Review: Akvinta Vodka

Every new vodka that comes out these days has a gimmick (how could it not?), and Akvinta’s — which hails from the sunny shores of Croatia, which the company says earns it the moniker of the Mediterranean’s first luxury vodka — is this: It’s triple distilled and filtered five times, five different ways: Through charcoal,…

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Review: Nadared Vodka

Nadared is, as far as I can tell, the first ever anti-communist vodka ever produced. No, seriously. It’s nada red — it’s not red. In fact, it’s made here in the U. S. of A. (in Mira Loma, California, actually), and all profits from the sale of this vodka go towards “institutions in oppressive political…

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Review: Van Gogh Blue Triple Wheat Vodka

Why “triple wheat?” Because Van Gogh sources wheat for this vodka from France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Get it? Three countries. Triple wheat. Distilled in Holland, this 80-proof vodka is actually pretty amazing. Very light and smooth, it’s got a very light sweetness that plays with flowery notes on the palate. There’s no harshness or…

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Herradura’s Battle of the Tequileros

I recently had the great opportunity to attend Tequila Herradura’s battle of eight Bay Area mixologists, each trying to outdo the other. Some photos of the event held at San Francisco’s Tres Agaves — including a live “harvesting” of agave plants… oh, the carnage — follow. My favorite drink of the evening — Tony Devencenzi’s…

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Review: Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Years Old

23 years is epic for any spirit to sit idle in a barrel, but for bourbon it’s almost insane. Old Rip Van Winkle’s 23-year-old bottling (this sample is from the 2009 limited edition) is positively intense with wood character — and alcohol. It’s 114 proof, which is hefty, but I’ve had far higher-proof whiskeys that…

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Review: Square One Botanical Vodka

Is it vodka or is it gin? Infused with eight ingredients — pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander, and citrus peel — Square One Botanical certainly looks on paper a lot more like a postmodern gin than the vodka it claims to be on the bottle. Ultimately, labels are meaningless — all gin…

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Review: 2008 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz Barossa Valley

Two Hands has a reputation as one of Australia’s most well-regarded wineries, and its 2008 shiraz releases are now hitting the market. We tried the Gnarly Dudes bottling, made with grapes from Australia’s Barossa Valley, and found a true oddity in store for us. The big surprise up front is not the nutty and chocolaty…

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Review: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 2009 – Distilled 1993

Last year Lagavulin released a 16-year-old special edition whisky and this year (2009) it’s continuing the cycle, offering a single malt double-matured in Pedro Ximinez sherry wood casks. This is a smoother whisky than last year’s phenolic monster, more delicate while still carrying plenty of briny, peaty notes that Lagavulin is so well-known for. The…

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