GSN Suggests: Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

cinco-de-mayo-cocktailsWe were blown away this year with cocktail suggestions sent to us by brand representatives, bartenders and mixologists.  Here are just a few that caught our eye at the GSN offices.  Salud!

Amante Picante Margarita
By LA’s Juan Martinez (Toca Madera)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
.75 oz. agave
1 oz. lime juice
Serrano pepper
Cilantro
Muddle two pieces of Serrano pepper and clap 5 pieces of cilantro in a tin. Rim a highball with Tajin/Ghost pepper salt, shake all ingredients together and strain into a the highball glass. Garnish with a Serrano pepper and sprig of cilantro.

Bandera de Puebla
Created by Rob Krueger, Extra Fancy, Brooklyn
1 oz. Patron Reposado
1 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
.5 oz. Coconut Cream
.75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz. Pomegranate Juice
Mint Sprig for Garnish
Combine the Patron Reposado, Citronge Lime, Coconut & Lime Juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Gently pour the Pomegranate Juice so it settles to the bottom half of the drink creating two equal layers of white and red. Garnish with a sprig of mint to represent the three colors of the Mexican flag.

Cactus Bite
1 part DRAMBUIE®
2 parts Milagro Reposado Tequila
Juice of ½ Lemon
½ tsp. Sugar
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Add all to a mixing tin half-filled with ice. Shake until tin is frosted, strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice; Garnish with a Lemon or Lime Wedges, serve with a straw.

DaHouse Margarita
By Miami’s Eddie Fuentes (27 Restaurant & Bar, Broken Shaker)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
.75 oz. Homestead lime
.75 oz. pineapple sage infused agave syrup
Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with Half Moon Spicy salt rim, a spray of Mezcal, fresh pineapple, sage and a lime wheel.

Drambuie® Margarita
1 part DRAMBUIE®
1 scoop of cubed ice
1 part lime juice
1 lime wedge
1 orange twist
2 parts Reposado Tequila (we recommend Milagro)
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled salt and black pepper-rimmed coupette. Garnish with a lime wedge and a twist of orange.

Herradura Vesuvio
2oz Herradura Silver
¾oz Red pepper juice
½oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Cholula hot sauce
¼ oz Agave nectar
Rim a coupe glass with cayenne pepper and salt mix Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake hard and pour into the chilled coupe glass.

The Highland Margarita
½ part Drambuie
2 parts Milagro
½ part triple sec
Juice of 1 Lime
Add all to a mixing tin half-filled with ice. Shake until tin is frosted, strain into a margarita glass over fresh ice; Garnish with a fresh Lime wedge, serve with a cocktail stirrer.

The Horseshoe Margarita
2 parts Tequila Herradura Silver
1 parts Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2-3/4 part Agave Nectar (to taste)
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake hard so that some of the ice melts, then strain over fresh ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

 Jimi Punch
(20 servings)
1 Bottle el Jimador Silver
1 bottle Korbel Champagne
6 oz Campari
6 oz Agave Syrup
1 liter Orange juice
¼ liter lemon juice
1 orange cut into slices
1 tray of Raspberries
Add all ingredient to a large punch bowl, add lots of ice stir, cover and leave to sit 20 mins before serving. Stir occasionally during service.

La Perla
1 ½ oz Partida Reposado Tequila
1 ½ oz Domecq Manzanilla Sherry
¾ oz Mathilde Pear Liqueur
Lemon twist
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Las Flores de Mayo
By New  York City’s Brian Matthys (The Gander, Corkbuzz)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
1 oz. Verjus
¼ oz. Velvet Falernum
2 dashes cacao bitters
Add all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well over ice. Strain into a chilled couple and garnish with a thin lime wheel.

Partida Breakfast Margarita
Created by Jacques Bezuidenhout
1 3/4 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
2 tsp. orange marmalade
1/2 oz agave syrup (1 part Partida Agave Nectar, 1 part water)
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Partida Paloma
2 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
1 Pinch Salt
Half a Lime
Grapefruit Soda (such as Jarritos or Squirt)
Fill a highball glass with ice and add the tequila and salt. Squeeze the lime half into the glass and drop into the drink and top with grapefruit soda.

