GSN Spirited News: September 29th 2020 Edition

Moët Hennessy USA is set to launch A Tale of Cake, the newest limited release from single malt Scotch brand Glenmorangie, in October. The 46% abv whisky was finished in Tokaji casks. A Tale of Cake’s launch will be accompanied by a promotional campaign involving cocktails and cake recipes by Jeremy Le Blanche and Dominique Ansel, respectively, to go with the new whisky and with Glenmorangie’s core releases. The whisky will retail for around $99 a 750-ml.

Brown-Forman has announced a new three-batch Bourbon release to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Old Forester. The three whiskies will each be at cask strength and bottled in amber-colored glass reminiscent of hand-blown bottles used in the 19th century. Batch 1 is bottled at 62.8% abv and is made from 46 barrels; Batch 2 is made from 48 barrels and bottled at 63.2% abv; and Batch 3 is assembled from 53 barrels and is at 63.4% abv. Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon is bottled unfiltered—only barrel char sediment has been removed—and will be available in limited quantities across the U.S. for around $150 a 750-ml.

Goslings Rum is offering a new limited release called Papa Seal Single Barrel Bermuda Rum. It was blended from a range of pot- and column-distilled rums that run between 10 and 21 years aged in white oak barrels and aged another two years in Bermuda, ultimately bottled at 41.5% abv. Only 1,500 bottles of Papa Seal 2020 will be available nationwide, each hand-labeled with its barrel number, bottle number, and bottling date. Beginning next month it will be available at select retailers in 16 states as well as online, retailing for $199 a 750-ml.

Edrington has announced the sixth and final release in the Macallan Edition Series. The Macallan Edition No. 6 is a 48.6% abv whisky made from liquid matured in both European and American Sherry-seasoned oak casks. Tying in with the launch, the Macallan has started a partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Trust to support efforts to protect at-risk fish, including in the Macallan’s own section of the river Spey. The Macallan Edition No. 6 is rolling out globally this month and will retail for around $150 in the U.S. Last year, the Macallan was at 268,000 cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

Heaven Hill Brands has released a packaging refresh for parts of the Evan Williams family of whiskies. Evan Williams Black’s new label sports a richer gold color and a black and gold capsule with Evan Williams’s signature. The bottled-in-bond release features a green and white label that more prominently shows the higher proof and the standards of bonded whiskey; the capsule shows the tax strip designating the whiskey as bonded. Evan Williams’ flavored releases will now feature a centered label and the new bottle shape.

Minnesota-based Prestige Beverage has added Davidoff Cognac to its import portfolio for the U.S. The company is now rolling out Davidoff’s V.S. ($35), V.S.O.P. ($50), and X.O. ($150) releases—all bottled at 40% abv—in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, North and South Dakota, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.

William Grant & Sons has relaunched Milagro Select Barrel Reserve, the brand’s luxury-priced tier. The full line—Blanco ($40), Reposado ($45), and Añejo ($55)—is returning to market in new bottles inspired by Mexican architectural works and featuring an engraved agave plant and colors specific to each release.

Proximo Spirits has made former special edition Kraken Black Roast Coffee rum a permanent addition to the line. The 33.3% abv rum is made from macerating the brand’s Trinidadian spiced rum with coffee beans to create a richly spiced and sweet spirit, according to the company. Kraken Black Roast Coffee rum is now available across the U.S.

Sombra mezcal, part of the Davos Brands portfolio, has unveiled a new bottle design. The new packaging, which rolls out this fall, takes its inspiration from the vaso veladora, glass cups traditionally used to contain prayer candles that are common in Oaxacan churches. The updated design also includes a refreshed logo, copper lettering, and a reduced glass weight to be more eco-friendly. Sombra, which translates to “shadow,” is at 90 proof and retails at $35 a 750-ml.

Clase Azul Tequila has announced the launch of the 2020 edition of its Día de Muertos Tequila, set to hit shelves on October 1. The 40% abv spirit is made from a blend of Clase Azul’s Plata, 8-month-old reposado, and 5-year-old Ultra—aged in ex-Sherry casks—Tequilas. The 2020 Día de Muertos Tequila is a limited release and only 2,000 bottles will be available globally, retailing for around $400 a 750-ml.

The Dalmore has launched the latest release in its Principal Collection, a 12-year-old single malt finished in Sherry casks. The 43% abv whisky is initially aged for 10 years in American oak barrels previously used to mature Bourbon before finishing for up to three years in casks that held Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry. The Dalmore 12-year-old Sherry Cask Select single malt is now available in the U.K. and major Asian markets with a U.S. launch to follow in 2021.

Plantation rum has extended its portfolio with two new Fijian rums. Plantation Isle of Fiji is a permanent addition to the range. Distilled in pot and column stills at Rum Co. of Fiji, and then double-aged in Fiji and France, it’s at 40% abv and retails at $25 a 750-ml. Plantation Fiji Vintage 2005 is the first offering in Plantation’s new Birds of Paradise vintage collection. It was first distilled in triple column stills and aged for 14 years in Bourbon casks in the mild climate of the Fiji Islands, then spent an additional year in Ferrand French Oak barrels in the House’s cellars in Cognac. The limited edition is at 50.2% abv and retails at $80.

