GSN Review: Cathead Bourbon, Vodka & Chicory Liqueur

Cathead, Mississippi’s first legal distillery is located in the heart of downtown Jackson. Founded in 2010 by friends and blues fans Austin Evans and Richard Patrick, the distillery produces beverages with a unique local flair. Austin and Richard, along with Distiller Phillip Ladner created seven spirits including Cathead Original Vodka, Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, Cathead Pecan Vodka, Bristow Gin, Bristow Barrel Aged Gin, Hoodoo Chicory Liquor, and, now, Old Soul Bourbon Whiskey.

From crawfish boils to live music, the Cathead Distillery has become an integral part of the Jackson community. Locals and visitors alike come to take a tour, enjoy the annual two-day music spring festival, Cathead Jam, and check out the curated retail shop onsite.

The name “Cathead,” a term first coined by Mississippi blues musicians as a nod to respected artists, pays homage to the state’s rich musical heritage; in this spirit, Cathead is actively involved in local and regional philanthropy and donates a portion of proceeds to nonprofits that contribute to Southern arts and culture.

Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Light floral nose overlying a vodka base.
Taste: Sweet and somewhat honey-like, with a slight floral flavor.
Finish: Short, with a lasting sweet note.
Overall: This is a very subtle vodka. Everything is slight with the exception of the sweetness.
GSN Rating: B

Cathead Pecan Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Dark gold.
Nose: A nutty nose evocative of toasted pecan.
Taste: A dry and nut-like character balanced with a viscous sugary aspect. Like boozy pecan pie.
Finish: Long and with a slight bitter edge.
Overall: Not as sweet as a liqueur, but certainly agreeable as a dessert-like vodka. Unique and tasty.
GSN Rating: B+

Old Soul Bourbon Whiskey (90 proof)
Visual: Dark brown.
Nose: A lot of wood on the nose with a evocative nose of bright rye spice and roasted corn. Autumnal and warming.
Taste: Really nice entry with a touch of sweet corn, but it instantly shifts to a percolating rye spiciness.
Finish: Long, mellow and sweet. This memory stays with you.
Overall: Well balanced, expertly blended and aged. This is a true sipping bourbon that just begs to be married to a mint julep.
GSN Rating: A

HooDoo Chicory Liqueur (66.6 proof)
Visual: Cola syrup brown.
Nose: Cheery, nut and toasted grain nose.
Taste: Sweetened chicory beverage flavor. Reminiscent of sugared espresso. Just enough of a bitter edge and a “wake me up” flavor that could be a great shot in your coffee or served over a rock for a spirited take on cold brew.
Finish: Long and with a molasses and chicory ending.
Overall: An excellent liqueur that fits in well with the myriad coffee liqueurs that can tend to be somewhat one-dimensional and overly sugary. Worth seeking out!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Cathead Distillery

GSN Alert: Flaviar announces Distillery Tour program for members

Flaviar, a spirits club designed to help people try more new things more often, has teamed up with over 25 distilleries to kick start the program.

Flaviar members will be able to access an array of special perks and privileges, from complimentary distillery tours and tastings, free distillery swag to meet and greets with master distillers, exclusive access to special drams, and industry discounts on distillery shop produce.

Each distillery chosen to be part of the program has a story to tell and some delicious drams to share including small batch whiskey, Cognac, rum, vodka, gin and liqueurs. From award-winning, family operations; to grain to glass, hyper local distilleries; organic and even kosher operations, all the distilleries involved have one thing in common ‘quality’ at the heart.

Jugoslav Petkovic, co-founder of Flaviar, comments: “There is literally nothing better for understanding a spirit than to visit the place where it is made and to speak to the people pouring their heart and soul into the glass.

“We’ve hand picked some of our favorite producers that will extend special industry privileges to our members and give them more access and opportunity to explore their palates and have a great time.