Spice of Life
Created by Damian Windsor, DC Berridge LLC group (Warwick, Firefly, Tiki No, Power House, Dark Room), LA
1 oz. Roca Patron Silver
1 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
1 oz. Frangelico
2 Strawberries
.5 oz. lime juice
2 Slices of jalapeno
Muddle strawberries to a paste, add liquid ingredients and cubed ice, shake and strain onto fresh ice in a double old-fashioned glass and garnish with a half strawberry and jalapeno slices.

Spicy Raspberry Margarita
1 ½ oz. el Jimador Reposado
½ oz. Chambord
1 oz. Sprite
2 oz. Sour mix
3 dashes of Tabasco
In a shaker filled with ice, add ingredients and shake to mix. Pour into margarita glass rimmed with spicy salt. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tamarind Paloma
5 oz of el Jimador blanco
5 oz Bohemia
5 oz of fresh lemon juice
5 oz of tamarind syrup
2 Dashes of orange bitters.
Shake all ingredients except the Bohemia beer with ice and pour over ice.  Fill rest of glass with Bohemia beer.  Served in a Collins glass.

Tomar Bueno
Created by Damian Windsor, DC Berridge LLC group (Warwick, Firefly, Tiki No, Power House, Dark Room), LA
1 oz. Patron Roca Silver
.75 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. grapefruit juice
Top with Squirt
Add ice and liquid ingredients to a highball glass, garnish with a grapefruit peel twist, alternately take a big sip out of a can of Squirt soda and add the liquid ingredients directly to it.

The Yuzu and Thai Chili Margarita
Created by Annelise McAuliffe, PAIR Magazine
1 ½ oz ounces Yuzu Juice
1 ½ oz Partida Reposado Tequila
½  Triple Sec or Cointreau
½ – 1 oz honey (adjust to your preference of sweet)
Garnish:
Thai chili pepper
*Thai chili salt
Fresh Thai basil
Rim the glass with yuzu juice and the chili salt. Shake all the ingredients, except fresh Thai basil, Thai pepper and the salt with ice in a cocktail shaker until the outside of the shaker is cold. Strain into a glass over rocks, or “up”.  Garnish with a Thai chili and fresh Thai basil if desired. Enjoy with the pepper in the drink for great spicy flavor. *Thai chili salt – this spicy salt is super easy to create at home, crush dried pepper and mix with salt!

GSN Year in Review 2018 Edition: The Best of the Best

Each year, the Good Spirits News offices receive hundreds of products sent to us unsolicited for review.  While many are good, some are average, and a few are poor, what we always hope for is a product that is 1) true to its style, 2) exceptionally well crafted and 3) creative.

The following are the various products that garnered GSN ratings ranging from an A- to an A++ during this calendar year.  All are highly recommended and well worth seeking out.

Unsurprisingly, American whiskies dominated the field, while other worldwide whiskies also made inroads into the fastest growing segment of the spirits industry.

Amaro
Amaro Montenegro
Baltamaro Amaros
Cerasum Aperitivo
Donna Rosa Rabarbaro
Riga Black Balsam Bitter

Brandy
Hine Rare, Homage & Antique Cognac
Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel No. 1 Cognac
Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel No. 2 Eau-de-vie

Cocktail Subscription Box
Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club Subscription Boxes

Genever
Bols 100% Malt Spirit

Gin – American
Battle Standard American Dry Navy Strength Gin
Rogue Spirits Gin

Gin – Flavored
Beefeater Pink Gin
Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin

Gin – Irish
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Glassware
Tequila & Mezcal Jarritos Glasses

Liqueur
Colina Colada

Rum
Bacardi Añejo Cuatro, Reserva Ocho & Gran Reserva Diez Rums
Bumbu Rum
Don Q Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum
Owney’s Rum
Plantation Jamaica Xaymaca Special Dry Rum

Rum – Flavored
Hue-Hue Coffee Rum

Sake
HeavenSake Sake

Shochu – Flavored
Rihei Ginger

Syrups & Bitters
Curious No. 1 Cocktail Elixir
RAFT Botanicals Cocktail Syrups & Bitters
RAFT Botanicals Cranberry Five Spice Cocktail Syrup