Chicago-based House of Somrus is adding to its range with a new Coffee Cream liqueur. The line extension is made with coffee and chicory, together with real dairy cream from Wisconsin and quintuple-distilled Caribbean rum. Retailing at $25 a 750-ml., it carries an abv of 13.5% and is rolling out across 21 states.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored”

Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam distiller and creator of Little Book Whiskey, recently announced the fourth installment in his annual, limited-release series of blends — Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored.”

Lessons Honored includes three uncut and unfiltered American whiskies that bear a connection to his father, 7th Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, and the pair’s shared time working at the James B. Beam Distillery this past decade.

The blend includes a 4-year-old Kentucky straight brown rice bourbon, an 8-year-old Kentucky straight high-rye rye whiskey and a 7-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon.

“This year’s release is an ode to my dad and the lessons he has passed down to me about bourbon and life, all of which I hope to pass down to my own children,” says Freddie Noe. “A lot of them go back to honesty and integrity. He taught me to be true to myself, which is something that’s very important in our family, and to know when to slow down and be patient. Dad’s values carry over into our whiskey brands, and I’m proud to honor him with this special blend.”

The rice bourbon reminds Freddie of the first distilling project he handled on his own, after years and experiences under Fred’s guidance, the company says. The rye is an ode to Booker’s Rye, one of the first commemorative releases that Fred and Freddie tasted and selected together. The extra-aged bourbon rounds out the blend with flavors reminiscent of Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection, a spirit enjoyed by Fred, the company says. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Fred actually helped select this final component when Freddie sought his opinion on several different samples.

“Going into the selection and blending process for this year’s release, I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to honor my dad and the story I wanted to tell with this whiskey,” Freddie Noe says. “I knew right away these were the whiskies I wanted to work with, so I spent most of my time perfecting the blend to balance the flavors to create a whiskey that would make Dad proud. I think I did just that – all the way down to the blue neck tag which represents our favorite sports team, the Kentucky Wildcats.”

Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored” (122.8 proof)
Appearance: Dark copper.
Aroma: The rye is most prominent, with a nice spice driven nose, tempered only slightly by the rice distillate.
Taste: The flavor is mild and smooth, almost akin to a wheated bourbon. The sweetness kicks in after a bit, soon followed by the rye finally announcing its presence.
Finish: Long, with lingering cinnamon gum flavors ending the journey.
Overall: Watered down, this is a very easy going bourbon, perfect for pairing with a cigar or BBQ.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Little Book Whiskey

GSN Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2020 Edition

Heaven Hill Distillery recently announced the release of the fall 2020 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 14 years old. Comprised of barrels produced in fall of 2005, and bottled in fall of 2020, this the sixth national release in the series.

Bottled in an ornate decanter, the fall edition denotes a black label, consistent across all fall releases. As was the case for the past editions, this edition’s tax strip will disclose when the liquid was produced and bottled. It meets the strict requirements of a bottled-in-bond: the product of a single distillery from a single distilling season, aged a minimum of four years, and bottled at 100 proof or 50% alcohol by volume.

A previous 14-year-old edition was released as a visitors center and Kentucky allocated product, denoted with a red label. The fall 2020 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the first 14-year-old of the nationally released series and features Bourbon pulled from different rickhouses, at different floors, and on different production dates than the red label release.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2020 Edition (100 proof)
Appearance: Light maple syrup.
Aroma: Rich, enveloping nose of oak char, caramel, molasses, brown sugar and brown bread.
Taste: Intensely compact delivery of elderly bourbon in a wood forward package. The flavors are melded together in such a way, that it becomes one whole personality. Some water opens this up and allows some more subtle notes to breathe. But, this is not as sweet as the nose indicates.
Finish: Medium long.
Overall: These are very interesting releases, as you can trace the effects that just half a years aging has on a product. I will be curious to see if they go beyond 15 years.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Old Fitzgerald

GSN Review: The Whistler Irish Whiskey Cask Finish Series

The Whistler Irish Whiskey, from family owned Boann Distillery in the historic Boyne Valley of Ireland, has added its special Cask Finish Series to its U.S. portfolio. The series includes a unique line up of Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, Calvados Cask Finish and Imperial Stout Cask Finish whiskeys. The Imperial Stout and Calvados Cask Finishes are annual releases that will be produced in February of each year with limited availability. Currently 3,000 bottles for each of the Imperial Stout and Calvados Cask Finishes are available in the U.S., while the core range of Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish has ongoing production with national distribution.

Boann Distillery is the brainchild of the Cooney family, who have a long history in the Irish drinks industry. Founder Pat Cooney is a native of Drogheda and the establishment of a new industry in his hometown is a homecoming for him. Pat, his wife Marie and four of their children are all actively involved in running the business.  It’s been a Cooney family dream to lead a renaissance of Irish whiskey from their homeland of Drogheda, and that dream has become a reality with their new State of the Art Boann Distillery, and in late 2019 the first spirit flowed from the distillery’s copper pot stills, the first to flow in Drogheda in over 160 years.

