Good Spirits News - The spirited world of mixology
Blair Frodelius is a professional full-time musician, an award-winning mixologist, USBG Spirits Professional, BarSmarts Live & Wired graduate and member of the Museum of the American Cocktail. Several of his original cocktails can be found in the 75th Anniversary Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide, and one inspired by Harry Craddock in the Mixellany publication The Deans of Drink.
Egan’s Irish Whiskey recently added a new, limited-edition Legacy Reserve to its portfolio. The new expression ups the ante on its predecessors, the 10-Year-Old Single Malt and Vintage Grain, which were introduced to the U.S. markets in 2015 and 2017, respectively. A legacy brand, Egan’s has enjoyed a revival in recent years.
“We’ve been in the whiskey-making business for over a century and a half; that’s six generations of Irish blood in each bottle,” says Jonathan Egan, part of the sixth generation of the Egan Family. “Legacy Reserve is an ultra-premium single malt, about as perfect as an Irish whiskey can get.”
Legacy Reserve is limited to 1,000 bottles worldwide— an exceptionally rare spirit ideally suited for collectors and connoisseurs. Aged for 15 years in American bourbon casks, each bottle is hand-selected by Maurice and Jonathan Egan, whose forefathers Patrick and Henry Egan began the brand six generations ago.
“Legacy Reserve is meant to be had neat or on the rocks — that’s the Irish way, and the only way,” says CEO John Ralph. “We’re a bare-knuckles brand. With this bottle, we’re out to prove that small, thoughtfully produced legacy spirits have a viab
Egan’s Legacy Reserve Irish Whiskey (92 proof) Visual: Light gold. Nose: Mildly sweet malt essence with a light touch of smoked vanilla bean. Taste: A good dose of barrel wood heads out of the gate, followed by a chewy malt texture. There is a lot going on here in a very tight, compact package. Some dry spice creeps in towards the end, but overall this is exactly what it needs to be. Finish: Long with a lingering tannic/vanilla afterburn. Overall: Well done, quite quaffable and a special treat for those who rarely see Irish whiskies in this age range. GSN Rating: A
In 2012 wife and husband team, Genevieve and Dan Brazelton, started The Bitter Housewife with the mission to create a brand that made cocktails approachable through great tasting flavors, simple recipes, and lots of education. They expanded to add RAFT Syrups a few years later because bitter is always better with sweet. See our previous review of some of their more interesting syrups and bitters here.
Now, for a limited time only, they have a seasonal flavor syrup just in time for the holidays! RAFT Cranberry Five Spice is a tart, sweet, spiced syrup that tastes like the holidays. Bright cranberry is complimented with fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves.
Slow-brewed in Portland, Oregon with organic spices and organic cane sugar, RAFT uses no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors. It is also 100% vegan.
Cranberry Five Spice: Tart with a fresh cranberry flavor supported by a medium ginger spice heat. A touch of anise and clove hit the top notes. This is a fantastic syrup that will work well with just about any base spirit, or as the lead in a non-alcoholic cocktail or soda. The flavor is immensely appealing and shines through due to the bright cranberry and warmth of the spice blend. Grab a few bottles so you don’t run out before the end of the year!
Take a trip to your local liquor store and you’ll quickly realize that buying the ingredients for a cocktail is a pricey and sometimes disappointing adventure. Why pay for a whole bottle of something only to realize that it isn’t something that you really liked?
Enter Shots Box, a monthly subscription service that brings a variety of interesting spirits and liqueurs from around the world to your doorstep. Their goal is to connect you to new brands, have you enjoy new cocktails that are more interesting than “the usual,” and provide an easy way for you to share and read opinions on different products written by people just like you.
Once you sign up, you receive a box of 10 mini bottles along with several recipe cards to create a single cocktail. Each card has clear and easy instructions along with a color photo of what the finished drink should look like.
GSN was sent the following minis to sample:
3 different gins
2 cream liqueurs
1 honey/bourbon liqueur
1 coconut rum
The variety is interesting and will appeal to just about anyone interested in spirits. I would have liked to have had two less gins and instead an american whiskey along with a scotch. But, perhaps these will be forthcoming in upcoming shipments.
In any case, it is a great way to try new products, saves a trip to the liquor store and all for the cost of one typical top shelf spirit. Plus, if you really like one of the spirits, you order full-size bottles directly from the Shots Box website. They also have a selection of glassware, barware and cocktail-centric decor available for purchase.
A family-owned business since 1821, Luxardo has cultivated a reputation as Italy’s premier liqueur producer, known for their distinctive, all-natural cherry products. This past summer, Luxardo entered the fruit gin category with the release of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin, an infusion of the brand’s gin distillate with their proprietary Marasca cherry juice, imported by San Francisco’s Hotaling & Co.