Vermouth
La Valdotaine Amaro Dente di Leone & Verney Vermouth
Little City Vermouth

Vodka
Nemiroff Vodka

Vodka – Flavored
Nemiroff Vodka

Whiskey – American
Bare Knuckle Bourbon, Rye & Wheat Whiskies
Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey
Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye
Booker’s Batch 2018-02 “Backyard BBQ”
Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” Bourbon
Brewers Batch No. 2 Virginia-Highland Whisky
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. C918
FEW American Whiskey
Heaven’s Door American Whiskeys
Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Whiskey
J.H. Cutter Whisky
Knob Creek Cask Rye Whiskey
Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye
Little Book Whiskey: Noe Simple Task
Lock Stock & Barrel 18-Year Straight Rye Whiskey
Maker’s Mark Private Select & Cask Strength
McKenzie Bottled in Bond Bourbon Whiskey
McKenzie Single Barrel Bourbon – Lucky Hare Collaboration
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2018 Edition
Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition Whiskey
Redwood Empire American Whiskey
Rogue Spirits Whiskies
Tommyrotter Triple Barrel American Whiskey
Westland Garryana 2018, Edition 3|1 Whiskey
WhistlePig The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve

Whiskey – Flavored
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye Whiskey

Whisky – French
Brenne French Single Malt Whisky

Whiskey – Irish
Egan’s Fortitude Irish Whiskey
Egan’s Legacy Reserve Irish Whiskey
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye Irish Whiskey
Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey
Tipperary Boutique Distillery Whiskey
The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish

Whisky – Japanese
Nikka Whiskey From The Barrel

Whisky – Scotch
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
The Glenlivet Code
Glenmorangie Signet
Glenmorangie Spios
Highland Park’s The DARK Whisky
Highland Park Valknut Whisky
Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino Cask

GSN Review: G4 Blanco Tequila

G4 Blanco brings a straight forward contender to the premium tequila game.

TasteTequila recently ranked the El Pandillo distillery as number one in its exclusive tracking of all tequila producers. The designation was based on the ratings from over 41,800 different consumers and tequila judges using the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app. The family-owned distillery at El Pandillo placed at the head of over 129 active tequila distilleries currently operating in Mexico.

Owner and operator of El Pandillo, Felipe Camarena, recently launched distribution of G4 into the U.S. The name G4 simply represents the 4th generation of Felipe’s line of the Camarena family. Camarena honored the traditions behind tequila making while adding his own unique twists: using harvested rainwater and specially modified copper stills, 100 percent pure Blue Agave from their own family farm, modified stone ovens, and an entirely unique mechanical alternative to the traditional stone tahona used to crush the cooked agave.

The final result is bottled simply, though beautifully. As Camarena himself noted: “I’m not in the business of making fancy bottles, I’m in the business of making great tequila.”

G4 Tequila Blanco
Visual: Clear
Nose: The simple rawness of blanco comes right at you, it hasn’t been sweetened down.
Taste: A smooth mild pepper undertone, alcoholic.
Finish: Neutral, mildly warm,  but not burning.
Overall: If you want a blanco that’s straight forward with no attempts to cover up what a blanco is, you won’t be disappointed.  For beginners of tequila it might be a bit surprising. If you want to use a blanco in your mix and don’t want it imparting any added aspects to your drink this would be a good choice.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: G4 Tequila

Review by Travis Owens for Good Spirits News

GSN Review: Tequila & Mezcal Jarritos Glasses

In 2016, Stölzle Lausitz GmbH (a German glass manufacturer that makes, among other items, the Glencairn whisky glasses) and Romeo Hristov from Chisholm Trail Crafts started the development and testing of new glasses for tequila and mezcal inspired by the drinking jars [jarritos] for pulque and mezcal. The Riedel tequila glass (in its two versions, Ouverture and Vinum), the Waterford tequila glass (very similar to the Ouverture) and the Glencairn glass (apparently the preferred glass in USA for agave spirits tastings) among others, are all reasonably functional glasses. Why more glasses then?  Here’s what Romeo Hristov has to say:

“Stolzle and I were trying to bring a glass(es) that capture not only the flavor but also the historical roots of the drink ware for agave spirits. In much the same way as the agave spirits are unique for Mexico there is the “jarrito” [drinking jar], a unique drinking vessel for alcoholic beverages from agave (both fermented and distilled) which have been used for said beverages for over two thousand years. However, it’s not just the tradition behind it, but also its strikingly modern shape which quite closely resemble a stemless tulip snifter (especially in some of the Pre-Columbian pieces that come without handle) that called our attention. In brief, these glasses are a reinvention of this traditional drinking vessel with a modern design and functionality, and the general shape was intended to bring some of the unique feeling of rustic elegance of Mexico.”

