Review: Hope Family Winery Westside Red Troublemaker

Hope Family Winery, under its Westside Red label, is releasing this oddity, a Paso Robles-based blend of 53% Syrah, 37% Mourvedre, and 10% Grenache… from three different vintages: 2007, 2008, and 2009. The result is a wine so intensely earthy that I had first suspected it had a Pinot Noir influence. But its spicy Syrah…

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Review: Ardbeg Supernova SN2010

There are peaty Scotches, and there is Ardbeg Supernova. Ardbeg’s standard malt is, to this writer’s knowledge, the peatiest Scotch in regular production. Supernova takes that and ramps it up even further. Listen, they don’t exactly call it Supernova because it’s subtle. The original Supernova was released last year to massive acclaim, with a ridiculous…

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Review: Stevens Point Whole Hog Raspberry Saison

Fruit + beer often = trouble. Stevens Point’s latest entry into its Whole Hog line is a raspberry-flavored saison — a rustic, seasonal ale designed to be refreshing and reinvigorating after a long day of work. The spectre of a jammy, over-sweetened beer is worrisome, but Stevens has done right in this recipe. On first…

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Review: Crown Royal Black

They say three of anything is a trend. Well, by my count, we’re at five. I’m talking about whiskeys with extra oak aging, particularly with the word “Black” added to the name. Crown Royal Black is, as you may expect, an added-oak version of the venerable Crown Royal Canadian whisky. In this case, “black” is…

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Review: Botran Solera 1893 and Reserva Rum (2010)

Botran Rum, aka Ron Botran or Casa Botran, hails from Guatemala and is distilled by the same outfit that makes the fantastic Ron Zacapa, Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala. Located about a mile and a half above sea level, Botran’s rums are matured in a very cool warehouse compared to most of the industry, where the…

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Review: The Arran Malt 15th Anniversary

In the world of Scotch whisky, Arran is a wee babe. The distillery has no ancient heritage to tout to the world. It started from scratch in 1995. To celebrate 15 years in business, Arran is releasing this special-edition whisky, distilled in 1999 (making it not 15 years old, as you might expect, but rather…

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Review: 2006 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Silver Oak’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley was a minor revelation. The 2006 is something different. Much tighter on release, this year’s release is showing much more herbal character, with a distinct lavender bent, atop a moderately tannic core. An hour in the glass and it isn’t really opening up much. I do have a…

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Review: Jarritos Mexican Sodas

If you spend as much time in taquerias as I do, you know Jarritos, the colorful sodas that come only in bottles, courtesy of our friends south of the border. Jarritos, like most Mexican sodas, are sweetened with natural sugar. They’re generally lightly carbonated, and they contain no caffeine. Flavors are predominantly a mix of…

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