Located between the historic towns of Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, only 80 miles from London and about 50 miles from Birmingham, the Cotswolds Distillery utilizes Forsyth whisky stills that have been custom-made; with the 500kg mash tun, 2,400l wash still, 1,600l spirit still and four 2,500l fermenters being able to produce over 100,000 bottles of Cotswold Single Malt Whisky annually. Cotswolds Gin is crafted using a tailor-made hybrid Holstein still with a capacity of 500l.

Located on five acres of beautiful Cotswolds countryside in Stourton, one of the most unspoilt villages in the Cotswolds, the distillery also made a big investment in the beauty of the land, re-planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and even botanicals to be incorporated into their gin recipes. Not only that, but the distillery’s production waste is recycled. The spent grains of barley from the mash go to feed Cotswold cattle, and the other co-products created by the distilling process are turned into bio-gas at a nearby anaerobic digestor.

Cotswolds Dry Gin (92 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Juniper forward, with a piney, citrus laden nose.  Mouth-watering and traditionally evocative of a British style.
Taste: Dry, wintry juniper powerhouse with a softer and supportive lemony blanket.  Lovely, well-balanced mix of far subtler botanicals lend a wash of herbality.
Finish: Medium long with crisp, sharp and defined edges.  The botanicals fade with grace, while you are left with an almost creamy finish.
Overall: Very, very nice.  It’s clear that a lot of care went into the crafting of this spirit.  Seek this one out and see what I mean.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Cotswolds Distillery


Three Meadow Spirits recently released a unique, 5-times distilled vodka, developed from a recipe infused with an array of botanicals. Not to be confused with a ‘flavored’ vodka, Peony Vodka’s floral notes result in a spirit that resembles the profile of a gin, but lacks the sharp juniper taste associated with gins.

Created by Three Meadow Spirits founder Leslie Farhangi, the brand was developed with inspiration taken from the uncomplicated ‘country-living’ lifestyle found in Dutchess County, located one hundred miles north of New York City. Home to Farhangi, the 170-acre horse farm also has an abundance of lush Peony flowers, which led to the brand’s name.

After a year of experimentation, numerous focus groups and countless taste tests, Farhangi and her team settled on a recipe that consists of Geranium, Vanilla, Jasmine, White Pepper, Gardenia, Peony among other botanicals.

Although the liquor business has long been a bastion of male ownership and management, Peony vodka has an all woman management team and 80% of the founding investors are also self-made women.

“Our team put great effort into developing Peony Vodka. In addition to the recipe, which has steadily been winning a diverse fan base, we also expressed the brand and our lifestyle through the bottle design. It reflects who we are, what we love, and what we sense others are drawn to,” said Farhangi.

The bespoke bottle design, created by Alexander Isley, further conveys the brands beauty and elegant character. A single eye-catching peony flower adorns the front label while the reverse features one of three unique artistic works. Each a part of a triptych commissioned from internationally renowned illustrator Romy Blümel, the three different scenes evokes Hudson Valley country life: a summertime farmyard; a garden frolic; and an amble across the rolling landscape.

Three Meadows Spirits Peony Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Some florality, but more vanilla in the top notes.  Delicate and shy.
Taste: Slightly sweet with a semi-saccharine flavor.  Whether this is due to the botanicals or a sweetening agent, is unclear.  Certainly not a flowery vodka, but one that will mix well with sodas and tonics.
Finish: Medium long, but with a peppery finish that lingers for a good while.
Overall: I had hoped to get more of a floral quality from this vodka, and certainly less sweetness.  It’s an interesting idea, but I think it needs some tweaking to have the recipe shine.
GSN Rating: B-

For more information go to: Peony Vodka

Created in Florida and made with unsweetened coconut water, Toast Vodka is a 6 times distilled, non-GMO, gluten-free spirit.  Not to be confused with a ‘flavored vodka,’ the coconut water used in Toast Vodka’s production retains all the natural benefits but only a trace essence in the taste profile. Toast Vodka was recently awarded GOLD in the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.
Toast vodka is the Official Vodka of the America’s Cup and will be served at all Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events in 2016 as well as the America’s Cup events in Bermuda in May and June of 2017.
Toast Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Slight coconut essence with typical vodka minerality.  Tropical, but subtle.
Taste: Very slight coconut taste that lingers, but in no way interferes with the solid vodka base.  A clean, approachable vodka with a difference.  The mouthfeel is expressive and chewy with a slightly spicy edge.
Finish: Medium short with the coconut flavor fading quite quickly.  What is left is a crisp, defined finish.
Overall: I quite like this, even though it is obviously not a traditional vodka, nor is it a flavored vodka.  It straddles both worlds and succeeds.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Toast Vodka

lots-of-rumIn honor of National rum day, here are a few of the original rum based cocktails that I’ve created over the years!


