GSN Review: Old Elk Cask Finish Series

Old Elk Distillery recently announced a new release within its Cask Finish Series, launching its first Rye Whiskey finished in Barbados Rum Casks. Initiated in 2021, the Cask Finish Series will also bring back their Port and Cognac Cask Finish Straight Bourbon Whiskeys. The Cask Finish Series is based on Old Elk’s core products, including their High-Malt Bourbon and Rye Whiskey, offering creative and innovative flavor profiles for whiskey enthusiasts.

The base spirit of each product is aged five to six years, then rested in secondary finishes for six months, and bottled at barrel proof.

“We selected freshly harvested barrels from some of the most exclusive Caribbean producers and are looking forward to adding a new and exciting character to our Old Elk family of whiskies,” says Old Elk’s Master Distiller Greg Metze.

Old Elk Straight Rye Whiskey Rum Cask Finish (101 Proof) is finished in 14-year-old Barbados rum barrels with a mash bill contains 95% rye and 5% malted barley. GSN’s Remarks: Loads of rum notes on the nose. The entry is soft, sweet and very round. In spite of the high ABV, this goes down like an 80 proof. The whiskey itself has a smooth flavor with accented notes of vanilla, oak and caramel. The short rest in ex-rum casks really does a remarkable transformation on the high rye content. If you like experimental whiskies that tend toward the sweeter side of the spectrum, this will hit the spot. Very nice. GSN Rating: A

Old Elk Straight Bourbon Whiskey Port Cask Finish (108.1 Proof) is aged in casks from Portugal with a high-malt mash bill of 51% Corn, 34% Barley, and 15% Rye. GSN’s Remarks: With a medium-light body, the usual suspects are here: sweet corn, fairly spicy rye and a solid barley mid-range. The port itself is quite subtle, adding just a touch of sweetness to a fairly spicy bourbon. A slight grape note comes out towards the tail end of the finish, but overall, the lasting impression is of a well aged whiskey. GSN Rating: B+

Old Elk Straight Bourbon Whiskey Cognac Cask Finish (109.7 Proof) is matured in world-class cognac casks with a high-malt mash bill of 51% Corn, 34% Barley, and 15% Rye. GSN’s Remarks: The ex-cognac cask imparts a lovely high note of fine vine fruit, whilst the whiskey distillate remains an evocative canvas full of character on its own. A medium-light body with rye spice coming through towards the fnish, gives this a punchiness and strength. At the very end is a curious smokiness which is perhaps due to a heavier char on the American oak barrels. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Old Elk

#OldElk #OldElkCaskFinishSeries

GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail Brings Famed Singapore Bar ATLAS to the U.S. // Feb 6th!

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are thrilled to announce their first venture in a series of pop-ups comprising Tales on Tour: Singapore, building to TOTC in Singapore in 2024. The first pop-up, featuring ATLAS—one of Singapore’s top bar teams—will take place in New York City on February 6th, 2023, marking the first step towards Tales of the Cocktail’s international expansion.

Taking place at Forbes on Fifth, this event will bring ATLAS’ renowned bar program to life, and celebrate the launch of the Spirited Awards Nomination period. The celebration centers ATLAS as a Spirited Award-winning bar and will be helmed by Lidiyanah ‘Yana’ K, Head Bartender at ATLAS and renowned gin expert. Overseeing a collection of 1,300 gins, one of the largest gin collections in the world, Yana has made it her mission to catalog the flavor profile and recommended recipes for each and every gin she comes across. 

From 6-10 p.m., the TOTCF and STB teams will be recreating ATLAS’ bespoke gin tower by transforming a smaller lounge into a VIP gin experience, complete with guided tastings by Yana and special releases from event sponsors, including Ford’s Sloe gin. Yana will be using her exceptional skills to mix the ATLAS Martini for guests, among other elegant offerings from their award-winning menu that embody the spirit and grandeur of the 1920s. As though guests have stepped right into ATLAS, the team’s top bartenders will be preparing cocktails tableside for the duration of the evening. 

