the rum world!

For more information go to: Rubirosa Rum




GSN Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: Batch Proof 118.4

Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky recently released its 2022 annual limited-edition, high-proof expression – Woodford Reserve Batch Proof. This latest expression is built upon Woodford Reserve’s traditional bourbon mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt. 

Batch Proof takes Woodford Reserve’s standard 90.4 proof and instead offers consumers the privilege of tasting Woodford Reserve in its purest form. The 2022 Batch Proof release is barreled at 118.4 proof. 

“Barrels drawn from the first floors of our heat-cycled warehouses routinely possess lower proof presentations due the more relaxed angel share process found there,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris. “This batch had more of these barrels in its composition, and therefore a lower batch proof presentation than past releases.”

GSN’s Remarks: As with all Woodford Reserve Batch Proofs, this one is solid. Great wood influence along with stellar distillation. Rich, evocative notes of oak, tobacco leaf, young leather, dark toasted bread, baking spices and a hint of apple cider all come together in a cohesive whole. The flavors tone down with a splash of water, but they each retain their prescence. A really nice bourbon that is a welcome addition to the annual WR portfolio. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Woodford Reserve


GSN Review: Ole Smokey Sour Watermelon and Sour Razzin’ Berry

Ole Smoky Distillery is reintroducing its popular sour moonshine flavors, Sour Watermelon and Sour Razzin’ Berry in a new Mini Moonshine Jar. Just in time for the hottest days of summer, the flavors are now available nationwide in 50ML mini size as well as the original, 750ML size.

Sour Watermelon Moonshine – GSN’s Remarks: A boozy “Jolly Rancher” watermelon flavor. Pretty tasty in a candy kind of way. Try this with some fresh squeezed lemonade or as a simple cocktail on its own by keeping a bottle in the freezer and then pouring 5 ounces into a chilled “Martini glass”. GSN Rating: B+

Sour Razzin’ Berry – GSN’s Remarks: This one doesn’t work as well. More like an alcoholic blue sno-cone that misses the mark. An oddly bitter aftertaste lingers much too long, leaving me looking for something to clear my palate. Stick with the Sour Watermelon Moonshine and keep this one on the shelf. GSN Rating: D+

For more information go to: Ole Smokey


GSN Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch #33

Barrell Bourbon Batch 033 is a marriage of high-rye barrels and high-corn barrels ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. The high-rye barrels were chosen for their distinct stone fruit, black pepper, and nutmeg notes. The high-corn barrels were chosen for their rich butterscotch, coffee, and citrus notes. Two sets of barrels mingled together for two months, then the balance was adjusted for the most optimal combination.

Whiskeys used in this release were distilled and aged in KY, IN and TN. As is custom for the brand, Barrell Bourbon Batch 033 comes bottled at cask strength, 116.6 proof. This follows the recent releases of Barrell Bourbon Batch 32, and Barrell Craft Spirits BCS Gold Label Seagrass.

GSN’s Remarks: It’s an interesting blend for sure. The rye kicks in the top notes from the get go, with the sweetness of the corn spirit filling in the lower mid-range. Peppery with a bittersweet cocoa effect, yet with a mellow edge that offsets the heavy rye character. The aftertaste is very much like a cold-brewed black coffee, which leaves the palate with some bitterness. This release to our reckoning is sharply different than the most recent expressons from Barrell. Somewhat austere, yet with a familiarity that sneaks up on you. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Barrell Bourbon

#BarrellBourbon #BarrellBourbonBatch#33

GSN Review: Stellum Black Rye Fibonacci Blend #1

This release of Stellum Black Specialty Rye celebrates the Fibonacci sequence: a series of numbers, each the sum of the two previous numbers. Six separate rye blends were combined in accordance with this sequence. 

GSN’s Remarks: Sweet and spicy rye greets the palate with a warm wash of caramel tinged goodness. The mouthfeel is very round and semi-heavy mainly due to the eye popping 115.12% proof. Adding some water to bring down the fire, reveals a more tempered spirit with softer notes of nut bread, coffee cake and pecan pie. This is a whiskey that keeps on giving. One sip will not do. To celebrate your bottle, try a few ounces in your next, very special Sazerac. Truly exceptional. GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Stellum

#StellumRye #FibonacciBlend

GSN Review: Stellum Black Bourbon Equinox Blend #1

This inaugural release of the Stellum Black Specialty Equinox was created using Stellum Bourbon. The spirit was slowly layered in rare sets of bourbon barrels, step by step, until the evening of the Vernal Equinox, when the blend was completed in honor of the changing season.

