Review: Top Note Mixers – Indian Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon, and Ginger Beer

If you hang around high-end cocktail bars, you’re probably familiar with Top Note, a brand of high-end mixers that launched in 2014. Launched by a Mary Pellettieri, a Goose Island brewing veteran, the fittingly-named brand is all natural and authentic — and generally quite restrained. While it was launched as only a tonic water, it…

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Review: Chivas Regal Mizunara

If you’ve spent any time in travel retail (or Asia) lately, you might have encountered the Chivas Regal bottle in the turquoise packaging: Chivas Regal Mizunara, “the world’s first Scotch whisky to be partially finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks.” Now this special edition is coming to general release in the U.S. There’s a lot…

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Review: 2014 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga

Montelena‘s 2014 Estate Cabernet is a wine still being made in the bottle. Montelena Cabernet is classically designed to age for a few years before opening, and this 2014 bottling is no exception, being a bit standoffish at the present. An aggressive nose of tobacco leaf and leather dominates the up-front, then intense notes of…

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Review: Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy Bottled in Bond

The bottled in bond trend — which specifies that a spirit must be distilled in a single season, aged for at least four years, and bottled at 100 proof — has made its way to apple brandy. Laird’s is the latest brand to jump on the train, relaunching a bonded version of its iconic applejack…

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Review: Iron Hill Brewery Crusher and Pumpkin Ale

Iron Hill Brewery, based in Wilmington, Delaware, seems to be crushing it, now operating three brewpubs in the area while selling canned versions of its products regionally. Iron Hill beer is hard to find outside of the immediate region, but we were lucky to receive a care package with two of its latest releases. Wilmingtonians, take…

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Review: Old Forester Whiskey Row Series – 1910 Old Fine Whiskey

Old Forester’s Whiskey Row Series, which celebrates America’s bourbon heritage, has come to an end. Three expressions have previously been released — 1870 Original Batch, 1897 Bottled in Bond, and 1920 Prohibition Style — and now the final expression, 1910 Old Fine Whiskey, has arrived. Astute readers will recall that 1920 was our top bourbon pick…

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Review: 2015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella and Amarone

Tenuta Sant’Antonio produces traditional wines in Italy’s Veneto region. Officially established in 1995 by the Castagnedi brothers, the winery’s focus is on Amarone, a wine unique to this region made through the appassimento method, which involves partially drying of grapes (boosting their intensity) before refermenting them on the lees (or skins) of a previous wine production. We…

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A Visit to Sonoma’s Belden Barns

Winery visits are fun and all, but they tend to follow a predictable routine. Walk around the vines. See the barrels in the cellar. Eat some cheese. Taste some wine. Lots of talking but often in the service of a familiar story. Belden Barns is something else. I’ve been following Belden Barns since first encountering…

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