Blair Frodelius – editor

Captain Grey
4 oz piping hot organic Earl Grey tea
1.5 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
0.25 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp organic honey

Pre-warm a cognac glass with warm to hot water.  Steep Earl Grey tea for 3-5 minutes in a mug with water just off the boil.  Empty cognac glass, then add tea, rum, lemon juice and honey.  Gently stir and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Cook’s Redemption
2.5 oz El Dorado Special Reserve 15-year-old rum
0.5 oz Bacardi vanilla rum
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz fresh orange juice
0.5 oz cinnamon syrup
1 dash of Fee’s black walnut bitters
1 dash of Fee’s barrel-aged aromatic bitters

Add all ingredients to a goblet filled with crushed ice.  Stir and add more ice to top off and serve with a straw.  Optional: garnish with grated nutmeg.

2 oz. Appleton Special Jamaica Rum
1 oz. Barenjager Honey liqueur
0.5oz Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry
0.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 dash Dale Degroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Flying Monkey
1.5oz Deadhead rum
0.75oz Dekuyper creme de banana liqueur
0.25oz Hiram Walker Original Cinn liqueur
0.25oz Don Q Limon rum
0.25oz Fee brothers vanilla syrup
scant tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Fill tiki mug with crushed ice and add all ingredients.  Swizzle and then garnish with baby banana, edible flower and straw.

Kaddū Raj
2 tablespoons of organic pumpkin puree
1.5 oz Malibu rum
0.75 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters

Stir briskly with cracked ice for ten seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a light dusting of mild yellow curry powder.

Peri Banu
2 oz Appleton gold rum
1 oz Absolut vanilla vodka
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz fresh orange juice
0.5 oz Hiram Walker Original Cinn schnapps
0.5 oz simple syrup
2 dashes of Fee’s old-fashioned bitters

Add all ingredients to a goblet filled with crushed ice.  Stir and add more ice to top off and serve with a straw.  Optional: garnish with an edible flower.

1.5 oz Barenjager
1.5 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1 oz Absolut Peppar
1 tsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled.  Strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with a mix of grated nutmeg and superfine sugar.

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
0.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
0.75 oz Goya passionfruit cocktail
1 oz Orangina
0.75 oz Fee Brothers rock candy syrup
0.25 oz Campari
2 oz Montanya platino rum
1.25 oz Montanya oro rum
0.75 oz Cruzan black strap rum
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey-barrel aged aromatic bitters

Add all to mixing glass with ice.  Shake powerfully, pray to your favorite tiki god, and pour into a barrel-shaped mug.  Garnish with sparkling long, thin black candle (made to look like a fuse).

Punch the Monkey
1 750ml bottle gosling’s dark rum
8 oz Chartreuse Green
4 oz Benedictine
8 oz pineapple juice
8 oz lime juice
7 oz orgeat
35 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all to punchbowl with block of ice. Ladle individual servings in half of a Milton Bradley “Barrel of Monkeys” container over crushed ice.


The Cognac house of Bache-Gabrielsen was founded by Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen from Holmestrand in 1905. Several generations later the business is still owned and run by the Bache-Gabrielsen family. Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen’s great-grandson Hervé Bache-Gabrielsen recently took over the day-to-day management from his father, Christian Bache-Gabrielsen.

Natur & Eleganse is the name of a range of Cognacs from Bache-Gabrielsen. Working in close collaboration with experienced distillers, Cellar Master Jean-Philippe Bergier has produced Cognacs in a modern style.

Cognac American Oak is the first of its kind, this innovative Cognac is aged in authentic new American Tennessee Oak barrels for a minimum of six months.

