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

GSN Review: Breckenridge Distillery

Breckenridge Colorado holds the distinction of being home to the world’s highest distillery seated at 9600 feet above sea level.  As well, their spirits are cut with water straight from mountain snowmelt, adding a strong minerality that gives a unique terroir to their products.  Each handcrafted beverage comes off a bespoke copper pot still built by the Vendome Copper and Brass Works in Louisville, Kentucky. Imagine hauling that monster up to the top of a mountain!

Breckenridge Distillery is the brainchild of Bryan Nolt, and despite only being in existence for four short years, they already have a large portfolio of award-winning products.  They recently sent me a nice sampling for review, including a spiced rum which is currently only available for sale at the distillery.  A perfect excuse to book a trip to Breckenridge.

Breckenridge Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Lots of minerality and a hint of mintiness.
Taste: Quite dry, with a crisp sharpness.  Still, very smooth and bright with a lot of black pepper, slate, slight salinity, and a tinge of marigold petal.
Finish: Very dry and quick with a short finish.  This vodka is comparable to an ice wine in its effect on your palate.
Overall: A versatile vodka full of mountain terroir.  Great in a vodka martini or a Harrington cocktail.
GSN Rating: A-

Breckenridge Bitters (72 proof)
Visual: Sunshine gold.
Nose: Herbal, grassy, and somewhat sweet, yet with a high alcohol nose.
Taste: An interesting blend of initial sweetness, followed by a quite bitter and fresh-cut herb flavor. Imagine dandelions and salad greens.
Finish: Medium long with lingering bitterness.
Overall: A terrific light and non-medicinal after dinner digestif.  Try this in place of Campari in a Negroni, or add a few ounces to an India Pale Ale for an extra blast of bitterness.  The possibilities are endless.  Well done!
GSN Rating: A-

Breckenridge Colorado Bourbon Whiskey (86 proof)
Visual: Light golden iced tea brown.
Nose: Sweet and smokey with burnt wood and caramel.
Taste: Lusciously sweet, yet plenty spicy with a good heft of new American oak wood.  It seems a bit young, but still well developed enough to turn heads.
Finish: It’s just goes on and on.  There’s a lovely toffee afterglow that comes at the tail end of things, like a goodnight kiss.
Overall: The grain bill is 56% corn, 38% rye and 6% barley making this a huge mouthbomb of a whiskey, and reminiscent of a sweet, young rye. One of the best bourbons to come on the market in the past five years, mainly due to the heft of the mountain water used to bring it down to proof.
GSN Rating: A

Breckenridge Spiced Rum (90 proof)
Visual: Rich medium brown with a few dark particulates of spice.
Nose: Tons of sugar, and holiday spices.  Think fresh baked gingerbread.
Taste: Hearty rum flavor with dry spice and not as much sweetness as you might expect.  This borders on the flavors found in a traditional navy rum.
Finish: Medium-long. There’s a hint of demerara sugar sweetness that comes through at the end, with slight cinnamon and nutmeg notes.
Overall: This is a rum that is more in line with traditional old style rums as opposed to the big spiced rums that are mixed with cola.  In other words, the antithesis of Captain Morgan.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Breckenridge Distillery