Oloroso Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is triple distilled and features the distillery’s signature blend of 35 percent single malt whiskeys and 65 percent grain whiskeys, which are independently matured in ex-bourbon barrels for at least four years before being married together and finished in Bodega Sherry Oloroso Casks for at least 12 months.
Appearance: Light gold.
Aroma: High, sweet sherry notes with a more subtle malt base. Quite fruity.
Taste: The sherry flavor greets you at the entrance, but it quickly leads into a soft and simple young whiskey. The cask plays a minor role in terms of wood character, but overall everything holds together with a cohesiveness.
Finish: Medium long, with some of the fruit notes lingering.
Overall: A very friendly and easy going whiskey that we’ve been enjoying.
GSN Rating: A-

Calvados Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is a collaboration between Boann Distillery and famed Calvados producers Chateau du Breuil, in Normandy, France. The expression features the same base high malt content signature blend used in the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish. which makes these whiskeys incredibly interesting to try side by side as an investigation into the impact of different cask finishes. The signature whiskey blend is then married together and filled into Chateau du Breuil’s finest 10-year-old French Oak Calvados casks and left to finish for a period of at least 15 months.
Appearance: Very pale gold.
Aroma: Very bright high notes, with a slight apple tinge.
Taste: The Calvados flavor is subtle, but more apparent at first than the malt distillate. The flavor is very light and slightly dessert-like.
Finish: Medium, with a lingering note of fresh apple.
Overall: We’d be interested to see how this would fare with a longer aging in the Calvados cask, but this is another light and easy to drink affair.
GSN Rating: A-

Imperial Stout Cask Finish (86 proof) This whiskey is a collaboration between Boann Distillery and its sister brewery, Boyne Brewhouse. This expression begins its life, when ex-sherry barrels, containing The Whistler 7-Year-Old Blue Note, are emptied by the distillery and sent the brewery for its 10.8 percent Imperial Stout beer, which is left to mature in the casks for a minimum of six months. Once the beer is fully matured, the casks are emptied of beer, and on the same day, filled with a bespoke whiskey blend of 50 percent wheat whiskey, 35 percent malt whiskey, and 15 percent grain whiskey, all individually matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being married together and finished in the Imperial Stout beer Casks for a further six months.
Appearance: Medium-light gold.
Aroma: Dark and appropriately stout-like. The marriage between the spirit and the cask is quite fetching.
Taste: Of the three whiskies, this one is the most unusual. A lot of chocolate and coffee notes come through and drive the expression. We like the intertwining flavors of a dark ale and a cherry whiskey.
Finish: Long and near chewy.
Overall: This is a great whiskey to serve with a cream or chocolate dessert. Or add a splash to your Irish Coffee. Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Boann Distillery

GSN Spirited News: September 22nd 2020 Edition

Woodford Reserve has launched Woodford Reserve Four Grain a new, limited edition whiskey. A blend of Woodford Bourbon, rye, malt, and wheat whiskies—all aged in new charred oak barrels—Woodford Reserve Four Grain is bottled at 45.2% abv and retail priced at $50 a 375-ml. Four Grain is the latest addition to the brand’s annual Distillery Series, which was created to showcase innovative expressions.

Denver-based Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey has announced Mountain Angel 10 Year Old, the oldest release yet from the Proximo-owned distillery. The 47.3% abv whiskey is made from locally sourced malted barley and aged in charred new American oak barrels, with some barrels losing up to 80% of their contents due to evaporation. The whiskey is rolling out now in extremely limited quantities; fewer than 500 bottles will be available in Colorado, California, and New York, with some bottles allocated as part of a special weekly tasting program at the brand’s distillery. Stranahan’s Mountain Angel 10 Year Old retails for around $130 a bottle.

Infinium Spirits’ Templeton Rye has unveiled the 2020 release in its barrel finish series, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish. The 46% abv whiskey was distilled in Indiana by MGP and matured for five years before finishing for six months in rum casks previously used to mature Jamaican rum. This is the second release in Templeton’s barrel finish series and follows last fall’s Maple Cask Finish. Templeton Caribbean Rum Cask Finish is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. for roughly $45-$50 a 750-ml.

Chicago, Illinois-based High Road Spirits has added Italian malt whisky brand Puni to its import portfolio. The first and only Italian malt whisky, the Puni lineup ($90-$130 a 750-ml.) includes four expressions: Puni Gold, matured in first-fill, ex-Bourbon casks; Puni Alba, aged in Sicilian Marsala casks and finished in ex-Islay barrels; Puni Vina, a limited edition wine cask-matured whisky; and Puni Sole, finished for two years in Pedro Ximénexz Sherry casks. The whiskies will initially be available across Illinois, California, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Texas, and Florida, with more states to come.

Frankfort, Kentucky-based Castle & Key Distillery has released its latest seasonal gin, Autumn 2020 London Dry gin. The new, 49% abv expression was made from a combination of 12 botanicals, among them cedar leaf, spicebush, caraway, and orris root. Autumn 2020 London Dry gin is retail priced at $36 a 750-ml.; only 11,400 bottles were produced. Castle & Key opened in 2018, following the four-year restoration of the Old Taylor Distillery.

