GSN Review: Triple Dog Irish Whiskey

Triple Dog Irish Whiskey, a new entrant in the Irish whiskey category created by Dan O’Shevlin, is now available nationwide. The idea for the whiskey was hatched in a small Dublin pub when a group of whiskey makers was passionately debating how traditional Irish whiskey could better appeal to the next generation of Irish whiskey lovers. The conversation escalated, leading to the ultimate of pub challenges: the formidable “Triple Dog Dare.” O’Shevlin, a whiskey aficionado with a background in biochemistry, took the dare.

“Many years ago, I went to Ireland after the passing of my grandfather, Philip Joseph O’Shevlin, who was, among other things, a pub owner,” says Daniel Patrick O’Shevlin, master blender and co-founder of Triple Dog Irish Whiskey. “At that time, my father handed me a small wooden box containing handmade drawings dated 1916, along with a recipe for creating a new Irish whiskey, the unrealized dream of my grandfather. Inspired by his legacy, and the ardent coaxing of my Irish whiskey-maker friends, I knew it was the right time to take the dare. I’m excited to introduce a bold, creative, genuine Irish whiskey uniquely different from all the stodgy, traditional whiskeys.”

Triple Dog Irish Whiskey consists of O’Shevlin’s proprietary blend of whiskey created with the original 1916 formula and refined with contemporary distillation techniques. It is distilled in Dundalk, County Louth, a coastal county on the Irish Sea that has a heritage of making proper Irish whiskeys dating back to 1708. With access to water from the nearby Cooley Mountains and generations of local whiskey artisans, O’Shevlin honed batch after batch until the final blend was perfected.

Triple Dog Irish Whiskey is currently available in retail stores, bars, and restaurants throughout Texas and California, with the brand slated for expansion into other states later this year. Triple Dog is also available for purchase online through the company’s website.

GSN’s Remarks: Light woodiness greets the nose with a hint of vanilla. The palate presents a smooth entry, with a strong oak character following, succeeded by dessert-like notes of toffee, salted caramel, vanilla bean, and espresso. This all comes back together in a rush at the end, with the cask staves leaving a somewhat bitter tannic finish. We’d recommend this as a shot paired with an Irish Stout, or used in a traditional Irish Coffee to add some depth. GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Triple Dog Whiskey


GSN Alert: New Spirits Releases 3.3.23

Caleño Light & Zesty is a non-alcoholic gin alternative featuring a mix of citrus, Inca berry and pineapple flavors. It has 0% alcohol, is sugar and gluten free and is vegan friendly. After an initial launch in the UK in 2019, Caleño has expanded its availability to include some European countries and the Middle East. The US launch is set for March 2023 with Australia to follow. (SRP $33 for 500ml)
Hendrick’s Flora Adora is a limited edition gin crafted by Master Distiller Lesley Gracie at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace in southwest Scotland. She was inspired by garden flowers which are more enticing than others to pollinators like bees, birds, and butterflies. Availability begins March 2023. (SRP $39.99)
Kingsbarns Doocot is the brand’s flagship whisky, replacing the former Dream to Dram which has been retired. It is made with barley sourced just 6 miles from the distillery in Fife. Using a long fermentation and slow distillation, the single malt is distilled and aged in two barrel types: ex-bourbon which accounts for 90% of the whisky and ex-Portuguese red wine casks which have been shaved, toasted and recharred making up the balance. Incidentally, Doocot — pronounced “doo-ket” — is the Scots word for dovecot, a freestanding nesting shelter for doves and one of the architectural features of the Lowlands distillery. Doocot is available globally beginning March 2023. (SRP $59.99)
Triple Dog Irish Whiskey is triple-distilled in copper pot & column stills using malted and unmalted grains. It’s crafted on the east coast of Ireland in Dundalk, Co. Louth and aged for at least 5 years in French oak barrels. Available beginning March 2023 online nationwide and in select retailers, bars, and restaurants in Texas and California. Expansion is planned for other US states later in the year. (SRP $39.99)
Solum is the third and final release in Westland’s Outpost series which focuses on the Pacific Northwest and its sense of place. While Garryana highlighted oak and Colere featured barley, Solum puts the spotlight on peat — and the peat used here was harvested approx. 2 hours south of Seattle. The peat was harvested in a sustainable manner to ensure the health of the bog for future harvests. Using 100% Skagit Valley Malting peated malted barley, the American single malt whiskey was distilled and aged in the following cask types: Cooper’s Reserve new American oak, Cooper’s Select new American oak, and first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. Just 4,044 bottles are available globally with a launch in March 2023. (SRP $149.99)
Whistlepig The Béhôlden is a single malt whiskey made from 100% malted barley at the “first single malt distillery in North America.” Aged for 21 years, it was initially matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels before a final finishing in Vermont in former Whistlepig rye barrels. The Béhôlden is being released as single barrels and for this limited spring release, there are 18 single barrels available. The nationwide launch begins March 1, 2023 via Whistlepig’s online shop as well as select retailers. (SRP $799.99)
This bottling not only commemorates the running of the 149th Kentucky Derby held in 2023, but it is also a 50th anniversary celebration of Secretariat winning the race in 1973. Of course, not only did the thoroughbred win the Derby that year, but he also won the Triple Crown and to this day still holds the fastest race times at each of the three events. This Woodford Reserve Bourbon bottle features the artwork of Kentucky native Jaime Corum, an equine artist known for her stunning horse portraits. This limited edition is sold globally in liter-sized bottles beginning in March 2023. Woodford Reserve is the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby®. (SRP $55)
Information courtesy of