We at the GSN offices have been trying these out for a week now and have to say that they are quite elegant, and serve their purpose well.  These are hand-blown glasses with heavy bases that rest well in the hand.  The shorter version has a slightly thicker rim which feels sturdy and somewhat more masculine, whereas the taller glass has a thinner, more feminine lip. The bowls are both deep and manage to catch and keep the olfactory sensation at a premium.  Having used the Glencairn and Riedel glasses for the past several years, these new agave spirit focused glasses offer a new and more focused experience to the tequila and mezcal aficionado.  Not only that, but they make a fine statement on the bar.  Salud!

GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Chisholm Trail Crafts

GSN Review: El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Limited Edition

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the legendary La Alteña distillery in the highlands of Jalisco, El Tesoro has released one of its most aged tequilas yet – the El Tesoro™ 80th Anniversary Limited Edition. Aged for eight years and with only eight casks of this celebratory liquid in existence, the U.S. will be the only market to receive this bottling.

“In truth, my grandfather created a very inefficient process for making tequila,” says Carlos Camarena, Don Felipe’s grandson and Master Distiller for El Tesoro. “Yet it is these unique and stubborn production methods that make our tequila so special, and perhaps the most authentic. Eighty years later, we don’t care that there are faster ways to make tequila now. We care about the flavor, and the fact of the matter is that our method tastes better and is the best way to honor the agave.”

The process begins with the 100% estate-grown blue agave which grows for up to eight years in La Alteña’s mineral-rich soils and highlands climate, giving them a spiciness that is not often found in Jalisco. Once the agave reaches peak maturity, it is harvested by hand, removing the waxy stem for a smoother flavor. To note – it can take El Tesoro’s jimadores up to three years to completely harvest a field.

After harvest, the hearts of the blue agave – called the piñas – are cooked in an old-fashioned hornos oven for three straight days. The cooked pinas are then slowly crushed to release all their juice under a massive, two-ton volcanic tahona wheel. For this 80th Anniversary Edition, the liquid extracted is then distilled to 85 proof* at a low temperature in copper stills, that were made to Don Felipe’s specifications. El Tesoro is believed to be the only tequila to distill to proof, with no sugar or water added.

*Traditionally, El Tesoro is distilled to 80 proof. Since the liquid for the 80th Anniversary LTO would be aged for eight years, this liquid was instead distilled to 85 proof. The final result is 83 proof due to evaporation or “the angel’s share.”

“The 80th Anniversary Edition is the perfect tribute not only to our precious agave, but also to my grandfather,” says Camarena. “With it, we continue to push the boundaries of what it means to make excellent tequila, without sacrificing our traditional methods and beliefs. It is a spirit that I know Don Felipe would be proud to put his name on.”

El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Edition (83 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Almost grassy and herbal, with a slight smokey mint character. The agave has a soft and buttery roundness, offset by strident oak.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and light, with more of that curious mintiness. The agave tastes fresh and wholesome, and not entirely tamed by the barrel.
Finish: Medium long, with some of the oak notes making for a very dry fade.
Overall: An exceptional sipping tequila that is a testament to the master distiller’s skills in aging.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: El Tesoro Tequila

GSN Presents: The 2017 Advent Gift Guide – Day 13

Welcome to Day 13 of the GSN Advent Gift Guide! Today we have a very special tequila to share with you.

Casa Noble announced the latest addition to its extensive portfolio of first class tequilas. Casa Noble Selección del Fundador Volume II is a triple distilled, extra añejo, which has been aged for eight years in new Taransaud 114-liter French white oak barrels to impeccably develop its complex, elegant character.