A new Irish single malt whisky—from Mark Reynier, who led the revival of Islay distillery Bruichladdich—is set to hit the U.S. market with four expressions, starting in October. Waterford Whisky’s single malts are all bottled at 50% abv and are non-chill filtered. Three of the releases are terroir-driven whiskies made from barley from Rathclogh, Dunmore, and Dunbell. They’ll retail online for around $95 a 750-ml. The fourth whisky, Gaia Organic, is the first certified organic Irish single malt, according to the company. It will retail at around $110 a 750-ml.

Dallas, Texas-based whiskey producer Oak & Eden is re-releasing its recurring seasonal Bourbon & VineCreated in collaboration with Marker Cellars Winery, Bourbon & Vine is bottled at 45% abv and finished in-bottle with a Cabernet Sauvignon-steeped French oak wood spiral. First launched in 2018, it was Oak & Eden’s first limited edition release. It’s available now in Texas, Colorado, California, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and the distillery’s website, where it retails for $60 a 750-ml.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Peg Leg Porker has added a new limited-edition whiskey to its lineup. Aged for 15 years, the Peg Leg Porker Tennessee Straight Bourbon 15-Year Pitmaster Reserve Label features a mashbill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley, and was finished through hickory charcoal after being de-barreled. The whiskey was bottled at 45% abv and retails at $400 a 750-ml. 15-Year Pitmaster Reserve will be available once a year, with 2,500 bottles made in its first release. Peg Leg Porker is owned by famed pitmaster Carey Bringle.

Vermont-based WhistlePig Rye has introduced the latest iteration of its limited edition The Boss Hog whiskey. Featuring a base of straight rye whiskey that’s aged for 17 years in American oak, then finished in rare Spanish oak, and finished for a second time in South American teakwood casks, The Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic is bottled at 52.6% abv-53.9% abv and retail priced at $500 a 750-ml. Like the six editions of The Boss Hog that came before it, Magellan’s Atlantic will be available at high-end retail shops and on-premise accounts across the U.S.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Bacardi Spiced Rum

Bacardi rum has relaunched their Oakheart Rum as BACARDÍ Spiced. The spirit is the same, but the name and the bottle have been redesigned to be more in line with their entire portfolio. Bacardi Spiced is aged in charred American Oak barrels to impart a hint of smokiness, then filtered through charcoal and finished by adding a blend of spices.

Best enjoyed in a Spiced & Cola, Spiced & Ginger and Spiced & Pineapple cocktail, Bacardi Spiced is available for delivery via Drizly, Instacart and Minibar, and at liquor stores nationwide.

Bacardi Spiced Rum (70 proof)
Appearance: Golden orange.
Aroma: A super vanilla forward nose with additional elements of cinnamon, orange sugar, and hot cross buns.
Taste: Very sweet and liqueur like, almost like liquid creme brulee. Other interesting notes include dark cherry, mild yellow curry powder, toasted coconut, carmelized butter, and french toast.
Finish: The finish is slightly bitter, with the wood notes coming out towards the end.
Overall: Overall, it has less body than many of the other spiced rums currently on the market, and seems designed specifically as a mixer; but will add some sweet and spice notes to tropical drinks calling for amber rum.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Bacardi 

GSN Review: Vamonos Riendo Mezcal

Vamonos Riendo Mezcal recently launched in the U.S. offering a triple-distilled, high altitude, artesanal mountain spirit made from agave grown, slow-roasted and distilled in the high-altitudes of the Sierra Madre mountains. Vamonos Riendo Mezcal combines eight-year-old Espadín with 14-year-old Tobalá sourced from 6,500 feet above sea level, where there is more sunshine, scarce water and less oxygen. This natural stress requires the maguey to concentrate its limited resources in the heart of the plant, the piña, providing intense flavors and aromatics. High altitude palenques allow Vamonos Riendo to boil the fermented mash at a lower temperature. This prevents the ensamble’s intense flavors and aromatics from being burnt away and allows for a remarkably bright and flavorful mezcal.

With an emphasis on giving back, Vamonos Riendo has set up programs to support the Oaxacan community — both the land and its people. They are committed to sustainable cultivation by planting more magueys than they harvest. A partnership with non-profit S.A.C.R.E.D., allows them to help improve lives in the rural Mexican communities where heirloom agave spirits are made.

Vamonos Riendo Mezcal (84 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Light smoke infused into a vegetal scented spirit.
Taste: Minor smokey notes add a tinge of depth and darkness to a very light and easygoing mezcal.
Finish: The alcohol goes away fairly quickly, but the smoke leaves a longer impression even though it is very light overall.
Overall: Definitely an entry level mezcal. In some ways this is akin to a highland Scotch whiskey in terms of smoothness and light creosote flavor. That being said, it is very pleasant and has a fresh, vibrant character.A good one to pair with Mexican cuisine.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Vamonos Riendo Mezcal

To order go to: Sip Whiskey

GSN Review: Rogue Spirits Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey

Rogue Ales & Spirits and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who have collaborated on various projects since 2003, continue their partnership with the release of a limited-edition Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey.

