Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

frey-ranch-estate-distilleryFrey Ranch Estate Distillery, a Nevada-based estate grain distillery for the past six years, released Frey Ranch Gin in the fall of 2015.  It is the second premium craft spirit produced by Frey Ranch. The product begins with three different grains – rye, barley and corn – grown and milled right on the ranch and combined with juniper berries and sagebrush sourced from the ranch. These ingredients are joined by coriander, Angelia root, cardamom pod, lemon peel and orange peel. The Gin was released just one year after a successful launch of Frey Ranch Vodka which incorporates four different grains – corn, rye, wheat and barley – also grown right on the ranch.

Frey Ranch is located in Churchill County and, in the midst of its beautiful 1,200-acre farm, sits a 4,600 square-foot distillery featuring a stillroom, tank room, barreling room, tasting room and a malt house. The centerpiece of the distillery is a one-of-a-kind, custom-made Vendome still that is capable of producing 10,000 cases of spirits a month. Additionally, there are four 5,000 gallon fermenters, one 5,000 gallon mash cooker, one 5,000 gallon beer well, one 500 gallon pot still, a 24-foot continuous still and 23-foot vodka column.

Frey Ranch spirits are available throughout Nevada, California and Chicago and will soon be available in other markets across the country.

Frey Ranch Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Slight fresh crushed mint, faint corn kernel, but overall a bright, high almost poitin-like nose.
Taste: Some initial spice with a tinge of bitter herb, gives way to a more open and classic vodka approach.  Yet, this is definitely a craft spirit with some of the rough edges retained, lending a more forceful character.
Finish: Fairly long with a slow fade of rye spice on the back of the palate.
Overall: A vodka that chooses to retain the character of the grain bill.  Not soft and flavorless, but rather direct and with sprightly character.
GSN Rating: B

Frey Ranch Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh cut grass, crushed juniper, lemon oil, lime zest.
Taste: More citrus than juniper out of the gate, but it picks up after a few moments letting you know that this is not a lemon vodka.  Quite spicy and lively with more of the same rustic quality as the vodka.  The botanicals work well within this range, creating a dense palate of 18th century style London gin.
Finish: Lemon lingers long after everything has faded, but there is a still a lot of spice playing on the tongue.
Overall: A gin that will work well in cocktails like a Tom Collins, a Rickey or a G&T.  The citrus forward aspect makes it more difficult to manage in more gin forward drinks like a Martini or Negroni.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Frey Ranch

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l_12233-1Hibiki Japanese Harmony encapsulates the harmony that exists between Japanese nature and its people. Packaged in a glass decanter bottle cut in 24 facets, which represent the 24 hours in a day and the 24 seasons of the traditional Japanese lunar calendar, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a blend of select whiskies from the House of Suntory Whisky. It is a blend of at least 10 malt and grain whiskies, aged in five different types of casks, from Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries.

Hibiki Japanese Harmony is heralded as the foundation of the Hibiki range, leveraging the same key malt and grain whiskies from the original Hibiki blend, Hibiki 17 Years and Hibiki 21 Years. American White Oak malt whiskies create a base. The Mizunara (Japanese oak) and sherry cask malt whiskies are the dressing. The smoky malt whiskies enact as subtle accents to create depth and further complexity. Grain whiskies from Suntory’s Chita distillery act as the “dashi,” or broth, to complete the personality of the malt whiskies and enhance their overall harmony.

Hibiki Japanese Harmony (86 proof)
Visual: Mild, bright gold.
Nose: Slight haze of wood smoke, warmed maple plank, newly polished saddle leather, whole grain bread dough, tinge of buttercream.
Taste: Complex and intertwined with darker aspects of aged whiskies.  A canvas of different wood flavors along with the sprightliness of the younger grain whiskies, along with a hint of sherry make this a whisky that unfolds itself over several minutes with each taste.
Finish: Medium short with a definite bent toward fresh cooked caramel.
Overall: Much like Japanese cuisine, the appeal of this whisky lies in its subtleties and nuances.  In other words, savor each sip as you might meditate on a haiku.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Whisky Suntory

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unspecifiedHigh West Distillery, Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870, releases a limited edition 14-Year Light Whiskey. “At High West, we believe education leads to appreciation so we wanted to shed some light on this rarely discussed type of whiskey,” says High West founder David Perkins. “This is a spirit that’s not likely to be available again for a long time.”

