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: Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

152885The original Cutty Sark is a British Clipper ship built in 1869.  Amazingly enough, despite a century and a half of English wars and a recent damaging fire, the ship is still in existence.  A popular tourist attraction, it can be visited in London, England where it is dry docked.  The ship was built in Scotland quite near the distillery where it’s namesake whisky has been produced since 1923.  The word “cutty sark” is Scots and is a type of short skirt worn by Nannie Dee, a fictional witch created by Robert Burns in his famous 1791 poem, “Tam o’ Shanter”.  The ship and the whisky obviously share a lot of history.

This latest entry into the Edrington Groups’ Speyside portfolio, seeks to capture some of the mystique of prohibition era alcohol, as well as exhibit a more robust character.  I think they’ve done quite well.

Cutty Sark Prohibition (100 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Light honey sweetness, with a subtle floral scent.
Taste: Initially, quite delicate, sweet and ever so slightly smokey.  The higher proof brings out more body and vanilla oakiness upon the second sip.
Finish: Fairly long with lingering notes of caramel, dark honey, sea salt, oakwood, and some fresh peppercorn.
Overall: A solid blended scotch that has more character than many on the market.  I appreciated the higher proof which brought out a lot of “chewiness” and heft.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: HoldFastSipSteady

GSN Review: Bowmore Devil’s Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky

bowmore_10_devils_caskThe Bowmore Distillery, located on the island of Islay was established in 1779. They use locally grown and floor malted barley, along imported malted and unmalted barley along with water from River Laggan to make their whiskies.
They have a huge range of ages and expressions (over 20), but this latest was inspired by a devilish tale.

“Legend has it that the devil once visited the church in Bowmore. Now if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll know that the church is circular, built that way (so it’s said) so there would be no corner in which the devil could hide. The local congregation spotted the devil and chased him down through the village, into the gates of Bowmore Distillery.”

Whether the story is true or not, this 10-year-old, first fill sherry cask aged, high-proof whisky is a mouthful.

Bowmore Devil’s Cask (113.8 proof)
Visual: Dark golden brown.
Nose: Wood smoke, and a sweet maltiness.
Taste: Thick, rich and intensely flavorful.  In spite of the high-proof, the sherry tempers things down.  There’s an almost dessert-like aspect to this whiskey which goes against intuition.  The smoke typical of an Islay is held in check, but welcomes you on the initial tasting.
Finish: Long, long, long.  There is a lot going on here which runs the gamut from ginger spice and clove to sherry wine fruitiness.  A whisky that keeps on giving and encourages contemplation.
Overall: Another excellent expression from Bowmore.  Grab a bottle of this while you can.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Bowmore

GSN: Backbar Review – November 11-15, 2013

cw sutcliffeDon Sutcliffe, managing director of California-based Craft Distillers, and Willie Phillips, former managing director of The Macallan, have collaborated on a new series of Scotch whiskies. To be known as The Exceptional by Sutcliffe & Son, the line is debuting this month with a whisky called The Exceptional Grain, made from a blend of barrels from the Loch Lomond, North British and Carsebridge distilleries, married in first-fill Sherry casks. The first release is 1,500 bottles, retailing at $100 apiece, with availability through Craft Distillers in all major U.S. markets. Two more whiskies, The Exceptional Malt and The Exceptional Blend, are slated to appear in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

indexRussia’s RSG Trading is launching its super-premium Russian Diamond vodka brand in the U.S. Handled by DUN Beverage Partners, Russian Diamond ($24.99 a 750-ml.) is hitting New Jersey (distributed by Allied Beverage) and several New England states (distributed by M.S. Walker) this fall ahead of a national rollout next spring. Targeted toward young professional consumers, the Russian import is presented in a diamond-cut package with an Italian velvet label featuring textured metallic lettering.

indexTrinidad-based Angostura will introduce the first installment in a new series of limited-edition rums early next year. The new entry, Angostura No. 1 ($49.99 a 750-ml.), will hit the California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas markets beginning in late January. A blend of 10-12-year-old rums matured in first-fill Bourbon casks, Angostura No. 1 is being released in a batch of 9,600 bottles worldwide.

indexBrown-Forman is launching its Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select into additional U.S. markets through the end of this year. Previously available only in global duty free and Tennessee, the ultra-premium offering will now also be offered in the Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and New Jersey markets, priced at $165 a 750-ml. The 90-proof whiskey is aged in specially designed “Sinatra barrels,” which feature grooves to allow for more barrel-liquid contact.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Auchentoshan Scotch Whiskies

It’s always a learning curve trying to figure out how to properly pronounce scotch distilleries’ names.  FYI, Auchentoshan Distillery is pronounced Aw-khen-tosh-an and translates into “the corner of the field”.  One of five distilleries in the Scottish Lowlands, it is located on the outskirts of Clydebank in Dunbartonshire in the west of Scotland.

Auchentoshan create single malt whiskies, but what you may not be aware of is that their scotches are triple distilled.  Very unusual, since that practice is usually reserved for Irish whiskies.  They also use unpeated malt, and age in used bourbon and sherry barrels, giving their product an extra touch of sweetness, which definitely comes through in each of the following whiskies.

Auchentoshan Classic (80 proof) – Very light straw-like color.  Light waft of peat smoke, lemon citrus, cinnamon bread, sun-dried tomato nose.
Flavor is medium sweet with malted barley, very light smokiness, sugar cube, yeasty bread dough and orange oil.  Very drinkable and pleasant.  GSN Rating: B

Auchentoshan 12 Year Old (80 proof) – Warm amber color.  The nose is withdrawn and hesitant.  Very little in the way of enticement.  However, the initial taste is quite smooth and balanced with a lingering smokey and warming heat.  Flavor has notes of hazelnuts, cinnamon sugar, vanilla creme, marshmallow and white pepper.  The finish is medium long and slightly spicy.  GSN Rating: B+

Auchentoshan Three Wood (86 proof) – Dark golden orange color.  The nose is smokey and super sweet with very deep vanilla and sherry character.  As time goes on an aged honey quality comes out with just the slightest hint of pineapple.  Elegant and nuanced with various layers of wood coming in delicate waves.  Mouthfeel is thick and rich with a somewhat viscous honey-like quality.  The finish is buttery without being cloying.  Really a fine spirit that is in the character of an aged rum. GSN Rating: A-

More information about Auchentoshan is available at: