Review: James River Plantation Sweet Tea Vodka

Tea-flavored vodkas appear to be a category that’s difficult to get wrong. Small Wisconsin distillery James River Plantation (the real James River Plantation is in Virginia, by the by) may not be a household name, but its rendition of tea-infused vodka is about as good as anything else I’ve tried. The flavor is typical of…

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Review: 2007 Dievole Chianti Classico La Vendemmia

This DOCG Chianti is 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent “red grapes” — mystery Tuscan grapes that give La Vendemmia a “field blend” feeling. Remarkably soft and fruity for Chianti, the wine is a deep purple wine with a surprisingly light body, herbal with lavender and rosemary notes atop a core of blueberry and dark…

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Original Recipe: Swedish Hobo Punch

Every year a holiday cocktail springs fully formed from my mind. As I did last year, for 2010 I went with a punch that could be produced in bulk, 20 servings at a time, instead of 2 or 3. Originally I wanted to use passion fruit juice in this punch, but I couldn’t find any.…

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Review: 42 Below Honey Vodka

The only honey-flavored vodka I’m encountered, 42 Below’s Honey Vodka is flavored with Manuka honey, which uses honey from bees that feed on New Zealand’s native Manuka bush. I don’t know what Manuka honey itself tastes like, but I can at least report on the vodka made using it. The nose on this clear vodka…

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Review: Tanqueray, Tanqueray No. Ten (2010), and Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

A reader recently complained (or kvetched, perhaps) that I didn’t review enough accessible products, stuff that you’d find on the shelf of your average liquor store and didn’t cost five figures. Fair enough, so here you go. It doesn’t get much more mainstream than Tanqueray, the British gin (produced in Scotland, actually) which is one…

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Review: Bacardi Rock Coconut Flavored Rum

As it did with “Torched Cherry,” Bacardi continues its tradition of double-flavoring rums and giving the finished product one, nonsensical name. Bacardi Rock Coconut is naturally flavored with rock melon and coconut water, hence, I guess, “rock coconut.” Rock melon, by the way, is a fancy name for cantaloupe. As for the character of this…

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Review: 12 Noon to Midnight Sparkling Beverage – Original and Rouge

Never mind the name — which is proof perhaps that everything is taken by now — what exactly is a “culinary beverage,” as 12 Noon to Midnight claims to be. I’ve yet to figure out the nuance of the term, but here’s what I can tell you: 12 Noon to Midnight is a non-alcoholic, sparkling…

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Review: WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey 10 Years Old

A whistle-pig is another name for a groundhog. It is now also a compelling straight rye whiskey from Vermont — hardly the first state that comes to mind when you talk whiskey. When they say straight rye, they mean it. WhistlePig is a rare 100% rye, aged for 10 years and bottled at 100 proof.…

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