GSN Spirited News: September 15th 2020 Edition

Evanston, Illinois-based Few Spirits has launched Immortal rye, a new whiskey proofed down to bottling strength with tea. The 46.5% abv whiskey is made by blending cask strength Few rye with 8 Immortals tea from Denver’s the Tea Spot. The whiskey does not contain added sugar or other additives. The whiskey’s label art showcases a dragon print that was shown at the 1893 World’s Fair. The initial release is limited—only 6,000 bottles—and is rolling out now across the U.S. for around $45 a 750-ml.

Japanese whisky maker Nikka is releasing a pair of new whiskies finished in apple brandy barrels in an homage to the company’s origins producing apple juice and other apple products before launching the first Nikka whisky in 1940. The first release is Yoichi Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced at Nikka’s founding distillery on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The second is Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, produced in Sendai, Japan. Both are at 40% abv and retail for $250 a 750-ml. Imported by San Francisco-based Hotaling & Co., they will be distributed in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Tennessee.

Benriach single malt Scotch whisky, part of the Brown-Forman portfolio, has revamped its core lineup and unveiled two new expressions. The newcomers include Smoky Ten and Smoky Twelve whiskies, retailing at $60 and $65 a 750-ml., respectively. Those offerings join the Original Ten ($54) and Original Twelve ($60) in the range, which has been repackaged and will be hitting the market in its new incarnation next month. Benriach will follow with Twenty-One, Twenty-Five, and Thirty-Year-Old single malts in the U.S. next year.

Heaven Hill has announced the 2020 iteration of Parker’s Heritage. This year’s whiskey is a 10-year-old Bourbon matured in heavily charred barrels. The spirit was distilled from a mash of 72% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye, and aged in level 5 char barrels, as opposed to Heaven Hill’s typical level 3 char barrels. The whiskey is bottled at 60% abv and is rolling out now in limited quantities across the U.S. for around $120 a 750-ml. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle goes to fund research and patient care for those diagnosed with ALS.

Tequila Partida has debuted Roble Fino, a line of luxury sipping Tequilas. The new range includes a Reposado ($100 a 750-ml.), aged for a minimum of 6 months in ex-Bourbon barrels and then aged for two more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; a Reposado Cristalino ($115), finished in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks; and an Añejo ($125), aged for 18 months in ex-Bourbon barrels, then finished for five more months in ex-single malt, Sherry-seasoned casks. All three Tequilas are now rolling out in New York, California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, with additional markets to follow.

Beam Suntory has launched this year’s version of Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon. The 40% abv whiskey is made from the company’s high-rye mashbill. It serves as the higher-end limited release for the brand and sits alongside the flagship Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, and other limited releases like 10-year-old rye, and Caribbean Reserve Rye. Basil Hayden’s 10-year-old is now available across the U.S. for around $70 a 750-ml.

Diageo has released Captain Morgan Sliced Apple, the latest flavored offshoot for the spiced rum brand. The 35% abv rum is made from the original spiced rum with added ginger and apple flavoring. Captain Morgan Sliced Apple is now available across the U.S. for around $16 a 750-ml.

San Francisco, California-based Gold Bar Spirits Co. has launched Rickhouse Cask Strength Straight BourbonThe whiskey is distilled from a mash of 80% corn and 20% rye and is bottled at 51.5% abv. With this new release, Gold Bar continues its partnership with the San Francisco 49ers, with Rickhouse named the official whiskey of the team’s Faithful to the Bay campaign. Rickhouse is now available in major retailers across the U.S. and on the company’s website for around $35 a 750-ml.

Minnetonka, Minnesota’s Dashfire has announced a new line of hard coffees, set to launch throughout the state at the end of the month. The 14% abv RTDs will come in three flavors—Rum Café Mocha, Rum Golden Latte, and Bourbon Cold Brew—and all will be available in individual 200-ml. cans. Southern Glazer’s will distribute Dashfire’s hard coffees in Minnesota and the company is planning for a wider release through Vision Wine & Spirits in the future.

Moët Hennessy-owned Belvedere has long looked to differentiate itself by bringing the concept of terroir to the vodka category. Now the brand is introducing its new Heritage 176 expression and a “Made With Nature” platform, highlighting its Polish origins and craftsmanship. Heritage 176 is rolling out across 20 U.S. markets, retailing at $35 a 750-ml. The new offering nods to the 19th century practice of malting rye by kiln-heating—which Belvedere says unlocks distinctive flavors in the resulting liquid—with its distillers applying fire to malt the rye before distillation. It’s intended to be served over ice with a lemon twist.