Available since November 1, with only 300 bottles available worldwide, the luxury limited-edition Casa Noble Selección del Fundador Volume II celebrates Casa Noble’s rich history and the always forward-looking vision of the brand’s founder and maestro tequilero, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, as well as his creativity and expertise. Selección del Fundador Volume II is certified organic, and has been made with 100% Blue Weber agave plants, originally planted in 1997 to commemorate the founding of Casa Noble.

“My desire is to take tequila to the next level, to see what it can be,” adds Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo. “Selección del Fundador Volume II is an exquisite spirit showcasing our philosophy that making exceptional tequila is truly a noble pursuit. This tequila has been 20 years in the making, I hope people can enjoy sharing this treasured creation with us.”

Recently named “Tequila Producer of the Year” at the 2016 International Spirits Challenge, Casa Noble is one of the few certified organic and kosher tequilas on the market today. The product is made in small batches and always triple distilled – going beyond industry standards. Selección del Fundador Volume II is no exception and has an MSRP of $1,499.00.

GSN Review: Asombroso The Collaboration Tequila

Silver-Oak-Collaboration-Humidor-Black_grandeBoasting the most phallic bottle design I have ever seen, Asombroso nonetheless makes some incredibly expensive and unique tequilas.  This particular bottle entitled “The Collaboration” retails for $1,800.  If you take a closer look at the image you’ll discover part of the reason for the high cost.  Each bottle is hand crafted with Millefiori glass inside the base and stopper of a crystal decanter.  This is then housed inside of a lockable wooden humidor (complete with humidity gauge) and rested on top of a laser etched pedestal.  So, this is collectible art, not just booze.

What makes the tequila itself unique are several aspects.  Firstly, it is a very old tequila aged for 11 years.  You won’t find many spirits other than whiskies that age for this long.  Also, it is double barrel aged, first for a decade in oak (most likely American) and then rested for another year in Silver Oak wineries’ ex-Cabernet Sauvignon American oak barrels. You can see how much the barrel affects the tonality of the tequila, giving it a rich coppery hue.

Here is what Ricardo Gamarra, owner and Master distiller of AsomBroso Tequila, has to say about this process: “I have rested my Tequila in barrels from around the world; from Bordeaux, France to the finest Port wineries in Portugal, to Tennessee, producing award-winning Anejo’s unlike anything the world has seen. We chose to approach Silver Oak because of their attention to detail in producing only one varietal of wine using American Oak barrels instead of French Oak.” 

Asombroso The Collaboration (80 proof)
Visual: Deep burnished copper.
Nose: Immediate vanilla bean with a secondary red wine depth.
Taste: Surprisingly light in character with an elegant mouthfeel.  The tequila’s heat has toned down considerably here.  The addition of the Cab Sauv oak is intensely interesting.  The blended flavors are unlike anything I’ve ever had.  I’d almost go so far to say that this is very much like a cocktail.
Finish: The winey notes go on for quite some time, with the tequila adding a warmth and sparkle on the palate.  Again, an unusual pairing, but one that works in small doses.
Overall: A tequila that works as an after dinner drink, much in the same way that a dry sherry might.  A little goes a long way, which is good since you’re looking at a $150 shot.  (Please don’t do a shot of this, but rather sip slowly from a snifter).
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Asombroso

GSN Review: Tres Agaves Tequila & Organic Margarita Mixers

GroupShot_Wht_Organic_ColorChangeEven though Tres Agaves tequila is a relatively new product on the market, it is crafted at one of the oldest distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico; Destiladora Azteca de Jalisco.  As well, they have won some outstanding industry awards from the likes of Paul Pacult’s Ultimate Beverage Challenge and Ultimate Cocktail Challenge.

Their margarita mixer is a blend of organic lime juice, organic agave nectar grown in Jalisco and filtered water.  Simple, yet the only organic version on the market.  Trend setting.

So, with these two products in hand, how does their brand name Margarita stand up?  Read on….

