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Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

indexVoli Vodka is launching its 80-proof extension into seven new markets this year. Previously, the offshoot had only been available in Florida. Initially entering New York and California, Voli Vodka 80 Proof is also set to expand into Georgia, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas and Tennessee by the end of the year. The 80-proof offering, which is produced in Cognac, France, will be available in 750-ml. and 1-liter bottles, priced at around $24.99 and $29.99, respectively. In addition to 80 Proof, the Voli range includes the brand’s core Original Light, Mango Coconut and Lemon expressions (all of which are around 60 proof), which retail at $19.99 a 750-ml.

indexAmerican whiskey liqueur Sweet Revenge, a 77-proof shot-geared offering that is part of the Independence Spirits Company portfolio, is entering several new markets this year. The pink-colored liqueur opened Indiana—its 34th U.S. market—last month, distributed by RNDC. Meanwhile, Sweet Revenge, which retails from $17-$20 a 750-ml., was introduced in New Mexico and Mississippi earlier this year, and will enter Virginia on July 1. The brand’s largest current markets are Pennsylvania (its production base), Texas and California.

indexSazerac Co.’s Buffalo Trace Distillery has released a new pair of French oak-aged Bourbons under its Experimental Collection series. The two 10-year-old whiskies include Buffalo Trace’s 100% French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbon, which was matured entirely in French oak, and French Oak Barrel Head Aged Bourbon, which was aged using both French oak heads and American white oak staves. Rolling out this month, both 45%-abv Bourbons are packaged in 375-ml. bottles and will be available for a limited time, priced at around $46.35 each.

indexNew Orleans craft distiller Atelier Vie has released Euphrosine Gin #9 Barrel-Finished Reserve. The barrel-aged gin was matured in second-use American whiskey barrels. The latest gin offering, as well as the original Euphrosine Gin #9, are rolling out in a new packaging design that includes embossed labels showcasing the brand name and a historic New Orleans street map on the back labels. More products from Atelier Vie will feature the new packaging in the months ahead. The Barrel-Finished Reserve is 90 proof and retails for $40 a 750-ml. bottle, while the standard Euphrosine gin is $30. Atelier Vie’s spirits portfolio also includes Toulouse Green Absinthe Verte, Toulouse Red Absinthe Rouge, Riz Louisiana Rice Whiskey and Buck 25 Vodka. Its brands are distributed in Louisiana, as well as to select retailers in Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana.

indexMoët Hennessy USA is set to launch a new special edition under its Ardbeg single malt Scotch whisky brand at the end of this month. Forbes reports that the new Islay single malt entry, which is launching in recognition of Ardbeg’s 200th anniversary this year, is called Perpetuum and will retail at $100 a bottle. Ardbeg’s latest special edition is non-chill filtered and bottled at 47.4% abv.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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gol_1L_btl_535pxSure, everyone knows about London Bridge, but not many today know about the London Wall and it’s seven gates.  Originally, called Londinium by the Romans who occupied the country formerly held by the Britons, they built a wall around the city to protect it from Pict invaders.  Originally, there were five gates of entrance and egress named Aldgate, Bishopsgate (as mentioned in The Beatles song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”), Cripplegate, Ludgate and Newgate. Later, two more gates were added as the city grew in population; Aldersgate and Moorgate.  These formed the seven gates which lasted for over 1,000 years.  Today, very little remains of the wall and the gates are completely gone, but in honor of it’s past history, we now have Gates of London gin.

