Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

firebolt_tshirtlogoThe origin of Wicked Tango goes back to a skiing week in Steamboat, Colorado.  Good friends, Jim White and Larry Bross were conversing on a gondola after sharing several hits of whiskey.  One of their exchanges included the phrase from Larry, “Vacation baby, and wicked it will be.” As the both of the guys now say as business partners, “If we can work hard, enjoy the ride and allow all those hard-working folks around us to do the same, then our company will be a success. Wicked, rowdy, fun and supportive of the American dream…we’ll drink to that!”

Wicked 87 American Light Whiskey (87 proof) Very light and thin with a metallic aftertaste.  More like caramel corn flavored vodka than a traditional whiskey.  Decent as a mixer with cola or ginger ale, but doesn’t stand on its own. GSN Rating: C

Wicked 84 & 1/2 Premium Reserve Whiskey (84.5 proof)  Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of this.  It seems even less flavorful than the Wicked 87.  Again, quite thin and lacking much aging character despite the brown color.  If given a choice, I’d skip this one altogether.  GSN Rating: D

Wicked Lightning Moonshine (80 proof)  Fairly standard moonshine that has some kick to it.  Sweetish with some pepper and baked bread notes.  A good entry-level ‘shine.  GSN Rating: B-

Wicked Lightning Peach Pie Moonshine (60 proof)  Tasty on the nose with peach essence.  The flavor is good and definitely tastes like it’s supposed too.  I’d drink a shot of this or use in a fruit flavored punch for some additional pizzazz.  It made me want a second taste, which is a good thing. GSN Rating: B

Wicked Lightning Red Hot Moonshine (60 proof)  Yes, this is like drinking red hots candies.  The cinnamon is a bit tannic and harsh on the back palate, but the flavor is accurate.  A bit of heat, but in a cinnamon chewing gum way.  Not something I’d seek out on a regular basis.  GSN Rating: C-

For more information go to: Wicked Tango

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001Goral, an eastern European term, literally means “highlander”.  Gorals as an indigenous people live in southern Poland, northern Slovakia and the Silesian region of the Czech Republic.  But, over millenia they have also settled in western Ukraine, northern Romania and of all places, Chicago, Illinois.  Famous Gorals include Pope John Paul II and author Joseph Conrad.

Goral vodka follows this intrepid and entrepreneurial spirit and is distilled in the royal city of Stará Ľubovňa, home to the oldest distillery in Slovakia.  Using Durum wheat, it is distilled seven times, brought down to proof with Tatra mountain spring water and finally filtered seven times through a mix of Zeolite, active carbon and diamond before bottling.

Goral Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: High mineral notes with a tart sweetness.  Fresh and engaging.
Taste: Sweet and full with a round creaminess.  After the initial notes of sugar candy fade, a more dry and rainwater character emerges with a lot of minerals.
Finish: Long for a vodka with a heavy richness that has a noble and distinct tone.
Overall: Best served ice-cold neat, this also is great in a dry Martini (Kangaroo cocktail).  Very down to earth and approachable.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Goral

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fathers-day-cardThis coming Sunday is Father’s Day already!  If you’ve put off buying your dad a gift, here are some great ideas for you from $25-$1100.  Or, if you want to buy yourself a gift for the first day of summer, go ahead.  They’re both on June 21st!

BAA05D6E-9FCC-4C72-867D-7F686C7E996CHydro Flask True Pint (Your camp beverages will stay hotter, colder… longer)

  • It definitely does not moonlight as a coffee tumbler! This was very intentional as the product designers wanted it to feel like a glass pint, so beer lovers could enjoy their brew the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
  • The product designers delved deep into the world of glassware studying shapes such as ‘The French Jelly Glass’, ‘The American Shaker Pint’, ‘The Weissber Vase’, ‘The Nonic Imperial Pint’ along with classics like the ‘Irish Imperial Pint’.  They looked to both the high and low end glassware producers including companies like the Bavarian company, Spiegelau.
  • Staying in line with the classic US glass pint shape and after many iterations, the designers created an insulated pint that feels smooth and familiar against your lips.
  • They developed an internal angle step change to not only aid in the pouring of a smooth beer but to also open the beer aromas as you are tipping the pint to drink.
  • They eliminated the annoyance of stuck pints by introducing a subtle step feature in the bottom that also helps to reduce rubbing of the powder coating.
  • Finally they created the size to have the perfect balance between feel in the hand, weight and stability on the table.