GSN’s Remarks: Coming out of the bottle at a staggering 117.26% proof, this is nonetheless an extremely quaffable spirit. Rich, enveloping sweetness is liberally doused with a heady charred oak profile. There’s a lot going on here with the flavor mix. Baking spices, sweet corn, chewy brown bread, young tobacco, toasted muffin, and light cinnamon all work as a cohesive unit. The finish is long and ends on a toffee note. All in all, another sure-fire winner from Stellum. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Stellum

#StellumBourbon #EquinoxBlend

GSN Review: Royal Ranthambore Indian Whisky

Radico Khaitan Ltd., India’s largest distillery, with over 75 years of distillation experience, recently launched the ‘Royal Ranthambore Heritage Collection-Royal Crafted Whisky’ in the United States. 

Royal Ranthambore is a blended whisky crafted with various blended malt scotches from different geographical regions, made from 100% malted barley and blended with oak infused Indian Grain Neutral Spirit. 

According to Sanjeev Banga, President of International Business at Radico Khaitan, “The key to our success is our Rampur distillery, which has earned its prestigious reputation as Asia’s top distillery in producing a wide range of premium beverage alcohol products.”

GSN’s Remarks: Lightly smoked, medium malt sweetness, and a light body. Very much in the style of Indian whiskies. If you’ve never had one, think of a blended Highland Scotch. This is easy going, and the kind of spirit that is good for gentle sipping on a scorching hot day. No need to add ice, this is ready to go. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Radico Khaitan


GSN Review: SuckerPunch Dill Pickle Sour Beer

SuckerPunch Dill Pickle Sour Beer was created by award-winning brewery DESTIHL Brewing, and SuckerPunch Gourmet, makers of bolder pickles done differently. Beginning this summer, the new beverage is available for beer and pickle lovers nationwide. The tart, citrusy flavors of a DESTIHL gose ale is combined with the unmistakable zesty, garlicky flavor of a SuckerPunch dill pickle to create a unique flavor experience. SuckerPunch Dill Pickle Sour Beer is available in a 4-pack of 12oz cans.

Specs At A Glance: Gose ale with SuckerPunch Pickle Brine, 5.2% ABV, IBU: 20. Best served in a Snifter, Tulip, or Oversized Wine Glass. Available year-round at major retailers including Total Wine & More, Binny’s, and more to be announced.

SuckerPunch Gourmet is the maker of pickles, Bloody Mary mix and pickle juice. SuckerPunch’s products are non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan, with no artificial preservatives or allergens. Their pickles are crafted with a signature 11-spice blend without high fructose corn syrup. The brand was founded in 2011 and today, SuckerPunch’s pickle-centric line includes seven traditional and signature pickle jars, three pickle Snack Packs, two Bloody Mary mixes and pickle juice. SuckerPunch Gourmet products are available in 8,000 retail stores across the U.S., including select Whole Foods Markets, Albertsons, Safeway, Sprouts, Shop Rite, Meijer, Publix and more.

DESTIHL opened its gastrobrewpub™ (DESTIHL Restaurant & Brew Works) in Normal, Illinois, in November 2007, where the company focuses on both artisan food & beers. The company’s original production brewery in Bloomington, IL commenced operations in May 2013, but production was moved to its new 47,000sf Brewery & Beer Hall in Normal, IL, which opened to the public in May 2017.  DESTIHL Brewery combines centuries-old, global brewing traditions and new American craft brewing ingenuity & artisanship to produce a wide array of award-winning beers for every palate.  The result is a diverse offering of intensely flavorful beers that are anything but bland, including its DeadHead® IPA Series, Dosvidanya®, the industry-changing WiLD Sour Series, and many other core beer offerings, like Hawaii Five Ale. The brewery currently distributes its beers internationally and in 37 states, plus the D.C.