Gates of London Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Obvious juniper with fragments of other botanicals playing a supporting role.  Clean, crisp and entirely in the London Dry vernacular.
Taste: A bit thin and lighter in character than the initial nosing indicated.  Almost a gin flavoured vodka.  Not unpleasant, but not a strong contender for gin based cocktails.  Nothing stands out here other than a mild juniper character.
Finish: A bit sweet, a bit dry, and curiously mild.
Overall: A low to mid-range gin that will suffice when mixing G&T’s or a Tom Collins, but not hefty enough to work in more complex cocktails.
GSN Rating: B-

For more information go to: Kobrand

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Depaz-Blue-Cane-Rhum-Agricole-300dpiDepaz rhum hails from the West Indian country of Martinique.  Originally established in 1651 by the French Governor Jacques Duparquet, The Depaz Family Estate Distillery was located at the base of the infamous Mont Pelée which erupted in 1902.  Almost 30,000 inhabitants of Saint-Pierre, the original capital perished including all but one member of the Depaz family. Fifteen years later, Victor Depaz returned to the island to rebuilt his family’s estate, distillery and his life.Amazingly, rhum agricole makes up only 3% of the rum available around the globe.  It literally means agricultural rum, made from sugar cane as opposed to molasses which is a by-product of the sugar industry.  In fact, the cane grown for Depaz is only harvested between February and May, limiting the amount available for production.  In addition, the species of cane (Blue) only grows in a few areas of Martinique making it even more limited.  After distillation, the rhum is aged for a few years in charred French oak barrels before being blended and bottled.

Depaz also makes a Cane Syrup for use in cocktails.  Try some with the agricole in a rhum Old-Fashioned.

Depaz Blue Cane Rhum Agricole (90 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Quite oaky with fine head notes of grassy sugarcane.  There’s no mistaking this for anything but a rhum agricole.  Rich and intoxicating.
Taste: A bit fiery due to the higher proof, but this gives it an excellent palate on which the oakiness and spice of the wood hang beautifully.  I pick up baked apple, old leather, creme brulee, vanilla sugar, and rich cane syrup.
Finish: Lots of peppery notes go on for a few minutes while the more subtle and quieter aspects beat a low thrum of tropic spiritude.  It’s a beverage that begs for one sip after another.
Overall: This tastes like history in a glass.  One can easily imagine sipping a snifter of this on the veranda of the main house on a Jamaican sugar plantation.  A great rhum and one you should seek out for your collection.
GSN Rating: A

Depaz Cane Syrup: Thick, rich and flavorful with a rustic and honest character.  Perfect for cocktails that call for a bit of body and color. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Depaz Rhum

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tia_marianew__24712.1407758380.1280.1280The story of Tia Maria “Aunt Mary” goes back to 1655 Oliver Cromwell’s sent military forces to take control of Jamaica from Spain.  During this period, so the story goes, a maid by the name of Mary saved her mistress’ jewelry box from being stolen by the British.  It contained a pair of black pearl earrings and the recipe for a family liqueur.  Yep, you guessed it.  Eventually, it gained the name of Tia Maria at some point in memory of the housekeeper.

Almost 300 years later, a Jamaican blood transfusion pioneer by the name of Dr. Kenneth Leigh Evans was served some of the beverage by the descendents of the family recipe.  He convinced them that it should be produced on a larger scale, and the local Booker Rum Group began producing it by 1958.

It’s a simple blend of vanilla bean, Blue Mountain coffee and Jamaican rum, but has gained a following in over 60 countries since being introduced.

Tia Maria (53 proof)
Visual: Cola brown.
Nose: Bittersweet coffee essence with a touch of chocolate caramel.
Taste: Very sweet coffee and sugar.
Finish: Sweet sugar goes on with a more subtle and dry coffee bean taste.
Overall: We’ve been using this in a few different ways around the GSN offices.  If you want to add some of this to your morning coffee, we won’t tell anyone.  At night, try this in your next Black or White Russian instead of the usual Mexican liqueur.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Tia Maria

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cq5dam.web.1280.1280Alizé is a woman’s name and a French word meaning “trade wind”.  Originally “trade” meant track or path, and in the age of navigation, these wind tracks meant success or failure for many a sea captain’s exploration.  Today, Alizé is a brand of liqueur which has three different flavors.  The Gold version is passion fruit flavored, the Red adds cranberry and peach, whilst the Bleu features cherries and ginger.  