The 16 oz True Pint is made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel and the double wall vacuum provides top-notch insulation power. Hydro Flask is proud that all of its products are BPA-free, 100% recyclable and are backed by a lifetime warranty. Consumers can also feel great about their purchase as the company gives 5% of its net profits to 12 different non-profits through its charitable arm 5% back. MSRP $21.99 Colors: Blue, Black, Orange, Stainless, Brown 

0568943C-8CDB-4ABD-92D5-6B55A58BB7B7A popular misconception is that all moonshine is cheaply made, harsh tasting, illegal liquor made in the backwoods of the Southern US in bathtubs, radiators or back woods make–shift stills. It is this misconception that gave birth to modern-day “moonshines” packaged in mason jars or faux-jug-style bottles. In actuality, the majority of spirits that were produced during Prohibition were produced by sophisticated distilleries that operated in secret, and what they produced flowed into high-class speakeasies across the country. Now that Moonshine is being produced legally, Moonshine has come to refer to any un-aged Whiskey. As for taste and quality, Moonshine, like any other liquor, reflects the quality and craftsmanship that went into it.  The absence of color and the heavy flavors imparted by the barrel during the traditional ageing process makes Manhattan Moonshine perfect for mixing cocktails; including many cocktails that traditionally call for Vodka or Gin. The cocktail program, developed by James Moreland, ranges from the classic but clear “White Manhattan” to the “Duke Negroni” to “Bessie Smash” so named for the late and great Bessie Smith also known as the Empress of the Blues and the most popular female Jazz singer in the 1920’s and 30’s.

indexNitroBrew, an innovative new technology that nitrogenates any beer at the point of service, is now available to craft beer fans and home brewers at NitroBrew. An ideal Father’s Day gift, NitroBrew is the first commercially available product designed to bring nitrogenating technology into the home, enabling beer lovers to nitrogenate store-bought brews and hobbyist beer brewers to create their own nitro-style brews from scratch. In under a minute, NitroBrew turns any home-brewed or bottled beer into a sensational, silky nitro-style beer masterpiece. Nitro-style beers are rapidly gaining popularity among beer connoisseurs and foodies for their smooth mouthfeel and well-rounded flavor. The nitrogenated beverage trend has also crossed over into cold brew coffee, which NitroBrew can also be used to nitrogenate.

With June comes both the joy and warmth of summer, but also the difficulty of finding the perfect gift for the most special man in your life on Father’s Day. At this point you know he has enough ties to last him a lifetime and a full set of golf equipment for the season, so why not buy something different this year? Encourage your old man to sit back, put his feet up and enjoy the finer things in life – like a high-end spirit tough enough for dad. Our gift suggestions for this year are a veritable ‘best of’ in the categories of elegant rum, Tequila, gin and amaro.

indexDiplomático Reserva Exclusiva (SRP: $40): Aged for up to 12 years in small oak casks, this rum has a distinctive nose with notes of maple syrup, orange peel, brown sugar and liquorice. The palate evokes sweet toffee fudge, has a seductive and elegant finish, and can be sipped on the rocks or as the base of a cocktail perfect for the whole family to enjoy on that special Sunday in June (or all summer long). Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva, a quality aged dark rum with an incredibly smooth finish, has enough power to rival that of a Cognac or whiskey.REPO_MAIN

Tequila Partida Reposado (SRP: $45): Smooth and rich with Partida’s signature touch of sweetness, Partida Reposado is aged for six months in one-pass Jack Daniels American oak barrels. Partida Reposado delivers nuances of flavor that Tequila drinkers may not have thought possible. The spirit is beautiful light amber with golden tones, transparent and clean, brilliant and full-bodied. Partida Reposado carries aromas of chocolate and vanilla, hazelnut and almond, and a deep, rich finish. It is ideal for sipping neat to toast dad, or enjoying in a refreshing cocktail.

G_Vine_Nouaison_Gin_FranceG’Vine Nouaison Gin (SRP $36): Created in the style of a classic London Dry gin, G’Vine Nouaison is a vibrant cocktail base for everything from a boozy Negroni to a simple Gin & Tonic. With woodsy and vegetal notes on the nose and a sharp, fruity juniper-forward flavor, G’Vine homeBottleNouaison is an upscale gin that dad will truly appreciate for summer sipping.

