GSN Backbar Review: Mar. 31- April 4, 2014

index Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut vodka is introducing a new vodka series in partnership with local     entrepreneurs around the globe. The Our/Vodka initiative, which began last year in Berlin, will now spread to 11 cities across the U.S., Europe and Australia. In each city, Absolut has linked with local partners to open micro-distilleries that will produce vodka with a focus on local ingredients, although each will have the same recipe and be packaged in a small bottle with a crown cap. Absolut’s partners will have responsibility for running the individual businesses and marketing the new offerings. An Our/Vodka distillery in Detroit is set to open in June, with projects in Seattle (opening in September), New York (November), Amsterdam, Los Angeles and London to follow later in the year. Our/Austin, Our/Miami, Our/Nashville, Our/New Orleans and Our/Melbourne vodkas are scheduled to begin production in 2015.

indexBuffalo Trace Distillery has launched a limited release single barrel Bourbon in honor of the distillery’s early master distiller. Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon will be available in limited quantities for suggest retail price of $34.99. Elmer T. Lee, who passed away last year at the age of 93, worked at the distillery from 1949 to 1985 and is credited with creating the world’s first single barrel Bourbon in 1984, according to the company. The 46.5%-abv Bourbon will hit retail shelves in April.

imagesFour craft distilleries from the Midwest have collaborated on a limited release offering, Four Kings Bourbon Whiskey, to be sold exclusively at Binny’s Beverage Depot’s 30 stores across Illinois. Corsair Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee; Few Spirits in Evanston, Illinois; Journeyman Distilling in Three Oaks, Michigan and Mississippi River Distilling Company in Le Claire, Iowa each contributed 30 gallons of whiskey from their own distilleries for the project. About 600 bottles will be produced and will debut at the Whiskey Week Chicago 2014 event April 20-26. The whiskey is comprised of four grains from the distilleries’ different mash bills: corn, wheat, rye and barley. Plans are in the works for another blend in time for Whiskey Week 2015.

DryFly-Logo-BlackWashington state craft distiller Dry Fly is prepping the launch of a new five-year-old Irish-style whiskey under the O’Danaher brand. That limited-release offering will retail at around $65 a 750-ml. Dry Fly’s line also includes a vodka, gin, Washington wheat whiskey, Washington Bourbon and Triticale whiskey.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily.

GSN: Backbar Review – October 14-18, 2013

indexAbsolut has revealed the latest edition in its city-inspired vodka series, Absolut Chicago. The new entry is an olive and rosemary-flavored vodka geared toward Martinis, Bloody Marys and other cocktails. Absolut Chicago is packaged in a crowdsourced bottle design made in collaboration with the city’s Threadless organization, a community of more than 200,000 graphic designers and illustrators. The Chicago-themed vodka is the most recent release in a limited-edition series that has also included Absolut tributes to New Orleans, Brooklyn, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

indexEdrington Group single malt brand The Macallan has unveiled a new prestige Scotch whisky in the U.S. market, Macallan M. The luxury malt, retailing at $4,500 a bottle, is a non-age-stated, Oloroso Sherry cask-matured whisky. It’s packaged in a special case and bottled in an individually numbered Lalique crystal decanter, of which 1,750 are currently available globally. Macallan M was created to be the top expression in the malt’s luxury 1824 series.


imagesA new line of “culinary” spirits is being introduced to the New York metro market this month through Empire Merchants. The Rave Review line of spirits includes 60-proof rum, brandy, blended Bourbon and blended hops entries retailing at $10 a 200-ml. bottle, with a 1-liter size available to the trade at $17.99. Additional flavors are planned for next year. The range was created in consultation with executive chefs, food scientists and other culinary experts to be ideal for culinary blending of flavors.

imagesSt. Helena, California-based Charbay Distillery & Winery is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the launch of the Alambic Collection, a range of seven new wines and spirits produced using its copper alambic charentais pot stills. Available now are Whiskey Release III ($410, distilled from Pilsner beer), R5 Whiskey Lot 511A ($79, distilled from Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic Brewery), Brandy No. 89 ($93, 24 years old), Still House Port ($50 a 375-ml., 7 years old) and Distillers’ Port ($75 a 375-ml., 7 years old). The company will also roll out Charbay ‘S’ Whiskey ($140, distilled from Bear Republic Brewery’s Black Stout) this Thanksgiving, followed by Charbay Aged Rum (10 years old), which is slated to be released in early spring of 2014.

