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

indexA few years ago, the Lillet company declared a “National Aperitif Day” in honor of their latest product, Lillet Rose.  It’s not a bad time of year to do so.  Spring feels like a natural time for lighter and less inebriating beverages.

The word aperitif is French and literally means “to open.” The idea is that a short drink will prepare the imbiber for a lovely meal.  The original version was created in Turin, Italy by Antonio Carpano in 1786.  The next iteration came 60 years later when Joseph Dubonnet added quinine to a herbally infused wine and created, you guessed it, Dubonnet.

Lillet dates back to 1872, when it was known as Kina Lillet.  Notable fictional characters James Bond and Hannibal Lecter both enjoyed Kina.  Today, the original formula has been reformulated into Lillet Blanc.  As I mentioned there is also Lillet Rose and a third version Lillet Rouge which debuted in 1990.

Some classic cocktails calling for Lillet are the Vesper, the Corpse Reviver #2 (a personal favorite) and the 20th Century (a cocktail well deserving of a revival) in the 21st century.

cocktailsThe word ‘cocktail’ is thrown around with as much abandon as a flamboyantly flaring mixologist with a Boston shaker – but what does it mean; and, indeed, what are its origins? According to the The London Telegraph, the first instance of its use was in a satirical newspaper article about a party; although whether ‘cocktail’ referred to an alcoholic drink is contested. Vermont publication The Farmer’s Cabinet stakes another claim for the debut use of ‘cocktail’, suggesting in its pages on 28th April 1803 that ‘to drink a cocktail is excellent for the head.’

The Online Etymology Dictionary attributes the origin of ‘cocktail’ to a mispronunciation of the French word for egg cup, ‘coquetier’ (pronounced in English as ‘cocktay’); backed, perhaps, but the fact that Antoine Amédée Peychaud (he of the eponymous bitters brand) served brandy mixed with bitters in eggcups at his late eighteenth-century New Orleans apothecary

A second theory holds that the name is derived from the term ‘cock tailings’; referring to the debatably delicious practice of tavern owners combining the dregs (‘tailings’) of barrels together into a single elixir to be sold at knock-down prices, drawn from the spigot of a barrel – its ‘cock’.

On 13th May 1806, newspaper Balance and Columbian Repository defined a cocktail as, ‘a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind – sugar, water, and bitters.’ This date is now recognised as World Cocktail Day, an occasion on which drinkers commemorate the first recognised publication of the word’s definition.

All information courtesy of Good Things Magazine


World Whisky Day invites everyone to try a dram and celebrate the water of life. Events are taking place all over the globe. If you can’t find an event happening near you why not host your own World Whisky day event? All you need is a bottle of whisky to share with your friends. World Whisky day celebrates all types of whisky/whiskey and encourages everyone to enjoy whisky responsibly.

World Whisky Day is all about making whisky fun and enjoyable. It’s not about being exclusive or prescriptive. You can drink it however you enjoy it (ice, water, mixer – whatever works for you). We want to be all inclusive and that means any kind of whisky/whiskey from anywhere in the world.

For more info go to: World Whisky Day

Magic Opener 2

Over the years we at the GSN offices have tried dozens of bar tools.  Everything from jiggers, to corkscrews, to miniature barrels for aging cocktails.  We aren’t often sent bottle openers, so this one intrigued us.

The design is humorously shaped like a bottle sliced neatly in half.  The yellow rubberized material gives good grip, but the device feels a little awkward in the hand.  But there are a few features which set this part and make it quite useful for a busy bartender.

This not only opens bottle caps, but two sizes of twist offs and most importantly, tabs.  One of my pet peeves is having to open those super tight tabs on small cans of pineapple or tomato juice.  I’ve actually broken some fingernails doing it, and then the juice also tends to splash everywhere due to the struggle. This opener eliminates those difficulties by having a tab-puller at the top end.  The other clever design feature is that it is magnetic and will stick to any steel surface making it easy to find.

This opener will never replace the typical 7″ flat bottle opener that everyone uses, but for anyone who goes through a lot of 6 oz. cans of juice or soda, this will be a time saver.

For more information go to: Magic Opener

image_ANCNO2400_1International Beverage USA’s AnCnoc single malt Scotch has released a 24-year-old expression nationwide in the U.S. The latest offering ($180) is non-chill filtered and aged in ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels. AnCnoc is produced at Scotland’s Knockdhu Distillery in Speyside. The 24-year-old joins a portfolio that includes 12-, 16-, 18-, 22- and 35-year-olds, as well as vintages like AnCnoc 2000 and AnCnoc 1975.

olesmoky_big_orange-flatGatlinburg, Tennessee-based Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is introducing Big Orange Moonshine nationally for a limited time beginning June 1. Until now, the 70-proof offering packaged in 750-ml. mason jars has been available exclusively at the distillery. Big Orange Moonshine is slightly tangy and can be served with a light beer as a “moonshine shandy,” the company says. Ole Smoky has a lineup of 12 flavors of moonshine, including White Lightnin’, Moonshine Cherries, Sweet Tea Moonshine and Apple Pie Moonshine, among others.

indexPernod Ricard is launching a new blended Scotch brand, Barrelhound, intended to “bridge the Bourbon and Scotch worlds.” Pernod says the new offering, which includes Speyside malts and is matured in Bourbon barrels, has a sweeter, more accessible taste profile than typical Scotch whiskies, and is geared toward cocktail and on-the-rocks consumption. Retailing at $30 a bottle, Barrelhound is debuting initially in the New York and Washington, D.C. markets.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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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