William Grant & SonsHudson Whiskey has rebranded with more mature offerings and a new, more accessible price point. The distillery’s Baby Bourbon is now Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, a 46% abv whiskey retailing at $40 a 750-ml. Manhattan Rye has relaunched as Do the Rye Thing, also bottled at 46% abv and retailing for $40. The company’s Maple Cask Rye, a whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels, has rebranded as Short Stack and will retail at around $55. The company also has launched Back Room Deal, a new rye whiskey finished in barrels used to age peated Scotch, which will retail at around $55 a 750-ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: February 11th 2020 Edition

Pernod Ricard has unveiled a limited edition label for Jameson Irish whiskey, which is rolling out for St. Patrick’s Day. The new label includes designs by Dublin-based graphic designer Stephen Heffernan, aka Hephee. The bottles feature a QR code that brings up a website where fans can remix the label using Hephee’s designs and enter for a chance to win a Jameson bar sign matching their design (in some markets, consumers can also win bottles of Jameson with their custom labels).

Lucas Bols USA’s Passoã liqueur has announced a bottle and label redesign that highlights the brand’s natural passion fruit flavor. The new logo also features a sunset graphic (replacing a tropically colored Brazilian flag), above a reminder that Passoã is made with natural flavoring. The 20% abv liqueur retails for $18 for a 750-ml. and it’s recommended as an ingredient in sangria or a mimosa.

Austin, Texas-based Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey has released its latest portfolio extension, Chocolate Mocha Whiskey Cream. The 17% abv spirit blends whiskey and chocolate coffee cream liqueur, and is available across the brand’s 25-state distribution footprint. It joins Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate, Bourbon Ball, Chocolate Mint, and Caramel Turtle in Ballotin’s portfolio.

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Tattersall Distilling is releasing a limited-edition collaboration with Surly Brewing Co. Tattersall has taken Surly’s Darkness Russian Imperial Stout and distilled it to create Darkness Bierschnapps, a 20% abv spirit. Two bottles of the Stout go into each 750-ml. of Bierschnapps and nearly 600 gallons were used in total to produce 200 cases. After distillation it is aged twice—in new charred white oak barrels and in the original stout barrels. It’s available now at select retailers throughout the Midwest, retailing for $30.

Beam Suntory has launched Courvoisier Avant-Garde Bourbon Cask Edition, the latest limited time offering for the Cognac brand. The spirit is made from Courvoisier’s VSOP blend and finished in Bourbon barrels before bottling at 40% abv. Due to labeling laws, the new Courvoisier is labeled as a spirit drink made of Cognac finished in Bourbon barrels. The brand is the third-largest Cognac brand in the U.S., and last year saw a successful launch for its Master’s Cask Collection Sherry Cask Finish.

Massachusetts-based M.S. Walker is adding Gin Lane 1751 to its import portfolio. The London-based, small-batch gin brand is produced by eighth-generation master distiller Charles Maxwell. Gin Lane 1751 includes four expressions: London Dry ($30 a 750-ml.), Victorian Pink ($35), Old Tom ($40), and London Royal Strength ($40).

Cognac Frapin has introduced three new limited-edition blends in the U.S. They include Cellar Master Edition No. 1 (retailing at $99, 46.7% abv), Collector Edition 1994 ($199, 40.8% abv), and Plume Frapin ($3,500, 40% abv). Cellar Master Edition No. 1 was aged for over 10 years, while Collector Edition 1994 aged for 24 years, and Plume Frapin spent more than 60 years in the distiller’s Paradis cellar, with only 100 carafes (finished with 18-carat rose gold) coming to the U.S.

William Grant & Sons has added two new offerings to its Glenfiddich Rare Collection, both dating from 1975. Glenfiddich Cask 4706 comes in at 48% abv and matured in a European oak Sherry butt. Cask 5114 was matured in a European oak hogshead, a rarity for the company, and is at 54.7% abv. The 44-year-old whiskies are bottled at cask strength and are non-chill-filtered. Only 100 bottles of each will be available at a suggested price of $9,000 a 750-ml.

Beam Suntory-owned Kilbeggan Irish whiskey is releasing a single pot still limited edition. The mashbill is based on a recipe used at the distillery more than a century ago that notably features oats in addition to raw and malted barley. It’s double distilled to 43% abv and is the second limited release to be fully distilled and matured at Kilbeggan following the distillery’s 2010 restoration. Kilbeggan Single Pot Still is rolling out in the U.S. this month, retailing for $45 a 750-ml.

Proximo Spirits and country music stars Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line have teamed up to create Wolf Moon Bourbon. The 40% abv whiskey is distilled from grain sourced from the Midwest and bottled after 4 years of aging in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. This is the second whiskey released by Florida Georgia Line members Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, following 2016’s Old Camp Whiskey, also part of the Proximo portfolio. Wolf Moon is currently available in select markets and is rolling out nationally soon for a suggested price of $24 a 750-ml.