This limited-edition whiskey started at the Rogue brewery in Newport, Oregon in 2016 as Morimoto Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Black Obi Ale. After fermentation, the wash was transferred from the Rogue brewery to the distillery to be distilled and barreled in American Oak barrels. The barrels rested in Rogue’s Ocean Aging Room where they absorbed the Pacific Ocean air for over two years before being transferred for finishing in Oregon Oak. The Oregon Oak barrels were built by hand at Rogue’s cooperage, Rolling Thunder Barrel Works, and previously aged Rogue’s award-winning Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout. A year and a half later, the barrels were blended to create a unique, bold and limited American Single Malt Whiskey. To complete this bottle, it features a label that was designed by Chef Morimoto himself.

“It has been an honor to work with Chef Morimoto for nearly 20 years to make unique and interesting beers and spirits,” says Dharma Tamm, Rogue President. “This new single malt whiskey is no exception – the combination of Morimoto Signature Imperial Pilsner and Black Obi, Rolling Thunder barrels and distiller selected proof make this something truly special. It has been a labor of love that we’ve spent years making.”

“My relationship with Rogue Ales & Spirits goes back nearly two decades and is the longest partnership of my career,” said Chef Morimoto. “The Morimoto-branded beers have been guest favorites in my restaurants around the world, and I’m very excited to introduce this very special single malt whiskey to them this year.”

Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey (85 proof)
Appearance: Medium gold.
Aroma: Slight beery nose with a rich, malty undercoat. Lightly effervescent and sparkling high notes of spice.
Taste: The beer flavor comes through loud and clear, but it pairs beautifully with the whiskey, almost creating a similar flavor profile of a beer with a whiskey chaser. Some hops temper the natural sweetness of the malt, leaving a dry and breezy finish.
Finish: Medium-long with the beer notes closing the show.
Overall: This is one of the most successful beer cask aged whiskies we’ve tried. The flavors meld so well, you’d swear that this was the most natural pairing in the world. A real success.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to:

GSN Spirited News: September 15th 2020 Edition

Evanston, Illinois-based Few Spirits has launched Immortal rye, a new whiskey proofed down to bottling strength with tea. The 46.5% abv whiskey is made by blending cask strength Few rye with 8 Immortals tea from Denver’s the Tea Spot. The whiskey does not contain added sugar or other additives. The whiskey’s label art showcases a dragon print that was shown at the 1893 World’s Fair. The initial release is limited—only 6,000 bottles—and is rolling out now across the U.S. for around $45 a 750-ml.

Japanese whisky maker Nikka is releasing a pair of new whiskies finished in apple brandy barrels in an homage to the company’s origins producing apple juice and other apple products before launching the first Nikka whisky in 1940. The first release is Yoichi Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced at Nikka’s founding distillery on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The second is Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced in Sendai, Japan. Both are at 40% abv and retail for $250 a 750-ml. Imported by San Francisco-based Hotaling & Co., they will be distributed in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Tennessee.

Benriach single malt Scotch whisky, part of the Brown-Forman portfolio, has revamped its core lineup and unveiled two new expressions. The newcomers include Smoky Ten and Smoky Twelve whiskies, retailing at $60 and $65 a 750-ml., respectively. Those offerings join the Original Ten ($54) and Original Twelve ($60) in the range, which has been repackaged and will be hitting the market in its new incarnation next month. Benriach will follow with Twenty-One, Twenty-Five, and Thirty-Year-Old single malts in the U.S. next year.

Heaven Hill has announced the 2020 iteration of Parker’s Heritage. This year’s whiskey is a 10-year-old Bourbon matured in heavily charred barrels. The spirit was distilled from a mash of 72% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye, and aged in level 5 char barrels, as opposed to Heaven Hill’s typical level 3 char barrels. The whiskey is bottled at 60% abv and is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. for around $120 a 750-ml. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle goes to fund research and patient care for those diagnosed with ALS.

Tequila Partida has debuted Roble Fino, a line of luxury sipping Tequilas. The new range includes a Reposado ($100 a 750-ml.), aged for a minimum of 6 months in ex-Bourbon barrels and then aged for two more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; a Reposado Cristalino ($115), finished in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; and an Añejo ($125), aged for 18 months in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished for five more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks. All three Tequilas are now rolling out in New York, California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, with additional markets to follow.

Beam Suntory has launched this year’s version of Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon. The 40% abv whiskey is made from the company’s high-rye mashbill. It serves as the higher-end limited release for the brand and sits alongside the flagship Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, and other limited releases like 10-year-old rye, and Caribbean Reserve Rye. Basil Hayden’s 10-year-old is now available across the U.S. for around $70 a 750-ml.

Diageo has released Captain Morgan Sliced Apple, the latest flavored offshoot for the spiced rum brand. The 35% abv rum is made from the original spiced rum with added ginger and apple flavoring. Captain Morgan Sliced Apple is now available across the U.S. for around $16 a 750-ml.

