GSN Backbar Review: February 23-27, 2015

indexPernod Ricard is launching a new extension to its Chivas Regal Scotch whisky brand in the U.S. market. According to Pernod, the new entry—Chivas Regal Extra (80 proof)—is created using rare whiskies matured in Oloroso Sherry casks, with the French company’s Strathisla malt comprising the heart of the blend. It’s currently available in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, Northern California and Texas, and will expand nationally later this year.

indexStarting this week, Republic National Distributing Co. RNDC will begin distributing Wicked Dolphin’s Silver, Spiced and Coconut rums, as well as the brand’s Apple Pie, Strawberry and Blueberry RumShine expressions, throughout South Carolina. Produced using Florida sugarcane, the Wicked Dolphin range retails for around $20-$25 a 750-ml. Along with South Carolina and Florida, Cape Spirits plans to launch the brand in Georgia, Maryland and Washington D.C. this spring, with entry into New York and Massachusetts to follow in the summer.

imagesPisco Portón LLC has added to its Peruvian pisco offering with a new release, La Caravedo. Crafted by Pisco Portón’s master distiller Johnny Schuler at Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica, Peru, the latest offering is a pisco puro, meaning it is made from only one of the eight grape varieties allowed by Peruvian law in the making of the spirit. The Quebranta grape is a non-aromatic varietal from the coast, which gives La Caravedo a slightly sweet and mixable quality with notes of botanicals and dried fruit, the company says. La Caravedo is available in select U.S. markets for about $24.99 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Backbar Review: February 9-13, 2015

indexE&J Gallo is launching a new liqueur, Viniq, into national distribution. A blend of premium vodka, Moscato and natural fruit flavor, Viniq was initially tested in seven markets beginning in May 2014 and enjoyed notable success in the nightlife sector in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Targeted at Millennial consumers, the 40-proof liqueur “shimmers” when shaken for an eye-catching effect, Gallo says. Now available nationally, Viniq retails at around $20 a 750-ml. bottle.

imagesIn an unusual twist, Chicago-based CH Distillery has introduced a spirit distilled from beer. The company borrowed several barrels of the neighboring Ale Syndicate’s du Sable Hoppy Saison, de-gassed the liquid and then distilled it twice before resting it in small rum barrels for five months. The resulting product is called Spirit of du Sable (40% ABV), priced at $11 a 2-ounce pour at CH’s own cocktail bar or $14 paired side-by-side with a 12-ounce pour of the original beer. Bottles in a 375-ml. size are available at retail in Illinois, priced at $30. Meanwhile, Chicago-based Mercenary Brewing and Distillery, is set to introduce a gin employing the same hops as its pale ale, as well as a whiskey made from stout. Distribution initially will be limited to northern Illinois.

indexDiageo is launching its second annual collector’s edition of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Ram ($258 a 750-ml.) is now in limited release at retailers across the country. The styling of the new edition nods at traditional Chinese ceramic artistry: when four bottles with their signature Johnnie Walker labels are placed side by side, a single image unfolds, evoking a Chinese scroll painting. The bottle’s artwork illustrates three rams standing in distinguished positions, a traditional reference to the Book of Changes signifying a New Year of great fortune, according to the company.

indexPark City, Utah-based High West Distillery has relaunched Bourye, a Bourbon and rye whiskey hybrid offering. A blend of nine-year-old straight Bourbon and 10- and 16-year-old straight rye whiskies, the returning offering is positioned as a sipping whiskey, intended to be consumed neat or with water. Bourye is currently available across High West’s 42-state footprint, priced at $80 a bottle, and joins the distiller’s existing range of craft whiskies and vodkas.

indexBeam Suntory has introduced Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita. Targeting the spicy-sweet flavor profile that’s growing in popularity, Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita is 10% abv and retails at $12.99 a 750-ml., with a 1.75-liter positioned at $20 to follow next month.

imagesDiageo’s Captain Morgan rum is expanding with three new flavors, including Captain Morgan Pineapple Rum, Coconut Rum and Grapefruit Rum. The trio will be available nationwide, priced at $15.99 a 750-ml., and, according to Diageo, are targeted primarily toward the summer cocktail occasion.

indexMoët Hennessy’s Belvedere vodka has augmented its flavored lineup with the launch of Belvedere Wild Berry. Launching nationwide this April, the summer-inspired expression is made with a natural blend of Polish strawberries and American blueberries and includes no added sugar, the company says. Wild Berry ($34.99 a 750-ml.) marks Belvedere’s sixth flavored entry, joining the brand’s existing Citrus, Pink Grapefruit, Mango Passion, Lemon Tea and Bloody Mary offshoots.

indexBooker’s Bourbon, part of Beam Suntory’s small-batch whiskey stable, has released the first in a series of limited edition Bourbons celebrating founding distiller Booker Noe. The series’ first offering, called Batch 2015-1 or “Big Man, Small Batch,” is a 128.7 proof Bourbon aged seven years and two and a half months. Hand-selected by Fred Noe, Booker’s son and seventh-generation master distiller, Big Man, Small Batch ($54.99) will be followed by more commemorative limited release Booker’s offerings throughout the year.

indexPernod Ricard is launching its high-end Yellow Spot Irish whiskey in the U.S. market, beginning this month. A 12-year-old single pot still whiskey, Yellow Spot was previously available exclusively in select European countries. Made with a mash of malted and unmalted barley and triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, the whiskey is matured in a combination of American Bourbon, Spanish Sherry and Spanish Malaga casks. It will retail for about $100 a 750-ml. bottle in the U.S. market.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Sugar Island Rum

sugarislandrumDespite the tropical name, Sugar Island rum is produced in California.  Owned by Trinchero Family Estates, best known for introducing White Zinfandel wine to the world, they have recently expanded into the spirits territory. The company has been in business since 1947.

Sugar Island rum is made with Caribbean sugar cane.

Sugar Island Spiced Rum (92 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Sweet and with some spice notes.  Reminds me of cinnamon chewing gum.
Taste: Strong and intense with an overabundance of woodiness.  Not too sweet, but with enough of an almost cashew-like nuttiness that it seems somehow like desert.
Finish: A residual flavor of Pecan Sandies along with the high-proof rum.
Overall: It’s certainly not my style of spiced rum, but I’m sure it’s fine when mixed with cola or in a highball.
GSN Rating: B-

Sugar Island Coconut Rum (42 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Coconut cream.
Taste: Immediate coconut with a burst of sugar, but tamed by the rum itself.  Well balanced.
Finish: The sweetness goes on for quite a while, as does the coconut flavor.  Not a bad thing.
Overall: I like this better than Malibu, which seems overly cloying.  The Sugar Island flavor seems natural and undisturbed by any other elements.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Sugar Island Rum