Tres Agaves Silver (80 proof)
Visual: Crystal.
Nose: Fresh, lively and strong agave body.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth, round and creamy, yet at the same time full of bright, vegetal pepperiness. The whole flavor moves from one end of the spectrum to the other.  The mouthfeel is beautiful and the agave is done to perfection.  Quite lovely and certainly a standout in the blanco category.
Finish: Medium long with fresh flavor of pressed agave aged to the peak of the character imparted by the wood.
Overall: Summer in a glass.  This is the kind of tequila you want to take home and introduce to your mother. 😉
GSN Rating: A+

Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix (non-alcoholic)
Overall:  Used as specified on the bottle’s label, the Margarita with Tres Agaves Silver tasted fine, but without the essential oils found in fresh-squeezed limes, it has a somewhat one dimensional taste.    I was also surprised at the serving suggestions which calls for the drink to be served on the rocks in a old-fashioned glass.  I appreciated the overall flavor, and the organic ingredients, but would always make it fresh if at all possible.  Barring that, this is one of the best mixes I’ve tasted.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Tres Agaves

GSN Review: CRUZ Tequila

cruz_delsol_tequila_reposado__69657.1366656704.1280.1280CRUZ is a 100% blue weber agave tequila made in the Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico.  Slow cooked in traditional brick ovens for days, and naturally fermented, it is then double distilled in a stainless steel pot still.  What is particularly nice about the packaging is that both the glass and the steel cap and cross are made from recycled materials.  CRUZ is distributed by the Trinchero Family Estates  in Helena, California.  They also have a silver (blanco) tequila which GSN was not sent for review.

CRUZ Reposado (80 proof)
Visual: Very pale gold.
Nose: Slightly grassy and agave forward.
Taste: Light with a lot of sweetness.  There is some caramel and faint smoke, but overall, very mild.  Much of the deep funk of a rustic tequila is not found here.
Finish: A sweet almost buttered corn on the cob taste works surprisingly well.
Overall: This grew on me.  I like the way it starts off simply, but has an almost buttery character after a minute or two.  For a reposado, this is a bit on the thin side, but the flavor is quite good.  This is great in a Margarita or as a shot.  I would drink this with a traditional Mexican meal and it would add to the overall experience.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Cruz Tequila

GSN Review: Flaviar Spirits Club

flaviar_image-620x350Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to learn about spirits is at home.  You can take your time savoring and discovering the differences between different styles and brands of each of the six main spirits: brandies, whiskies, rums, gins, vodkas and tequilas.  The only real issue is financial.  Go out to the local liquor store and try to buy five different bottles of spirit that aren’t hangover inducing crap for under $50.  It’s impossible.

What if I were to tell you that you and two friends could try five different top shelf spirits for less than $50?  What if every month there was a new package delivered to your door containing five new spirits to try ranging from hard to find Japanese whiskies to Highland scotches and more?  Each delivered with a guide on tasting notes, info on the distilleries and how to host a tasting party.  Sound too good to be true?  It isn’t.  Check it out below and begin your “spiritual” journey of discovery.

For more information go to: Flaviar

GSN Review: Kah Tequila

tumblr_lwqutdtcPQ1qiedjoMexico has a long tradition of acknowledging that one’s death is inevitable.  Instead of fearing death, they celebrate it each year with a festival called Día de los Muertos.  One of the highlights is being given candy made out of sugar in the shape of a human skull.  Sounds weird, right?  But, not really.  Think about Halloween.  Skulls and candy are a matter of course.

Kah has taken this idea and made it even better.  Each style of their tequila comes in an eye-catching and artistic bottle. All of this reminds me of the proverbial maxim, “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  Good enough reason to enjoy some tequila!

Kah Blanco (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Spicy and sweet agave nose with rock candy.
Taste: Very smooth, with light grassy notes and some caramel.  Salty sweet potato flavor is intriguing and tasty.  Creamy mouthfeel.
Finish: There is a lingering salinity and crisp aspect that feels rich and well-rounded.
Overall: Exceptionally creamy and perfect for pairing with traditional Mexican cuisine.
GSN Rating: B+

Kah Reposado (110 proof)
Visual: Very pale gold.
Nose: A lot of alcohol on the nose.  High woody notes with a distinct cinnamon air, tone down the agave.
Taste: Surprisingly woody, with a semi-rye spice-like character.  Fairly intense, but toned down by a sweet, almost milk chocolate flavor towards the end.
Finish: Rich and powerful mouth feel with a lot of chewiness.  This is the Angus beef of tequila.
Overall: Intense and aggressive.  Still, as with the other Kah tequilas, it has a softness to it.  A great tequila for sipping or shots.
GSN Rating: B