Interestingly, when Alizé first hit the market in 1986 it was a failure.  Former Alizé brand ambassador Robert Bradford had this to say about its early history:

“Alizé, which started out selling for about $25 a bottle, was being targeted directly at 45-55-year-old white women. At the time, it seemed to make good sense. It was an easy product to drink, kind of delicious with passion fruit in it, and it had a classy cognac image. But it sat on a shelf for about 8 years and didn’t move. The intended target audience just wasn’t buying in. Then, about 1994, it was decided to liquidate the inventory. The shelf price was dropped to around $16 a bottle. Coincidentally, this was the same time the product began to appear in rap videos. In particular, the internationally famous rap legend Tupac Shakur (2Pac), came out with his hit Thug Passion, he rapped about Hennessy, Alizé and Moët & Chandon. These three brands are still riding the waves of this notoriety today.”

By the way, if you want to make a Thug Passion cocktail, check out the video below.

Alizé Red Passion (32 proof)
Visual: Dark rosy pink.
Nose: Peach nectar, passionfruit, high notes of cognac brandy.
Taste: Like a boozy fruit punch.  Quite sweet and sugary, but not in a cloying manner.  Works well on the rocks or mixed with a sparkling wine.
Finish: Lingering tropical fruit notes and a candy-like aftertaste.
Overall: Definitely a party drink and one that will go over well with 20-somethings and beginning drinkers.  Which isn’t to say that it’s not worth imbibing, it’s just simplistic and easy to approach.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Alizé

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indexDiageo has added to Crown Royal’s portfolio with the nationwide release of Northern Harvest Rye, its first-ever blended rye whisky. “With rye whiskies serving as integral components of the Crown Royal Deluxe blend for more than 75 years, it was a natural and authentic extension to provide our loyal fans a rye offering,” said Yvonne Briese, vice president of marketing, Diageo North American Whiskey. The 90-proof offering’s suggested retail price is $29.99 a 750-ml. bottle.

indexDiageo is also expanding availability of its Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel whisky into new U.S. markets following an initial limited release in Texas. Featuring Crown Royal’s base Coffey Rye whisky, the 103-proof single barrel liquid is produced at the brand’s Coffey Rye still in Gimli, Manitoba. It marks the first national rollout of a barrel program by Crown Royal, allowing retailers to purchase an entire barrel, with every bottle ($54.99 a 750-ml.) produced from a barrel featuring a personalized medallion naming the retail location.

indexZeiler Spirits’ Coldcock whiskey is entering the Massachusetts market via M.S. Walker and Kansas via Standard Beverage in June, bringing its distribution footprint to 25 states. The American “herbal” whiskey brand, which retails at $20 a 750-ml. bottle, has also expanded its chain business of late, including multiple major chain placements in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

indexBeam Suntory is planning to launch a new whisky under its Hibiki brand in the U.S. later this year, called Japanese Harmony. Suntory Holdings has made it known it sees ample opportunity to expand the presence of its Japanese whisky brands—which also include Yamazaki and Hakushu—in the States.

indexE.&J. Gallo has rolled out the latest addition to it Viniq shimmering liqueur line, Viniq Ruby, nationwide. A blend of vodka, Moscato and flavors of strawberry, red berry and orange citrus, Ruby joins Viniq’s original Premium Shimmery Liqueur offering that debuted nationally earlier this year after an initial test launch in seven markets last May. The 40-proof offering is targeted at Millennial consumers and intended to be consumed on the rocks or in cocktails. Viniq Ruby retails in 750-ml. bottles for $19.99 and in 375-ml. bottles for $12.99.

indexBacardi Ltd. has officially launched Dewar’s Scratch Cask, an innovation from the blended Scotch whisky brand intended to serve as a bridge from the Bourbon category. Borrowing a technique from Bourbon-making in which barrels are scratched after charring, Scratch Cask is a blend of up to 40 single malts and single grain whiskies matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of four years. The blend is then married in American oak casks, both Bourbon and virgin oak, that are heavily charred and scratched to alter the flavor before finishing. The limited release is available beginning this month for about $25.99 nationwide.

