GSN Review: Caña Brava Panama Rum

S0420-2For most Americans, the hope of drinking a cocktail made with Cuban rum has largely been impossible, if not difficult for the past half century.  Many Cuban distillers moved to other countries after Fidel Castro came to power, and although they started making rum again, something had changed in the recipes.  With Caña Brava, you at last have a chance to get a taste of authentic old world Cuban rum.  The reason is two-fold.

1) The master distiller is Francisco “Don Pancho” J Fernandez who made Cuban rum for 35 years.

2) He was given the freedom to create a rum in the style of what he enjoyed in Cuba.

Caña Brava is another fine spirit over seen by the spirited collective known as the 86 Co. (Simon Ford, Jason Kosmos, Dushan Zaric, Malte Barnekow and Kris Roth).  Oh, and the name Caña Brava?  It is a type of wild grass that can grown up to 20 feet high.

Caña Brava (86 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet, dry and with a lot of lime citrus.
Taste: Full flavored and rich with a hefty body.  A lot of minerality comes through along with hints of citrus zest, peppery spices and a slight sea salt edge.
Finish: Amazingly long, considering it’s only been aged for three years.  I think this comes from the dual aging in a combination of new, un-charred American oak and used American Whiskey barrels.
Overall: Really, a powerhouse of a blanco rum.  I guarantee that this rum will enliven a Daiquiri, Mojito or Between the Sheets cocktail.  Better than many rums that have been on the market for decades.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Caña Brava

GSN Review: Aylesbury Duck Vodka


There’s a new kid in town.  The 86 Co., who apparently are not named after the slang phrase “to eighty-six it”.  Instead, they craft spirits for bartenders, designed by bartenders.  The first of these to cross the GSN review desk is a vodka with an unusual name.  One doesn’t usually think of ducks and vodka together, but the words trip off the tongue pleasantly.  The Aylesbury duck itself was a popular breed of domesticated duck in England until about 50 years ago.  Now, there is only one flock of pure Aylesbury ducks left in the world.  Perhaps that is why the 86 Co. chose this name.  Rare, pure and unusual with a sense of history.

The vodka is distilled from Canadian winter wheat, brought down to 80 proof with Californian water, and finally filled in ergonomically designed bottles.

Aylesbury Duck Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, clean and vibrant.
Taste: Extraordinarily smooth, slightly sweet and with a vanilla/mineral quality that reminds me of salted caramel.  The flavor of the grain comes through clearly and adds an almost fresh-baked bread-like character.
Finish:  The finish is quite refreshing and with a dry tang that leaves you wanting more.  As it fades, you get distinctive notes of pepper, salt and surprisingly, celery.
Overall: One of the tastiest vodkas I’ve had in months.  I find myself being drawn back to it over and over.  If I were a fan of the Kangaroo cocktail (vodka Martini), this is the vodka I would choose.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Aylesbury Duck Vodka

GSN: Backbar Review – January 21-25, 2013

imagesSazerac Co. is readying a national rollout of a French vodka entry, Epic. Sazerac plans to start shipping Epic (roughly $13 a 750-ml.) to around 30 states in February, with national availability expected later in the year. Along with the core offering, Epic has six flavor extensions: Peach, Whipped Cream, Kiwi Strawberry, Cherry, Cake and Coconut. Sazerac said more flavors will be added at later dates.

imagesCelebrity mixologists Simon Ford, Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric have launched a new venture, The 86 Co., starting with a portfolio of four mixology-focused spirits. The lineup includes Caña Brava ($34.99), a three-year-old rum aged in a combination of new uncharred American oak and used American whiskey barrels; Fords gin ($37.99), distilled in London and featuring a blend of nine botanicals; Tequila Cabeza ($42.99); and Aylesbury Duck vodka ($30.99). The new products have rolled out in select markets across the country. They’re all packaged in 1-liter bottles designed for mixing—featuring long necks that are easy to grab, labels with useful information about the product, a scale with exact measures in fluid ounces and liters to help with recipes and a grip in the middle for handling.

imagesNewcomer Pavan Liqueur has launched its eponymous French brand in the U.S. Named after a European dance from the 16th century, Pavan is made with AOC-certified Petite Muscat grapes, which are aged in oak casks and blended with Muscat eau-de-vie and orange blossom water. The 18%-abv offering, which made its U.S. debut in Miami last month, is slated to roll out in New York and California in February. Priced at $30 a 750-ml., it’s positioned as a super-premium cocktail option, as well as an alternative to white wine or rosé.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily