Rated B

Reviews of spirits, wine, and beer (and various errata like mixers and garnishes) comprise more than 80% of the content at Drinkhacker, and the B rating is used for products that are good but which we don’t exactly love — and which we can provide with a qualified recommendation. On a five-star scale, these products would score 3 stars. On the traditional 100-point scale popular with many wine and spirits graders, these products would merit scores of 83 to 86 points.

Review: NV Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur

By Christopher Null | December 20, 2008 |

Expanding recently into more of the U.S. (including San Francisco’s Bubble Lounge), Ayala is a name unfamiliar to most local drinkers. We were lucky enough to land a bottle for review. A familiar, dry sparkler, this Champagne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier (in that order). Lightly aromatic and featuring a…

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Review: Canadian Club Sherry Cask

By Christopher Null | December 18, 2008 |

The top of the Canadian Club line, this limited-run Canadian whisky is made in small batches and aged a minimum of eight years in white oak barrels and finished in old Jerez sherry casks. Bottled at 82.6 proof into traditional and elegant bottles (complete with natural cork closure), it’s a long way from the Canadian…

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Review: Boca Loca Cachaca

By Christopher Null | December 16, 2008 |

Boca Loca is another good cachaca to recently hit the market — and with its lipstick-scrawled-on-glass packaging it immediately presents itself as an uncomplicated product designed for the masses. I expect any drinker would have an easy time approaching this cachaca, which tastes and smells not of the spirit’s typical gasoline but rather of charred…

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Review: Indio Vodkas

By Christopher Null | December 15, 2008 |

As promised yesterday, today we’re plowing through the five vodkas (one straight, four flavored) from Portland’s Indio Spirits. All five are 80-proof and distilled from rye, then filtered through charcoal-activated coconut husks. (All the vodkas are uncolored, too, and feature very approachable prices.) Indio Silver Edition Vodka – This is the straight, unflavored vodka, and…

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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine Basics (Second Edition)

By Christopher Null | December 13, 2008 |

I never would have thought I’d be recommending a book about wine with the phrase “complete idiot” in the title, but for outright rank beginners, this tome by Tara Q. Thomas is an accessible way to get a bearing on a complicated subject. Primarily broken down by grape varietal (with a few chapters devoted to…

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Review: Michael Collins Blended Irish Whiskey (2008)

By Christopher Null | December 12, 2008 |

Michael Collins, epic hero of modern Ireland, naturally deserves a whiskey bottled in his honor. Here’s a look at Michael Collins “A Blend” (there’s also a Single Malt version available). To consider the rich amber color of the whiskey you’d think you’re in for something hefty (check the photo below — the bottle itself is…

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Review: Four Compass Box Whiskies – Peat Monster, Peat Monster Reserve, Oak Cross, and Hedonism Maximus

By Christopher Null | November 30, 2008 |

Happy St. Andrew’s Day! Here’s a little Scotch coverage to honor the occasion. Many critics and distilleries use the phrase “peat monster” to describe their heavily-peated malts. Compass Box, which hails from the Islay area, actually gave the term to a couple of its products. Here’s how the two real Peat Monsters, plus two more…

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Review: 2007 Viu Manent Secreto Viognier

By Christopher Null | November 25, 2008 |

This Chilean viognier (85 percent, the other 15 percent is mystery juice) is a lighter style than you usually find from California viogniers: Perfumy, with light peach and apricot notes. There’s a vague meatiness underlying the fruit flavor — which is more than a little strange in a wine like this — and the finish…

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Review: Nine BenRiach Scotch Expressions (2008)

By Christopher Null | November 21, 2008 |

Nine tiny bottles representing the heart of BenRiach’s line of Scotches have been staring me down for weeks now. Finally I’ve embarked on the massive tasting effort to review each of them. Also known as “The BenRiach,” this Speyside outfit produces at least 18 regular bottlings, plus dozens of special, limited releases. The nine reviewed…

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Review: Stevens Point St. Benedict’s Winter Ale

By Christopher Null | November 16, 2008 |

It’s 78 degrees outside, and that can only me one thing: Winter is coming! Stevens Point is one of the first brewers to release its holiday brew, and this Winter Ale is a pleasing diversion from a summer of wheat bear and other lighter stuff. The initial taste is crisp and lightly sweet — not…

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