GSN Alert: Registration Now Open For Bar Convent Brooklyn 2023

NEW YORK (March 1, 2023) Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB Brooklyn), one of the leading international trade events for the bar and beverage industry, announces the official opening of registration for the 2023 show today. Returning to Brooklyn’s Industry City on Tuesday, June 13 and Wednesday, June 14, this year’s event marks the fifth in-person show and will have increased space with more exhibitors, demonstrations, and seminars. 

Since the inaugural show in 2018, Bar Convent Brooklyn provides a welcoming and collaborative environment in which industry professionals discuss and celebrate liquid culture through education, networking, and more. The event has seen solid growth each year in the number of attendees, exhibitors, and education sessions, with 2022 reaching record breaking numbers in all three categories. 

“The continued growth of Bar Convent Brooklyn has been absolutely incredible,” Jackie Williams, Bar Convent Brooklyn’s Event Director. “Last year, we reached pre-pandemic numbers, and we know this year will be even more successful. We have really compelling programming and educational sessions that will be sure to delight and inspire attendees. Bar Convent Brooklyn has been and always will be a place for industry friends to come together to learn about the newest trends, try the newest spirits or rediscover some old favorites, network and much more, and I’m excited to welcome everyone to this year’s show.”

What’s New for 2023:

  • Education
    • Bar Convent Brooklyn 2023 will feature 14 additional seminars, making for more than 50 educational sessions. 
    • The education committee has carefully curated the Main Stage educational sessions and is comprised by leading industry experts, including:
      • Lynnette Marrero, Co-Founder of Speed Rack and Beverage Consultant
      • Samantha Casuga, Head Bartender at Temple Bar
      • John deBary, Author of Saved By The Bellini
      • Touré Folkes, Founder and Program Director of Turning Tables
      • Chelsea Gregoire, Founder and Hospitality Director of Church Bar and Owner/Consultant of Drinkable Genius
      • Caer Maiko, Co-Creator of Daijoubu Pop-Up and General Manager at DrinkWell
      • Sarah Troxell, Bar Director at Daiquiri Time Out
  • And More to Come!
    • Bar Convent Brooklyn will announce additional initiatives, exhibiting brands and the final education program soon. Stay tuned for details. 

Tickets can now be purchased here on the Bar Convent Brooklyn website, starting at an Early Bird Rate of $60 for one-day and $100 for two-days available until April 9. From April 10 – June 10, pre-purchased tickets online will be priced at $80 for one-day and $130 for both days. Upon availability, tickets at the door will be $100 for one day and $160 for two days, starting on June 11. Throughout the two-day event, attendees will be able to take advantage of a myriad of new taste forums, demonstrations, and panel discussions with leading industry experts. 

For more information about attending or exhibiting at Bar Convent Brooklyn, visit To learn about sponsorship, partnership, and exhibition opportunities, contact Jackie Williams at

GSN Alert: New Spirits Releases 2.24.23

Following an absence on the market since 2016, Benriach has returned a 16 year-old single malt to its portfolio in a new formulation. The Sixteen is a triple-cask matured whisky aging in ex-bourbon, sherry casks, and virgin oak. Bottled at 86 proof, it’s available globally in select markets as of November 2022 with the US launch following in February 2023. (UK SRP £72/US SRP $115)

Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru Murcian Lemon is a celebration of the region of Murcia, Spain and its citrus fruits. Here sustainably sourced Murcian Fino lemons, mandarins, and sweet navel oranges are the focal point. Suggested serves include a Martini or a French 75, each garnished with a lemon twist, of course. Available in select markets as of February 2023 with a nationwide launch to follow in spring 2023. (SRP $34.99)

Don Julio Rosado is a reposado tequila which has been rested for 4 months in ruby port wine casks. Like the rest of the Don Julio portfolio, the ripe agaves were selected from the Los Altos region in Jalisco, Mexico. The tequila has an all-natural pink hue and is recommended to drink on the rocks or with a splash of seltzer and lemon wedge. Don Julio Rosado is a permanent addition to the brand’s portfolio with availability beginning in February 2023. (SRP $125.99)