GSN’s Remarks: Put aside your preconceptions of what a beer could and should be. This is an entirely new animal. A very dill and vinegar forward beer, it is on one hand curious and on the other similar to a shandy. We weren’t expecting such a blast of dill pickle juice, and as such it was a definite sipper as opposed to a crushable beer. However, that being said, if you love pickles, this works quite well. We would have pulled back on the pickle juice somewhat, as it really dominates the final product. One other side effect (if we may be so bold) is that our burps had an intensely dill character. We tried this as a pickleback alongside a Jameson Black Barrel shot, and it works pretty well, but again the dill is quite strong. Overall, an interesting experiment that won’t work for everyone, but admirable all the same. GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Shop Destihl

#SuckerPunchDillPickleSourBeer #Destihl

GSN Review: Kentucky Senator John G. Carlisle Bourbon

Andre Regard (left) and Damon Thayer (right)

Kentucky Senator’s third Bourbon offering, the John G. Carlisle Release, is hitting shelves this summer. This release is labeled after the esteemed U.S. Senator John G. Carlisle because he was a stabilizing force in the liquor industry and a leader of the Bourbon Democrats in Washington D.C. He was a major advocate for the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Aged seven years in oak barrels, this pleasantly sweet Bourbon is 107 proof with a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley. 

The limited edition release is available at liquor stores, bars and restaurants throughout Kentucky, with single barrel private selections at Liquor Barn, Party Mart and DEP retail outlets. The John G. Carlisle Release is also available online at and will be featured at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C. It has been distilled and aged in Kentucky, bottled at Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington and is being distributed by Kentucky Eagle Distributing.

“We are featuring the same mash bill as our second bottling, this time aged seven years,” said co-manager Damon Thayer. “As always, Kentucky Senator will be released at 107 proof. We continue our commitment to Kentucky’s fine Bourbon spirit and will continue to deliver superior taste and experience in each pour.”

The Kentucky Senator brand originated from Crigler and Crigler in northern Kentucky. The brand was later distilled and bottled by Double Springs Distillers, Inc. in Bardstown. Today, Kentucky Senator has been given a fresh look thanks to local managers Andre Regard and Damon Thayer. Both men possess a unique background in Bourbon that they bring to the management team of Kentucky Senator Spirits, LLC.  

GSN’s Remarks: Lightly sweet, but with a pop of rye spice, this bourbon fits the mash bill. (Little humor there). Really smooth, but with a nice bite from the oak aging, this is a wood forward bourbon. Notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco leaf, brown bread and dried apple mingle together, creating a melange of autumnal flavors. An elegant mouthfeel, this is a wonderful sipper, even at the higher than bottled-in-bond proof. But, add some water or a rock or two to bring the heat down, and it calms into a smooth and friendly libation. This is a great release to seek out for bourbon aficionados. Grab a bottle while you can! GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: KY Senator Bourbon

#kysenatorbourbon #johngcarlislebourbon

GSN Review: Portofino Dry Gin

Portofino Dry Gin was created with a passion for the Italian village of Portofino. 21 botanicals are used, each one selected for their aromatic properties. Juniper, lemon, lavender, rosemary, marjoram, sage, iris and rose are combined with other local ingredients that evoke the taste of traditional Ligurian cuisine. Handpicked in a botanical sanctuary on the hills of Portofino. The region’s unique microclimate allows lush Mediterranean vegetation to grow all year round, and each botanical is ripened by the sea breezes and warm sun of the Italian Riviera.

Produced by an antique Italian distillery, each batch of Portofino Dry Gin is made using a combination of traditional and innovative methods: from an old Italian copper pot still used to distill local liqueur and grappa to a state-of-the- art technology that produces vacuum distillation preserving the aromas from Portofino Dry Gin’s most delicate botanicals.

Distilled and bottled in Italy from Italian wheat alcohol, Portofino Dry Gin is gluten-free and is exclusively made using natural ingredients; without added sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives.

GSN’s Remarks: Warm and bright citrus greet the palate, with a fresh and lively garden-like portfolio of herbs and flowers playing a strong supporting role. The juniper of course takes center stage, with a bracing and pine-like flavor that lasts long in the finish. There are hints of spice that tickle the tastebuds as well, giving this gin a memorable ending. We like this one in fruit forward cocktails and punches. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Portofino Gin


GSN Review: Casa del Sol Tequila

Casa Del Sol taps dynamic talent with authentic Mexican roots, including Alejandra Pelayo, Casa Del Sol’s head of production, protégé and goddaughter of the late Francisco Alcaraz, tequila pioneer and master distiller/creator of Patrón. Additionally, Mariana Padilla, a Mexican-based artisan and daughter of Paco Padilla, cultural ambassador of Jalisco is the brand’s Artesana Tequilera, who brings generations of rich culture and artistic heritage into Casa Del Sol’s identity and product development.

