GSN Spirited News: August 31st 2021 Edition

Islay-based single malt Scotch brand Ardbeg has announced its latest release, Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 3. The 19-year-old whisky is set to hit shelves this September and is part of the distillery’s yearly limited-release of substantially aged whisky. This year’s batch comes in at 46.2% abv and features the signature of Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 3 will retail for around $300 a 750-ml.

Brown-Forman is extending Jack Daniel’s with its first 10-year-old age stated Tennessee whiskey in more than 100 years. Retailing at $70, the 97-proof whiskey will debut in limited quantities across the U.S. next month. Jack Daniel’s master distiller Chris Fletcher sourced the new offering from oak barrels that were relocated throughout the brand’s barrelhouse to extend the aging process over the past 10 years.

Washington-based Woodinville Whiskey, part of the Moët Hennessy portfolio, will unveil a special distillery-only Harvest Release whiskey on September 11, Moscatel Finished Woodinville Straight Bourbon. The new entry was finished in 200-gallon Moscatel De Setúbal barrels, a rare fortified wine produced on the Setúbal Peninsula of Portugal. Bottled at 100 proof, the special edition will retail at $70 a bottle.

An extremely rare set of single cask Japanese whiskies, named the Legend of Asama, have come to market. The whiskies were distilled in 1981 and matured for 20 years at the Karuizawa Distillery before being transferred to Chichibu Distillery. The two Karuizawa 1981 35-Year-Old Single Cask Japanese Single Malt whiskies in the set—from casks 4059 and 6183—were bottled at cask strength in 2017, when the majority of bottles were sold. Only 30 sets, encased in Glencairn Crystal glassware and lunawood casing, are available worldwide through Legend of Asama’s website.

Maison Ferrand’s Plantation Rum has announced the release of the complete Birds of Paradise series of vintage rums. Three of the six rums—Fiji 2005, Jamaica 2003, and Barbados 2011—are currently available, with two more—Peru 2006 and Trinidad 2009—launching in October, and the final release, Australia 2007, coming to market in November. All expressions in the line will retail for a suggested price of $80 a 750-ml. and are or will be available in major markets across the U.S.

Brooklyn, New York’s Widow Jane has added Lucky Thirteen, previously a private-barrel release, to its year-round lineup of whiskies. The 13-year-old Bourbon is bottled at 46.5% abv from barrels chosen by Widow Jane president and head distiller Lisa Wicker. While Lucky Thirteen will be available throughout the year, it will remain a limited offering within the Widow Jane portfolio and will retail for around $100 a 750-ml. bottle.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Town Branch Distillery has unveiled two new limited-edition Bourbons. They include Town Branch True Cask Kentucky Straight Bourbon, a cask strength 54% abv whiskey retailing at $45 a 750-ml., and Town Branch Sherry Cask Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon, bottled at 48.2% abv and retailing at $70. The new expressions will be available for purchase at the distillery and in select markets nationwide beginning next month.

Lux Row Distillers has announced Blood Oath Trilogy Second Edition, the latest collection from the luxury priced Bourbon label. The new pack contains Blood Oath Pacts 4, 5, and 6—released between 2018 and 2020—with all three Bourbons bottled at 49.3% abv. The trio is packaged in a black display box that shows off each whiskey’s label. In September, Lux Row will release 1,400 3-packs at a suggested price of $799.

Barrell Craft Spirits has released the latest release in the BCS line of limited edition whiskies. This release—adorned with a gray label—is a blend of 15-year-old Bourbon whiskies distilled in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. The whiskey is bottled at cask strength, 50.2% abv, and is available in select retailers across the U.S. for a suggested price of $250 a 750-ml.

Anheuser-Busch has extended Natural Light into the spirits category with Natural Light Vodka, a new line of lemonade-flavored spirits. The line of 30% abv vodkas is kicking off with three flavors—traditional lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and black cherry lemonade—and is available in both 750- and 50-ml. bottles. 

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: September 29th 2020 Edition

Moët Hennessy USA is set to launch A Tale of Cake, the newest limited release from single malt Scotch brand Glenmorangie, in October. The 46% abv whisky was finished in Tokaji casks. A Tale of Cake’s launch will be accompanied by a promotional campaign involving cocktails and cake recipes by Jeremy Le Blanche and Dominique Ansel, respectively, to go with the new whisky and with Glenmorangie’s core releases. The whisky will retail for around $99 a 750-ml.