Partnering with Urban Hawker, Singaporean food stalls will be mimicked ‘outside’ of the ATLAS bar space, adding to the ambience and bringing a taste of Singapore to New York City with traditional snacks and specialties. Armed with event programs designed as passports provided upon arrival, guests are able to peruse the full drink menu and scan the QR code found inside to place their nominations for the 2023 Spirited Awards. 

GSN Review: Eterno Verano Tequila

Inspired by Bruce Brown’s classic 1966 surf film “The Endless Summer,” Eterno Verano is for anyone who’s ever wanted to strap a surfboard to a van and head south. Eterno Verano represents an escape – whether you’re sitting at a desk or have been surfing the same break on repeat – transporting you to the places you dream of. In the film, you embark on a journey with Robert August and Mike Hynson to undiscovered locales like Cape St. Francis, a small village in South Africa, Senegal, Australia, and Hawaii. The search for something unattainable like a perfect wave becomes the journey. This tequila was made for those types of adventurers, in search of perfect waves or smooth tequila.

Eterno Verano pays homage to The Endless Summer film by utilizing a close interpretation of the now iconic movie poster with surfer silhouettes, bright colors, and bold font. “We worked closely with Bruce Brown Films to ensure the casual and fun-loving surf lifestyle from the film showed up in the brand. In fact, the brand name ‘Eterno Verano’ comes from the movie poster used during the original film launch in Mexico – another connection between the brand and tequila,” said Matti Anttila, founder of Grain and Barrel Spirits, which owns the brand.

Eterno Verano is handmade in Tequila, Mexico, by Master Tequilero Arturo Fuentes – also known as The Godfather of Tequila – from 100% Blue Weber Agave grown in both the highlands and lowlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The tequila offers three varieties, Blanco, Reposado and Añejo, all of which are bottled in environmentally-friendly recycled glass and contribute to 1% For The Planet.

Blanco – GSN’s Remarks: First of all, we have to applaud the film tie-in. For any tiki-philes or mid-century modern lovers, the bottles alone are worth the price of admission. But, on to the review… A light agave/vanilla bean nose with a fresh and clean aroma. The flavor is mild, but with more of the vanilla presenting and a decent amount of wood on the palate. Easy going, and refreshing, with a nice mouthfeel. A perfect tequila for Margaritas, Palomas or an authentic Ranch Water. GSN Rating: A-

Reposado – GSN’s Remarks: Fresh and clear caramel/agave nose. The body seems slightly heavier with a lot of warm, buttery caramel tones. The agave is more subdued here, but still lets you know that this is a tequila. We’re left with impressions of creme brulee, caramel flan and fresh baked cake batter. If you’re looking for a sweeter tequila, this will please. Try this in a Reposado Manhattan, Oaxaca Manhattan or switch out the Blended Scotch in a Penicillin cocktail for an interesting twist. GSN Rating: A-

Añejo – GSN’s Remarks: Light agave and wood nose. The few extra years in the cask really smooths this expression out. Remarkably well balanced, the agave intertwines with the oak creating a cohesive whole with plenty of body. Some light spiciness, toffee and char, but the vegetal characteristics really shine here, somehow lifted up by the few extra years in the barrel. We really enjoyed this tequila and highly recommend it as a quality sipper. Very well done. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Eterno Verano

#EternoVeranoTequila

GSN Review: High Goal Gin

High Goal was brought to life through the iconic face and voice of American Polo Player and High Goal Co-Founder Nic Roldan, who discovered firsthand a love for gin whilst playing tournaments in the United Kingdom, including the prestigious Queen’s Cup. Developing an admiration for the classic spirit, he began to seek out partners with the same entrepreneurial drive to create something stateside; something that would resonate with both longtime gin drinkers and those who were new to the spirit. It was at a casual polo match amongst friends in Wellington, Florida, where Co-Founder Diego Urrutia introduced Roldan to Matti Christian Anttila, Co-Founder and CEO of Grain and Barrel Spirits. 