San Francisco, California-based Gold Bar Spirits Co. has launched Rickhouse Cask Strength Straight BourbonThe whiskey is distilled from a mash of 80% corn and 20% rye and is bottled at 51.5% abv. With this new release, Gold Bar continues its partnership with the San Francisco 49ers, with Rickhouse named the official whiskey of the team’s Faithful to the Bay campaign. Rickhouse is now available in major retailers across the U.S. and on the company’s website for around $35 a 750-ml.

Minnetonka, Minnesota’s Dashfire has announced a new line of hard coffees, set to launch throughout the state at the end of the month. The 14% abv RTDs will come in three flavors—Rum Café Mocha, Rum Golden Latte, and Bourbon Cold Brew—and all will be available in individual 200-ml. cans. Southern Glazer’s will distribute Dashfire’s hard coffees in Minnesota and the company is planning for a wider release through Vision Wine & Spirits in the future.

Moët Hennessy-owned Belvedere has long looked to differentiate itself by bringing the concept of terroir to the vodka category. Now the brand is introducing its new Heritage 176 expression and a “Made With Nature” platform, highlighting its Polish origins and craftsmanship. Heritage 176 is rolling out across 20 U.S. markets, retailing at $35 a 750-ml. The new offering nods to the 19th century practice of malting rye by kiln-heating—which Belvedere says unlocks distinctive flavors in the resulting liquid—with its distillers applying fire to malt the rye before distillation. It’s intended to be served over ice with a lemon twist.

William Grant & SonsHudson Whiskey has rebranded with more mature offerings and a new, more accessible price point. The distillery’s Baby Bourbon is now Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, a 46% abv whiskey retailing at $40 a 750-ml. Manhattan Rye has relaunched as Do the Rye Thing, also bottled at 46% abv and retailing for $40. The company’s Maple Cask Rye, a whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels, has rebranded as Short Stack and will retail at around $55. The company also has launched Back Room Deal, a new rye whiskey finished in barrels used to age peated Scotch, which will retail at around $55 a 750-ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Prairie Sustainable Seasons Vodka

Prairie Organic Spirits recently expanded its portfolio of farm-crafted spirits with the launch of its first-ever vodka botanicals collection, Prairie Organic Sustainable Seasons. Crafted with sustainably sourced ingredients that are USDA certified organic, allowing for unique flavor profiles within each expression. From tart grapefruit to crisp apple and even sweet watermelon, the inspiration for each flavor combination was carefully selected based on the sustainable ingredients available. Each 60 proof bottle is naturally-flavored and free of chemicals, pesticides and gluten, contains zero sugar, carbs or fat and has only 75 calories per every 1.5 fluid ounce serving.

“As we looked to grow our Prairie Organic Spirits portfolio and add a botanicals expression line, we wanted to ensure that it stayed true to our roots and mission of using only sustainably sourced ingredients grown on organic farms, and the Sustainable Seasons line does just that,” said Meghan Murray, VP of Marketing at Phillips Distilling Company. “By infusing our award-winning organic vodka with the perfect balance of fresh fruit and herbal flavors, our new botanicals line is the perfect accompaniment to any cocktail – and a true farm-to-bottle experience that tastes just as delicious as it sounds.”

In addition, Prairie Organic Spirits is giving back to the community that harvests the corn to produce these spirits – the organic farmers. In partnership with the Rodale Institute, Prairie Organic Spirits created the Spirit of Change Fund that champions the next generation of organic farmers by helping more farmers go organic. By donating one percent of all sales, Prairie Organic Spirits is advancing its mission to help make a better future for our land and farmers.

The new Prairie Organic Sustainable Seasons are available in three flavor combinations:

  • Grapefruit, Hibiscus & Chamomile 
  • Watermelon, Cucumber & Lime
  • Apple, Pear & Ginger

GSN’s Thoughts: The apple-pear-ginger vodka has a nice apple character that is light and fruity. The pear is more subtle, while the ginger adds a gently warming heat that gradually grows over a minute and then fades. The grapefruit-hibiscus-chamomile vodka is even more subtle, with the grapefruit being the most noticeable flavor. Again, it is light and fruity, but the fade is quick and slightly dry. Of the three, the watermelon-cucumber-lime is our favorite. All three flavors stand out in equal intensity with a very flavor forward blend that will stand up to a mixer ranging from club soda to tonic water. Overall, these are a welcome addition to the flavored vodka world, being subtle, naturally flavored and unsweetened.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Prairie Organic Spirits

GSN Review: Abelha Organic Cachaca

The Abelha story begins in Rio De Contas, Brazil – a small town set amongst the hills and valleys on the edge of the majestic Chapada Diamantina – where the Abelha team met Marcos Vaccaro, a visionary and an expert in all things organic. Marcos’s organic fazenda (farm) produces exceptional sugar cane, alongside fruit trees, a coffee plantation and has tree-house accommodation for all visitors. The travelers knew they had found both a perfect partner and an ideal location for their distillery. Together, they created Abelha Cachaça, born out of shared principles, values, and vision.

