GSN Review: Rihei Ginger

Shochu is most commonly distilled from sweet potatoes, barley or rice. At Ochiai Distillery, they specialize in ‘Imo’ sweet potato shochu. The sweet potatoes are sourced from one designated farm that only uses plant-based fertilizers. The sweet potatoes grown via this method, or called green manure crop farming, have low moisture content. Shochu made from these firm, dense sweet potatoes are smooth to the palate and have a deep taste.

Honkaku Shochu or single distillation shochu involves:
(a) the use of koji mold; which is important for saccharification that converts the base ingredient’s starches into sugars
(b) the use of citric acid generated from the koji mold, which protects the mash from unwanted contamination
(c) the one-time-only use of the distillation pot. After distillation, nothing is added except for water. In other words, no food fragrances nor sweeteners, etc. are added.

Usually, shochu does not undergo cask maturation. Therefore, unwanted flavors do not get added and the original flavor of the base ingredient is retained in the finished product.

In 2004, the third generation of Ochiai Distillery, Ippei Ochiai, ventured on a new initiative and crafted unconventional shochu during a Honkaku Shochu boom that was occurring in Japan. Although it was a small portion against the total volume of products manufactured at the distillery, Ippei started making a unique shochu from ‘yomogi’ leaves or Japanese mugwort. This was something other distilleries did not make. Later, Ippei also made shochu from green bell peppers and other novel base ingredients. This created a buzz, and various people from Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, as well as local governments, started requesting they create a new shochu with their locally-grown produce. Hence, a brand new page was added to Ochiai Distillery’s 100 year history of shochu making.

Rihei Ginger (38% ABV)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Ginger and shochu in equal proportion. Very clean and crisp.
Taste: Mild and fresh ginger flavor with a rock solid shochu base. There is a depth and body in the distillate which has a somewhat berry fruit character which comes out towards the tail end.
Finish: Fairly long with the ginger fading well before the fruit ending.
Overall: The whole endeavor is quite beautiful and Asian in character. Delicate and subdued, but with a strong sense of personality. This should be on your short list for use in creative cocktails.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Ochiai Shuzojyo

GSN Review: Colina Colada

Colina Colada, a horchata liqueur, was created by Don Colina in honor of his bride. Served to his wedding guests to represent their first kiss. Today, Don Colina’s son, Carlos Morfa, and artisanal distillers use his father’s centuries-old family recipe. Caribbean rum with fresh dairy cream, cinnamon, lemon, and other unique flavors capture the essence of the Caribbean for all to enjoy. Colina Colada now brings the “kiss of the Caribbean” to all the lovers of the world.

“Growing up watching my father take such pride in his craft, it’s such an honor to be able to bring my family’s recipes to the United States,” said Carlos.

Colina Colada (14.5 ABV)
Visual: Similar to a light egg nog.
Nose: Cinnamon bread, dairy, and a light rum nose.
Taste: If you’ve had horchata, this will not disappoint. Rich, creamy and yet only mildly sweetened. The rum gives it a balanced kick.
Finish: Medium long with some of spice notes lingering on the tongue.
Overall: A current favorite at the GSN offices during the holidays, this is a perfect alternative to egg nog or advocaat. One taste, and you’ll want more.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Colina Colada

GSN Review: G4 Blanco Tequila

G4 Blanco brings a straight forward contender to the premium tequila game.

TasteTequila recently ranked the El Pandillo distillery as number one in its exclusive tracking of all tequila producers. The designation was based on the ratings from over 41,800 different consumers and tequila judges using the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app. The family-owned distillery at El Pandillo placed at the head of over 129 active tequila distilleries currently operating in Mexico.

Owner and operator of El Pandillo, Felipe Camarena, recently launched distribution of G4 into the U.S. The name G4 simply represents the 4th generation of Felipe’s line of the Camarena family. Camarena honored the traditions behind tequila making while adding his own unique twists: using harvested rainwater and specially modified copper stills, 100 percent pure Blue Agave from their own family farm, modified stone ovens, and an entirely unique mechanical alternative to the traditional stone tahona used to crush the cooked agave.

The final result is bottled simply, though beautifully. As Camarena himself noted: “I’m not in the business of making fancy bottles, I’m in the business of making great tequila.”

G4 Tequila Blanco
Visual: Clear
Nose: The simple rawness of blanco comes right at you, it hasn’t been sweetened down.
Taste: A smooth mild pepper undertone, alcoholic.
Finish: Neutral, mildly warm,  but not burning.
Overall: If you want a blanco that’s straight forward with no attempts to cover up what a blanco is, you won’t be disappointed.  For beginners of tequila it might be a bit surprising. If you want to use a blanco in your mix and don’t want it imparting any added aspects to your drink this would be a good choice.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: G4 Tequila

Review by Travis Owens for Good Spirits News

The 2018 GSN Holiday Gift Guide Day 14: Cocktail Courier

Love “of-the-month” clubs? Here’s one especially designed for cocktail lovers that goes beyond the norm.

Cocktail Courier aims to demystify the craft cocktail process by delivering cocktail kits complete with pre-measured ingredients (including alcohol, mixers, fresh citrus, even garnish!) accompanied by an easy-to-follow recipe card with step-by-step instructions. They feature award-winning recipes from over 30K+ top local, professional bartenders around the country.

Cocktails featured on the site can be ordered one-off or as part of a subscription package delivered right to your door.

All that’s left to do is open the box, shake or stir as directed, then sit back and enjoy!

Order here


GSN Review: Egan’s Fortitude Irish Whiskey

Egan’s pays tribute to co-founder Henry J. Egan with the introduction of Fortitude, a rare non-chill filtered single malt Irish whiskey matured exclusively in Pedro Ximénez casks. The only Irish whiskey to be aged in this way, Fortitude demonstrates the ambition of the Egan family to challenge the status quo.