Where most tequila brands source whiskey barrels from the United States, Casa Del Sol partnered with Laurent Martell, the 9th generation of the Martell family in France, and sourced Cognac barrels handcrafted with French Limousin Oak. Casa Del Sol has a unique barrel aging process that results in a distinct flavor and aromatic profile where old world craftsmanship meets new world artistry, infusing Mexican tradition with notes of French heritage. 

Casa Del Sol prioritizes social, economic and environmental practices which includes providing healthcare opportunities to its Jimadors, exclusively partnering with a 100% Mexican-owned distillery that has been awarded the distinctive ESR® (Empresa Socialmente Responsable) award, and prioritizes the sustainable cultivation of agave. The brand is also currently developing programs to help level the playing field for women in the Altos de Jalisco region, who have historically had limited access to services and resources to improve both their personal and professional development.

Casa Del Sol offers three distinctive sipping tequilas – Blanco, Reposado and Añejo, each with a recommended time of day to enjoy them:

  • BlancoBest Sipped with SunBlanco was crafted to deliver the pure essence of agave with its smooth and complex body. GSN’s Remarks: Light and fresh with a fairly heavy vanilla forward taste. Easy going, entry level tequila that is ideal for mixing. The agave seems to be somewhat shy, and the overall effect is of a barely aged spirit. GSN Rating: B+
  • Reposado: Best Sipped at Sundown Reposado rests for a minimum of four months in Select French Oak and Cognac barrels handcrafted with French Limousin Oak. GSN’s Remarks: Here, the vanilla has moved into caramel and butterscotch territory. The Cognac influence comes through with crisp, bright high notes of brandy sweetness, adding an unusual dessert-like character. Again, the agave seems subdued, but the flavors work well together. GSN Rating: A-
  • Añejo: Best Sipped at Sunset – Matured for more than 14 months in the same barrel aging process. GSN’s Remarks: The extra aging adds more spice and tannin to the affair. The sweetness is also tempered, while adding a dry and more pointed brandy coloration. A definite sippig tequila, this is still different than any other tequila on the market. The finish is long and leaves a clean palate. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Shaw-Ross International Importers


GSN Review: Producer Mezcal Arroqueño

Producer Mezcal, the mezcal brand from Oaxaca recently announced the launch of their newest expression, Arroqueño, which joins the Tepeztate and Ensamble expressions launched in late 2021. 

Arroqueño is a wild-grown variety agave native to Oaxaca, famous for its long maturation time, massive size, and increasing rarity. Producer Mezcal’s expression of Arroqueño derives its distinctly complex flavor profile from a variety of factors, including variations in the plants’ maturity stages, terpene compounds resulting from fluctuations in weather conditions and the effects of terroir over many years, and the preferred cooking and fermentation methods employed by Santos. There are only 800, 750 ml-sized bottles available in the U.S. market.

The Arroqueño (agave oaxacensis) is grown, harvested, crushed, fermented, and distilled entirely in Ejutla La Noria Sec. 13 by maestro Juan Pacheco Santos. After harvesting plants averaging upwards of 17 years in age, the split agave hearts are roasted for 72 hours in a traditional horno (earthen oven) using huamuchil wood. After resting for a brief period, the agave is crushed using a traditional bull-pulled stone tahona wheel, then goes on to ferment for 8-10 days in cypress wood (sabino or ahuelhuete). Once the fermentation process is complete, the liquid is distilled using a refrescador, a distillation method which allows for two distillations during a single pass through the still.

“We achieve creative expression of terroir using a mix of traditional methods, starting with slowly cooking the agave hearts whole, allowing for wood smoke to circulate evenly and build caramelization and enhancement of the agave’s flavors,” says Arroqueño’s maestro mezcalero, Juan Pacheco Santos. “Additionally, the palenque’s open-air fermentation vessels are surrounded by fruit trees, which contribute natural yeast strains and pollen to the mash, resulting in added nuance to the final mezcal.” 