indexPortland, Oregon-based Indio Spirits has released Snake River Stampede 100 Year Anniversary, a new 10-year-old barrel-aged whiskey. Snake River Stampede 100 Year Anniversary is a commemorative offering, created to mark the 100th year of Nampa, Idaho’s Snake River Stampede Rodeo. The 40%-abv whiskey—which was aged for eight years in Bourbon barrels and two years in rye barrels, then finished for six months in Sherry casks—will be available for a limited time across Oregon, Idaho and Washington, as well as at Total Wine & More locations nationwide. Priced at around $39.95 a bottle, Snake River Stampede 100 Year Anniversary joins the James Oliver whiskey, Cricket Club gin, Red Island and Barrel Room rum and Indio vodka brands in Indio Spirits’ craft portfolio.

indexDiageo is officially launching its next play in the high-end Bourbon segment with the unveiling of its Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey brand, created at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. Inspired by the “five keys” symbol found throughout the distillery (and named for the two parts of a skeleton key), Blade and Bow is available in two offerings—Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (91 proof, $49.99) and 22-Year-Old Limited Release Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (92 proof, $149.99). The former is made from some of the oldest stocks to be distilled at Stitzel-Weller before it closed in 1992 and matured using the solera aging method. The 22-Year-Old Bourbon includes whiskies distilled in Louisville and Frankfort, Kentucky, and was most recently aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller.

indexItalian spirits producer Contratto is adding two new additions to its portfolio in the U.S., Contratto Aperitif and Contratto Bitter. Using recipes that date to 1933, both offerings are made from Barbera grapes from Piedmont, macerated with botanicals and herbs. Contratto Aperitif (13.5%-abv) is positioned to compete with Aperol, while Contratto Bitter is aligned in the same competitive segment as Campari. Both retail at $29.99 a 1-liter, and follow Contratto’s U.S launch of its boutique vermouth range in 2013.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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berlin-s-finest-booze-that-isn-t-beerNow this is something unusual.  A hotel in Berlin, Germany decided to make their own schnaps based on two recipes found in a distillery founded under the rule of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1874.  Tom Michelberger and Nadine May, owners of the Michelberger Hotel along with Gerald Schroff and Dr. Ulf Stahl rebuilt the Preussishe Spirituosen Manufaktur to its former self after several decades of decline in 2005.  It is the only working distillery in Berlin today.

The two schnaps, Michelberger Forest and Mountain are like night and day from each other.  Mountain contains anise, caraway, cardamom, coriander, fennel, lemon balm, peppermint, sage, and thyme along with other botanicals; while Forest includes more amaro-like ingredients such as gentian root, and vanilla.

The Michelberger Hotel’s website is a real trip.  You should check it out here.  Not only do they do a bang up job as a place to stay in Germany, but they have their own line of coconut water called “Fountain of Youth”, their own brand of shoes, and host a music festival every summer.  Pretty creative stuff.

Michelberger Mountain (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet, rich dark herbs penetrated by a high crisp juniper note.  Woodruff, sage and game bird spices.  Unusual and mysterious.
Taste: Not gin, not an herbal liqueur, this is like a hybrid of the two.  Unique, somewhat medicinal and yet quite quaffable.  There is no bitterness, just a peppery, gin-like herbality quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
Finish: Medium length with lingering sweetness.  Notes of cucumber and green pepper come through at the end.
Overall: This recipe actually does taste like something from the 19th century.  Almost tonic-like and the kind of thing you might drink after a large meal.
GSN Rating: B+

Michelberger Forest (70 proof)
Visual: Yellow-gold.
Nose: Sweet, heathery, clover honey, sugared orange peel, vanilla bean.
Taste: Sweet, with a light herbal/citrus fruit profile.  The herbs keep things from going too much in a liqueur direction and make this more of a sweet ready-to-go cocktail.
Finish: Sweet, with the fruit and herbs playing tag back and forth.
Overall: Try stirring this with ice and then straining into a chilled cocktail glass.  It is light, elegant and very old school.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Michelberger Booze

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