Light whiskey denotes a grain spirit that’s been distilled at a higher proof than a straight whiskey — between 80-95% alcohol by volume (ABV) versus less than 80% ABV respectively. It’s typically used as a component in about 95% of the world’s blended whiskeys. In the U.K., what they call grain whiskey is essentially the same thing as light whiskey.

“This whiskey was distilled at a higher proof on the still, which reduces the heaviness of the flavors, and reveals more floral and fruit subtleties,” said High West master distiller Brendan Coyle. “It was aged in used barrels, as opposed to first-use charred barrels, which lends more elegant complexities with a spirit-forward character.”

High West discovered 100 barrels of light whiskey at MGP made from corn that was distilled between 1999 and 2001, aged in second-fill barrels. That wood aging imparted a traditionally light spirit with anything but typical results.

Beginning March 19, 2016 this special bottling is available exclusively to visitors at the High West Distillery at Blue Sky Ranch, followed by a roll out at the High West Saloon & Distillery in historic Old Town Park City on April 16, 2016.

High West 14 Year Light Whiskey (92 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Unusual grape-like nose with a vanilla overlay.  Quite fruity and mouth-watering.  Additional notes of spicecake add panache.  Entrancing.
Taste: Marshmallow, vanilla caramel creme and mild cinnamon out of the gate.  As the flavors settle during a second taste, softer more subtle malty toast and mild rye flavors come through.  This is interesting, as there is no rye used in the grain bill.
Finish: Long and sweet like a lover’s kiss.  And like a lover’s kiss, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.
Overall: Another fantastic whiskey from High West.  Currently one of my top favorite American distilleries.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: High West

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nomadbottleNomad Outland Whisky (the Sophisticated Traveler) is born in the Highlands of Scotland, principally from Speyside and aged in Jerez, Spain. There, it is left to soak up the natural aspects of this special micro-climate giving Nomad its quintessential Scottish character and a soul that is truly Jerezano. Scotch Whiskies, specially selected by master blender Richard Paterson have been shipped to this historic Andalucian city, where under the watchful eye of González Byass master blender Antonio Flores, they are left to age in Pedro Ximénez barrels in the unique micro-climate of Jerez.

Nomad Outland Whisky is crafted for consumers looking to be inspired by a unique marriage of global flavors.

Nomad Outland (82.6 proof)
Visual: Medium light gold.
Nose: A ton of lovely sherry on the nose.  Elegant, stately and invigorating.  Below that lies a solid, not-too-malty whisky that has just the right amount of wood.
Taste: The slightly higher proof, cause the whisky to come through as the leader, while the sherry plays a more subtle role.  The flavors run from salted caramel to toasted hazelnut.
Finish: Medium long with a sherry sweetness adding an engagingly 19th century appeal.
Overall: Very nice and a solid whisky.  The concept works well to bring what would be a traditional Scottish technique further afield to age under quite different conditions.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Gonzalez Byass

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FewThe Evanston distillery known for its award-winning whiskies and gins, has added the latest addition to its stable and is specially designed for brunch cocktails. A spirit flavored with juniper, lemon peel and Earl Grey tea, Few Breakfast Gin launched in the Chicago area last summer and is now rolling out across the globe.

Few Breakfast Gin is the brainchild of distiller and production manager Steven Kaplan. “We’re always into experimenting, and I always want something refreshing in spring and summer,” Kaplan says. “I love Earl Grey tea, and I thought using it in a gin would be perfect for brunch drinks like my favorite, the French 75.”

Based in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb that was once an international headquarters for the temperance movement, Few Spirits is a craft distillery making whiskies and gins from locally grown grains and other ingredients sourced as close to home as possible, including Cascade hops grown in master distiller Paul Hletko’s own backyard.

The 84-proof Few Breakfast Gin is currently available in seven US states, the District of Columbia and the UK, with more markets on the way.

Few Breakfast Gin (84 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: The orange bergamot found in Earl Grey tea is most prominent, followed by the heady aroma of juniper.  It still remains very much a gin nose.
Taste: Dry and bracing, the tannic quality of the tea works well to keep this from being a fruit forward gin.  Not much of the tea flavor or smokiness comes through, but there is definitely something different going on here.
Finish: Medium short with some residual citrus notes lingering on.
Overall: A gin that will work in whatever you want, although in a Martini it may clash with the vermouth if you’re not careful.  I like this idea and would like to see more tea infused spirits.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: FEW Spirits

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botts2The Glenrothes Distillery, known for producing vintage single malt whiskies, introduced the three new non-age statement single malt expressions in the fall of 2015. The Glenrothes Reserves are a blend of rare and limited Vintages married together to produce distinctive expressions. Each Vintage is chosen to give the final product character, maturity and balance while maintaining the characteristic flavor profile of The Glenrothes Distillery.