As a central tenet of their production philosophy, Producer Mezcal is passionate about supporting and investing in the community infrastructure and individuals who contribute toward crafting their artisanal agave spirits and curbing the environmental impact on its native Oaxaca as it relates to harvesting rare, wild agaves such as Arroqueño.

“Each expression of Producer Mezcal tells the story of the maestros who carefully craft each mezcal,” says Carlos Sada, Head of Operations for Producer Mezcal. “In the same way a musician, painter, or photographer capture emotion through art, our mezcals are a medium through which the maestro can creatively express the story of Oaxaca.”

GSN’s Remarks: A single sip, and you are transported into the heart of Oaxaca. Wood fire, sweet agave, slight fruitiness and a mineral terroir that comes from the water that brings this spirit down to proof. One of the most authentic tasting mezcals that we’ve enjoyed over the years. The flavors of each element are in total balance with one another, with the end result being a smooth and vibrant tasting experience. One of the key elements is the open air fermentation, which inevitably brings a unique touch to every batch. Very well done, and a testament to the skills of maestro mezcalero, Juan Pacheco Santos. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Producer Mezcal

#producermezcal #producerarroqueno

GSN Review: Opihr Spices of the Orient Gin

The name Opihr, pronounced {o-peer}, was inspired by a mysterious location in the Orient, made famous in the time of King Solomon as a source of great riches and exotic spices.

Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin is naturally flavoured with botanicals selected by Opihr’s Master Distiller, from countries along the ancient Spice Route. The hand-picked spices include coriander from Morocco, black pepper from India and cubeb berries from Indonesia. These botanicals are then infused in high quality grain spirit from one of England’s oldest distilleries, to create a unique spiced gin.

Opihr’s Master Distiller says: “Whilst crafting Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin, I took my inspiration from visits to the Orient and various countries along the Ancient Spice Route. I kept an image of the spice markets in mind while deciding on the spices and botanicals to include in Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin. I hope that when people enjoy the gin, they too are reminded of the vibrant aromas, tastes, noises and colours of these exotic spice markets.”

GSN’s Remarks: At first sip, the gin seems very traditional, with perhaps more citrus than a typical London Dry, but I soon realized that this was only the gateway into the heart of the gin. Laying beneath the juniper and lemon zest, is a small furnace of warming spices and percolating heat. Peppery, yes, and with a lasting gingery texture. In fact, the heat goes on for several minutes. But not to fear, the overall effect is cooling. In a cocktail, this gin works well with curries, vindaloos and masalas. Try some more citrus forward libations to add a tropical color. Very nicely done. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Opihr


GSN Review: Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak Finish Whiskey

Distilled in a small coastal Irish town and matured in a warehouse perched overlooking the Atlantic ocean, Clonakilty’s Single Batch Double Oak Finish Whiskey is the flagship of Clonakilty Distillery’s Cask Finish Series. Made with premium Irish whiskey, Clonakilty’s Single Batch Double Oak Finish Whiskey is matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in virgin American oak. Then, finally in NEOC or ex-red wine European casks.

The Scully family have farmed this coastal land for nine successive generations. Their mission is to create Clonakilty Whiskey utilizing the best resources that nature has to offer: prime land, pristine water and salt sea air. The perfect ingredients for a maritime distillery. The family grow their own heritage barley on the family farm in the shadow of the Galley Head lighthouse. Centuries of sea mist, soft rain and ocean spray provide a complexity to the soil that permeates through to each individual grain.

Sustainability and environmental commitments are taken very seriously and the distillery is a
member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green, an independently certified commitment to sustainable corporate
practice. They love and protect their maritime neighbours and are proud sponsors of Whale and
Dolphin conservation, a global maritime conservation initiative.

GSN’s Remarks: Light, malt forward and slightly sweetened from the wine barrel aging, this is really a lovely and exceptional Irish whiskey. Warm, round, smooth and full of conviviality. The salinity you might expect from a maritime distillery is present, but only in the same way a skilled chef or mixologist would use. It’s easy to see that the master distiller uses the same approach in terms of aging, and blending the final product. This is just one pleasant experience from beginning to end. Sláinte! GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Clonakilty Distillery