The Epicurean Amarone Wine Cask Finish is the seventh release in the brand’s limited edition Wood Series. The blended malt whisky features single malts from the Lowlands which were initially aged in American oak barrels. The whisky was re-racked into a single Amarone wine cask for a further two years of maturation. Bottled at 48% ABV without chill-filtration, the whisky is available beginning February 2023. (SRP £65.00/€73.00)

The 15th annual edition of The Irishman Cask Strength was announced in February 2023. Made from a blend of triple-distilled single malt and single pot still whiskeys, the whiskey was matured in American ex-bourbon barrels. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 55.3% ABV. A total of 8,400 bottles were produced with 1,200 of those bottles set aside for the US. The remaining bottles will be sold in Canada, Ireland, France, the UK, South Africa and Asia. (SRP $155)

Method and Madness is the experimental micro-distillery located in Midleton, Co. Cork. For Rye & Malt, Distiller Katherine Condon and her team decided on a triple-distilled mash of 60% rye and 40% malted barley. Ex-bourbon American oak barrels were used for maturation. This Method and Madness bottling is an exclusive release to the US with just 5,000 bottles produced. It’s bottled at cask strength of 46% ABV without any chill filtration. Notably, while there have been other whiskeys released under the Method and Madness brand, this is the first whiskey to be distilled there. Availability begins February 2023 in select US markets and online retailers. (SRP $80)

The 2023 release for Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon is set for February 2023. There wasn’t a release for 2022 so this is the first 10 year single barrel bourbon from the brand since 2021. As with most recent releases, it was selected by Master Distiller Dan McKee, along with Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson. Also, like the rest of the Michter’s whiskeys supplies are allocated due to the high demand. (SRP $185)

Midleton Very Rare is an annual limited edition release and this 2023 edition is the third bottling Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman has created and the 40th release for the brand. This year the brand is presenting the Irish whiskey in a recyclable packaging replacing the wooden cabinet it’s been housed in since 1990. The whiskey is a blend of single pot still and grain whiskeys. For the 2023 edition, O’Gorman has increased the pot still portion as well as having refill casks take a prominent role in the blend. Midleton Very Rare 2023 is available as of February 22, 2023 in the US, Canada, global travel retail, Europe, Australia, and Asia. (SRP $250)

Northcross Triple Wood is crafted and aged at Great Northern Distillery in Co. Louth, just south of the Northern Ireland border. The three barrels used for maturation are ex-bourbon, oloroso sherry and virgin American oak. It’s bottled at 86 proof without chill filtration. Available online in many US states beginning February 2023 with further availability in select markets. (SRP $24.99)

Warehouse H is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey from Old Forester’s The 117 Series. The limited edition series which first launched in spring 2021 aims to showcase experimentation and innovation. Here Old Forester highlights Warehouse H which was built shortly after WWII ended in 1946. It’s a 4-story 8 chamber warehouse designed to be heat cycled in the winter months. Warehouse H is unusual in that its first floor was often the the floor which had the highest temperatures. This bottling features barrels from that historic warehouse. Released in February 2023, it’s available for purchase at the distillery and for guests who book to stay at the brand’s Prohibition-themed apartment “The Sleepeasy” on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville. (SRP $59.99/375ml)

Writers’ Tears Single Pot Still is a triple-distilled blend of malted and unmalted barley. The first maturation takes place in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. Then the whiskey is finished in PX sherry and Marsala wine hogsheads. While the whiskey was first released in fall 2021 in Ireland, the UK, France, Germany and Holland, the US is to receive its first allotment of 3,000 bottles in February/March 2023. (SRP $79.99)

Information courtesy of

GSN Review – Renegade Rum Single Farm Origin: Nursery & Single Farm Origin: Lake Antoine Lower Crater Lake South

On the north-eastern side of Grenada stands Renegade Rum distillery. A modern marvel and environmentally pioneering, it is designed to distill one terroir at a time of fresh sugar cane juice only, in order to produce a vast array of distinct cane rum distillates, each one unique and compelling in its own right. Renegade either explores them individually – with terroir precision, as an étude; or layers them – the cuvée concept – to create natural rums of complexity.

Renegade is an industry-changing project from Mark Reynier, who has over four decades of experience in the drinks industry. Half in wine, as a former wine importer and merchant; and half in spirits, from the renaissance of Islay’s Bruichladdich single malt whisky and the Botanist gin, to Ireland’s groundbreaking, terroir-driven Waterford Distillery.