Woodford Reserve is launching a new Batch Proof whiskey as part of its Master’s Collection series. The newcomer is made with the same grain bill and process as Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon and bottled at 123.6 proof. Retailing at $130 a 750-ml., the limited edition whiskey is rolling out in select U.S. and global markets. Woodford is part of the Brown-Forman portfolio.

Winebow has partnered with the U.K.’s Halewood Wines & Spirits to bring two whisk(e)y brands to the United States beginning on March 1. First up is Crabbie’s Yardhead Single Malt Scotch, a 40% abv whisky distilled in the Scottish Highlands and matured in ex-Bourbon barrels. The whisky is positioned as an entry-level malt for drinkers first discovering the category and will retail at around $25 a 750-ml. Winebow will also handle distribution for Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey, a 40% abv blended whiskey matured in Sherry casks. Peaky Blinder will retail at around $19 a 750-ml. Both whiskies will be available in 750-ml. and 1-liter bottles.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Backbar Review: April 28-May 2, 2014

indexHeaven Hill Distilleries’ Burnett’s vodka brand has released a new trio of flavored entries. Rolling out nationwide next month, Burnett’s Ruby Red Grapefruit, Mango Pineapple and Red Berry will be available in 1.75-liter, 1-liter, 750-ml. and 50-ml. formats, priced at around $10.99 a 750-ml. The three additions bring the Burnett’s flavored vodka range to a total of 37 entries.

indexStoli Group USA is looking to boost its namesake vodka brand with a campaign centered on the Moscow Mule cocktail, which includes vodka, ginger beer and lime served in a copper mug. In line with the effort, Stoli has created its own branded ginger beer, which is rolling out to both the on- and off-premise in four-packs that will retail at $5.99.

indexWashington, D.C.-based One Eight Distilling is slated to make its debut this summer with the launch of a new craft spirits collection. The distillery’s initial offerings will include Rock Creek White Whiskey, Ivy City Gin and District Made Vodka, all of which are handcrafted using locally-sourced rye. The trio will be available both on- and off-premise throughout the city’s metro area. One Eight, which is named for Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution, bills itself as the second distillery to open in Washington, D.C. since Prohibition.

indexWilliam Grant & Sons has launched Ancho Reyes—a Mexican ancho chile liqueur—in select U.S. markets. Produced by Licorera Ancho Reyes y Cia., Ancho Reyes is based on a traditional 1920s recipe and made using hand-selected ancho chiles. The 40%-abv liqueur, which features dried chile, cinnamon, cacao and tamarind notes, among other flavors, can be consumed neat or in cocktails. Retailing for around $32.99 a 750-ml., Ancho Reyes is currently available both on- and off-premise across California, Nevada, Texas, New York, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington.

indexHeaven Hill has expanded availability Lunazul Tequila’s Primero expression nationwide. A 100%-agave añejo Tequila, Lunazul Primero is aged for 18 months and then filtered eight times, resulting in a clear color. The 40%-abv offering retails for around $24.99 a 750-ml. Along with Primero, the accessibly-priced, 100%-agave Lunazul range also features Blanco, Reposado and Añejo entries, priced at between $20-$22 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN at Tales 2012 – Lesson Three (Be Here Now)

On opening night of Tales, I had the opportunity to chat for awhile with Gary “gaz” Regan.  We were both on a bus taking a group of Tale-ies (not the same as those on the TV series “Lost”) to a gigantic party hosted by William Grant & Sons at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  gaz and I see eye to eye on a lot of things besides bartending.  One of them is what he calls “mindfulness”.  To bring the concept down to just one sentence, it could be summarized as “Live in the moment”.  It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s not easy to put into practice.  Just think of how much of our lives are spent living in the past or the future.

Some examples that I’m sure a lot of bartenders can relate to:

That jerk of a customer or boss who set you off, and even hours later is still affecting your mood for the rest of your day.  Living in the past of the moment they sent negative energy into your life, and instead of moving beyond it, you absorbed it.

Or, you have a job interview, cocktail contest or seminar you have to present, and the thought of what might go wrong makes you obsess to the point of where you inevitably will not perform at your best.  Living out your fears of the future.

By living in the present on the first night of Tales (gaz said to me at one point, “It doesn’t get any better than this, Blair”) we were both experiencing all that life had to offer.  We weren’t shortchanging our lives in the regrets of what we did or didn’t do in the past or worrying about what we needed to do in the future.

With an event like Tales of the Cocktail, there are literally hundreds of options offered at any given time for spirits enthusiasts.  Don’t worry if you can’t make all of the seminars, or don’t meet all of the “bar stars” you’d hope to, or even make all of the parties.  Because in the end, it’s all about appreciating where you are at any given time.  Be there now, to paraphrase one of gaz’s favorite philosophers.