Produced in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, the gin starts as regionally sourced corn distilled six times, along with Meyer lemons from Florida for their juice and rinds and fresh Kentucky mint to make a liquid tincture. Post distillation, both products are steeped along with juniper berries, cardamom, and coriander. After roughly 10 days, the mixture is filtered and brought down to bottling proof, then poured in signature, recycled light blue glass from Milan, Italy and capped.

GSN’s Remarks: The nose is lemon zest forward, and the flavor continues in this direction. The juniper hits the palate after several seconds with a dry and slightly spicy edge. The mint comes into play towards the finish and adds a cooling sensation on the tongue that is slight, but noticable. Overall, the blend is in the new American style, but for those who enjoy a twist of lemon in their Martinis, this will appeal to London Dry lovers. We like the clean, fresh and simple presentation of botanicals, as well as the elegant bottle design. A well crafted and designed gin expression. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: High Goal Gin

#HighGoalGin

GSN Review: Chicken Cock Whiskey

Established in 1856 in Paris, Kentucky (10 years before Jack Daniels), Chicken Cock rose to fame as the house whiskey at the Cotton Clubone of Prohibition’s most legendary speakeasies. Known as “The Famous Old Brand” and “The Whiskey in a Tin Can,” Chicken Cock was smuggled into the Club in sealed tin cans, then ceremoniously opened table-side. After Prohibition, the brand enjoyed a resurgence before a distillery fire just after World War II put it out of business.

In 2012, Matti Anttila, founder of Grain & Barrel Spirits, rediscovered the Chicken Cock Whiskey brand and set out to resurrect it. Master Distiller Gregg Snyder was brought on board to provide the knowledge and experience needed. Snyder’s impressive résumé includes distilling, cooperage, and executive positions with Brown-Forman, Austin Nichols, and others, as well as board positions with the Associated Cooperage Industries of America, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, and others. Chicken Cock Whiskey is proud to be associated with the Bardstown Bourbon Company’s collaborative distiller’s program.

Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon – GSN’s Remarks: A rock solid bourbon with every piston firing. Lovely sweet corn forward nose, with light oak. The flavor is well balanced with the 70% corn, 21% rye, and 9% malted barley mashbill. Just enough rye spice to keep things interesting. The aging is young, yet has imparted enough wood to infuse the spirit with a vivacious oakiness. We really enjoy this and would defintiely recommend as one of your “go-to” bottles for cocktails and shots. Speaking of the bottle, we appreciate the honeycomb effect of the glass. GSN Rating: A-

Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Rye – GSN’s Remarks: We love a great rye, and this is no exception. Boasting 95% rye and 5% malted barley, the spiciness makes you straighten up and take notice from the get go. A darker feeling than the bourbon, the rye has more body, and a plethora of interesting high notes like clove, anise, nutmeg and cinnamon. But, these are all fleeting notions. The main character here is the rye. A young spirit (aged a minimum of 2 years), but you’d be forgiven if you thought this was a 4-year-old. Really a tremendous rye that will be the star of your next Sazerac, Algonquin or Vieux Carre. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Chicken Cock Whiskey

#ChickenCockWhiskey

GSN Review: Rampur Select Whisky

Rampur Select, the flagship expression of the Rampur Single Malt line, was first released in 2016. Immediately winning many loyal fans as well as a bevy of international awards, the initial distillate offering sold out almost immediately. Beginning this month, the hotly anticipated restock of Rampur Indian Single Malt Select will take place in key cities across the U.S. The current run of this new, limited 2022 edition is fully committed solely to the U.S. market. 

“This incarnation of Rampur Select embodies everything we loved about the original release, while succeeding in pushing the whisky beyond even our expectations,” “We at Radico Khaitan refer to this U.S.-only edition of Rampur Select as the Kohinoor of Single Malts.” 

Rampur Select does not bear an age statement, but the location of maturation, in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, sees extreme shifts in temperature throughout the year, allowing the whisky a much deeper level of interaction with the wood than what one might see in more temperate climes. This provides an incredibly unique resting environment, essentially accelerating both the aging process and the rate of atmospheric loss, to almost three times what would be experienced in some more traditional whisky-producing regions of the world. 

