Another Friday, another round of ye olde Drinkhacker Shopping List! A printable, full color compendium of the latest and greatest reviews of beverages we’ve reviewed on the site this week. Before you read on any further, just a quick reminder that the deadlines are closing fast to enter for some of these fantastic competitions we’ve featured on the site over the last few weeks:
Etch Your Own Flask
Art of Patron Tequila Bottle Contest
There’s not much pomp and circumstance attached to a product called “Old Rum,” so at $70 a bottle, you better hope Gosling’s has saved its investment for what’s inside the bottle.
There’s no hint at how old Old Rum actually is. Bermuda-based Gosling’s produces this by taking the standard Black Seal and aging it in barrels for, well, for even longer, until it’s ready, I suppose.
Continue reading “Review: Gosling’s Family Reserve “Old Rum”” »
To obtain this unique Macallan expression you’ll have to buy the flask that it comes with. Designed by Oakley, it is made from food-grade steel, then wrapped in a carbon fiber composite “treated to an intensive passivation and electro-polishing procedure to ensure perfection.” At last it is clad in “black anodized 5-axis machined aerospace grade aluminum” before, finally, a $1,500 price tag is put on it.
I can’t tell you much more about the flask, but I can tell you about the companion whisky that comes with it. Aged entirely for 22 years in ex-sherry casks, this single malt is a departure from Macallan as you likely know it. The nose offers a heavily smoky (but not peaty) character, with deep wood and nutty notes behind it. The body tends more toward dried fruit and raisins, developing quite slowly in the glass. The orange/sherry components you’d expect are there but, miraculously, kept at bay by some honey sweetness and a surprisingly lasting but dry finish. This is a really interesting expression but steps away from what you might expect from Macallan. Hope you need a fancy flask in which to enjoy it.
400 flask/bottle combos available in the U.S. (150 flasks — no booze — available in the UK.)
A- / $1,500 / themacallan.com
Spring in Kentucky can mean many a splendored thing: out of control allergies, basketball championships (but not this year), Keeneland and the Kentucky Derby. So what better way to kick off spring than the announcement of yet another high-end Beam product? Using the arrival of horse racing season as the kick-off, the ultra limited edition Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece is extra aged (no age statement is given in the press release), finished in PX Sherry Casks, clocks in at 100 proof, and comes packaged in a high end wooden case. It will retail for $199 and will only be available at the Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky. Hopefully a review will be forthcoming shortly. [I've been told not to hold my breath. -Ed.]
Drink your big black cow, and get out of here: a British dairy farmer has perfected the process of turning cow’s milk into vodka. The process involves turning the milk into curds and whey, separating the two and then distilling the whey, which has been fermented into beer. Black Cow’s already winning over plenty of celebrity endorsements, and while it’s currently unavailable stateside, Vermont Spirits Distilling Company has been making something similar using milk sugars for years. [New York Daily News] Continue reading “Drinkhacker Reads – 04.03.2013 – Beam Releases Limited Edition Distiller’s Masterpiece” »
Bacon salt rim? Boring. How about a basil rim on your cocktail? Or fennel?
Fresh Origins, a micro-greens and edible flowers creator, is launching Herb and Flower Crystals, a sort of freeze-dried herb-meets-sugar idea that results in colorful, exotic, and wholly unique crystals that can be used as cocktail garnishes. Two sizes of the crunchy crystals are available, a coarse grind that is mainly intended as a flavoring ingredient for culinary recipes, and a finer grain that can stick to the rim of a moistened cocktail glass.
Continue reading “Review: Fresh Origins Herb Crystals and Flower Crystals” »
Late last year, so-called “cult tequila” Tapatio finally arrived in the U.S. after 75 years of Mexico-only availability. But only the blanco was being sold.
Now, the rest of the lineup arrives on our shores, rounding out the Tapatio family with a reposado and an anejo.
We sampled the two new expressions, imported courtesy of Charbay. Both are great bargains, packaged in liter bottles. Both are 80 proof.