Kah Anjeo (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Fresh agave with tropical fruit accents.
Taste: Super smooth with a lot a rich creamy vanilla and caramel in the forefront.  Definitely an elegant sipper.  Akin to an XO cognac.
Finish: Sweet, fruity and smooth.  Luscious and enveloping.
Overall: Really, really nice.  The kind of tequila to bring out for special friends and occasions.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Kah Tequila

GSN Review: Patron Anejo Limited Edition Bottle Stopper

yurman_anejoThe arts and alcohol have gone hand in hand for centuries.  This season, Patron tequila is partnering with noted designer David Yurman to create a truly beautiful and unique bottle stopper for their anejo expression.  Designed to look like a samurai sword handle with fiery 24k gold accents, it makes an impressive statement on your bar.

“It was a thrill to work with Patrón on this unique project,” said Yurman. “Throughout time, armor and weapons have represented the highest artistic and technical ability of the artisans who craft them. For me, there is an inseparable parallel between a finely honed weapon and a beautifully crafted piece of jewelry – they are truly one in the same and a natural extension of the work that inspires me.”

This collectible item will be released for a limited time in select markets across the US.  The gift box retails for $59.99.

GSN Rating: A-

For more information on Patron Tequila click here.

GSN: Backbar Review – September 30-October 4, 2013

indexPernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers has extended its Redbreast Irish whiskey brand with a new 21-Year-Old extension. Rolling out this month, Redbreast 21-Year-Old is made from a malted and unmalted barley mash, triple distilled in copper pot stills and then matured in a combination of American Bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. The new entry is currently available across the U.S.—as well as in the U.K., France, Ireland and Germany—priced at $180 a bottle. Redbreast 21-Year-Old marks the ninth single pot still Irish whiskey in the Irish Distillers stable, as well as the brand’s oldest offering to date, joining Redbreast’s existing 12-Year-Old, 12-Year-Old Cask Strength and 15-Year-Old variants.

indexSidney Frank Importing Co. is aiming to reinvigorate its Jägermeister liqueur brand with the launch of its first U.S. extension, seasonal offering Jägermeister Spice. The limited edition expression hits national distribution today, priced at $22.99 a 750-ml. Jägermeister Spice (25% abv) uses the same 56 different herbs, blooms, roots and fruits as Jägermeister Original, but highlights the vanilla and cinnamon spices to give it a warmer taste profile.

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indexCampari America’s Cabo Wabo Tequila brand has expanded its range with Cabo Diablo, a new coffee liqueur. Featuring a color-changing label, the 35%-abv offering is made with a blend of Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila and Arabica coffee liqueur. Cabo Diablo will be available this fall across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, priced at $22.99 a 750-ml. The coffee liqueur joins Blanco, Reposado, Añejo and Uno entries in Cabo Wabo’s 100%-agave portfolio.

indexPernod Ricard is extending its Paddy Irish whiskey brand with two flavors, a honey offering to be known as Bee Sting, and spiced apple-flavored Devil’s Apple. Paddy’s new flavors are launching in the U.S. this month, backed by a millennial-targeted marketing campaign titled “Sleep when you’re 30.”

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indexSan Francisco-based Anchor Distilling has released Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Blue Hanger blended malt whiskey in the U.S. for the first time. Now in its seventh limited release, Blue Hanger’s current edition is comprised of one hogshead of Bruichladdich 1992, one butt of Bunnahabhain 1990, four hogsheads of Miltonduff 1997 and two hogsheads of Bunnahabhain Moine (peated) 2006. Blue Hanger 7th Limited Release will be offered exclusively in the U.S., with a total of 3,088 bottles available, priced at $99.99 each.

indexFormer Sidney Frank Importing executives Rick and Sarah Zeiler have launched a new shot brand, Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey. A Bourbon infused with herbs including green tea, hibiscus, eucalyptus, cinnamon and ginger, Coldcock is 70-proof and retails at $19.99 a 750-ml. Already present in California, Georgia and Indiana, the new brand is launching in New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Nebraska today, and will soon hit New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois and Texas.