Rampur Indian Single Malt Select is made from 100% Indian barley and finished exclusively in first fill bourbon barrels. It comes in 750ml bottles, carries an ABV of 43% (86 proof), and has an SRP of $140. This U.S.-only release is limited in quantity and is expected to sell quickly. 

GSN’s Remarks: Is it possible to describe a single malt as creamy? This is certainly the case with Rampur Select. An amazingly smooth and round mouthfeel greets the palate with a light woody tonality and a touch of sweetness gifted by the ex-bourbon barrels. Elegant, exceptional and reminiscent of the finest Japanese whiskies, the body is medium-full with a breadth of baking spices coming out on the finish. Truly a world class spirit, and finally for US whisky lovers, your chance to sample this exquisite release. GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Rampur Single Malt

#RampurSingleMalt #RampurSelect

GSN Review: Edinburgh Gin

Born in 2010, Edinburgh Gin is distilled in the heart of Scotland’s capital city. They take inspiration from the captivating city of contrasts and harmony that blends historic tradition with contemporary creativity, city pride with world citizenship, nature and the urban environment.

They began with their Classic, a London Dry, which became the foundation for a series of expressions that led the flavored gin revolution, pushing boundaries and breaking down conventions. They have over a dozen flavored gins in their portfolio as well as a range of liqueurs and RTD’s, as well as limited experimental releases.

Every bottle of Edinburgh Gin is produced at our West End, and Leith Distilleries.

Note: GSN was sent samples of Classic and Rhubarb & Ginger for review.

Edinburgh Classic – GSN’s Remarks: A tad sweeter than a typical London Dry, but brisk enough with plenty of juniper. A medium body with a lot of high notes, and a peppery finish. Perfect for cocktails. GSN Rating: B+

Edinburgh Rhubarb & Ginger – GSN’s Remarks: More akin to a flavored vodka due to less juniper, and a lot more sweetness. The rhubarb gives it a lovely pink color, and just a hint of fruit towards the back of the palate. The ginger comes through nicely with a solid warming heat that lasts for a few minutes. This is near a cocktail in a bottle. You could easily stir this with ice, strain into a glass and be off to the races. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Edinburgh Gin

#EdinburghGin

GSN Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A123

For the 11th year in a row, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has a new release in the series. The first 2023 expression is aged for 12 years and bottled at 125.6 proof. The expression is made from the distillery’s standard bourbon mashbill of 78% corn, 12% malted barley and 10% rye. 

The “A” in the name of each whiskey stands for the first release in the series of 2023, while the “123” stands for January (the first month) 2023. The second and third batches of each of these barrel-proof bourbons will be available in May and September.

GSN’s Remarks: And here is the 2023 debut release from the ECBP series. Nicely sweet with the high corn percentage in the grain bill, there is just enough of a touch of rye so as to give it a mischievous character. Everything is in perfect balance: sweetness, spice, wood, char and body. All of the expected flavors celebrate together. Toffee, caramel, vanilla, tobacco, leather, toasted whole grain bread, some pepper and a hint of clove. The folks at Heaven Hill keep hitting it out of the park with these affordable and very agreeable whiskies. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Elijah Craig

#ElijahCraigBarrelProof

GSN Review: Larceny Barrel Proof A123

Heaven Hill’s Larceny Larceny continues its Barrel Proof program with release A123. The “A” in the name is the first in a three-part A, B, C release series. The “1” represents the month released, January, while the “23” at the end stands for the year. This naming conventions is standard across all the brand’s releases in this popular, annual series.

Each release in this program is aged six to eight years, and bottled straight from the barrel. The proof varies by release, but the mash bill remains the same: 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. Larceny Barrel Proof A123 is 125.8 proof.

The B and C bottles in the 2023 Larceny Barrel Proof series are expected this coming May and September.