The base of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin is made using the recipe for Luxardo’s London Dry Gin (a product not currently available in the U.S.), which can be traced back to the Ginepro di Dalmazia that the family produced in the 1900’s. The recipe contains a selection of nine botanicals, including juniper, coriander, iris, angelica, sedge, licorice, cinnamon, cardamom, and bitter orange. Once distilled in traditional copper pot stills, the gin is infused with Luxardo’s Marasca cherry juice, made from cherries cultivated exclusively by the Luxardo family in the orchards of the Euganean Hills in the Veneto region of Italy. The result is a bright, rich, and sour taste that retains the strong juniper and spice of the original distillate. Each bottle is outfitted with an artisanal label designed to reflect 19th century Italy, further celebrating the family’s history.
Matteo Luxardo, export director and sixth generation of the Luxardo family shares, “The recipe marries two of our oldest recipes to create a flavored gin, rather than a traditional sloe gin, meant to be used as the main spirit in a cocktail or enjoyed in unusual gin and tonic serves.”
Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin (37.5% ABV) Visual: Garnet. Nose: Funky blend of ripe cherry, juniper and baking spices. The licorice and cinnamon are at the forefront. Taste: Not exactly sweet, but definitely fruity. The cherry juice tempers the gin down to an undercurrent. What really makes the flavors pop are the unusual botanicals which create a deep heat on the back of the palate. Finish: Long and spicy. The cherry fades into a slight cooling effect from the juniper at the tail end. Overall: Unlike anything else in the world, this is akin to a sour amaro. Perfect for holiday themed libations, I see this getting heavy use at craft cocktail bars this season. GSN Rating: A+
Beefeater Pink, the latest expression to come from Beefeater, fuses natural strawberry flavor, citrus and classic juniper botanicals, in a gin that is visually vibrant with its statement-making shade. It is the first innovation to be launched by The Gin Hub, a new, stand-alone entity that brings together three of Pernod Ricard’s award-winning and pioneering gin brands under one roof: Beefeater, Plymouth and Seagram’s gin.
Beefeater Pink is crafted in London by Master Distiller Desmond Payne MBE – a pioneer of today’s global gin boom. Payne was inspired by Beefeater’s founder James Borrough’s creative curiosity. A pharmacist by trade before becoming a distiller, Borrough’s wonderful inventions included raspberry gin, cherry brandy, British Brandy, bitters and mint. Beefeater continues to embrace Borrough’s passion for blending craftsmanship with experimentation and has created this natural strawberry flavored gin for the new generation of drinkers.
The transparent glass bottle was created to enhance the natural vibrancy of the gin. With its graffiti style logo inspired by stencil art, Beefeater Pink also captures the contrast between tradition and modernity that optimizes the spirit of London – the home of Beefeater Dry Gin.
Sophie Gallois, Managing Director of The Gin Hub, adds: “We know that the gin industry is booming and there is a real appetite for new and innovative expressions that offer consumers a different drinking experience. In Spain, for example, the pink gin trend accounts for 40% of all value growth within the total gin category, so there is huge potential to tap into.”
Beefeater Pink Gin (37.5 proof) Visual: Pink crystal. Nose: A curious mix of juniper and fresh strawberry. Dessert-like, but not cloying. Taste: Medium strawberry flavor on top of a crisp, yet subtle juniper base. The botanicals play a secondary role in the mix, preferring to let the strawberry lead the way. Finish: Medium long, with the strawberry lasting for several minutes. Overall: Almost a cocktail on its own, this will appeal to “tini” lovers. Also, not a true pink gin, in the sense that there are no bitters used. Nonetheless this is very drinkable, approachable and lovely. Great for spring and summer cocktails, this is excellent in gin based punches. GSN Rating: A-
Mi CAMPO is a recent entry to the popular mid-tier tequila offering. This is a market which has started to see strong contenders these past couple of years and Mi CAMPO has entered the fight without turning a blind eye to this fact. Ten years ago you’d be hard pressed to find anything respectable at this tier but these days there are some decent contenders and Mi CAMPO is pulling in strong to this market.
Mi CAMPO Blanco Visual: Clear with a faint golden amber hue. Nose: A surprisingly sweet and pronounced bouquet somewhat reminiscent of vanilla caramel. Taste: Sweet vanilla, mild pepper; and despite the strong sweet bouquet, the taste is mildly sweet. Finish: A hint of anise & herbal finish. Summary: If you want a blanco that’s delightful to smell and easy to drink, this is one of the best bangs for the buck on the market. I would recommend this as an easy entry into blancos. GSN Rating: B+
Mi CAMPO Reposado Visual: Clear with a faint golden amber hue. Nose: A hint of vanilla and pepper, with no sweet tones like the blanco. Taste: A more pronounced vanilla tone with a hotter pepper taste. Finish: A warm pepper taste. Summary: A more standard reposado that traditionalists will prefer, offering a good bang for the buck. GSN Rating: B
The Virginia Distillery Company recently released the second edition of its Brewers Batch Virginia-Highland Whisky. Batch No. 2 was created in collaboration with 3 Stars Brewing Company, a Washington D.C. brewery known for pushing the limits of creativity in artisanal craft ales. Last year, 3 Stars Brewing Company used Virginia Distillery Company whisky barrels to age its Barrel Aged Ale. Virginia Distillery Company took the barrels back for finishing for eight months to make its second release of Brewers Batch.
