Review: Blue Ice Organic Wheat Vodka

Blue Ice expands its line of vodka the month with this second rendition. The original was made of potatoes, this one’s (as the name suggests) distilled from organic wheat. Incidentally, the bottle’s clear this time around, making the name a bit of a misnomer, but hey, it’s what’s inside that counts. Funny then that Blue…

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Tasting Report: Napa Valley with Altitude, April 23, 2009

Much like last year at this event, I found myself impressed with the wines being shown from the mountain wineries of Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain, and Diamond Mountain in Napa. Unlike last year, though, I found myself not overwhelmed by tannin in the vast majority of wines being poured. The newer bottlings (mostly 2005 cabernets)…

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Tasting Report: Spanish Wine Cellar & Pantry 2009

You’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you, but it has to be done. Yes, you can eat too much Serrano ham. I stuffed my face with the nutty, rich, fat-filled pork product that’s only now legally trickling its way onto our shores, and man is it good. Aged up to three…

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Talking Whisky with Maker’s Mark’s Rob Samuels

Rob Samuels has bourbon in his blood. He better: He’s an eighth-generation whiskeymaker and the heir to the Maker’s Mark throne, where is father Bill Samuels Jr. serves as President and where Rob spends his days criss-crossing the country, spreading the gospel of Maker’s Mark. Samuels gave me the full court press about his company’s…

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Review: Firemans Brew Blonde Beer, Brewnette Beer, and Redhead Ale (2009)

What is it about firemen and beer? Hmmm, makes sense, I guess: When I get merely warm I reach for a brew. One can only imagine what actually being in a fire might do to one’s thirst for a beer. Firemans Brew comes out of Los Angeles, a microbrew crafted by two active-duty firemen who…

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Review: Agave Loco Pepper Cured Tequila

The story goes that master distiller Tom Maas and his crew found that, in the old days, some enterprising people in Mexico were preserving peppers not in vinegar but in tequila. And rather than simply eating the deliciously tequila-flavored peppers, someone had the idea to try to do it the other way around: Use the…

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Review: Smirnoff Melon and Pomegranate Vodkas

On a broiling spring day in San Francisco we turn our attention to these two new flavors from Smirnoff (which now brings the number of flavored Smirnoff bottlings to a whopping 15), both of which are excellent choices for warm-weather cocktails, which usually involve lots of ice, fruit, and/or a refreshing mixer like lemonade. Both…

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Review: Jose Cuervo Especial Plata Tequila

Cuervo’s latest doesn’t stray far from its profitable core: Jose Cuervo Especial is a mixto tequila (meaning it’s over half blue agave and the rest neutral grain spirits) and unaged. The results should surprise no one: Especial is a crystal clear and clean spirit, (it’s also known as simply “Cuervo Silver,” although it doesn’t actually…

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