Single Farm Origin: Lake Antoine Lower Crater Lake South – At Lake Antoine, intriguing terroirs wrap around the steep, seaward-facing slopes of a volcanic crater lake, where cane grows on granular Woburn clay loam – sparse & dry at the summit, deep & rich at the foot – fully exposed to the desiccating salt-laden Atlantic trade winds. For this rum they harvested the sucrose-rich variety they call Purple Tallboy from Ball Pasture Field, which stands on the terroir known as Lower Crater Lake South. GSN’s Remarks: Vibrant cane nose with a lively freshness. A lot of low end on the palate, with a deep root-like character that at the same time has a vegetal brightness. Very grassy and almost chewy in mouthfeel. Tightly compact, peppery and surprisingly woody with a very long finish. This is a unique rum that in some ways reminds us of a mild Islay Scotch. A contemplative sipping rum. GSN Rating: A-

Single Farm Origin: Nursery – The genesis of Renegade’s pioneering project to propagate entirely clean & healthy heritage cane varieties began at their nursery farm. Nestled in La Calome Valley, with its almost terraced valley floor, it is made up of Hartman & Woburn clay loam soils & a profusion of volcanic boulders. For this rum they harvested the sucrose-rich variety they call Yellow Lady from Big Pumps Field, which stands on the terroir known as Upper La Calome. GSN’s Remarks: A light and soft cane juice nose. On the palate, it also has a lighter feel. More delicate and less aggressive than the Lower Crater Lake South expression, Nursery has a warmer, sunnier and friendlier disposition. This is also slightly sweeter, with notes of marshmallow, milk bread, and confectioner’s sugar. This is a great rum for a Daiquiri or a Mojito, but also a relaxed sipper by itself. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Renegade Rum



GSN Review: Method and Madness Irish Whiskies

Method and Madness Irish whiskey has been born from the minds of the Masters and Apprentices of Midleton Distillery. Innovation is nothing new to Midleton, but the Method and Madness micro distillery has provided the canvas for experimentation to run free.

The whiskeys coming from this distillers’ playground provide a new taste inspired by Irish whiskey history. The range includes Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey finished in Virgin Spanish Oak, Method and Madness Single Malt Irish Whiskey finished in French Limousin Oak, along with Method and Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged in French Chestnut.  Always innovating, the Masters and Apprentices explore different mashbills and wood types resulting in new and unusual limited-edition releases including the Method and Madness Japanese Trilogy, Method and Madness Oats and Malt, as well as Method and Madness Malt and Rye.

Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey finished in Virgin Spanish Oak – GSN’s Remarks: Rich oak nose with sweet malty perfume. Nice body with a warming, quite sweet and round mouthfeel. After a few seconds, the oak comes into play, creating a dry, tannic envelope that moves quickly into a slight bitter note at the end of a medium-long finish. Although there isn’t a lot of unusual character here, this is a very solid Irish that is perfect for sipping or in a traditional Irish Coffee. GSN Rating: A-

Method and Madness Single Malt Irish Whiskey finished in French Limousin Oak – GSN’s Remarks: Tight, high and slightly heathery nose. Very much in line with what we expect from an Irish, some citrus, a lot of sweet malt, rich caramel, toffee, cocoa, brioche and even a bit of saline. No surprises here, and that’s a good thing. An extremely tasty and well done spirit. Bring a case of this one to a desert island. GSN Rating: A+

Method and Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged in French Chestnut – GSN’s Remarks: Slightly dark penumbra on the nose, and yes, a chestnut sensibility. Nutty, with the malt in the background. A lovely tasting with orange blossom, crushed roasted hazelnut, soft baking spice, brown bread, Devon cream, mild tea and graham cracker. Spectacular flavor and a smooth, round mouthfeel. A long finish, ending on a hint of young wood. Highly recommended. GSN Rating: A+++

For more information go to: Method and Madness Whiskey


GSN Review: Ramazzotti Aperitivo Rosato

From the hills of Canelli (Piemonte, Italy), where the latest technology goes hand in hand with a century-old cellars, Ramazzotti invites you to (re)discover Italy of the third Millennium.  It is a blend of respect for tradition and passion for innovation, cult of knowledge and culture of craft and beauty, sense of belonging and pleasure of staying together, love for quality and enthusiasm to make things work better and better. 

Ramazzotti Aperitivo Rosato is a combination of fresh and light flavours. Notes of hibiscus and orange blossom give the Aperitivo its floral, fruity flavour, making it a refreshingly graceful beverage. Aperitivo Rosato is your ideal company for your spring and summer cocktails.

GSN’s Remarks: Lovely color. Light fruity and floral nose, leaning toward the sweeter side. The palate is an interesting mix of sweet, and semi-bitter. We especially enjoy the hibiscus flavor which lends a tropical note. The orange plays a supporting role, but doesn’t overwhelm, which sometimes happens. A refreshing, light, bright and perfect aperitivo that will bring a bit of springtime into your life year round. Try it with a few cubes in a rocks glass, or add a few ounces of tonic water or sparkling mineral water to a Collins glass and garnish with an orange twist. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Ramazzotti 1815


GSN Review: Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’

The House of Suntory recently announced the arrival of its first-ever world blended whisky, Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’, to the general market. Previously available in Japan and Global Travel Retail only, the whisky arrives this month to Canada, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea – and will be available in the United States in early 2023.  