GSN’s Remarks: The proof makes it appear that there is rye in the grain bill, but it’s just a trick of the tongue. Of the most recent releases from Heaven Hill’s Larceny line, this year’s inaugural bottling has more wood and less caramel.  Full of esters and just a touch of oiliness, this is very much a powerhouse of a bourbon. Although you could sip it neat, we recommend adding a splash of water to really smooth out the edges. Cohesive, self assured and another succesful release in the series. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Heaven Hill Distillery

#LarcenyBarrelProof

GSN Review: Ballotin Chocolate Toffee Whiskey

Inspired by a love of bourbon whiskey and a passion for chocolate, Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey was founded in 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky with a single focus: create elegant and delicious flavored sipping whiskies. The result is an approachable whiskey that tastes like an expression of your favorite chocolate indulgences. Joining Ballotin’s lineup of flavored whiskies, Ballotin Chocolate Toffee Whiskey delivers flavors of butter brickle, caramelized brown sugar, chocolate, toasted barrel and whiskey spice.

GSN’s Remarks: More like a liqueur than a whiskey, this is the alcoholic equivalent of a Heath Bar. Loads of chocolate and toffee flavor present themselves in an easy going whiskey base. The flavors are instantly recognizable and dessert-like. If you like candy, you will love this new release from Ballotin. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Ballotin Whiskey

#Ballotin

GSN Review: The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11

The GlenDronach Distillery recently announced the eleventh release of its highly anticipated Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The GlenDronach Cask Strength is a richly sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, matured slowly in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks bottled at the whisky’s natural cask strength, as was the custom before the turn of the 20th century. 

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11 is bottled at 59.8% ABV, and as with all expressions of The GlenDronach, all of the natural color is drawn from slow maturation in Spanish oak casks. It is available across the U.S. at a suggested retail price of $100.

GSN’s Remarks: Lovely sherry sweetness greets both the nose and the palate. Rich, deep and enveloping flavors coat the tongue with notes of toffee, caramel, a burst of sherry, light roast coffee, milk chocolate, new leather and oak stave. Really a delight, the finish is medium long and ends semi-dry. A beautiful Highland Scotch that is a real bargain for the whisky lover. Highly recommended. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: GlenDronach Distillery

#TheGlendronach

GSN Review: Dingle Single Malt Whiskey

After years in the making, Dingle Distillery is proud to announce the U.S. debut of its highly anticipated launch of Dingle Single Malt Whiskey, its first core expression.  Comprised of malt whiskey that has been matured in ex-Bourbon (39%), and PX Sherry Casks (61%), for six – seven years, the Dingle Distillery is a triple distilled, non-chill filtered whiskey bottled at 46.3% ABV.

“We are one of few distilleries in Ireland solely producing our own spirit – we don’t buy from or sell to other distilleries, and this exceptional quality is evident with the launch of our first core spirit.” says Elliot Hughes, Managing Director at Dingle Distillery. 

Dingle Master Distiller, Graham Coult, used first fill only casks to produce a richer flavor, while the sweetness from the Sherry casks helped to get the flavor in quickly, producing a full-bodied spirit.  

An initial run of 50,000 bottles of Dingle Single Malt Whiskey has been produced for domestic and export markets, with an ambition to produce 100,000 bottles per year by the end of 2023. Imported by Hotaling & Co. the Dingle Single Malt Whiskey is available in 15 markets as well as online via Reservebar.com, with an SRP of $100 per 750ml bottle.

GSN’s Remarks: Light in body, but rich with flavor, this Irish has a darker character than the more familiar brands on the market. There’s almost a flavor of woody mushroom or beef stock here, which we find peculiar. The Sherry cask adds a hint of sweetness, but not nearly as much much as we expected. Notes of tannin, dried leaves, roasted coffee bean, dark chocolate and pumpernickle keep things moving in a dark direction. A very different whiskey that leans toward the opposite end of the Irish Single Malt spectrum. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Dingle Distillery

#DingleSingleMalt

GSN Review: Ferrand 10 Generations Port Cask Year of the Rabbit

Alexandre Gabriel and Maison Ferrand introduces the limited edition Ferrand Cognac 10 Générations Port Cask Year of the Rabbit, created in celebration of the Chinese New Year 2023 – The Year of the Rabbit – which can be seen in the roots of the label. This double matured Premier Cru de Cognac also pays tribute to 10 generations of Ferrand’s for whom a great cognac was above all the fruit of patient work on a great terroir.