In February 2018, Virginia Distillery Company introduced the Brewers Batch series in collaboration with Three Notch’d Brewing. Along with an annual Virginia project, the Brewers Batch series will continue to collaborate with breweries in markets outside of Virginia where Virginia Distillery Company whisky is available.
“We love partnering with passionate makers and are proud to collaborate with the talented team at 3 Stars Brewing,” said Gareth H. Moore, Virginia Distillery Company’s CEO. “We know consumers will enjoy the latest offering in the Brewers Batch series and look forward to working with more breweries in the future.”
The Brewers Batch Virginia-Highland Whisky is one of several other available offerings from Virginia Distillery Company, including the distillery’s flagship Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky, Cider Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky and Chardonnay Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. The distillery is currently crafting its ultra-premium American Single Malt, Courage & Conviction. The flagship offering, made from 100% malted barley and aged in former Bourbon, Sherry and Cuvée wine casks, will be released in the spring of 2020. The name is a nod to a phrase founder Dr. George G. Moore was often heard saying: “Always have the courage of your convictions”.
Brewers Batch No. 2 Virginia-Highland Whisky (92 proof) Visual: Pale gold. Nose: High malt notes with a rich oak char patinaed with a curious hop nose. Even tempered and approachable. Taste: At first a light malt character comes through in the style of a young single malt, but then a slightly acidic/bitter tinge adds a layer of depth and intrigue. The hoppy quality comes through in an entirely different form that is only vaguely reminiscent of an ale. But, it adds enough to the experience that you know this is a unique whiskey. There is an almost fruity apple taste that has a cider-like quality. Finish: Dry, light and even. The beer essence hangs on surprisingly long, but this makes for a more interesting lasting impression. Overall: We really enjoyed this experiment and look forward to more from the Virginia Distillery Company. This is easy-going and special. GSN Rating: A-
Highland Park recently announced the release of a new special edition single malt Scotch whisky: Valknut. In partnership with renowned Danish designer Jim Lyngvild, Highland Park Valknut is the second in a series of three Viking Legends releases inspired by the rich Viking heritage and mythology of Highland Park’s Orkney Islands home.
The first expression, Valkyrie, was released in mid-2017. Viking sagas tell of the Valkyries, the fierce angels of Norse mythology who combed the battlefields for the bravest fallen warriors. Vikings who met an honorable death were marked out by the symbol of the Valknut and spirited away by the Valkyries to Valhalla to join Odin’s mighty army and prepare for Ragnarok, the battle of the end of the world.
Valknut means “knot of those killed in battle” and is represented visually by three interlinked triangles. This symbol is closely associated with the Norse god Odin, who guided the spirits of the dead to Valhalla. Designer Jim Lyngvild says, “The story of the Valknut is compelling and I wanted to ensure that the design feature of this packaging was a fitting match to the whisky created by Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion. Also, as Valknut is part of a series of three expressions, I made sure that there is continuity in the style of the packaging; for example, the frieze design at top is consistent in look, but the story of the symbol has been brought to the front panel.”
“Valknut is a bolder, more intense style of Highland Park with a drier and smokier profile and a higher ABV than Valkyrie. It has been matured predominantly in American sherry seasoned oak casks with a slightly higher phenolic level compared to Valkyrie,” says Jason Craig, Highland Park’s Global Brand Director. “We’ve also used a small amount of Orkney grown tartan barley, which adds to its smokier edge and lingering sweet, spicy finish.”
Highland Park Valknut will be succeeded by Valfather, the final expression in the Viking Legends trilogy.
Highland Park Valknut Whisky (93.6 proof) Visual: Light gold. Nose: Smoke-forward nose with a light sherry top note. Friendly, approachable and very much akin to the previous iteration in this trio of whiskies. Taste: A fair amount of spice gives added weight to the blend of sweet malt and smokey barley. There is an overall light, dry and tight flavor profile which wraps the whisky in a blanket of autumnal warmth. Finish: Lingering notes are of fading sweetness, and a hint of creosote. Overall: A welcome addition to the Viking Legends portfolio. This is a more aggressive and semi-rustic brother to Valkyrie. Like night and day in terms of similarity. We can’t wait to see what the Valfather expression is like. GSN Rating: A