The distillery is a single estate family operation. Marcos coordinates all production, from cane field to pot still, and he is constantly seeking out ways to improve organic farming and distillation methods. At 1,200 metres altitude, the estate is ideal for Cachaça production, as the temperature differential between day and night produces sugar cane that retains its natural sugars.

Abelha is committed to supporting the Rio De Contas community. By building partnerships and improving organic farming technologies & techniques, they are boosting the local economy significantly and sustainably. They teach local farmers organic practices, helping them get certified by the Instituto BioDynamico (Brazil’s Official Organic Association). Once certified, the farmers can supply the distillery with organic sugar cane at a fair price.

Abelha Cachaça is produced by local craftspeople and workers at the Abelha distillery, including bottling and quality control, and they offer high wages to all of the workers at the Fazenda. They also support the local Rio De Contas Foundation, and the upkeep of the Chapada Diamantina, so tourists can appreciate the region’s natural beauty for years to come. They believe in being 100% sustainable. The Fazenda (farm) is a 100% sustainable, self-sufficient, clean running farm – all waste is re-used in future farming. The cars and tractors on the farm are powered on the by-products from the distillate. They always look to improve organic technologies and infrastructure where possible.

Abelha Prata (80 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Clean, vegetal and fresh.
Taste: Round, creamy, with vanilla overtones. Medium body with a warming and lightly grassy flavor.
Finish: Medium long, with a touch of mint on the finish.
Overall: A very nice cachaça that makes for a beautiful sipping spirit. This will make a stellar Caipirinha.
GSN Rating: A

Abelha Ouro: Aged 3 years in Garapeira wood (80 proof)
Appearance: Yellow.
Aroma: Clean and woody, but not in the way you might think. This has a dried tree fruit aroma which is quite enticing.
Taste: Somewhat tannic and slightly bitter, but more expressive than the Prata. The wood aging paints a darker patina on the spirit, giving it a more brandy-like character.
Finish: Long and subtle, with some of the wood notes adding a dry leathery flavor. Quite unique.
Overall: We’ve had several cachaças aged in exotic woods. This one is intense and very compact in its flavor profile. Definitely a spirit to savor on its own.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Abelha Cachaca


GSN Spirited News: September 8th 2020 Edition

Disaronno International is launching a nitro cold brew coffee cocktail under its Tia Maria brand. Officially dubbed Iced Coffee Frappé, it will be the first ready-to-drink offshoot for the coffee liqueur. It is at 4% abv and is made with Arabica coffee and cream, using nitro technology that deploys upon opening to create frappé foam. The company brought in Dutch street artist Karski to collaborate on the packaging. Tia Maria Iced Coffee Frappé will be available nationwide beginning in mid-September, retailing for $11 a 4-pack of 12-ounce cans.

Heaven Hill has announced the latest release in its Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series, a 14-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The whiskey was distilled in the fall of 2005 and, like all bonded whiskies, is bottled at 50% abv. The fall 2020 edition of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond is the first 14-year-old whiskey from the series to be sold outside of Kentucky and follows the spring 2020 launch of a 9-year-old whiskey. This is the sixth release in the biannual series. It’s available across the U.S. in limited quantities for a suggested price of $140 a 750-ml.

Austin Cocktails has launched a selection of its bottled spirits-based RTDs in cans. The canned releases bring three of the company’s most popular bottled offerings—Cucumber Vodka Sparkling Mojito, Fred’s Ruby Red Sparkling Grapefruit Cocktail, and Bergamot Orange Sparkling Margarita—to a more portable format. The 12.5% abv drinks come in two-serving 8.4-ounce cans. According to Austin Cocktails, the company is doubling production capacity after selling through its entire initial run. Austin Cocktails are now available in 4-packs for around $15 in 14 states across the U.S.

Bozal mezcal has introduced Madrecuishe, a new single maguey expression. The new mezcal is sourced from San Luis Amatlán in Oaxaca, and is bottled at 46% abv. Billed as a sipping mezcal, Madrecuishe is retail priced at $80 a 750-ml. and is currently rolling out nationwide. The Bozal mezcal lineup is part of the portfolio of Sonoma-based négociant 3 Badge Beverage Corp. and includes a variety of expressions, among them Espadín, Barril, and Tobalá.

Ron Colón Salvadoreño has aligned with Preiss Imports for U.S. distribution. The high-proof rum from El Salvador was launched early this year by industry veterans Pepijn Janssens and Thurman Wise. Preiss plans to roll the brand out across 30 states. Ron Colón’s range includes a 111-proof Dark Aged Rum retailing at $42 a 750-ml. and a 111-proof Cold Coffee Infused Rum retailing at $44. An 81-proof Cold Coffee Infused Rum ($32) will follow in November.