10 Générations Port Cask is a Grande Champagne Cognac made from a single variety of grape, the Ugni Blanc. It is a rich and round cognac, with a creamy texture and pastry notes. This distinctive cognac is double distilled in copper pot stills with medium lees. The presence of lees enables the production of a richer aromatic palette and adds complexity to the floral and fruity base of the Ugni Blanc grape. It is then double aged, first in French oak casks. A second ageing then occurs in Port wine casks, contributing notes of vanilla, honey, and cinnamon to the final liquid and resulting in an ABV increased to 88 proof, a nod to the number 8 – the luckiest number in China.

Available in select U.S. markets beginning in December 2022, Ferrand Cognac 10 Générations Port Cask Year of the Rabbit is bottled at 44% alcohol by volume (88 proof) with a suggested retail price of $64.99 for a 750ml bottle. Only 12,000 bottles of this limited-edition cognac have been produced.

GSN’s Remarks: Quite oak forward at first, quickly followed by a satisfying grape essence, and a touch of sweet Port at the tail end. A rich, woody Cognac full of baking spice, and light caramel character. We like the higher proof which adds more body and energy to the spirit, and makes it ideal for either enjoying in a snifter or for use in upscale cocktails. Try it in a French 75 for an extra boost of flavor. Best to grab a few bottles while you can since this is a limited edition. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Maison Ferrand

#Ferrand #Ferrand10Generations

GSN Review: Dhōs Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Dhōs uses the approach of mixing ingredients to produce their N/A spirits, not the usual method of removing the alcohol. Tapping into their experience of blending wines and spirits they understand the importance of each component that goes into the final product.

Starting with the ingredients, Dhōs uses natural botanicals and ingredients like citrus and spices to deliver a flavor experience without the proof. Each recipe is handcrafted in small lots to ensure quality and consistency. Production is done by the team at the distillery, and each batch receives the same attention that goes into crafting and blending their whiskey and barrel aged gin. Mixing is a 3-step process and at each stage they make sure the batch meets their quality standards. The finished product is subjected to ageing and microbial stability testing. Finally, the products are unfiltered to ensure that the maximum flavor and aroma comes through in the finished product.

Dhōs Gin Free GSN’s Remarks: The nose is grassy and herbal with a slight piney, rosemary-ish perfume. The initial taste has some juniper, which is quickly followed by a cooling mint, then followed by some gingery heat. None of these are overwhelming or overly pronounced, but they make for an interesting flavor journey. As things settle down after a minute, I’m reminded of an unsweetened herbal lozenge or black tea. Mixed with tonic water the blend makes for an enjoyable non-alcoholic cocktail. But, Dhōs Gin Free will also work well with lemonade or even club soda with a lime twist. We like it. GSN Rating: A-

Dhōs Bittersweet – GSN’s Remarks: More sweet than bitter, at least at first. Kind of a rhubarb pie and soft orange flavor with some very light bitter notes, heat on the back of the palate and some cooling mint. The bitterness really only come into play at the very tail end of the extended finish. The liquid itself is viscous and has a somewhat glucose-like feel. The flavor is fine, and when added to club soda or sparkling water, it makes for a very light and easy spritz. GSN Rating: B

Dhōs Orange – GSN’s Remarks: Sweet orange on the nose. The flavor is quite orange forward with an undercurrent of heat. There is a prickly sensation way at the back of the palate, as well as a cooling sensation on the tongue. Not exactly like a Curaçao, but similar in mouthfeel with less sweetness. A tasty expression that will work well in N/A cocktails. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Dhōs Spirits

#DhosSpirits