Understanding Grappa

If you’re apprehensive of grappa, you probably tasted it before and found it to be strong, harsh, and unforgiving. But times have changed, and it is time to give grappa a proper try because, as I recently found, the craft distillate made, mixed, and aged today is not your pappa’s grappa. Grappa’s history explains its…

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Review: 2016 Mount Peak Winery Rattlesnake Zinfandel Sonoma County

  Napa-based Mount Peak Winery makes just three wines, one of which is this Sonoma County zinfandel. It offers a surprisingly clear note of licorice on the nose, and the palate is thick with notes of plum, cassis, and baking spice. Rich with notes of spiced raisins and chocolate sauce, it drinks a bit closer…

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Review: Appleton Estate Rum 21 Years Old

In 2015 we reviewed a handful of bottles from Jamaica’s rum powerhouse, Appleton Estate, with one notable exception, the ultra-premium 21-year-old. Like the Rare Blend 12 Years Old, this is minimum-aged rum, meaning there could be rums far older in this bottle but none less than the U.S. legal drinking age. It’s one of the…

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Review: 2015 Seghesio Home Ranch Estate Zinfandel Alexander Valley

Seghesio is a well-known zinfandel shop, but this bottling is unique in that it doesn’t say “Zinfandel” in it’s swirly font but rather “Home Ranch,” Seghesio’s original estate. It’s the winery’s top-end bottling, and it doesn’t disappoint. The jammy fruit notes are restrained (though at 15.3% abv, the alcohol is not), letting a fresher plum…

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Review: 2017 Lucienne Pinot Noirs

Lucienne is a sub-label (not really a second label) of the Hahn Family Wines brand, and here we find Lucienne in three acts, all hailing from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Compare to last year’s reviews and, spoiler alert, you’ll find everything’s backwards. 2017 Lucienne Pinot Noir Smith Vineyard – Moderate body, plenty of fruit. Cherries…

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Review: Sagamore Spirit Rye Cognac Finish

Following up on its recent Port-finished rye, Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit again takes a blend of MGP-sourced ryes and finishes the whiskey in a unique barrel, in this case, one that previously held Cognac. The rye starts off spending four years in new, charred oak barrels, then gets an extra 8 months in the Cognac casks.…

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Review: Guinness Over the Moon Milk Stout

It’s been a year since we saw a seasonal from Guinness, so it’s exciting to get to sample the brewery’s latest, which is made in its Baltimore-based Open Gate Brewery. Over the Moon is a milk stout, called thusly because lactose is used in the brewing process. This rendition is largely endemic of the style,…

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Review: Austin Cocktails Cucumber Vodka Mojito (2019)

Austin Cocktails is a new creator of ready-to-drink cocktails based in, well, I’ll let you guess. It’s a story of entrepreneurs painstakingly looking for the perfect ingredients (or rather, “purveyors of natural juices, essences, and extracts”) for their premium, RTD offering. To date they’ve developed five expressions, and today we look at one, a cucumber…

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