Amaro Lucano (SRP $ 29.99): First developed in 1894 in Italy, Lucano is a family run business producing one of the world’s favorite Italian liqueurs. The Amaro Lucano recipe has been passed down through four generations, a combination of 30+ herb varietals culminating in an aromatic liqueur with floral and citrus flavors. With a unique flavor profile, Amaro Lucano may be used as a key ingredient in cocktails or culinary dessert recipes.

image002This Father’s Day, make your dad a special drink and put a spin on the Old Fashioned classic cocktail with DeLeón Tequila.  Featuring the rick, oaky flavor of DeLeón’s Reposado, the DeLeón Old Fashioned takes the standards of the Old Fashioned category to the next level.  In this cocktail, the warm cinnamon notes and vanilla finish of the oak-aged Reposado are enhanced with smoke from the addition of mescal, sweetness from tequila’s native agave, and space from Angostura bitters for a Mexican twist on this traditional cocktail. A bottle of DeLeón Tequila will show Dad exactly how much he means to you as you help take him to a new standard of luxury with this rich and complex spirit.  Un-aged indexand unrivaled in finish, the DeLeón Tequila line-up starts at $60 per 750ml and is made from 100% Highland agave and rich, complex agave honey that is slow-fermented and twice-distilled.

Just launched this April by Beam Suntory, Alberta Rye Dark Batch is an award-winning, super-premium rye whisky from the highly acclaimed Alberta Distillers. The liquid is known for its bold, complex flavor profile and rich, dark color — it is a front finishing whisky best enjoyed in a variety of cocktails that highlight its unique flavor and is perfect for the whisky lover looking to try something new.

indexThis Father’s Day, OpenTable helps wine and dine dads across the country by offering $20 credit towards the bill when you book a table and pay (learn more about the recently enhanced payment function here) via the OpenTable app now thru June 21. To claim the credit, simply book a reservation for dad at a restaurant that accepts OpenTable mobile payments, enter promo code ‘lovedad’ in the payment settings of the OpenTable app, and dine before 11:59pm PST on June 21. View participating restaurants in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. List of all participating restaurants here.Spey 10 Bottle and canister

Looking for a BMW gift on a Honda budget? We suggest a bottle of Speyburn 10 Year Old. The single malt scotch whisky is priced at just under $30, and is perfect for dads who aren’t hung up on labels and don’t need fancy packaging.  This Highland single malt hails from the heart of Speyside with a smooth, delicate and floral character—it’s the best-selling scotch you’ve never heard of. Plus, with a recent score of 93 points (excellent; highly recommended) at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2015, it boasts a BMW pedigree without the luxury price tag.

willetpotstillwglassesWillett Bourbon on the Rocks – Gift Includes: Willett Pot Still + 6 uncut rocks glasses + 2 in ice-cube tray ($100) Willett, a family owned distillery with a tradition dating back as late as 1666, reopened their doors in 2012 to the delight of the spirits world. Debuting a series of rich, dynamic whiskeys, their commitment to quality is evident in this delicious Bourbon, carefully made using a pot still. Its elegant bottle shaped like the still in which it was made echoes the beautiful nuances of the spirit. Smooth and buttery, with hints of baking spice, citrus and caramel. Best served in a rocks glass with one large ice-cube, and thankfully, Merchants of Beverage has got that covered for Dad too. westland3pack

WESTLAND WHISKEY COLLECTION – Gift Includes: Westland single malt Bourbon, Westland peated single malt, westland sherry finish ($275) The Westland Distillery has been family run since its inception in 2010. Everything, even the barrels they use, is made in the Pacific Northwest, and the whiskey itself is distilled in Seattle, and aged in the Washington rainforest. The coastal air and humidity make for ideal maturation conditions not unlike the shores of Scotland. Give Dad the chance to explore all three of these rugged yet refined offerings from Westland in one delectable collection!

vodkamartinistirredsetVodka martini + stirred kit – Gift Includes: Corbin vodka, Dolin dry vermouth, yarai mixing glass, barspoon, jigger, strainer ($140) The Martini is one of the most evocative, distinctive mainstays on the menu – ordering one instantly gives its drinker an air of confidence and mystery. While this may seem to be due to the strength of the cocktail and the steady hand it takes to sip it, a look through the history of the Martini indicates that perhaps the unknown origin of the drink has led to what has been made and remade with no one true recipe. With this upgraded Martini pack, we not only provide the bottles you need to mix one of your own, but also the bartools. Time to get to work on perfecting that stir!

