Visiting and Tasting With Hourglass Wines, 2016

“Michelin restaurants have more equipment than we do.” So says Tony Biagi, winemaker at north Napa’s Hourglass and a celebrity in his own right, having made wines at Plumpjack, CADE, and other blue-chip operations. Now he’s got another feather in his cap in the form of Hourglass, a cult winery in the making, where a…

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Review: Not Your Father’s Vanilla Cream Ale

Is the third try the charm for Small Town Brewery and its “Not Your Father’s” line of hard sodas. While its root beer is acceptable, its ginger ale fell flat. Now let’s look at its vanilla cream. Results: This one’s roughly in the middle of the trio. To start with, it’s aided by copious amounts of sugar. The…

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Review: Compass Box The Circus and Enlightenment

Two new limited expressions from the ever-interesting blenders at Compass Box: The Circus and Enlightenment. Let’s take a look at both. Thoughts follow. Compass Box The Circus – This is another complicated whisky that requires an infographic to explain how it is blended. The gist is that The Circus is composed of a mix of…

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Review: Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company Juices and Lemonades

Florida-based Natalie’s Orchid Island makes fresh juices and lemonades, packing them in those familiar, squared-off, plastic pint bottles. These products are “gourmet pasteurized” but contain no preservatives, and must be kept refrigerated at all times. Is upscale juice worth the splurge? We checked out six varieties of juice and lemonade. For your consideration: Natalie’s Orange Juice…

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Review: Blue Ice Creme Brulee Vodka

Outside of its “G” line, Blue Ice has just one flavored vodka, and that flavor is… no, not lemon. Not citrus. Creme brulee. Or, as it is listed on the Blue Ice website: Creme burlee. Or, elsewhere, Creme burele. That is an extremely weird choice for one’s sole flavor, but to be sure, “creme brulee” is…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016 Edition

Here’s a quintet of whiskeys you might have heard of once or twice. Yes, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection has arrived, which will probably be sold out before I finish typing this sentence. Well, if you’re a glutton for punishment and want to take a stab at finding one of these rarities — particularly because…

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Tasting Report: Family Winemakers of California 2016

It’s been a few years since I’ve attended Family Winemakers of California, and event that once billed itself as the largest wine event in America, with hundreds of wineries showing off their wares. Things have settled down a bit in more recent years, but with 125 wineries showcasing some 500-plus wines, there’s still far more…

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Review: Coravin Model One Wine Preservation System

Since I reviewed the first Coravin wine preservation system in 2013 — the first review of the device ever published #humblebrag — the company has been up to a lot of work. The Coravin Model 1000 is now known as the Coravin Model Eight. A luxe edition called the Coravin Model Two has been released,…

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