P.&H. Egan was founded in 1852 in Tullamore, Ireland by Henry J. Egan and Patrick Egan, Sr. As wine & spirit merchants, Egan’s developed an extensive trade–both domestically and for export–bottling and bonding many Irish whiskies as well as importing large quantities of sherry, port and rum.

“His stalwart character and fierce resolve made him a passionate Irishman and formidable businessman, leading the Egan name to become one of the most recognized whiskey brands in Ireland,” remarked Jonathan Egan, part of the sixth generation of the Egan family. “With the marriage of sherry and single malt Irish whiskey, Fortitude is a nod to that time in our heritage when Henry sought to bring the best of Ireland to the world, and best of the world to back home to Ireland.”

Egan’s Fortitude (92 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: The distillate itself comes through loud and clear. The sherry cask adds a curious sweet funk that keeps things interesting. Fulsome, unusual and somehow very old school in sensibility.
Taste: Oddly, the first notes I get are of smoke. If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed this is a Scotch. But, the sherry does eventually come through, adding a richness that melds into the whiskey and making it quite rowdy. There’s a lot going on here that you will simply not find in most Irish whiskies.
Finish: Long with a drawn out sweet, almost dessert-like end.
Overall: Unique. Masterfully done and the name is well-chosen. This has enough character to slap you in the face and then give you another for good measure.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Egan’s Whiskey

GSN Review: Fistful of Bourbon

Released in 2018, Fistful of Bourbon (“Fistful”) marks the first-ever American whiskey created by William Grant & Sons. With production led by Whisk(e)y Blender Kelsey McKechnie and Master Blender Brian Kinsman they chose five straight American bourbons to create a blend of distinct tastes that come together to make a one-of-a-kind bourbon.

This is William Grant & Sons first from-the-ground-up American whiskey. Fistful of Bourbon is a blend of five straight American bourbons aged at least two years. “There’s an art and science to blending — and Fistful is a balance of both,” explained William Grant & Sons Whisk(e)y Blender, Kelsey McKechnie. “Our creative process combined the art of nosing along with our vision for the whiskey and the science of blending different bourbons to create a unique taste all its own. We’re excited to showcase William Grant & Sons’ long-time blending experience by bringing it to the American whiskey scene.”

“Fistful is a hallmark of William Grant & Sons’ relentless commitment to placing quality at the heart of any new spirit introduction,” said William Grant & Sons President and Managing Director, Americas Jonathan Yusen. “From Glenfiddich’s pioneering position in single malt Scotch, to Hendrick’s leadership role in reinvigorating the gin category, to Monkey Shoulder introducing blended Scotch to a new generation of whisky drinkers, William Grant & Sons has never stopped experimenting and pushing the boundaries. With over a century of award-winning whisk(e)y experience, we’re thrilled to bring our liquid expertise to something truly unique in the bourbon category.”

Fistful of Bourbon (90 proof)
Visual: Medium brown.
Nose: Lots of high, woody notes supported by a mid-range of light toffee and slight vanilla. Slightly sweet.
Taste: Very much in the straight American bourbon camp, but smoothed out in the sense that the usual intensity has been softened and made more approachable to a new whiskey drinker.
Finish: Medium long with some of the sweeter notes retaining their hold on the overall impression.
Overall: There’s nothing here that surprises, but it is a solid bourbon that works well as a shot or with a mixer.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Fistful of Bourbon

The 2018 GSN Holiday Gift Guide Day 5: Game Of Thrones Scotch Whisky Collection

Winter is coming. Stave off the cold with a collection of whiskies inspired by George R.R. Martin’s iconic fantasy world.

“We knew there was fan appetite for a Game of Thrones whisky and once we saw the vision from Johnnie Walker for a way to collaborate we knew the idea was perfect and the time was now,” said Jeff Peters, vice president, licensing & retail at HBO. “From the beginning, they understood that we wanted to create something special, and they’ve accomplished that with White Walker by Johnnie Walker. We’re confident fans will enjoy sipping this delicious whisky as they wait for season eight and beyond.”

White Walker, named after the White Walker characters in the show, is intended to be being served directly from the freezer, and was created by whisky specialist George Harper alongside the small team of expert blenders at Johnnie Walker, with single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish both featuring in the blend.

Using temperature-sensitive ink technology, a graphic reading “Winter is Here” is revealed on reveal on the bottle when frozen.

“Whiskies from Clynelish have endured long, Scottish winters, not dissimilar to the long periods endured by the Night’s Watch who have ventured north of the wall – so it was the perfect place to start when creating this unique whisky,” said George Harper, blender and whisky specialist.

In addition to White Walker, Diageo is also launching the Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, featuring eight Scotch whiskies paired with one of the iconic Houses of Westeros, as well as the “Night’s Watch”.

The release of the limited edition White Walker and single malt collection comes ahead of the start of the show’s eighth and final season.

The whiskies featured in the collection are as follows:-

  • Game of Thrones House Tully – Singleton of Glendullan Select; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Stark – Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost; ABV 43%
  • Game of Thrones House Targaryen – Cardhu Gold Reserve; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Lannister – Lagavulin 9 Year Old; ABV 46%
  • Game of Thrones House Greyjoy – Talisker Select Reserve; ABV 45.8%
  • Game of Thrones House Baratheon – Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Tyrell – Clynelish Reserve; ABV 51.2%
  • Game of Thrones The Night’s Watch – Oban Bay Reserve; ABV 43%

Order online from Drizly and have them delivered