Review: Rihei Ginger Shochu

Billed as a “totally new class of Japanese craft spirits,” Rihei Ginger is undoubtedly a different animal than most shochus, and the explanation is right there in the name: 20% of the mash that goes into this spirit isn’t composed of grain, but rather local heirloom ginger. Some explanation is in order: Rihei Ochiai, the…

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Review: Mark Ryan 2018 Viognier and 2017 The Dissident

Washington-based Mark Ryan Winery is back with two new releases, an aromatic white and an age-worthy red. Thoughts follow. 2018 Mark Ryan Viognier Olsen Vineyard/Red Willow Vineyard – Quite dry, but loaded with floral and herbal notes, this Washington expression of viognier dials down the peaches and apricots and lets honeysuckle character shine more clearly.…

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Review: Gouden Carolus Single Malt Whisky

Gouden Carolus is a well-regarded Belgian beer producer, and now it’s taking aim at becoming a well-regarded whisky producer, of which there are only a handful in Belgium. The newly released Gouden Carolus Single Malt is distilled from the mash of Gouden Carolus Tripel beer. Says the company: “A first for Belgium are the hand…

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Review: MurLarkey Honey Whiskey and Three Tea Whiskey

Bristow, Virginia-based MurLarkey Spirits markets a wide range of spirits, including vodka, gin, and straight whiskeys, but it’s drawn the most attention for its line of flavored whiskeys, which revolve around authentic, natural ingredients. Recently, MurLarkey Product Master George ‘Papi’ Zwetkow and Co-Founder & President Mike Larkin rolled out two new additions to the flavored…

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Review: Revel Avila Agave Spirit – Reposado and Anejo

Remember Avila “Agave Spirit?” This new liquor is made from blue weber agave, but it’s not made in Jalisco. Since Revel comes from the Morelos region, it can’t be called tequila, the same way that 100% malt barley whiskey made in England can’t be called single malt Scotch. When Revel launched in 2018 we looked…

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Review: Madeira Wines of Miles – Rainwater, Dry 10 Years Old, and Rich 10 Years Old

We’ve covered Madeira wine extensively in past dispatches. Today we’re looking at three Madeira wines from Miles, which is part of the Blandy family’s Madeira Wine Company, a producer that has been producing wine on this Portuguese island since 1814. Thoughts follow on three different styles of Miles’ Madeiras, all nonvintage (and two with generalized…

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Review: BenRiach 25 Years Old (2019)

The latest release from BenRiach is this 25 year old expression, “a rare and balanced marriage of unpeated single malt Scotch whisky aged in a range of oak casks, including remade American oak Bourbon hogsheads and French Burgundy barriques.” Note that this is a new release and is quite different from the old BenRiach Authenticus…

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Review: 2017 Hahn SLH Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

We’ve been writing about the wines of SoCal’s Hahn for years, often with lackluster commentary. 2017 changes all that, proving that you can just never tell what might happen from vintage to vintage. 2017 Hahn SLH Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands – This initially understated chardonnay offers a delightfully creamy texture, with notes of guava, melon,…

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