Natur & Eleganse VSOP (80 proof)
Visual: Bright gold.
Nose: Really fine vine-fruit notes with just enough of a barrel edge.  Authentically old-school and mouth-watering.
Taste: Ultra smooth and balanced. Fruity, with notes of raisin, current and fig.
Finish: Fairly short, with a curious sourdough finish.
Overall: Light in character, but for cognac based cocktails, this is not a bad thing. Perhaps for a VSOP, a bit thin, but still miles ahead of virtually any American VSOP brandy.
GSN Rating: B+

Natur & Eleganse XO (80 proof)
Visual: Darkening orange-gold.
Nose: Heavy fruit with a strong backbone of oak.  This is a very rich Cognac.
Taste: Lovely, enveloping brandy flavor that hits all the right spots from beginning to end.  Almost like biting into a freshly made caramel.
Finish: Medium long with warm, creamy vanilla and mild red berry notes.
Overall: The over-achieving sibling of the VSOP.  Passes everything with flying colors and is the standard-bearer of the line.
GSN Rating: A+

Cognac American Oak (80 proof)
Visual: Dark yellow-gold.
Nose: Musky, almost moonshine nose. The fruit is sublimated by the wood. Unexpected and quite different.
Taste: Here is where you can see the obvious differences between French and American oak.  French tends to be lighter and drier, whereas American has a thicker, sweeter and aggressive character.  Very much “in your face” and attention grabbing.
Finish: Medium long, with a plentiful sugary, almost maple quality.
Overall: This reminds me more of American brandies than Cognac. An interesting experiment that works, but not necessarily to the best advantage.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Bache Gabrielsen


A.H. Hirsch was an investment banker that invested in the Schaefferstown Distillery in the decades leading up to its shutdown in 1989 in an effort to keep it operational. The distillery was a historic landmark for American whiskey in operation for more than two centuries, and while it would eventually close, his contribution would ultimately result in the legendary A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 Year Old.

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve is a blend of bourbons ranging from seven to nine years old. Two mash bills are married together, one with 21% rye and the other with 35% rye. Rye content of the final blend is approximately 26%. The rye is sourced from Northern Europe and the corn is sourced from Indiana and Ohio.

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Bourbon (92 proof)
Visual: Bright gold.
Nose: Rich and deep wood-laden corn notes with a penumbra of rye spice.  Hints of orange citrus and burnt caramel round things out.
Taste: The rye comes to the forefront here, carving away the sweetness of the corn and leaving a crisper, drier almost tannic flavor.  Under all of this lies a canvas of well-aged corn distillate that clearly defines this as bourbon.  Quite flavorful and old-school in its approach.
Finish: Lingering spice and sweetness go on for a long time, with no hurry to end the conversation.
Overall: A perfect sipper, this also makes for a fantastic Mint Julep.  For a real treat, try this in a Sazerac cocktail.  Excellent stuff!
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Anchor Distilling



Known for producing vintage single malt whiskies that are chosen at the peak of their maturity, The Glenrothes first introduced the Reserve Collection in 2015. Each expression is 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 Peated Cask Reserve reflects a time in the distillery’s history when it formed an association with the Islay Distillery Co Ltd. in 1887.

With this historical precedent serving as inspiration, The Glenrothes Distillery selected the Vintage 1992 single malt and gave it a temporary home in a cask from Islay thereby giving the whisky a kiss of peat smoke to complement but not overpower the usual Glenrothes characteristics. According to Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes Brand Heritage Director, the Peated Cask Reserve is, “The first modern-day marriage of elegant, fruity, and, of course, mature Glenrothes with subtle but intriguing peaty mists of Islay.”

The Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve (80 proof)
Visual: Pale straw.
Nose: Sweet maltiness with a touch of peat smoke.
Taste: Quite fruity with an ultra smooth entry.  After a few seconds, some woodiness creeps in, adding a drier dimension to the proceedings. This is followed by notes of green apple, blackberry jam, toasted whole wheat bread and almond butter.
Finish: Medium long, with a soft fade.
Overall: Really an eminently drinkable whisky.  The smoke adds to the experience, but this is clearly not an Islay scotch.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Glenrothes

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