Continue reading “Review: Tequila Tapatio Reposado and Anejo” »
Lots of cool stuff today, so let’s hop right in!
A study from the University of Oxford has revealed that the environment in which one drinks whisky can alter taste perceptions by as much as 20%. In the study to be published in September, Professor Charles Spence and his colleagues observed drinkers in the world’s first multi-sensorium tracking bar to discover that one’s environment — namely the colors around you and the ambient sounds — can heighten and enhance the drinking experience. No doubt this research will be ingested by every single beverage company in the world and will potentially have serious ramifications on how environments such as bars and clubs are designed. More on the experiment can be found here. [Singleton Sensorium]
Popular Science asks the question so many beer drinkers have asked throughout the ages: are hops addictive? While the modern day drinker would respond in kind with a dismissive “duh,” researchers searched for hard evidence on the issue. [Popular Science] Continue reading “Drinkhacker Reads – 04.01.2013 – Environment Changes the Way Whisky Tastes + Other Science Stuff” »
This is one review we’ve been itching to get up for you for a long time, and finally we’ve got our mitts on this latest from Wild Turkey master distiller (and all around good guy) Jimmy Russell: Russell’s Reserve Small Batch Single Barrel Bourbon.
The name has had many in this biz scratching their heads: Wouldn’t a single barrel release, by definition, also be a small batch? More intriguingly, this release is the first in the Russell’s Reserve series bottled without an age statement. The original Russell’s Reserve carries a 10 Year Old age statement and a $34 price tag. At $50 a bottle, is the Single Barrel older, or is it just a selection of the best barrels of the 10 Year? Who knows? Next time I see Jimmy, though, I’m going to pry it out of him. (Also of note: Bottles are not individually numbered, so there’s no way of tracking what barrel you’re getting… if that’s important to you.)
Another major difference we should get out of the way up front is the alcohol content: 110 proof vs. 90 proof for Russell’s 10 Year. It’s also incredibly dark in the glass, one of the darker Bourbons on the market today. Pouring a glass releases tons of wood character into the room. I thought I was in store for a barrel bomb when I tucked into it, but that’s not the case. The nose straight from the glass once things settle down offers some wood but also coal, cinnamon/baking spice, and just a hint of vanilla.
On the body, it’s a bit hot but easily manageable without water, then sweet. There’s more of a burnt sugar/dark caramel than the typical vanilla profile of younger Bourbons, with a distinct charcoal note (courtesy of the dense alligator char on Russell’s barrels) that leads to an unusual touch of licorice on the finish. Somewhat minty, but more of a dried mint than fresh. Inviting and restrained, this is sipping Bourbon that welcomes conversation, a dense and chewy whiskey with a clearly impressive pedigree. Way to go, Jimmy!
A / $50 / wildturkeybourbon.com
We recently wrote about one of Mettler’s wines in our roundup of Lodi’s biggest names. The company recently sent a pair of additional bottlings to consider. Thoughts follow.
2010 Mettler Petite Sirah Estate Grown – Tons of fruit, jammy like a big Zinfandel. Light smoky notes and a huge body. This is a very sweet wine that rushes the palate with freshly-smashed blueberry and blackberry character, yet it’s surprisingly easy to drink. Not a terribly nuanced wine, but it worked fairly well both on its own and with a hearty meal. B / $25
2010 Mettler Old Vine Zinfandel Epicenter Lodi – A strange Zin. On the nose, traditional notes of blackberry, pepper, and black tea. But on the body, a much different picture emerges: these characteristics take on a stranger, much more exotic consistency. The tea notes come on strong, playing with some hefty wood character. The spice brings on a kind of sour rhubarb note that sweetens up after some exposure to air… but never quite enough. B- / $20
I’m no stranger to Plymouth Gin — it’s the very product that started me off in spirits reviewing, over a decade ago. Plymouth is a unique gin because the term describes both a style and a brand. “Plymouth Gin,” like “Scotch whisky,” is gin that is made in Plymouth, England. There’s only one company making gin in Plymouth, though, and that is the Black Friars Distillery, where it produces Plymouth Gin (the brand).