Blended using whisky from Suntory Group’s own distilleries in five of the world’s most renowned whisky-regions: Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Japan and the US, Suntory World Whisky ‘Ao’, meaning blue, is named after the oceans that connect these whiskies of the world together. The bottle is five-sided in honor of the five major whisky-making regions. The calligraphic lettering was written by Japanese calligrapher Tansetsu Ogino with an intent to represent the whiskies’ global origins and Japanese craftsmanship. 

The one-of-a-kind whisky is a tribute to the liquids’ long history, capturing the heathery flavor of Ardmore and Glen Garioch in Scotland, the complexity of Cooley in Ireland, the smoothness of Alberta in Canada, the vibrance of Jim Beam in the US, and the subtlety of Yamazaki and Hakushu in Japan. It is the distinctive climate, fermentation and distillation processes in each whisky-making region that give the whisky its unique taste. 

Suntory World Whisky Ao is available for suggested retail price of $55.00 for a 700ml bottle. 

GSN’s Remarks: Light gold color. Nose is softly smoked, with a fair amount of oak and a chocolate/cherry essence. Flavor is easy going, balanced and with more of that chocolate/cherry on the palate. The flavors hit all areas of the mouth, with high tannic notes, low malt, ethereal smoke, and a touch of malty sweetness. There’s even a touch of brine. The finish is long, with a spicy tinge at the end. A very interesting blend, and one that is really an amalgamation of whisk(e)y culture, than a typical Japanese style. This is a fine sipping whiskey that would also make for an excellent Manhattan, Old Fashioned or even a Sazerac. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: House Suntory


GSN Alert: New Spirits Releases 2.17.23

Barrell Bourbon Batch 034 is made from a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys distilled in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. The ages for these barrels ranged from 6-15 years and they included a mix of high-rye and high-corn bourbons. Batch 034 is bottled at cask strength of 114.62 proof and is available as of February 2023. (SRP $90)

This ready-to-serve cocktail is the fifth release for William Grant & Sons for their Batch & Bottle line-up. The range was made in collaboration with renown bars around the world and the brand’s team of distillers, blenders & ambassadors. Milagro Margarita yields 4-5 pours per bottle (375ml). Serve chilled neat or on the rocks. Available just in time for National Margarita Day on February 22, 2023. (SRP $16.99)

Bluebird Days is a collaboration between the Pennsylvania grain-to-glass distillery and country music singer Jordan Davis. This is a straight American whiskey made from the oldest and best casks Bluebird had in their rackhouse. The proportions are as follows: 90% 6 year-old Bluebird Bourbon (75% corn, 15% heirloom rye, 10% barley) and 10% 7 year-old Bluebird Red Winter Wheat Whiskey made with 100% whole grain Pennsylvania red winter wheat. Available nationwide on Bluebird Distilling’s online store and at The Wine Chap in Davis’ hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. The name of the whiskey was inspired by Davis’ album which was released February 17, 2023, the same day the whiskey was launched. (SRP $50)

Cointreau is a clear, orange flavored liqueur developed in 1875 by Édouard Cointreau, son of one of the co-founding brothers of the distillery. In 1885 it became the first registered brand of triple sec, although the brand dropped “triple sec” from its name in early 20th century. It is made with both bitter and sweet orange peels which are macerated in neutral alcohol and then distilled. The only other ingredients are sugar and water. Suitable for any recipe calling for triple sec. Note: As February 2023, Cointreau has redesigned the bottle to celebrate the orange, its key ingredient, more prominently. The new label also has a QR code granting consumers access to almost 500 drinks.

This flavored extension of the brand’s flagship Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin adds California Orange Citrus flavors to the gunpowder tea and other botanicals. This is the second flavored gin brand extension following the Sardinian Citrus bottling which launched in May 2021. California Orange Citrus is available in the US beginning February 2023. (SRP $36.99)

Hakata Whisky is distilled and matured at the Hikari Distillery (est. 1912) in Fukuoka, Japan. The whisky is made with 100% barley, part of which is fermented with koji, a type of mold typically used in shochu production. Sherry casks were used for maturation with the barrels housed in traditional-style warehouse. However, a few casks were matured in open-air warehouses with temperatures fluctuating from 95°F in the summer and 38°F in the winter. Hakata 18 Year is available in the US as of February 2023. (SRP $189.99)

Hakata Whisky is distilled and matured at the Hikari Distillery (est. 1912) in Fukuoka, Japan. The whisky is made with 100% barley, part of which is fermented with koji, a type of mold typically used in shochu production. Sherry casks were used for maturation with the barrels housed in traditional-style warehouse. However, a few casks were matured in open-air warehouses with temperatures fluctuating from 95°F in the summer and 38°F in the winter. Hakata 16 Year is available in the US as of February 2023. (SRP $149.99)