“There has been a huge increase in visitors to distilleries, in Kentucky alone there have been 1.4m visitors in 2018, which has a huge impact on the local economy. The Flaviar Distillery Tour program is a win-win for everyone, our members get access to a great experience and independent brands are able to reach a highly engaged, spirits enthusiast audience that drive distillery door sales.”

For details of the full line up and how to take advantage of any offers, please visit:

www.flaviar.com/distillery-tours

GSN Review: Firefly Vodka

Jim Irvin is a scientist, Scott Newitt is a visionary. Jim had a winery. Scott was in the wine business. That’s how they met, became friends and soon realized they both shared a crazy idea to build a distillery; something that proved to be much easier said than done. Scott & Jim did not have a big budget to buy a still so they built their own from scratch. It was a 55 gallon stainless steel tank on top of a propane burner that is now on display in the Firefly Distillery’s Tasting Room.

Scott explains the name, “We named our distillery Firefly because Fireflies are magical. We remember catching them in mason jars and we love that feeling of mystery and southern nostalgia.”

Firefly Vodka (80 proof) Slightly sweet, clean and with some residual corn flavor. GSN Rating: B-

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka (70 proof) Nice, natural sweet tea flavor. Easy going and ready to drink on the rocks. GSN Rating: A-

Firefly Ruby Red Vodka (60 proof) Soft red grapefruit flavor that doesn’t go over the top. Somewhat soda-like in flavor. GSN Rating: B

Firefly Lemonade Vodka (60 proof) Too tart, consisting of intense lemon juice flavor. Where is the sweetener? We’d classify this as a lemon vodka, but not lemonade.  GSN Rating: C-

For more information go to: Firefly Spirits

GSN Review: Egan’s Legacy Reserve Volume II

The Egan family set about resurrecting their family brand in 2013. Family members from across the globe, across generations, came together and reformed P. & H. Egan Ltd. Family-owned and operated, the Egan’s portfolio embodies the true spirit of Irish whiskey, six generations in the making.

This year, Egan’s Irish Whiskey released the second volume of its Legacy Reserve series — Legacy Reserve II.

This 16-year-old single malt follows the original limited edition 15-year-old Legacy Reserve.

Legacy Reserve II, 92 proof, aged for 16 years in American bourbon barrels, and finished in Banyuls casks from the Catalan Pyrenees in France. Like its predecessor, Legacy Reserve II is limited to only 1,000 bottles worldwide.

Egan’s Legacy Reserve Volume II (92 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Intensely sharp and high nose of rich malt and compact oak cask.
Taste: Incredibly smooth and balanced malt character on initial entry. This quickly opens up into a powerhouse of wood flavor. Totally unlike similar Irish expressions in the 16-year-old range, this has elements of baking spice and very little caramel or that tell-tale hint of citrus that you expect.
Finish: Long and mildly spicy with a dry ending at the back of the palate.
Overall: Wow. This whiskey is balanced right on the edge of seventeen (as Stevie Nicks put it). I don’t think that an extra year in the barrel would serve this any better than it already is. Quite the special whiskey.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Egan’s Whiskey

GSN Review: Garryana Native Oak Series Edition 4|1

Westland’s Native Oak Series continues its exploration of a completely new variety of oak for the whiskey industry – the very rare Quercus garryana. With the September release of Garryana Edition 4|1, Westland again reveals more about how this unique Pacific Northwest oak contributes to the flavor profile of single malt whiskey.

While this year’s release of Garryana includes some casks traditionally used in whiskey-making, such as first-fill ex-rye and bourbon casks, the spotlight is squarely on the marriage of Garry oak and Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. For the fourth installment of Garryana, Master Distiller Matt Hofmann and Blender Shane Armstrong wanted to explore whether these two rich and assertive flavors could live together in a single whiskey.

“This year’s release continues our inquiry and plants yet another marker in unchartered territory that still seems to have no horizon,” says Hofmann. “We sought to find out what happens when two of the deepest wells of flavor combine in one bottle.”