Brown-Forman has announced a new three-batch Bourbon release to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Old Forester. The three whiskies will each be at cask strength and bottled in amber-colored glass reminiscent of hand-blown bottles used in the 19th century. Batch 1 is bottled at 62.8% abv and is made from 46 barrels; Batch 2 is made from 48 barrels and bottled at 63.2% abv; and Batch 3 is assembled from 53 barrels and is at 63.4% abv. Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon is bottled unfiltered—only barrel char sediment has been removed—and will be available in limited quantities across the U.S. for around $150 a 750-ml.

Goslings Rum is offering a new limited release called Papa Seal Single Barrel Bermuda Rum. It was blended from a range of pot- and column-distilled rums that run between 10 and 21 years aged in white oak barrels and aged another two years in Bermuda, ultimately bottled at 41.5% abv. Only 1,500 bottles of Papa Seal 2020 will be available nationwide, each hand-labeled with its barrel number, bottle number, and bottling date. Beginning next month it will be available at select retailers in 16 states as well as online, retailing for $199 a 750-ml.

Edrington has announced the sixth and final release in the Macallan Edition Series. The Macallan Edition No. 6 is a 48.6% abv whisky made from liquid matured in both European and American Sherry-seasoned oak casks. Tying in with the launch, the Macallan has started a partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Trust to support efforts to protect at-risk fish, including in the Macallan’s own section of the river Spey. The Macallan Edition No. 6 is rolling out globally this month and will retail for around $150 in the U.S. Last year, the Macallan was at 268,000 cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

Heaven Hill Brands has released a packaging refresh for parts of the Evan Williams family of whiskies. Evan Williams Black’s new label sports a richer gold color and a black and gold capsule with Evan Williams’s signature. The bottled-in-bond release features a green and white label that more prominently shows the higher proof and the standards of bonded whiskey; the capsule shows the tax strip designating the whiskey as bonded. Evan Williams’ flavored releases will now feature a centered label and the new bottle shape.

Minnesota-based Prestige Beverage has added Davidoff Cognac to its import portfolio for the U.S. The company is now rolling out Davidoff’s V.S. ($35), V.S.O.P. ($50), and X.O. ($150) releases—all bottled at 40% abv—in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, North and South Dakota, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.

William Grant & Sons has relaunched Milagro Select Barrel Reserve, the brand’s luxury-priced tier. The full line—Blanco ($40), Reposado ($45), and Añejo ($55)—is returning to market in new bottles inspired by Mexican architectural works and featuring an engraved agave plant and colors specific to each release.

Proximo Spirits has made former special edition Kraken Black Roast Coffee rum a permanent addition to the line. The 33.3% abv rum is made from macerating the brand’s Trinidadian spiced rum with coffee beans to create a richly spiced and sweet spirit, according to the company. Kraken Black Roast Coffee rum is now available across the U.S.

Sombra mezcal, part of the Davos Brands portfolio, has unveiled a new bottle design. The new packaging, which rolls out this fall, takes its inspiration from the vaso veladora, glass cups traditionally used to contain prayer candles that are common in Oaxacan churches. The updated design also includes a refreshed logo, copper lettering, and a reduced glass weight to be more eco-friendly. Sombra, which translates to “shadow,” is at 90 proof and retails at $35 a 750-ml.

Clase Azul Tequila has announced the launch of the 2020 edition of its Día de Muertos Tequila, set to hit shelves on October 1. The 40% abv spirit is made from a blend of Clase Azul’s Plata, 8-month-old reposado, and 5-year-old Ultra—aged in ex-Sherry casks—Tequilas. The 2020 Día de Muertos Tequila is a limited release and only 2,000 bottles will be available globally, retailing for around $400 a 750-ml.

The Dalmore has launched the latest release in its Principal Collection, a 12-year-old single malt finished in Sherry casks. The 43% abv whisky is initially aged for 10 years in American oak barrels previously used to mature Bourbon before finishing for up to three years in casks that held Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry. The Dalmore 12-year-old Sherry Cask Select single malt is now available in the U.K. and major Asian markets with a U.S. launch to follow in 2021.

Plantation rum has extended its portfolio with two new Fijian rums. Plantation Isle of Fiji is a permanent addition to the range. Distilled in pot and column stills at Rum Co. of Fiji, and then double-aged in Fiji and France, it’s at 40% abv and retails at $25 a 750-ml. Plantation Fiji Vintage 2005 is the first offering in Plantation’s new Birds of Paradise vintage collection. It was first distilled in triple column stills and aged for 14 years in Bourbon casks in the mild climate of the Fiji Islands, then spent an additional year in Ferrand French Oak barrels in the House’s cellars in Cognac. The limited edition is at 50.2% abv and retails at $80.