Hakata Whisky is distilled and matured at the Hikari Distillery (est. 1912) in Fukuoka, Japan. The whisky is made with 100% barley, part of which is fermented with koji, a type of mold typically used in shochu production. Sherry casks were used for maturation with the barrels housed in traditional-style warehouse. However, a few casks were matured in open-air warehouses with temperatures fluctuating from 95°F in the summer and 38°F in the winter. Hakata 12 Year is available in the US as of February 2023. (SRP $99.99)

Hakata Whisky is distilled and matured at the Hikari Distillery (est. 1912) in Fukuoka, Japan. The whisky is made with 100% barley, part of which is fermented with koji, a type of mold typically used in shochu production. Sherry casks were used for maturation with the barrels housed in traditional-style warehouse. However, a few casks were matured in open-air warehouses with temperatures fluctuating from 95°F in the summer and 38°F in the winter. Hakata 10 Year is available in the US as of February 2023. (SRP $79.99)

Mermaid Gin is made at the Isle of Wight Distillery located just of the southern coast of England. Ten botanicals are used in its production including three which are foraged locally — elderflower, Boadicea hops, and rock samphire also known as Mermaid’s Kiss. Coriander, licorice, grains of paradise, and fresh lemon zest are some other botanicals used. The plastic-free bottles are designed with the scales of a mermaid’s tail in mind. As of February 2023, each of the three expressions of Mermaid Gin are available in the US including this flagship bottling, Mermaid Pink Gin and Mermaid Zest Gin. (SRP $34.99)

Hitting shelves in March 2023, Peanut Butter S’mores is a flavored corn whiskey for Stillhouse Spirits Co. It features the flavors of peanut butter, bitter chocolate, and roasted marshmallow using all natural flavors. It is packaged in the brand’s signature 100% stainless steel cans for easy portability. (SRP $19.99)

Suntory AO World Whisky is a whisky release which features whiskies from five different countries: Scotland (Ardmore & Glen Garioch), Ireland (Cooley), the US (Jim Beam), Canada (Alberta), and Japan (Yamazaki & Hakushu). The whisky was crafted by fifth-generation Suntory Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo. The name “Ao” is translated to “blue” and refers to the color of the ocean. Initial availability was exclusive to Japan in April 2019, but it was released to Global Travel Retail in October 2020. Canada, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea received their allotment in February 2023 and availability in the US is expected in early 2023. (SRP $59.99/700ml)

Information courtesy of

GSN Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 34

Barrell Craft Spirits announced this week the release of Barrell Bourbon Batch 034, a blend of bourbons distilled in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. The bourbons that went into Barrell Bourbon Batch 034 were 6-, 8-, 10- and 15-year-old barrels aged in American white oak barrels. The barrels selected featured a blend of high-corn and high-rye bourbons to achieve diverse flavor profiles.

Barrell Craft Spirits, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is an independent blender of unique, aged, cask strength sourced whiskey and rum, recognized for its blending expertise. 

GSN’s Remarks: Nice, toasty, woody nose with a buttery top note. The initial impression upon tasting is of a dense, intertwining of flavors. Elements of heavy tannin, dark caramel, walnut, hazelnut, bittersweet cocoa, medium roast coffee bean, and ginger cake are all here. The body is medium-heavy with a comprehensive mouthfeel. The finish is extra long with softer, fruity notes of baked apple, banana bread and praline coming out to wave goodbye. Quite the expression, and quite the experience. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Barrell Bourbon

#BarrellBourbon #BarrellBourbonBatch34

GSN Review: Kirk and Sweeney Gran Reserva Superior Rum

3 Badge Beverage Corporation recently announced the launch of its Kirk and Sweeney Gran Reserva Superior Rum barrel program. It’s an opportunity for trade buyers to taste Kirk and Sweeney Gran Reserva Superior Rum samples finished in a variety of cask influences, including, but not limited to bourbon, sauternes and sherry barrels. Trade accounts can then select a custom barrel-finished product exclusively tailored for their customers.

Each bottle will feature a limited-edition gold neck that prominently displays “Single Barrel” for differentiation from the existing Gran Reserva Superior offering. A custom-printed tag that includes the barrel type, finish time, bottle number, and account name is also included with each bottle. Additionally, each account will receive the barrel head from the barrel selection. Barrels will be offered on limited availability.

Handcrafted in the Dominican Republic, Kirk and Sweeney is named after an infamous wooden schooner, best known for smuggling rum from the Caribbean to the Northeast during the early years of Prohibition. In 1924, it was seized off the coast of New York with a massive amount of rum aboard. The schooner was subsequently renamed “Chase” and pressed into duty as a Coast Guard trainer, serving until the late 1940s when it was retired and salvaged.

Note: GSN received a bottle of the regular Gran Reserva release for review.

