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Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

WoodfordRyeWoodford Reserve branches out into the ever-growing rye whiskey market with this latest release.  To find out more about the history of the company, read my review of their Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish here.

Rye whiskey by the way is not Canadian.  In fact, there is only one brand of Canadian whisky (note that there is no ‘e’ in the spelling) which is made from 100% rye mash.  It’s well worth seeking out if you can.  Look for Alberta Premium.  Virtually all other Canadian whiskies are made from a high percentage of corn, with a smattering of rye.

American rye whiskey on the other hand, must be distilled from at least 51% rye.  Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight, uses 53% rye in their grain bill.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (90.4 proof)
Visual: Burnished copper penny.
Nose: Rich, enveloping spice driven aroma.  Mouth watering hints of vanilla, caramel and baking spices almost fool you into thinking this is a dessert.  Really fine nose. A+.
Taste: Impressively heady with a sharp and masculine rye bent.  Part of this is due to the higher proof, but I’ve had bottled-in-bond ryes that are 100 proof and don’t have this intensity.  Add a touch of water to bring this down to 80 proof and you’ve still got a powerhouse of a whiskey.  A+
Finish: This goes on and on for a few minutes.  Lots of character with bright high notes and deep low notes bookending the whole experience.  A+
Overall: World class rye whiskey that should be in everyone’s bar.  The perfect ingredient in a Manhattan, Sazerac or Old Fashioned.  A+
GSN Rating: Oh, did I mention this gets an A+?

For more information go to: Woodford Reserve

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Candy-Manor-9_17_FrontCraft distilleries are nothing new these days.  However, using a vintage movie theatre as home base is unusual.

Mike Rasmussen and Ron Gomes decided to base their headquarters in Delaware inside the Old Smyrna Theater which opened in 1948.  It’s an interesting visual mix that makes the distillery seem like it’s been around for decades instead of just a few years.  Rasmussen calls the look “neo-speakeasy”.  That whole ethic fits well into the gin they are marketing.

Candy Manor (so the legend goes) was a front for a local brothel back in the day.  Ask for the “Candy Special” and got both chocolates and a lady to enjoy.  For all I know, you also got some bathtub gin to soothe your conscience.

Candy Manor Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: More citrus than juniper up front.  Lightly herbal with a lot of lemon peel on the nose.
Taste: Sweet like an Old Tom style gin, as opposed to a London Dry.  Very smooth and appealing with more of the juniper coming through on the palate.  Flavorful with a nice blend of botanicals and a decent amount of flavor behind the distillate.
Finish: Medium long with more spice staying around than citrus.
Overall: Quite mixable and workable in a 3-1 Martini.  Try this in a prohibition era gin cocktail like a Gin Rickey or a White Lady.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Painted Stave Distilling

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52906-OldCooch-FrontI love history and often find myself watching documentaries on television.  I’m always amazed at how little I was taught in school about American history.  So, I’ve made it one of my personal agendas to research the origins of American spirits.  Turns out that Old Cooch’s has a tale to tell.

The Old Cooch in question was Thomas Cooch who owned a fair amount of property including a bridge.  Amazingly enough during the entire Revolutionary War, only one battle was ever fought in Delaware and it ended at Cooch’s Bridge on the Old Baltimore Pike in Newark.  On September 3, 1777, the British and Hessian forces overcame the Colonials and took control of the bridge.  To this day, there are sightings of a headless ghost walking on the road near the bridge.  Perhaps he got his head blown off by a cannonball.  Old Cooch’s Corn Whiskey won’t blow your head off, but it will soothe your nerves.

Old Cooch’s Corn Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, grassy funk of corn husk.
Taste: Lighter than expected with a watery mouthfeel.  The flavor is quite vegetal with a fair amount of heat.  There is a dry, semi-tannic quality that creates an oak flavor way at the back of the palate.  Semi-sugary, but balanced between heat and sweet.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of peppery notes percolating through the young oak.
Overall: This might appeal to those fans of moonshine who are looking for a lighter touch than the typical high-proof versions.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Painted Stave Distilling

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molinari-sambuca-extra-bottle-shot

Angelo Molinari began producing perfumes and liquor in the post WWI years in Italy.  From there, he moved to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and opened a modest pub.  After WWII, and with a growing family, he moved back to his homeland and settled in the coast town of Civitavecchia where he started making sambuca.  Surprisingly, this town was already the home of a long-established sambuca made with aniseed.  Molinari however, decided to make his with Star Anise.  He was also savvy in the ways of marketing and soon his product was being exported around the world.

Molinari Sambuca (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Anise laden with a touch of lighter herbs.
Taste: Viscous with a hefty anise one-two punch.  Smooth and quite sweet, but tempered with a slightly bitter edge.
Finish: Fairly long with a tingling numbness and sugary, candy-like finish.
Overall: Tasty and rich without becoming cloying.  Perfect for a Caffè corretto, or as a sipper with a light afternoon seafood based meal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Molinari

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1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

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MM-Final-Bottle-White-1Moonshine, or “white dog” has made a strong comeback in the cocktail world over the past few years.  Generally marketed as low-brow booze bottled in everything from jug shaped bottles to Mason jars, Manhattan Moonshine instead seeks to market this spirit to an elegant clientage.  Just one look at the gorgeous bottle, and you know the company is aiming for something different.

And different it is.  Made with an unusual blend of four grains including oats, rye, spelt and two-row malt (notice there is no corn), this is a more subtle and mellow moonshine.  What is also notable is that the grains are all sourced from New York State farms.  The mash is then distilled in a Carl pot still ensuring a wide array of flavorful congeners.

Manhattan Moonshine (95 proof)
Visual: Crystal clear.
Nose: Typical white dog “funk” with a lot of woody notes.  Some mint, wet grass, young leather, and yeast.
Taste: Smooth and semi-creamy with not as much heat as expected.  The initial sweet burn, opens up into a lot of tannic and dry notes.  After 30 seconds, more grain and bread characters open up with a definite oat forward character.  A semi-chewy, heavy bread-like flavor comes through at the very end.
Finish: Some heat in the back of the throat, but a lingering sweetness almost like honey bread is the final impression.
Overall: Definitely a more pleasant moonshine than many I’ve had, but still more in line with the genre than groundbreaking.  I have to say that the grain bill does make for a better experience than corn.  If you’re into moonshine, than this is one you should definitely give a try.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Manhattan Moonshine

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deep-eddy-lemon1Despite the declining popularity of flavored vodkas on the market, Deep Eddy has debuted a new flavor in their fruit based line.

So, what makes Deep Eddy’s version different from all of the others on the market?  Surprisingly, it is adding real lemon juice, yet keeping the proof at the usual 40%.  In fact, if you wanted to make yourself a glass of super potent lemonade, all you would need to do is add some simple syrup.  It’s a bit too tart to drink straight, but has a fresh squeezed flavor that takes it in a new direction unmatched by other citrus vodkas.

For my previous reviews of the Deep Eddy portfolio, go here.

Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Cloudy yellow.
Nose: Sharp lemon peel and juice with a deeper alcoholic undercurrent.
Taste: Strong lemon taste with a hint of sweetness.  Quite tart with a semi-viscous mouthfeel.  A sort of corn-based moonshine character comes out to warm the palate mid-way and then fades again leaving a citrus afterglow.
Finish: Medium long, with a Lemonhead candy finish.  Oddly enough, there seems to be more sweetness at the end than at the beginning.
Overall: A fresh, tasty lemon vodka easily mixable and almost a cocktail in itself.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Deep Eddy

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