Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category


Allaire was created by three cousins, Santiago, Javier, and Andres who chose the name by combining the words allure and billionaire. Produced along with spirited cousins Allaire rum and Allaire tequila by The Bar Company, the vodka is sourced from Wielkopolskie grains, distilled six times and filtered another six times before being brought to proof and bottled.  The bottle by the way, stands a massive 14.75″ high and easily is the tallest bottle on my back bar of over 300 bottles.  But, this one will run you $100+, and the tequila and rum are even pricier.  Is the vodka worth it?  Read on…

Allaire Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Crystal clear.
Nose: Clean, light and elegant. Judging by the slight spiciness of the nose, I’d guess this is a rye grain bill.
Taste: Yes, definitely rye. More spice on the palate and yet, still quite smooth and balanced. There is a touch of heat, but also a warm and slight marshmallow flavor. Certainly not lacking character, this vodka will stand up on its own quite well.
Finish: Medium long with just a touch of dry slate finishing things off.
Overall: Very well done and certainly a fine sipper, I’d recommend this vodka as one to gift a friend who is an aficionado.  As a vodka for entertaining or cocktail use, it is most likely to be found on menus at upscale bars in Vegas or LA.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Allaire Privee

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400 years ago, Gripsholm, Sweden was known for a different kind of cannon. In 1580, King Karl IV of Sweden built the Åkers Styckebruk foundry in Gripsholm to produce cannons for the Swedish army – and the distillery to make vodka for its workers. Reputed for quality, orders for the cannons of Åkers Styckebruk came from as far as Russia, America, Brazil and even China. Naturally, the high demand for cannons saw an increase in vodka production as well.

By 1775, King Gustaf III had monopolized alcohol production to fund his many wars and even borrowed money from the owner of Åkers Styckebruk, Joachim Von Wahrendorff. Unable to pay his debt back to Von Wahredorff, King Gustaf made Gripsholm a Royal Distillery.

Freed from state regulation it became the largest distillery in Sweden, producing over a million liters a year and employing nearly 300 workers. In 1792 Gripsholm fell prey to royal whim – King Gustaf was shot and his successor Gustav IV Adolf outlawed the private production of spirits. Having no debt to the distillery himself, he preferred to reap the revenue of a state monopoly. Gripsholm was closed for over 200 years until Sweden lifted the monopoly in the 1990’s and Kanon Vodka owner and founder Peter Hjelm set out to revive the Gripsholm legacy. Construction began in 2008. In 2010, with a production process founded in a tradition started 400 years ago, the first cases of Kanon Organic Vodka were shipped to New York.

400 years ago distilling with wheat from a local source was self evident. Kanon took that as their starting point. The entire production process, from wheat to bottle, is done inside a three-mile radius. They use water exclusively from their own artesian aquifer, and wheat sourced directly from local farmers who grow according to EU and USDA organic standards.

In addition, Kanon’s leading-edge technology is pushing industry standards. The entire distillery is run on electricity sourced from wind and waterpower. Their offices are heated from steam produced in the fermentation process. The by-products are reused in other industries or recycled into bio-fuel for local buses. Even the bottles are made from recycled glass, and are 100% recyclable. It doesn’t get much greener than that.

Kanon Organic Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Loads of fresh, vibrant rainwater essence.  Quite a lot of character with an olfactory body touched with mint, pepper, and vanilla.
Taste: Extremely smooth, yet with a lovely deep essence of authenticity and small batch mentality.  The best of both worlds.
Finish: Medium long with tantalizing interplay between the sweet wheat distillate and the brooding minerality of the local water.
Overall: One of the best vodkas to come to America in several years. This is an amazing vodka if you can find it.  It adds so much more to any cocktail than the usual multi-distillation vodkas on the market.  Buy a case, you won’t regret it.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Kanon Vodka

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Canadian Club has been creating whisky since 1858, and in 2014 launched a 100% Rye Whisky. Dan Tullio, Canadian Whisky Master Ambassador at Beam Suntory says “The rye whisky category has seen significant growth over the past five years, specifically with bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts, so we made it our mission to create the right product that would satisfy their discerning palates. Canadian Club 100% Rye is what the label says it is. No corn. No barley. Nothing but rye.”

To achieve the best balance of flavor, aged whiskies for Canadian Club 100% Rye are selected from three different types of barrels: brand new, white American oak barrels; once­‐used bourbon barrels; and Canadian whisky barrels and blended  to taste.



