Rated A-

Reviews of spirits, wine, and beer (and various errata like mixers and garnishes) comprise more than 80% of the content at Drinkhacker, and the A- rating is used for very good to exceptional products. On a five-star scale, these products would score 4 stars. On the traditional 100-point scale popular with many wine and spirits graders, these products would merit scores of 90 to 93 points.

Tasting Report: Delamain Cognac Guided Tasting, 2008 Releases

By Christopher Null | September 27, 2008 |

All hail the House of Delamain. I reviewed much of Delamain’s exceptional cognac line earlier in the summer. This week, the company’s Managing Director Charles Braastad took the time to guide me and a handful of other wine and spirits writers through his company’s offerings. This tiny cognac producer makes some amazing products: The youngest…

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Review: 2003 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

By Christopher Null | September 20, 2008 |

With Shafer’s 2003 Cab, on first blush, there’s heat and considerable tannin on the palate. That tannin doesn’t fade, even after four hours of sipping, I’m still getting a lot of heavy tannic notes, indicating this wine’s got years ahead of it before it peaks. The fruit beneath is enticing, even though it’s tight as…

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Review: Xellent Vodka

By Christopher Null | September 18, 2008 |

Did you know: It was illegal to distill vodka in Switzerland until 1999? A vestige of World War II, when it was felt inappropriate to turn grain, in short supply, into booze instead of bread. (Though, if I had my druthers, I know what I’d give up.) Xellent was the first — and so far…

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Review: Ayala’s Herbal Water

By Christopher Null | September 17, 2008 |

When you’re drinking your federally-mandated 27 gallons of water a day, you might as well enjoy it going down. Flavored water is nothing new, but Ayala’s takes a different approach, flavoring its bottled waters with natural herbs instead of chemical sludge (check the nutrition facts on a bottle of Propel if you don’t believe me).…

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Review: Vignette Wine Country Soda

By Christopher Null | September 6, 2008 |

It’s grape juice for grown-ups: With its Wine Country Sodas, Vignette takes the juice of real wine grapes — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc & Grenache — adds a little fizz, and puts it into single-serve bottles. But no alcohol, making them perfect for lunchtime, picnics, or those who can’t (or don’t want to)…

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Review: Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

By Christopher Null | September 2, 2008 |

There’s a dearth of spiced rums on the market, and a severe shortage of ones that are any good. (We’re fans of Kilo Kai, but it remains terribly hard to find at retail.) Sailor Jerry is the personal recipe of Jerry Collins, a 1920s Hawaiian tattoo artist and apparently quite the rum connoisseur. Distilled in…

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Review: Junipero Gin

By Christopher Null | August 28, 2008 |

Junipero is old school. Sipping it takes you back in time. You can imagine Churchill pulling down this stuff while trying to decide what to do about those friggin’ Nazis. Junipero makes a really perfect gin martini: The juniper, as you’d imagine from the name, is up front yet not overpowering. But it’s more spicy…

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Review: Cape North Vodka

By Christopher Null | August 24, 2008 |

If the Anheuser-Busch distributor who dropped off a bottle of Cape North at my house last week is even remotely serious, you won’t be seeing Cape North on a shelf near you any time soon. (The company distributes muchc more than just beer.) According to him, obtaining samples was a truly Herculean effort. Imagine how…

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Review: 2005 Pahlmeyer Jayson Red

By Christopher Null | August 21, 2008 |

Pahlmeyer produces some impressive high-end wines. The juice that doesn’t go into them goes into this second label, “Jayson.” (You know it’s from Pahlmeyer by the distinctive cursive label and a tiny note on the back of the bottle.) Jayson Red also doesn’t indicate what’s in it, but it’s actually a Bordeaux blend of 73%…

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Re-Review: Zyr Vodka

By Christopher Null | August 19, 2008 |

So here’s a first on Drinkhacker: A second review of a spirit, four months after our initial coverage. The folks at Zyr vodka thought I was off base with my original review — which was a lofty A- rating — but which ZYR felt should be even higher. They sent a new bottle. Who am…

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