Louisville, Kentucky’s Rabbit Hole, part of the Pernod Ricard portfolio, has announced the first release in a new Founder’s Collection, dedicated to special bottlings from the distillery. In October, Rabbit Hole will launch Boxergrail Founder’s Collection Kentucky Straight rye, a cask strength, limited release pulled from some of the first whiskies distilled by Rabbit Hole. The 57.3% abv rye aged for six years and was assembled from seven barrels. The limited release of only 1,315 bottles will be available across the U.S. in select stores for around $195 a 750-ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Still Austin Straight Bourbon

Still Austin Whiskey Co., a straight bourbon whiskey featuring grains that are 100% grown by Texas farmers. The bourbon is handmade from grain-to-glass at the distillery, aged for at least two years in new charred American Oak barrels, and bottled at 98.4 proof (49.2% ABV). It’s comprised of a mash bill of 70% Non-GMO white corn (the same found in Austin’s tortillas), 25% Elbon rye (which imparts a natural spice) and 5% wildfire malted barley.

“We started Still Austin Whiskey Co. because we saw an opportunity to create our own kind of distillery where we do everything intentionally. This bourbon is an expression of true Texas terroir, but also the distillation of all we are, and of all that has created us. We’ve managed to bottle the inclusive spirit of our home city; a complex bourbon with substance, flair, and finesse”, said Chris Seals, CEO.

The Still Austin distillery includes a 42-foot custom-made column, “Nancy,” (and her sister copper-pot still, “The Queen”) which give the distillers serious creative license to create unique new flavors and spirits. The team also uses Texas weather to its advantage. The region’s high heat, humidity and rapidly shifting temperatures encourage spirits to move rapidly in and out of the oak barrels and mature relatively quickly—but, if this process is left unchecked, it can also cause the bourbon to have heavy oak flavor or harsh tannic qualities. To prevent this, Still Austin uses a meticulous six-month slow water reduction technique focused on flavor and balance, which gives the alcohol a softness on the palate and brings more “mature” notes, like vanilla and caramel, to the forefront.

For the label, Still Austin commissioned internationally acclaimed artist and native Texan Marc Burckhardt to paint a series of portraits of “archetypical” Austinites. Each provides a sense of the people who have influenced and inspired the team, while paying homage to the Texas terroir. The figure on the new label dubbed “the Musician,” is the first in the series, which will grace the labels of future spirits. These are visual representations of archetypes, a way of conceiving a “new Austin mythology” by celebrating the innovative people who make the city what it is. The Musician was a natural place to start since Austin is “The Live Music Capital of the World.” The Musician—along with future archetypes like the Naturalist, the Writer, the Visionary, and the Artist—illustrates the fearlessness needed to become truly unique.

Still Austin Straight Bourbon (98.4 proof)
Appearance: Medium-dark copper.
Aroma: Sweet, spicy, woody. These are all what you would hope for a bourbon nose. But, there is also a sense of walking into a pâtisserie. Delicious, dessert-like aromas greet you, drawing you in for a delightful excursion into the world of straight whiskey.
Taste: Incredibly, for a whiskey that has only aged for two years, this tastes like an 8-10 year old. Lots of body, a well proportioned balance of sweet corn, spicy rye and the connecting essence of barley. The whole spirit is a flavor bomb that just keeps getting better.
Finish: One of the longest fades we’ve ever tasted. It’s as if you just had a ginger cake with a cinnamon bourbon sauce.
Overall: We are really impressed with this spirit and would not be surprised to see it garner dozens of awards over the -years.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Still Austin

GSN Review: Skeptic Gin

Chicagoland’s Skeptic Distillery is creating a stir in both the spirit industry and in craft cocktail culture. In fact, they’ve completely changed the way that spirits are processed. As far as they know, they are one of only a handful of distilleries in the world producing spirits using cold vacuum distillation technology, and quite certainly the only one doing it in the utterly unique way they do. They began with a healthy skepticism about the traditional copper still system. While based on time-tested methods, the ancient system is relatively expensive, inefficient and space-gobbling. They explored new methods and came up with a curious invention that melds science with craft. The result? A unique, custom-built, continuous-column vacuum distillation system that operates at below room temperature. Their equipment incorporates computer-engineered copper distillation column packing to maximize the copper contact with the distilled spirit, vastly improving purification.

Cold vacuum distillation brings out flavors that are unattainable using the traditional copper still method. In vacuum distillation, the alcohols and aromas are concentrated in the liquid, while the sourness and bitterness are removed. The cold-temperature evaporation process ensures that the uniquely fresh fruity and flowery aromas of the individual botanicals are neither destroyed nor altered by heat. When you taste their spirits, you’ll experience flavors and notes that traditional processing systems have been unable to attain.

Skeptic Gin (90 proof)
Appearance: Clear.
Aroma: Very much a juniper forward gin, with lighter essences of more subtle herbs and citrus. Clean, crisp and well appointed.
Taste: More citrus on the palate than is apparent on the nose. This leads into lightly floral and slightly sweet canvas which has a roundness in character. Some peppery and piney notes stay far on the back of the palate.
Finish: Medium-long with a lasting note of juniper.
Overall: It has the character of a navy strength gin, without the fire. One of the few gins that we enjoyed sipping neat. But, this will make for excellent cocktails and punches.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Skeptic Distillery