GSN’s Remarks: Lovely high notes of vanilla, wood, and cinnamon overlay a canvas of dark, rich rum spirit on the nose. On the palate, it at first seems light and sweet, but quickly morphs into a dry and semi-prickly spirit full of vivacity and depth. Plenty of baking spice to go around. The body is medium heavy, with a lot of the peppery notes kept toward the the back of the mouth. Up front are the more woody flavors, leaving an extended dry and succinct finish. A luscious sipping rum, this is a testament to the skill inherent in barrel aging. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Kirk and Sweeney Rum


GSN Alert: Craft Beverage Expo Selected Pittsburgh for its 2023 Conference

The 2023 Craft Beverage Expo is being held in Pittsburgh for the first time and will feature a weeklong festival of events throughout Allegheny County, March 27-April 2, 2023. For small-batch brands, the Craft Beverage Expo provides attendees with access to an exciting lineup of industry experts. Educational classes teach how to create a strong brand from professionals in the industry. Last year, CBX was held in Louisville and was a tremendous success. The organizer chose Pittsburgh for its 2023 conference due to the area’s fast-growing craft beverage scene. 

“Our region has been fighting for craft beverage since 1794, dating back to the infamous Whiskey Rebellion. In contemporary times, our craft beverage scene has continued to build in scope, reach, and momentum, making Pittsburgh the perfect destination for a major expo like CBX,” said Jerad Bachar, President & CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH.

Local brewers and distillers are encouraged to come and learn from industry experts, network with their peers, and discover new ways to grow their businesses. Sessions cover topics that include: empowering women in the industry, navigating markets, consumer experience insights, financing, inclusivity, modern sales strategies, sustainable packaging, and much, much more.

“Those looking for new ways to streamline production will be able to speak with companies that offer turnkey solutions,” said Kellie Shevlin, Executive Director of Craft Beverage Expo, and Distribution.  ”There are so many companies out there that cater specifically to independent producers and they would love your business.”

“You can learn about new technology that will help you source fresh ingredients, manage labels and shipping, and optimize your finances,” added Shevlin. “Whether you operate as an on-premise, off-premise, or third-party organization, the expo is a great way to discover new turn-key solutions for branding, packaging, creative distribution, retail marketing, and other areas that are specific to production and distribution of craft beverages.”  

CBX 2023 highlights every element of craft beverage making, including beer, wine, spirits, cider, sake, mead, and more. CBX is a country-wide celebration, offering education and experiences exploring the craft beverage ecosystem through the Craft Beverage Expo, Craft Beverage Excellence, and Craft Beverage Experience.

CBX will kick off with the industry/tradeshow component, Craft Beverage Expo, taking place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center March 30-31. The Expo focuses on independent beverages and the issues that producers face, from finding the right technology and equipment for their operations to getting their beverages onto stores’ shelves. The tradeshow features vendors looking to partner with craft beverage makers, and the conference features industry-leading speakers discussing topics that range from financing to packaging to distribution.

CBX Experience is a consumer-tasting event inviting small-batch vendors from across Allegheny County to showcase their products to industry partners and the general public. The 2023 inaugural event will take place on March 31, and a limited number of tickets will be available for purchase.

Ongoing throughout CBX, CBX Excellence will engage and activate Allegheny County businesses from hotels, restaurants, culture, and other attractions throughout the region to participate in CBX by offering specials, discounts, events, and more.  

About VisitPITTSBURGH: VisitPITTSBURGH is the official tourism marketing and promotion agency of the Pittsburgh region. The organization is dedicated to generating business events, sports events, and leisure travel. For more information, visit

About the Craft Beverage Expo (CBX) and Distribution Conference: CBX is the leading trade exposition and conference for the entire craft beverage industry, with the primary goal of bringing various vertical beverage markets together to exchange ideas and foster a community of collaboration based on common goals. Whether it is beer, wine, spirits, mead, or cider, Craft Beverage Expo and Distribution Conference focuses on small-batch beverages and the issues that producers face, from finding the right technology and equipment for their operations to getting their beverages onto stores’ shelves. For more information, visit


GSN Review: Optimist Drinks Non-Alcoholic Distilled Beverages

Optimist Drinks is a collection of distilled botanical spirits made without alcohol, inspired by the landscapes, tastes and culture of the brand’s Los Angeles home. The original recipes for the drinks were created in LA, using a blend of sourced and distilled ingredients. Optimist Drinks are entirely free of alcohol, sugar, sodium, carbs, calories, and additives, allowing sober curious and health-conscious consumers to enjoy a craft spirit without compromising their mental or physical wellbeing.  

Optimist Drinks’ first offering is a signature distilled non-alcoholic botanical spirit range that comes in three blends, BRIGHT, FRESH, and SMOKEY. Each flavor takes drinkers on a sensory journey to salt-sprayed coastlines, verdant canyons or the high desert. 