indexUtah craft distillery Ogden’s Own has released two new vodkas, cinnamon-flavored Five Wives Sinful and vanilla-flavored Five Wives Heavenly. The 70-proof duo, launching first in Oregon and Idaho, are offshoots of Ogden’s “middle-shelf” Five Wives brand that is distributed in 15 states (Five Wives is available online in 26 states).



indexWilliam Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich single malt Scotch brand is launching a new limited edition Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask Reserve entry this fall. Created to celebrate the synergies between the American and Scotch whisky industries, Bourbon Cask Reserve is aged for 19 years in ex-Bourbon American oak barrels, marking the first time Glenfiddich has aged a whisky entirely in Bourbon casks. The 40%-abv offering is packaged in a blue box adorned with depictions of the Mississippi River and several landmarks, which serve as a nod to the casks’ journey from the U.S. to Scotland. Rolling out nationwide, the 2013 Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask Reserve is priced at $149.99 a bottle.

indexF. Korbel & Bros. has released its first new Korbel Brandy entry in more than a decade, Korbel 12. A limited edition entry, Korbel 12 is a handcrafted California brandy, distilled in a copper-lined still, aged for a minimum of 12 years and blended from select barrels. Just 1,800 six-bottle cases of the new offering will be available in key markets, priced at $39.99 a bottle. Korbel 12 joins the flagship Korbel California brandy, Korbel VSOP Gold Reserve and Korbel XS labels in the existing Korbel brandy portfolio.

indexCamus Cognac has released its new Family Legacy variant in the U.S. Created as a tribute to the Camus family’s five generations, Family Legacy is a blend of five crus from Grande Champagne, Petite Champage, Bon Bois, Fin Bois and the Borderies. Aged in French oak barrels, each of the crus are blended together in eight consecutive steps, from youngest to oldest, and then bottled at 40.8% abv. The specialty expression, which rolls out this month, will be available nationwide priced at $1,299 a bottle.

indexMissouri-based McCormick Distilling has unveiled two new brands, Triple Crown Whiskey and Hook’s Spiced rum. Triple Crown, a blended North American whiskey, is 80-proof and retails at $20 a 750-ml. It’s launching in 35 states across the U.S. Hook’s rum includes Spiced and Black Spiced variants retailing at $15 and $17 respectively. The 92-proof offerings are now available in 46 states.

stolichnaya_elit_pristine_vodka_from_himalayan_water_series_z4z4fSPI Group’s Stolichnaya vodka brand has released the second entry in its Elit by Stolichnaya “Pristine Water” series, the New Zealand edition. Made with water sourced from a natural spring in New Zealand, the limited edition, 80-proof expression is packaged in a crystal bottle created by French crystal house Royale de Champagne and sits in a handcrafted wooden case. Just 300 bottles of Elit by Stolichnaya’s New Zealand edition will be available worldwide, priced at around $3,000 each. The new offering follows Elit by Stolichnaya’s 2011 launch of its Himalaya edition, which marked the brand’s first Pristine Water entry.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN: Backbar Review – September 2-6, 2013

indexIrish Distillers has introduced a new single pot still Irish whiskey, Powers Signature Release. The whiskey will roll out in the U.S. and Ireland beginning this month. Powers Signature Release has been matured mainly in American Bourbon barrels, with the subtle inclusion of whiskey matured in Oloroso Sherry casks. The extension, first unveiled at Whisky Advocate’s WhiskyFest Chicago in April, is the second single pot still whiskey to join the range, after Powers John’s Lane. Concurrent with the debut of the new expression is the announcement that Powers Gold Label is also being given a new packaging and new recipe, featuring a higher abv (43.2%) and will be non-chill filtered (also rolling out in the U.S. this month).

indexAustria’s Mozart Distillerie is set to launch its Mozart R.G. Chocolate Cream liqueur in the U.S. early next year. Made with a blend of gourmet chocolate, vanilla, fresh cream and cocoa butter, Mozart RG Chocolate Cream is aged in Bourbon oak casks for a minimum of six months. The new offering is positioned as a super premium extension to Mozart Distillerie’s Mozart R.G. chocolate liqueur range, which includes Gold Chocolate Cream, White Chocolate Cream, Black Dark Chocolate and Dry Chocolate Spirit expressions.