ultimateoldfashionedUltimate old fashioned – Gift Includes: 6 kiruto glasses, willett 2 yr rye, bitter truth aromatic bitters, regans orange bitters, jigger, spoon ($150) There is no way to get closer to the definition of the word “cocktail” than the Old-Fashioned in its purest form. According to Robert Simonsen, drinks writer for the New York Times and author of “The Old-Fashioned,” the earliest definition described “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” Suffice it to say that the Old-Fashioned is considered by many to be THE whiskey cocktail; and this kit gives you everything you need – including the bar tools – to perfect yours at home.

lapistolaLa Pistola – Gift Includes: calle 23, nola coffee, pierre ferrand curacao, regans orange – ($140) This delicious pick-me-up is what we like to call the “Not So Secret Breakfast.” There’s no better way to start your day than with the awakening effects of coffee – or, rather, St. George’s NOLA coffee liqueur – orange juice – we prefer curacao and Regan’s orange bitters – and agave. Our Merchants of Beverage bartenders were inspired by The Revolver cocktail, an original from Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, to create a south of the border version substituting tequila for Bulleit bourbon. The butterscotch and vanilla notes from the oak barrel aging in this añejo interplay perfectly with the robust coffee and chicory flavors in St. George’s NOLA coffee liqueur. Dry curacao and orange bitters accentuate the bright citrus notes that subtly characterize both the coffee and the tequila to provide unity, structure and balance. Finally, the flamed orange peel – if you can manage it – brings this Pistola into the territory of a smoking gun.irishheritage

Irish Whiskey Trio – Gift Includes: Tyrconnell single malt 10 yr madeira finish, Redbreast 12 year, Mosswood sherry barrel aged irish whiskey – $275) This collection showcases three wonderful and diverse Irish whiskeys. Each one has its own character and flavor profile to round out a collection ideal for hosting a tasting (with or without guests in attendance). You can taste the anchoring thread of classic gentleness and light sweetness in all three of these whiskeys, and then further delve into the flavors to reveal each individual style. It’s quite a treat for Dad!
UltimateBarUltimate Bar CollectionGift Includes: Bitter truth travelers, Del Maguey Tepextate, Excellia Tequila, Whistlepig Boss Hog, Nikka 17 yr, Willett, Regans Orange, Bitter Truth aromatic, The PDT Cocktail Book, Juniper Gin, Campari, Carpano Antica, Averna, Westland, Spirit Works, Clement Jon One, Small St George Sbsinthe, Small Dolin Dry, From Cocktail Kingdom: a mixing glass, barspoon, strainer, tongs, jigger, green ice-cube tray, blue ice-cube tray – ($1100) For the Dad who truly deserves an amazing gift this year, there is nothing better to celebrate him than with the Ultimate Bar Collection from Merchants of Beverage. A  hyper curated selection of some of the world’s best products, you will never find a bar collection quite like this. There are endless cocktail creations you can make from each of the spirits in the collection, from Sazeracs to Highballs to Daiquiris and even a Rum Caipirinha. Exquisite sipping spirits alongside classic liqueurs; gorgeous barware and versatile bitters all come together in harmony in this impressive collection for Dad.

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caravedoBack in 2012, GSN reviewed the original Pisco Portón here.  With the category exploding in the U.S. (as it should), the company has introduced a pisco puro.  What is a “pisco puro”?  Basically it means it is crafted from a single grape varietal.  There are only eight allowed in peruvian pisco: Quebranta, Mollar, Uvina, Negra Criolla, Italia, Muscatel, Torontel and Albilla.  La Caravedo uses the Quebranta grape, which is the dominant and original grape used in pisco, and the one most often found in a pisco sour.

Located in Ica, Peru, Hacienda La Caravedo is the oldest distillery in the Americas going back to 1684.  As with all Peruvian piscos, they use small batch copper pot stills and do not age the spirit or add water to bring it down to proof.  You are tasting nothing but the pure heart of the distillate.