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imagesBeam Inc. is extending the John DeKuyper & Sons Crave chocolate liqueurs range with the launch of Crave Chocolate Truffle. The new flavor is available nationwide with a suggested retail price of $17.99 a 750-ml. bottle. Chocolate Truffle (15% abv) joins Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Chili in the Crave range of flavors.

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hollynog-Project1-2Pewaukee, Wisconsin-based Midwest Custom Bottling, bottler of RumChata, is launching Holly Nog—a new spiked eggnog—in the U.S. this holiday season. Made with wine and Wisconsin dairy cream, Holly Nog (owned by Midwest Custom Bottling, while RumChata is owned by Agave Loco) will be available at both liquor stores and wine-only stores, as well as in the dairy aisle of grocery stores. The 14%-abv entry comes in 750-ml. bottles, priced at $9.99 each.

indexJack Daniel’s is introducing a limited edition Master Distiller #1 bottle, honoring founder Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, nationwide this fall. The 750-ml. bottles, which were previously only available in Tennessee and duty free shops, are currently hitting shelves at retail locations across the U.S. ($24.99). Master Distiller #1 is the first in a new series recognizing the seven men who have held the master distiller post since the Jack Daniel Distillery began producing nearly 150 years ago. In addition to Jack Daniel, the list of master distillers includes Jess Motlow, Lem Tolley, Jess Gamble, Frank Bobo, Jimmy Bedford and Jeff Arnett (currently in the position).

indexSerge Imports’ Exclusiv has debuted a new brandy-flavored vodka, XO Napoleon. The new expression will be priced at $10 a 750-ml. and will initially launch in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Exclusiv XO Napoleon (35% abv) uses 5- to 18-year-old brandies for flavoring and achieves the brandy coloring through the traditional French method of including caramelized sugar. XO Napoleon marks the brand’s tenth offering.

indexDiageo is debuting a new single malt Scotch offering, Talisker Storm, in the U.S. market. Launching nationwide this month, the non-age-stated whisky is matured in oak for a minimum of three years and retails at $66 a 750-ml. Part of Diageo’s Classic Malts collection, Talisker is the only distillery on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

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indexBeam Inc. is set to roll out a new batch of Booker’s Bourbon handpicked by whiskey experts in the coming days. Booker’s Bourbon Batch No. 2013-6 will hit shelves nationwide in early October, priced at $49.99 a 750-ml. The new offering is 126.5-proof and has been aged for seven years. Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe honored his father’s tasting tradition of sharing bottles with friends by hosting his own Booker’s Bourbon Roundtable, which consisted of a select group of whiskey advocates, writers and experts.

imagesBeam Inc. has launched Ice Surge—a new liqueur brand—in select U.S. markets. Targeted toward the shot occasion, the 70-proof range includes Tropical Freeze (pineapple and mango) and Frozen Berry (raspberry, blackberry and açai) variants, both of which are said to combine fruit flavors with a unique cooling sensation. Priced at $16.99 a 750-ml., Ice Surge will initially be available across 20 markets.

imagesPernod Ricard’s Seagram’s gin has added Red Berry Twisted, a gin infused with raspberry and strawberry flavors and aimed at the at-home cocktail occasion.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Tapatio 110 Tequila

Tapatio 110 Tequila Blanco

GSN reviewed Tapatio’s 80 proof bottling several months ago, but there is a hefty 110 proof version that has recently become available.  Imported exclusively into the US by California’s Charbay Distillery from the Camarena Family Distilleria in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico; this new version of Tapatio stands apart from their 80 proof blanco.  Read on to discover why.

Tapatio 110 (110 proof)
Visual: Clear with minor particulates.
Nose: Spicy and vegetal with a hefty dose of fresh agave.  Freshly cut mild green pepper is an unusual top note.
Taste: Intense heat, but also balanced by an ultra clean distillation.  The overall effect is bright, clean and savory with a young and assertive agave flavor.
Finish: Lingering notes of slightly smokey agave, giving way to a dry and crisp finish with a faint sweet tinge.
Overall: In spite of the high-proof, this is very drinkable as is, but also lends itself as a superbly mixable tequila for cocktails.  It’s a hearty and well done tequila.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Tapatio