The Glenrothes Reserve Collection Tri-Set consists of:

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve is the first all first-fill sherry cask expression from The Glenrothes; it is matured predominantly in European oak, which delivers a greater array of flavors than the American equivalent and, in particular, the resinous and dried fruit character underpinning the sherry top notes.

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve is matured exclusively in American oak refill bourbon casks and laid to rest in the warehouse, allowing the whisky to pull the aromas and flavors embedded in the grain of the wood.

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve is the expression that best epitomizes The Glenrothes Vintage Single Malt philosophy of bottling whisky only once it has reached the peak of its maturity. The new expression comprises 10 different vintages from the last three decades: 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve (80 proof)
Visual: Dark gold.
Nose: Effervescent high Sherry notes overlay a mid-range of slightly smokey Speyside malts.  Inviting and somewhat jovial in character.
Taste: Marvelous.  The sherry accents the whisky in a way that intertwines them like a Celtic design.  You can’t tell where one begins or ends.  A fruity and floral masterpiece.
Finish: Medium long with more of the sherry closing the door on the experience.  Even a touch of baking chocolate at the end is a surprise.
Overall: Highly recommended and a world-class whisky.  Do yourself a favor and keep a bottle on hand for special occasions.
GSN Rating: A+

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve (80 proof)
Visual: Ultra pale gold.
Nose: Woodsy, sweet dried corn husk, saddle leather, floral heather, rich malt.
Taste: Lightly sweetened and reminiscent of a grain porridge.  Entry is feminine at first, but it opens up into a masculine body and self-assured flavor. The bourbon flavor creates a round mid-tone that warms and comforts.
Finish: Medium long with a dried cherry touch at the end.
Overall: Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A-

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve (80 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Deep honey and dried apple notes.  Honeysuckle flower.  Vanilla bean.
Taste: Dark and rich malt with bright and crisp woodiness.  The character is right on the edge of being just a tad too tannic, but a drop or two of branch water takes this away.  This tastes like a warm autumnal afternoon in the woods.
Finish: Medium long with some of the honey character hanging on until the last.
Overall: Quite traditional, old school Scottish whisky that has more than enough character to stand out amongst other Speysides.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Glenrothes



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Montanya_Rum_Labels_Platino_OroAlthough rum is often associated with the Caribbean, Montanya Distillers, a craft rum distillery located high in the Rocky Mountains, is breaking that notion. Using high elevation to its advantage, Montanya crafts flavors you can’t create at sea level.

Montanya Distillers, located in Crested Butte, Colo., uses old-world artisan traditions, combining science with art. By using just four natural American ingredients, Montanya has created aged rums that have been awarded 18 Gold and Silver medals in international competitions. These rums reflect both Montanya Distillers’ mountain culture and a new American rum tradition. Montanya produces Platino Light rum, Oro Dark rum, and a brand new, longer-aged, limited-edition rum called The Exclusiva (not sent for review).

Karen Hoskin, president and co-founder of Montanya says, “Everything in our rum is hand-crafted and originates from the U.S., including the non-GMO sugar cane, which we get from Louisiana farmers, and even the bottles and non-plastic synthetic corks. Rum is so versatile and we look forward to learning how people are using our rum to break it out of the stereotypical boxes rum often finds itself in.” Montanya was named the 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year by the American Distilling Institute.

Platino (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Slight vanilla sweetness with an overlay of minerality.
Taste: Some marshmallow and vanillin with a soft, almost chalky mouthfeel.  More body than a typical light rum, which translates into more pronounced flavors.  Quite balanced and smooth with a chewy heft.
Finish: Medium long with the mineral notes lingering long after the sweetness has dissipated.
Overall: A solid white rum that is perfect for Daiquiris and summery cocktails.
GSN Rating: A-

Oro (80 proof)
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: A grassy funk similar to a mild tequila greets the nose.  A decent amount of smoked wood adds to the palette.
Taste: Amazingly smooth and rich with creme brulee and toffee notes.  The char keeps things from going in the too sweet direction and adds lushness to the mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium long with the minerals staying around long after the part has ended.
Overall: The trouble-making sibling of the Platino.  This rum has a slightly more rustic and playful edge.  Great for darker rum cocktails that call for a smokier quality.  Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Montanya Rum

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