La Caravedo (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Apple, pear, grape seed, wet grass.
Taste: Floral and semi-fruity with a medium dry mouthfeel.  Some peppery notes kick in after a moment, but these are tempered by a nutty and oatmeal-like chewiness.  Very fresh and evocative.
Finish: Medium long with more of the grape character shining through towards the end.
Overall: A very nice pisco and one that works just as well as a chilled sipper as it does in a cocktail.  Pisco Portón has done it again!
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: La Caravedo

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indexWilliam Grant & Sons’ Hudson Whiskey brand is upscaling to a new 750-ml. bottle size. Previously available only in 375-ml. format, Hudson Whiskey’s Baby Bourbon and Manhattan Rye whiskies will both debut in 750-ml. bottles this summer, priced at around $50 each. The move coincides with the 10th anniversary of the brand, which William Grant acquired from producer Tuthilltown Spirits in 2010. In addition to its Baby Bourbon and Manhattan Rye, the Hudson Whiskey range includes Four Grain Bourbon, Single Malt and New York Corn expressions, all of which are at 46% abv.

indexWashington, D.C.-based One Eight Distilling is introducing a new offering this month, Ivy City Gin. Retailing around $37 a bottle, the American dry gin is made from locally-sourced grains, including 63% rye, 26% corn and 11% malted rye, the company says. One Eight’s Ivy City Gin will be available at the distillery and both on- and off-premise around Washington, D.C. The company is donating $1 from every bottle sold to Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. One Eight Distilling also produces Rock Creek Whiskey and District Made Vodka.

indexBrown-Forman has launched Herradura Ultra, a new super-premium Tequila entry. Rolling out this month, Ultra features a base of Herradura’s Añejo Tequila blended with Extra Añejo that has been aged for up to 49 months in American white oak barrels, with the liquid then filtered to remove color. Ultra will initially be available on-premise in key markets, including California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Texas. Herradura Ultra joins Blanco, Silver, Reposado, Añejo and Selección Suprema Extra Añejo expressions in Herradura’s portfolio.

indexDiageo’s Tanqueray gin has unveiled a new juniper-forward limited edition, Tanqueray Bloomsbury. The new expression is based on Charles Waugh Tanqueray’s recipe from about 1880 and features prominent notes of Tuscan juniper and botanicals such as coriander, angelica, winter savoury and cassia bark, the company says. It follows recent upscale launches from the brand, including 2014 limited edition Tanqueray Old Tom and citrus-infused Tanqueray Malacca in 2013. About 100,000 bottles of Tanqueray Bloomsbury will be available beginning next month, retailing at $32.99 a 750-ml.

indexProximo Spirits’ 1800 Tequila has released a limited edition Essential Artist series with packaging featuring work by artist Keith Haring. The initiative will see six of Haring’s original designs featured on a limited run of 1800 bottles. The special edition 1800 packaging is rolling out currently to select markets, retailing at $30 a bottle.

indexLos Angeles-based 21st Century Spirits has partnered with Sony Pictures Television to release a limited edition Blue Ice vodka range inspired by the TV show “Breaking Bad.” Rolling out at retail nationwide, the “Heisenberg” Blue Ice vodka lineup (around $27 a 750-ml.) includes three bottle designs, each featuring a different “Breaking Bad” quote. Produced in Rigby, Idaho, Blue Ice’s line also includes its core vodka ($23.95), as well as offshoots Blue Ice Organic Wheat ($26.95) and Blue Ice G ($17.99).

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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BACARDI--_Gran-Reserva_Maestro_de_RonBacardi is a venerable rum brand going back to 1862.  The Bacardi family moved to the Bahamas in 1960, and continued to make their rum in distilleries built in Puerto Rico, Mexico and India after prohibition.  Interesting that at the same time U.S./Cuba relations have finally thawed after 56 years, Bacardi has released a super premium rum in the U.S. called Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron.  Previously only available in duty-free airports, the rum is a blend of three-year old rums hand-picked by the Master Distillers (maestros de ron).

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, clean rainwater with sprightly top notes of barleycorn, spearmint, and milled rice.
Taste: Smooth and velvety vanilla bean and peppercorn.  Elegant and self-assured.
Finish: Medium long with more lingering mineral notes than expected.  Dry, peppery and with a hint of lactose.
Overall: Really quite a fine rum and one that will suit any white rum cocktail.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Bacardi

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world-gin-day-20141-lst136433In honor of World Gin Day, here is a list of the gins that Good Spirits News has reviewed over the years.  Hopefully you will pick up a bottle and make yourself a favorite gin cocktail.



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