Chicago-based House of Somrus is adding to its range with a new Coffee Cream liqueur. The line extension is made with coffee and chicory, together with real dairy cream from Wisconsin and quintuple-distilled Caribbean rum. Retailing at $25 a 750-ml., it carries an abv of 13.5% and is rolling out across 21 states.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Plantation Original Dark Rum

Plantation Original Dark 40%  RVB 30cmPlantation continues to set the bar quite high for affordable and well made rums.  I’ve previously reviewed much of the Plantation portfolio here.

Their latest entry is a double-aged dark spirit, blending rums from Trinidad and Tobago.  To create the effect, the rum is aged in charred American oak barrels.  Then select 3-5 year old barrels are married to an 8-year-old rum.  This blend is then aged yet again for a year to a year and a half in ex-Cognac oak barrels.  This technique obviously works quite well for Plantation, as they use it in many of their signature styles.

Plantation Original Dark Rum (80 proof) $17.99 750ml
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Rich, molasses sweetness with a smokey high note.  Fragrance of caramel, vanilla and aged wood.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth with more top notes than are usual in a dark rum.  Sweet caramel and burnt sugar with milk cream.  The wood aging works well to offset the sweetness by lending a bitter edge.
Finish: Fairly long with a hearty molasses touch.
Overall: This rum is great in a Dark & Stormy, Mai Tai or rum based punch.  A lot of depth and character lifts this well above other similarly priced rums.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Plantation Rum

GSN: Backbar Review – August 19-23, 2013

indexIrish Distillers has unveiled the 2013 vintage of its Midleton Very Rare blended whiskey. Made from a blend of several hand-selected whiskies, Midleton Very Rare is triple distilled and aged in lightly charred, ex-Bourbon barrels for up to 20 years, with each bottle featuring the master distiller’s signature. The 2013 edition marks the final vintage signed by Midleton’s former master distiller Barry Crockett, who was awarded Whisky Advocate’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year. In addition to the Midleton Very Rare, Midleton’s specialty portfolio also includes its Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy label.

plantation_orginal_darkCognac Ferrand is extending its Plantation rum brand with a new Original Dark offering slated to hit the U.S. October 1. Original Dark ($17.99 a 750-ml.), made from a blend of rums from Trinidad and Tobago, is aged first in American oak and then in French oak. The Plantation rum line also includes Grande Reserve ($25 a 750-ml.), Original Dark Overproof ($30 a 1-liter) and the recently repacked 20th Anniversary XO ($45 a 750-ml.) among others.


indexJohnnie Walker has launched its Platinum expression in the U.S. market. The new entry—which is made with single malt and grain whiskies aged for a minimum of 18 years—is considered the brand’s “biggest product launch since the introduction of Blue Label,” said Diageo director of Scotch whisky Brian Radics. Rolling out nationwide this month, Platinum retails at $110 a bottle. The launch, meanwhile, is part of Johnnie Walker’s efforts to reorganize its portfolio across several global markets. In the U.S., the brand has begun phasing out its Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18-year-old and Johnnie Walker Green Label, replacing them with Gold Label Reserve ($63 a 750-ml.) and Platinum. The two new variants, which are positioned between the brand’s Black Label ($34) and Blue Label ($210) expressions, follow the addition of Johnnie Walker Double Black ($40), which joined the U.S. portfolio as a permanent offering in April.

Hillrock_DoubleCaskRye_BSAncram, New York-based Hillrock Estate Distillery is set to roll out its new Double Cask Rye Whiskey next month. The whiskey—which will be available in stores and restaurants in New York beginning on September 24—is handmade using batches of the distiller’s organically grown estate rye. The second cask aging included in the process is done in a #4 charred barrel made from American white oak that has been seasoned for more than two years. Hillrock’s portfolio of whiskies also includes Solera Aged Bourbon, Estate Single Malt and George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, Estate Edition.

12194529-ajlineupThe Alexander Jules brand of Sherry will make its U.S. debut this fall. The first release will include three wines—Fino and Manzanilla (both will generally be priced around $40) and Amontillado ($45). They will initially launch in stores and restaurants in the state of California next month. Owner Alex Russan said that he is currently in talks with distributors nationwide and hopes to move into the New York, Portland and Chicago markets soon.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Plantation Rums

You’d never guess it, but virtually all of the Plantation rums boast dual citizenship.  Each starts out as a Caribbean rum from ten different countries and distilleries, each with their own unique flavor profiles.  But, after a typical maturation in their native countries, they emigrate to France and there begin their final sojourn towards sublimity.  It’s thanks to the genius of Pierre Ferrand’s Alexandre Gabriel that a near forgotten style of rum aging is once again experiencing a renaissance.

