Recipe: National Margarita Day Cocktails 2016

For reasons beyond understanding, the powers that be who invent these drink-idays decided it would be a good idea to plant National Margarita Day — February 22 — during the darkest weeks of winter. Perhaps it’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” situation where these recipes will help us all get through the miserable…

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Review: Highland Queen Blended Scotch 3 Years Old

Produced by the same parent company that owns the Tullibardine single malt distillery, this young blend drinks right about where you’d expect, considering its sub-$20 pedigree and obvious youth. The nose is initially a little odd — hot, but — and stick with me for this — with a funky yet crystal-clear tomato sauce character. It…

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Review: Pervak Vodka Homemade Rye and Homemade Wheat

Pervak hails from the Ukraine, and in its rustic-looking bottles with a swing-top-closure, it certainly feels very “Old World” from the get-go. Seriously, Old World: One of the core bottlings in the Pervak lineup is garlic-flavored vodka. While the two vodkas reviewed below are both straight spirits — one made from rye, one from wheat —…

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Review: Port Ellen 32 Years Old Limited Edition 2015

And, for last: The unicorn, Port Ellen 32. After years of incrementing the age on the most-treasured release of the Diageo Special Releases — Port Ellen — the company has taken a step back. While 2014’s edition was a 35 year old distilled in 1978, this year’s is a 32 year old distilled in 1983,…

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Review: Lagavulin 12 Years Old Limited Edition 2015

A perennial part of the Diageo Special Releases, this is 15th time Lagavulin 12 has appeared in the collection. At this point you probably know what you’re getting with the Lag 12 — a slightly younger, higher-proof version of the classic Lagavulin 16. Hot and peaty, with sweet smoke and lots of iodine, it’s a mammoth…

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Review: The Cally 40 Years Old Single Grain Limited Edition 2015

Not every release in the 2015 Diageo Special Releases is a single malt — this one’s a single grain whisky. The Cally was made at the Caledonian Distillery in Edinburgh, which was shuttered in 1988. The nickname stuck around, though, and Diageo kept a few barrels on hand to see how well single grain whisky…

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Book Review: Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari

Mark Bitterman sure does like bitters, and if you want to learn how to make them, to craft cool cocktails with them, or even cook with them (bittered southern fried chicken, anyone?), this new book is for you. A true field guide in appearance — softbound with a rubberized cover — the book feels a…

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Review: Dailuaine 34 Years Old Limited Edition 2015

This is my first experience with Dailuaine, and it’s quite a unique one. A Speyside distillery that’s been running off and on since 1852, nearly all of Dailuaine’s production ends up in Johnnie Walker blends. A rarity in the Diageo Special Releases, this 34 year old bottling (aged fully in ex-American oak casks) is the oldest…

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