Each is crafted with a combination of 10-15 unique botanical ingredients sourced from all over the world, keeping sustainable farming and supply chain practices in mind. The original recipes were created in collaboration with a master distiller in Downtown Los Angeles. A range of extraction methods, combining steam, vacuum, and CO2 extraction ensure the best flavor is captured from every ingredient.

In addition Optimist is partnering with psychologist Dr Drea Letamendi to launch ‘OPTIMIST In Progress’, a podcast to support people in their optimism practise. The podcast will offer insights and practical tips to help build resilience and mental wellness. Optimist Drinks directs 2% of all sales to provide access to mental wellness services for underserved youth. In LA they will work with Safe Place for Youth, a Venice-based nonprofit organization that empowers young people experiencing homelessness to thrive by providing lasting, holistic, community-driven solutions. 

BRIGHT is inspired by Venice Beach with notes of citrus, sherbert and salty sunshine featuring; Lemon, Jasmine, Green Mandarin, Lavender, Turmeric, Cornmint, Orange, Tangerine, Fennel, Myrrh and Cinnamon Leaf. GSN’s Remarks: Light citrus on the nose with some grassy and saline notes. The flavor is reminscent of an herbal tea with lemon, mint, and darker notes of myrrh and lavender. The body is light and refreshing. Lingering flavors make for a long finish with the most memorable being a cooling sensation. An interesting blend that will appeal to gin lovers looking for an NA alternative. GSN Rating: A-

FRESH takes its cue from the verdant Topanga canyons after a late Spring rain with notes of wild herbs, wet leaves and earthy pine from; Juniper Berries, Cilantro, Lime Peel, Fennel, Lovage, Basil, Angelica Root, Red Thyme, Tarragon, Jasmine, Habanero, Oregano and Tangerine. GSN’s Remarks: An herb forward nose, with oregano and basil taking command. Flavors are dry, slightly bitter and complexly herbal. There is a sense of forest floor and moody cooking herbs. Mouthfeel is balanced and clean, with a long finish of fennel and tarragon. Reminiscent of aquavit. Try this with a splash of tonic and a lemon twist. GSN Rating: B+

SMOKEY takes its inspiration from the High Desert at sunset with warming and intense notes of bonfire, bittersweetness and spice from; Lapsang Souchong, Bitter Red Orange, Clove, Ginger, Sage, Turmeric, Bergamot, Cinnamon leaf, Habanero, Geranium, Valencia Orange, and Jasmine. GSN’s Remarks: Smoke and soft citrus on the nose. The taste is lightly smokey as expected from the Lapsang Souchong, but things are brightened up with higher notes of clove, bergamot, and orange. Very much akin to an herbal tea blend. Finish is long with a touch of heat. Try it with a craft ginger beer or light tonic with a touch of lemon bitters. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Optimist Botanicals


GSN Review: Woodford Reserve Winter 2022 Master’s Collection Historic Barrel Entry

This month, Woodford Reserve announced their winter 2022 Master’s Collection release – Historic Barrel Entry (90.4 proof). For this Master’s Collection release, Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris called upon the history of Kentucky Bourbon and their own interests for inspiration. This 2022 Master’s Collection was made with newly-distilled whiskey that went into the barrel at 100 proof. 

The barrel entry proof of “new make” plays an important role in the maturation process, and the standard for barrel entry proof has changed over the past two centuries. The bourbon of the 19th century had a barrel entry of 100 to 103 proof, and after the repeal of Prohibition, barrel entry proof levels began to increase. The present barrel entry proof standard that was set in 1962 is 125 proof.

“A lower entry proof seems counterintuitive when one thinks of getting more flavor from the new, charred barrel.  In fact, many of the barrel extractives we desire are more water soluble than they are alcohol,” Morris said.  “By having a lower entry proof (in other words more water in the barrel than the Woodford Reserve standard of 110 proof entry) will result in richer, sweet characteristics being absorbed from the barrel’s famed red layer.”

Woodford Reserve Distillery introduced the Master’s Collection, a new era of innovation to the historic Kentucky bourbon industry, in 2004 with the first release of its Master’s Collection, “Four Grain”. This year’s limited-edition release marks the 18th edition of the Master’s Collection. It is available in select U.S. and global markets and has a suggested retail price of $129.99 for a 700ml bottle. 

GSN’s Remarks: Low and sweet caramel/molasses nose, with some higher wood coloration. Upon the palate, the wood is quite apparent, with a hefty dose of oak playing master to the level of char. Flavors are pojnted and in keeping with a traditional bourbon, no surprises here. Yet, a very deep flavor that seems as if this is at least bottled-in-bond proof, and yet it is barely above 45% ABV. The body is medium and the finish is medium-long with a hint of spice and cinnamon at the tail. A strong and focused whiskey. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Woodford Reserve

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