Review: Firestone Walker STiVo Keller Pils, Hopnosis IPA, and Cali Squeeze Beers

Two new brews — neither of which spent a second in a bourbon barrel, for once — from California’s Firestone Walker, plus the introduction of Cali Squeeze, which doesn’t carry Firestone branding and which is confusingly a new line of both beers (all hefeweizens) and seltzers, all made with California fruit. We only received the…

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“History Itself in a Bottle”: An Interview with Raj Bhakta

Perennial spirits entrepreneur Raj Bhakta has already cemented himself as one of America’s most ambitious booze salesmen. He founded WhistlePig and helped create an entirely new generation of whiskey drinkers, with a heavy focus on premium rye. His second foray into the premium category took a decidedly upmarket turn with Bhakta, a brand based around…

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Review: Rossi d’Angera Genziana Spitz

Genziana Spitz is an Italian-born blend of “hydrated alcohol, sugar, gentian herb, and genuine vegetable natural substances,” per the label, anyway, but what it really is is a lighter, sweeter style of aperitif with its bitterness clearly evident, yet never overwhelming. The distillery offers some additional details, which go like this: This Gentian Root liqueur…

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Review: 2021 Sonoma-Cutrer Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Sonoma-Cutrer’s pinot-driven rose offers a classic Provence-style construction, a mere 11.9% abv, driven by white flowers, ripe strawberry, and lingering vanilla notes as the wine develops in glass. Lemon notes emerge late in the game, the lightest layer of florals lifting the otherwise vanilla-laden, nougat-like sweetness, just a touch. This wine never tends toward complexity,…

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Review: Bently Heritage Juniper Grove Atrium Gin

Do you like flowers? Have I got a gin for you! Atrium Gin — one of three gins from Nevada’s Bently Heritage — is made with 10 botanicals. At first blush, everything seems fairly straightforward and traditional, the botanicals including juniper, lavender, orris root, chamomile, cardamom, grapefruit zest, angelica, gentian, lemon balm, and orange peel.…

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Review: Villon Liqueur

This rather ominous looking liqueur launched last year in the United States. In addition to its arresting, black glass bottle, Villon also has quite the backstory. It is distilled, blended, and bottled in southwestern France and is named for the well-known 15th century French poet, Francois Villon, who notoriously vanished after killing a “wicked” priest.…

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Review: 2020 Loveblock Pinot Noir Central Otago

We’ve seen Loveblock‘s New Zealand-born pinot noir in the past — like, seven years ago — so it’s time for a refresh. Things, it seems, haven’t changed all that much (though the price has come down quite a bit). Straightforward and mild, this wine has an initial edge of cherry and rhubarb, but things fade…

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Review: Ransom Bourbon

We’ve already covered a handful of products from Oregon-based Ransom Spirits, including their Old Tom Gin, which put them on the craft distilling map over a decade ago. The whimsically named Whippersnapper was the distillery’s first foray into whiskey, but recently they added to the brown spirits portfolio with this bottle, Ransom Bourbon. The mashbill…

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