Plymouth Gin also has a specific style associated with it. While it is similar in structure and distillation process to London Dry, it is less juniper-focused, more citrus-forward, and imbued with more of the earthier components typical of gin, including orris and angelica roots. The total bill of botanicals includes nothing unusual: juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, and cardamom. Just seven ingredients… nothing in a world where modern gins will commonly have 20 ingredients or more.
Continue reading “Review: Plymouth Gin and Navy Strength Gin” »
Jack From Brooklyn is a company based in, well, see if you can guess. And its sole product to date is Sorel, a unique, heavily-spiced liqueur based on hibiscus.
The recipe includes Moroccan hibiscus, Brazilian cloves, Indonesian cassia (cinnamon) and nutmeg, and Nigerian ginger. Sweetened with sugar and swirled together into a base of organic grain alcohol, the resulting spirit is Port wine-red and a wine-like 30 proof.
Continue reading “Review: Jack From Brooklyn Sorel Liqueur” »
Friday, Friday here again! Time for another quick round up of the latest and greatest reviews of beverages we’ve reviewed on the site this week. Before you read on any further, just a quick reminder we have no less than three contests going on where you could enter and potentially win some incredible prizes. So if the Easter holiday isn’t exactly your thing, they might be a nice alternative:
Etch Your Own Flask
George Dickel’s Raising The Bar
Art of Patron Tequila Bottle Contest
If tequila is the cuestion is mezcal the antser?
Bad jokes aside, but when faced with a tequila that’s bottled in an upside-down question mark, the wordplay comes fast and furious.
This Highlands tequila is, of course, 100% blue agave and all expressions are bottled at 80 proof.
Tequila Cuestion Blanco – Old school silver, with lots of agave on the nose. Lemon and lime notes follow. Moving to the palate you’ll find touches of lemon on the body, with lots of fresh agave and a variety of citrus notes on the back end. This tequila starts out with a lot of burn but give it some time in the glass to open up and the citrus starts to develop nicely. A nice alternative to some of the ultra-sweet tequilas out there, even if it is on the simple side in the end. A- / $38
Continue reading “Review: Tequila Cuestion” »
Judging by the credentials listed in his author blurb on the back sleeve, Dominc Roskrow could certainly lay claim to being an “expert” in his field of study. A veteran writer and author with over two decades of published works, he’s received the Scotch industry’s highest order – Keeper of the Quaich – and was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 2010. He had the honor of updating Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide To Scotch and his list of contributing editorships reads like a Who’s Who of Whiskey publications (he currently serves as editor of Whiskeria magazine).
Continue reading “Book Review: The World’s Best Whiskies: 750 Essential Drams From Tennessee To Tokyo” »
Starr Hill in Charlottesville, Virginia makes a collection of beers in a wild array of styles, mostly available on the central-eastern seaboard. The company sent us (out of the blue) two of its newer, seasonal releases for sampling and review. Thoughts follow.
Starr Hill Starr Saison Belgian Style Ale – Mild nose. Fruity with orange and grapefruit notes. On the palate, moderately bitter and slightly sour, with a bit of mustiness on the end. Fruit and hops come together to create something approaching a sense of applesauce mixed together with old wood, rye crackers, and peanut shells. Surprisingly restrained body. Overall it offers an austere, Old World, and an overall pleasant experience, but not an entirely refreshing or complicated one. 6% abv. B- / $NA per 12 oz. bottle
Starr Hill Psycho Kilter Wee Heavy Ale – Wow, this is a dangerous beer. 22 oz. of 9.3% alcohol wee heavy… and oh so drinkable. Very malty but not syrupy, this mahogany brown ale is rich with nutty flavors, silky chocolate notes, some touches of coffee, and even light wine characteristics with just a touch of bitterness on the back end. This bruiser goes down far too easy, its light sweetness tantalizing the taste buds in just the right way, inviting sip after sip as you explore its depths. Really lovely. A / $NA per 22 oz. bottle
The art of spirits has been around since the before the official founding of our great nation. And like the really bad re-enactments we’re exposed to on the History Channel, we’re now being treated to a recreation from a recipe from our first President. The Mount Vernon estate will be recreating George Washington’s recipe for rye whiskey. The first batch will be available April 4th at a price tag of $95. Bad character actor not included. [Yahoo!]