indexAbsolut vodka has launched Absolut Amber—a new oak-aged expression—in the North American travel retail channel. Handcrafted by master blender Per Hermansson, Absolut Amber is created using a blend of Swedish, American and Bourbon barrel-aged spirits and oak-macerated spirits. According to the company, the 40%-abv offering is a “transformative” product designed to blur the line between white and dark spirits. Absolut Amber is currently available at JFK International Airport, Miami International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, as well as in Panama’s travel retail segment and select on-premise venues, with additional markets in the pipeline.

indexDiageo has unveiled the 10 single malt Scotches set to launch under its annual Special Releases series this year. The limited edition lineup will include a 37-year-old Lagavulin (1,868 bottles available); 12-year-old Lagavulin; 28-year-old Talisker (3,000 bottles); 21-year-old Cardhu (6,000 bottles); 28-year-old Singleton of Dufftown (3,816 bottles); 36-year-old Convalmore (2,980 bottles); 21-year-old Oban (2,860 bottles); Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve; 34-year-old Port Ellen (2,958 bottles); and 35-year-old Brora (2,944 bottles). Ranging in price from around $108 to $3,030 a bottle, the series will be available across the U.S., Northern Europe and select Asian markets starting this fall.

indexCampari America’s X-Rated liqueur brand has introduced Tropix, a new pineapple- and coconut-flavored offshoot. Made with French vodka, Tropix is a yellow-hued liqueur targeted toward off- and on-premise cocktail and shot occasions. The new offering is also being positioned as a low-calorie, female-friendly option, claiming to offer 81 calories per 1.5-ounce serving. Rolling out this month, Tropix will be available in 375-ml., 750-ml. and 1-liter formats, priced at around $24.99 a 750-ml.


indexCampari America has extended its Wild Turkey brand with Wild Turkey Spiced, a new flavored Bourbon offering intended to compete against spiced rums. Retailing at $22.99 a 750-ml., Wild Turkey Spiced’s sweet and spicy profile is said to resemble spiced rum and is suggested to be consumed neat or with cola. Campari says the 86-proof entry is positioned as a male-targeted trade-up from spiced rum and is intended to bring rum drinkers into the Bourbon fold.


indexBeam Inc.’s Jim Beam Bourbon brand has launched Jim Beam Maple in the U.S. A blend of natural flavors and Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey, the new 70-proof entry features brown maple, wood and caramel notes. In national distribution this month, Jim Beam Maple retails around $15.99 a 750-ml.


imagesTrinchero Family Estates has created a new rum brand, Sugar Island, to join its spirits division, TNS Brands, which was launched last year. Made with Caribbean sugar cane, Sugar Island features spiced and coconut-flavored expressions, both retailing around $18.99 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN at Tales 2012: Lesson Two (Choose Your Words Wisely)

Photo by Chris Kridler for The Times-Picayune

You never know who you might be talking to when you make an off-handed remark.  On the first night of Tales of the Cocktail, there were two kick-off parties.  The first one was Absolut-ly surreal with an indoor winter village.  Under blue lighting, there was an artificial “snow” machine blowing white stuff around with huge fans, creating a chilly yet inviting reception.  While catching up with old friends from Barsmarts and The Hukilau, I caught a woman out of the corner of my eye who was taking photos.  So, I turned around and posed for her.  She asked my name and I said jokingly, “Are you trying to interview me?”  Turns out, she said she would.

Since the theme of the evening was Absolut, her topic of inquiry was about vodka in general.  It was interesting to be on the other side of the microphone.  I’m usually the one asking the questions.  So, lesson number two is: be careful what comes out of your mouth.  You never know who you might be talking to.  Turns out she was a reporter for the Times-Picayune and my words ended up alongside those of Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff.  It just may be the only time both of our names will ever appear in print together.

You can read the article here.  And thanks, Chris for teaching me another lesson at Tales. 🙂

Another iPhone Cocktail App

The good folks at Absolut have just released a new cocktail app for the iPhone (and after all, we can never have have too many, can we?)  This one features a unique GPS function which shows you what people are drinking all over the world at any given time.  Other features include drink suggestions based on your local weather, the volume of the sound system at the bar you’re at, the time of day, and even non-alcoholic creations if you want to give your liver a rest.  The best part of all of this, is that it is Absolutely Free!For a video demo, click here
To download the app, click here