It’s oddly fitting that rum, the quintessential Caribbean spirit should find itself in the hands of a Frenchman.  After all, the French have staked their claim on several island nations and their influence has filtered into a style of rum known as “double aged”.  Peculiar to only a handful of rums, this technique involves aging rum in young ex-bourbon barrels on the native island where it is distilled, then shipped to Ars, France for a secondary aging in small ex-cognac casks.  This gives the rums not only an extra measure of flavor, but also a more refined finish.

My journey through each of these rums confirmed the fact that all rums are not created equal, but rather each has its own innate gifts to share with the world.  Each is like a child, special, unique and deserving of sharing quality time with.

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum – Barbados, Trinidad & Jamaica (82.4 proof)
Visual: Clear with a few small particulates.
Nose: Light, sweet with some citrus and young banana notes.
Taste:  Bright, with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel.  Sugar, a hint of salt and an elegant richness.
Finish: Fairly long for a young rum, with a touch of bitterness at the very end.
Overall: Plenty of body and just the right balance between sweet and wood notes.  Very nice in sours like a Daiquiri.
GSN Rating: A-

Plantation Barbados 5 Year Grande Reserve (80 proof)
Visual: Beautiful honeyed amber.
Nose: Sweet vanilla, maple syrup, powdered sugar.
Taste: Very sweet with a beautiful honey/vanilla balance.
Finish: The sweet taste lingers, ending in some ginger-like spice.
Overall: An excellent rum with many uses.  It stands well enough on its own as a fine sipper, but also will provide the backbone to any aged rum cocktail.
GSN Rating: A

Plantation 20th Anniversary Extra Old Barbados (80 proof)
Visual: Dark and rich maple syrup color.
Nose: Slight smokiness with lots of wood and vanilla tobacco.
Taste: Rich, candy-like, caramelized sugar.  The wood notes support the overall flavor in a foundational way.  Lots of spice comes through in the mid-palate, and an almost pot-still like terroir adds plenty of character.
Finish: Quite long, leaving a lingering sweetness.
Overall: Definitely a perfect sipping rum, but also one that will work well in tropical drinks calling for a dark or anjeo rum.
GSN Rating: A-

Plantation Trinidad Old Reserve 2000 (84 proof)
Visual: Bright yellow gold.
Nose: Sweet and fruity with a hint of apple.
Taste: A mix of smoke and sweet vanilla.  There is more of the apple quality in the taste.  Almost like a baked apple tart.
Finish: Medium long, with a sweet lingering spiciness.
Overall: Quite interesting and brings to mind a perfect rum for a Rum Old-Fashioned.
GSN Rating: B+

Plantation Jamaica Old Reserve 2000 (84 proof)
Visual: Dark reddish gold.
Nose: A funky, dark and rich rumcake scent.
Taste: Quite smokey and intense with a dark blackberry flavor that hits in mid-palate.  The sweetness and woodiness make a nice background canvas.
Finish: Very long and with more of the blackberry flavor making a fresh appearance.
Overall: A great sipper with unusual berry qualities.  This makes it excellent in fruit based cocktails.
GSN Rating: A-

Plantation Guadaloupe Old Reserve 1998 (84 proof)
Visual: Golden honey.
Nose: Spicy, smokey and slightly bitter. Very Scotch-like.
Taste: A lot of wood and intense dark, brooding mystique.  There are notes of chocolate, vine fruit, fruitcake, currents, floral and herbal notes, it’s all here.
Finish: Medium long, leaving a huge variety of residual flavors that tickle and amuse the palate.
Overall: One of the most unique rums I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Save this one for extra special occasions.
GSN Rating: A+

Plantation Original Dark Overproof – Trinidad & Tobago (146 proof)
Visual: Dark yellow-orange.
Nose: Light roast coffee bean, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Taste: As to be expected in an overproof, there is a blast of heat, but after it dissipates, there is a dark but sweet molasses flavor.  There are notes of orange peel, cinnamon stick, and gingercake aplenty.
Finish: Very long and spicy.
Overall: This is the only rum in the portfolio which is not double-aged.  The alcohol content would obliterate any subtleties the secondary aging would impart.  Still, this is a great addition to tiki drinks calling for an overproof float.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Plantation