Garryana Native Oak Series Edition 4 (100 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Sherry right out of the gate. This is a sweet, slightly grape scented affair. Underneath this, is a more subtle oaken nose.
Taste: On the palate, the sherry tempers the somewhat fiery oak character into a soft murmur. The two flavors play in tandem, creating a lively and playful expression.
Finish: Towards the end, there is a dry and somewhat tannic finish. You have no doubt that this is a wood-forward spirit.
Overall: We’ve enjoyed each of the Native Oak Series releases. This one is no exception. Different, unusual and memorable.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Westland Distillery

GSN Review: Dingle Batch No. 4 Irish Whiskey

The Dingle Whiskey Distillery was crafted and conceived by three independent spirits: Oliver Hughes; Liam LaHart and Peter Mosley. Oliver, Liam and Peter are the people behind Porterhouse Brewing Company; one of the pioneers of craft brewing in Ireland in 1996. Craft beer in Ireland in the mid-1990s was not appealing to the masses. The idea was radical to some, simply mad to the rest. The refined pallets of the then youthful Oliver, Liam and Peter had seen a love for beer. As their palates became more and more experienced, their attention turned to whiskey.

This gave the three guys another idea; an artisan distillery. Could it work? Distillation in Ireland was controlled by three major brands. How would a small, independent distillery fit into the mix? In 1996, Oliver and Liam had the stomach to take on the challenge of the big boys; to do something different.

The Dingle Whiskey Distillery came into being in the cold winter of 2012. Ireland was beginning to come out of the greatest recession in many people’s memory. However unbeknownst to many, the most significant event in the Irish whiskey industry in decades was happening in a tin shed in the town of Dingle, Co. Kerry. Witnessed by few, the first Dingle Whiskey Casks were filled on the 18th December 2012. Three years and a day later on the 19th December 2015, one cask, Cask No. 2 was released.

Four years later in 2019, a marriage of Bourbon, Sherry and Port casks simply named Cask No. 4 was released.

Dingle Batch 4 Irish Whiskey (93 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Lots of high notes with some caramel, wood stave, and a light berry fruit edge. Clean and approachable.
Taste: Rich malt base with some slight rye-like spice. The triple cask aging has transformed most of the typical Irish flavors into something more like a soft American single malt.
Finish: Medium long with some of the port taste lingering.
Overall: Quite tasty and intensely flavored. There’s a lot going on here in a unique expression.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Dingle Distillery

GSN Alert: September 20th – National Rum Punch Day

A_Midnight_Modern_ConversationBack in my college days, I thought that punch equalled a 1.5l bottle of Silver Bacardi mixed together with a few cans of tropical flavored Hawaiian Punch.  After a few different occasions where this was the beverage of choice, I had enough to last me a lifetime and moved on to other less cloying things like IPA.  In fact, I hadn’t had any punch for a few decades until I read David Wondrich’s phenomenal book Imbibe! back in 2007.  I decided to make a batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch for my first effort, and there’s been no turning back for me.  Granted, there is a bit of extra work involved than just emptying bottles into a large bowl (oleo-saccharum, anyone?), but it pays off in spades.  Not only is a real punch incredibly tasty, but you realize why punches are gaining popularity again.  These days, many of the best bars offer punch bowls on the menu, and some are even served with antique cups.

Here’s the recipe for PFHP (luckily, it doesn’t actually call for any fish).

Philadelphia Fish House Punch
(Servings: 18 – 20)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, peeled and peels reserved
4 cups black tea (or water)
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups rum, Jamaican
2 cups cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Garnish: lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon peels, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum).
Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution.
Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
Ladle into individual glasses.

Another quite popular punch is Planter’s Punch, the recipe for which was first published as a poem in the New York Times on August 8, 1908.

Planter’s Punch
This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Pretty easy to figure out what the measurements are, if you’re handy with a jigger.

Cheers!