Canadian Club 100% Rye (80 proof)
Visual: Golden brown.
Nose: Mellow rye spice on the nose with a dry, clean and crisp aroma.
Taste: Somewhat thin and reserved, the rye character still chooses to come through and act accordingly.  The flavor isn’t deep, but it is spicy and toasty.  Yes, rye toast is the direction this whisky is headed toward, just not in the same manner as a “craft” rye.
Finish: Medium long with a curious strawberry fruit essence at the tail end. I was not expecting this, but it adds to the experience.
Overall: A serviceable rye whisky that would be even better if bottled at 100 proof.  As it stands, this is a real bargain and certainly a great rye whisky for beginners.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Canadian Club

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Since opening in 2009, Eastern Oregon’s Stein Distillery line of handcrafted products has steadily increased, along with its consumer base. In 2011, Stein Distillery released its much-anticipated 2-year American Oak-aged Straight Rye and Straight Bourbon Whiskeys. Stein Distillery grows the grain used in their products on their farm and is a family run, handcrafted, turn-key operation.

They currently produce vodka, moonshine, whiskies, rum and cordials.  Their rye releases come in 2-year and 5-year aged versions.

If you’d like to order a bottle or two, you can do so from CraftedLife.com

Stein 2-Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Dusky orange-brown.
Nose: Intense oak, almost fresh-cut in nature.  Rye grain spice with massive high notes.  You can almost smell the mash in the distillery with this deep nose.
Taste: Smooth entry with a lot of tannins and a minty finish.  The rye itself kicks in after half a minute with a fresh bread-like taste. There aren’t a lot of subtleties here, but more of a raw homegrown flavor.
Overall: The flavor might improve with another year in the barrel.  It seems slightly unfinished.  I’d love to try their five-year old and see where this leads.  As it is, it is a good sipping whiskey, but needs some smoothing out for use in cocktails.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Stein Distillery

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craftedlifeFounded in 2015, Crafted Life, based in Bend, Oregon recently announced the launch of an online sales program of America’s finest craft spirits for in-home delivery. Crafted Life contracted with Park Street – a national spirits distributor and Passion Spirits – an online spirits sales and shipping provider to create a network that allows consumers to purchase some of America’s hard-to-find craft spirits and have them delivered directly to their homes.

Normally, spirits are distributed via a complex, three-tier system comprised of distilleries, distributors and liquor stores. This system is a throwback to prohibition, and makes it very costly for craft distilleries to build distribution. This means that many of America’s small batch craft spirits are only available in the states where they are distilled. Crafted Life is changing this by offering craft distilleries access to national distribution and online sales.

“Demand for craft spirits has exploded over the last five years”, said John Stafford, co-founder of Crafted Life. “We saw an opportunity to bring the best craft spirits direct to the consumer – something that no other company in the spirits industry is doing”, said Stafford.

“Many of the distilleries we’re working with offer award-winning spirits”, said Matthew Bowler, co-founder of Crafted Life. “Working with Park Street and Passion Spirits we are able to connect artisan distillers with consumers around the country – at a fraction of what it would normally cost a distillery”, said Bowler. “And with free shipping for the purchase of three bottles we’re looking to level the playing field for the artisan distiller.”

The GSN offices were offered the opportunity to try this service out and we received a bottle of Stein Straight Rye Whiskey from Joseph, Oregon. Look for the review of the spirit tomorrow.  The delivery went off without a hitch and we were intrigued by the wide variety of spirits available.  Everything from whiskies, vodkas, gins, rums and modifiers such as absinthe, liqueurs and vermouths.

 For more information go to: Crafted Life

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90e26c824b4c80607cda649a611ec81aKerrygold, which specializes in Irish Dairy Products, now offers Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur, a blend of Irish cream, real chocolate and oak-aged Irish whiskey. Named World’s Best Cream Liqueur at the 2016 World Drink Awards, is now available in 36 states across the nation.


Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur (34 proof)
Visual: Dark beige.
Nose: More chocolate on the nose than whiskey, but it is there, just faint.  It’s reminiscent of being in a chocolatier shoppe.
Taste: Medium thickness on the palate with a chocolate forward rush, immediately followed by the tang of Irish whiskey.
Finish: Short and sweet with more of the chocolate lingering than the whiskey.
Overall: A fine variation on the standard Irish Cream liqueurs. A bit sweeter, but more complex as well.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Kerrygold Irish Cream

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image002Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur is crafted with Speyside whisky that has been aged three years in American Oak casks and blended with cream from free-range cows from farmer-owned dairy farms in Holland.  In addition, Magnum is packaged in a 100% recyclable and re-usable stainless steel canister reminiscent of a milk can.

Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur (34 proof)
Visual: Tan.
Nose: Medium blended Scotch nose, with obvious light cream.  Dessert-like and approachable.
Taste: Thick mouthfeel with a decent bite of whisky, a lot of cream which tastes fresh and real.
Finish: Short, with just a touch of sweetness which lingers.
Overall: A less sweet and more whisky forward cream liqueur than many.  I think that Scotch works to the benefit of the liqueur. Good for a change of pace.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Magnum Cream Liqueur

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