Review: Writers’ Tears Irish Whiskey

American visitors to Ireland often ask “what whiskey should I try that I can’t get in the U.S.” That’s been a fairly short list of late, and the top of it always includes one name: Writers’ Tears. Writers’ Tears is a product introduced only in 2009 by Walsh Whiskey, the company that’s best known stateside…

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Highlights from the California Artisan Cheese Festival 2016

Recently I had the good fortune to attend one of the most entertaining events in this business: Petaluma’s annual “California Cheesin’” event, part of the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival, now in its 10th year. This highlight offers regional (northern California) restaurants plus purveyors of wine, beer, and cider — and let’s you go to town on…

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Review: Mt. Brave 2012 Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa’s Mt. Brave is back with two big 2012 releases: A malbec and a cabernet sauvignon, the winery’s signature release. Thoughts on both wines follow. 2012 Mt. Brave Malbec Mt. Veeder – 98% malbec, 2% cabernet sauvignon. It may be a little thin around the edges, but the notes of black pepper, currants, and rhubarb…

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Review: Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Dry-Hopped with Pekko Hops 2016

This special edition version of Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine — part of its “classic” release collection — dry-hops this already intense barleywine with Pekko hops, a new variety out of Washington. (Warrior, Cascade, and Chinook are also represented.) The results are punchy, juicy, almost chewy — intense raisin and Port-like notes kick things off…

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Review: Wahaka Mezcal Complete Lineup

Mezcal is always fun, but it gets really fun when you can compare different styles and species of agave that are used to create this unique spirit. Wahaka, based in the Tlacolula Central Valley region of Oaxaca, offers five different Mezcals — four joven (silver) varieties, and one reposado. We tasted them all. Thoughts follow.…

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Review: Alaskan Hop Turn IPA

Alaskan’s latest IPA in a seemingly endless procession of IPAs is Hop Turn (cute skiing-inspired name there), which is designed to be a “German-style IPA” — a style of beer that doesn’t readily exist. It’s made with Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malts, Magnum and Sterling hops, and is dry-hopped with Sterling — “radical” choices, none of…

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Review: Old Hickory Blended Bourbon and Straight Bourbon

Nashville-based R.S. Lipman revived this very old brand recently, but the spirit inside has nothing to do with whatever came before. Within you will find MGP-sourced whiskey which is bottled in Ohio. Old Hickory — not just named after Andrew Jackson but featuring his picture on the label — is offered in two varieties, a…

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Review: Speakeasy Syndicate No. 03

San Francisco’s Speakeasy launched its limited-edition, barrel-aged Syndicate beer series in 2013. Today it’s an annually released series, “united by barrels and graceful age,” with Syndicate No. 03 now hitting the shelves and kegs. Here’s what’s inside: Syndicate No. 03 is a blend of seven different strong beers matured between 13-37 months in bourbon barrels.…

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