Simply not content with confusing the hell out of beer drinkers with its Bud Light Lime-A-Rita brand, Budweiser is poised to introduce the Straw-Ber-Rita later this month, mixing the flavor of Lime-A-Rita with Strawberry. Just to clarify for everyone who thought this was a beer mixed with a margarita in a can: there is no beer in here whatsoever. It is a flavored malt beverage. The only thing it shares with Bud Light is the brand name. [Bud Light Lime-A-Rita]
Another day, another festival: this time we have a grand tasting tour of the wines of the Paso Robles region on Thursday, April 11th at the glamorous Bently Reserve in San Francisco. And once again, it pays to be a fan of our site: if you register before April 5th and use the promo code TDH10, you’ll receive $10 off the cost of the $65 ticket. [Paso Wines]
Continue reading “Drinkhacker Reads – 03.26.2013 – George Washington’s Rye and Bud Light That Isn’t Bud Light” »
We’ve covered the brews of Redlands, California-based Hangar 24 before, and recently owner Ben Cook (and his crew) descended on SF for San Francisco Beer Week to pour some beers and talk about what his growing brewery’s been up to.
With 25 different beers made in 2012 (all available only in California; Las Vegas and Reno are coming soon), Cook isn’t afraid to experiment, relying heavily on local produce to come up with variations on the typical ale and lager. Beers like Orange Wheat are reflective of southern California’s heritage, and Hangar 24 has also used dates and pumpkins to create unique brews; its Polycot apricot beer is the best seller in its Local Fields series. Local labor is used to process the fruit — usually by hand, and often in exchange for free beer.
Continue reading “Review: Drinking Hangar 24 Vinaceous and Chocolate Porter with Owner Ben Cook” »
Hip flasks are a dime a dozen these days — but one you get to engrave yourself, with your favorite logo, initials, a picture of your kids, or whatnot, now that’s worth checking out.
PersonalizedFlask.net may be a rather obvious name, but it’s a website that makes, well, personalized flasks. They are stainless steel items, engraved by laser with the design of your choice. Pick off the rack initials or go crazy and upload your own images. The company sent me some credits to try it out, and I did.
Continue reading “Etch Your Own Flask… And Win One!” »
This past February a cadre of young, good-looking spirit scribes were assembled at Beam’s brand new Global Innovation Center, a $30 million compound with an aesthetic somewhere between a high-tech office and the Hall of Justice. Many new products were premiered for our consideration and tasting. However, the diamond in the rough which caught our eye was the new Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years Old. I was extremely fortunate enough to receive a preliminary sample; bottles will be shipped to market this coming August.
Continue reading “Preview: Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years Old” »
A funny thing happens when I try to type “Canadian.” I always mistype “Candian” instead. Never has that been a more apropos typo than with Black Velvet’s Toasted Caramel Whisky.
Flavored with a hefty dose of “natural toasted caramel flavor,” this sugar bomb is so dense with sugar it’s actually difficult to swallow it. The nose cues you in for what you’re about to get hit with, but the mouthfeel is something else. It’s so sugary I swear you can feel the grains of sugar grinding around in your mouth. The “toasted caramel” (which means what, exactly?) is something akin to burned Bananas Foster, and there’s a touch of a woody finish on the end that reminds you that this is indeed whisky and not caramel-flavored vodka.
Sweet tooths only need apply.
D+ / $11 / blackvelvetwhisky.com