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West Meets East

Tasting Notes: Bombay Sapphire East

After 25 years as one of the world’s leading gin brands, Bombay Sapphire has finally introduced a new extension to the line, dubbed Bombay Sapphire East ($32) (42% ABV). Adding “East” to the name may seem a bit redundant given the Bombay branding, but the spirit has always been officially classified as a London Dry…

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Get it before it’s gone

Tasting Notes: Newcastle Founders’ Ale

Always advocates for more beer, we’re happy to welcome Newcastle Founders’ Ale to the U.S. market. The new brew – which pays homage to Newcastle’s five founding breweries – is part of Newcastle’s Limited Edition series, which also includes Summer Ale, Werewolf and Winter IPA. Newcastle Founders’ Ale ($9) is a full-bodied, easy-drinking beer with…

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Whiskey fit for a president

Tasting Notes: Jefferson’s Bourbon

Maybe it’s just our nature to root for the little guy, but man, we sure love small batch bourbons. The industry giants put out some fine products, but it’s the smaller players that take up most of the space on our home bars. Like Jefferson’s ($30), a very small batch, hand-crafted and Kentucky-bred bourbon. Jefferson’s…

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The second coming

Tasting Notes: The Glenrothes 1985 Vintage Scotch Whisky

The Glenrothes Whisky’s vintage release program brings some very interesting drams to market, including the 1985 Vintage ($110). This whisky was laid down in barrels in 1985 and first bottled in 1997 as a 12-year old expression. It was a hit, so the company decided to age those original whisky stocks even longer and bottle…

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A silver tequila worth sipping

Tasting Notes: El Tesoro Platinum Tequila

El Tesoro Tequila has been produced for more than 70 years, and the family behind the label has been making our favorite Mexican import for more than 200 years. So it’s safe to assume they know a thing or two about tequila. As the third generation master distiller of El Tesoro, Carlos Camarena is charged…

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Compare and Contrast

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve New & Aged Cask Rye

Winter is a harbinger of many things to many people. For bourbon fans, the coming of the cold signifies a time when some of the most respected brands in the industry release rare and specialized spirits to delight the booze-enthusiast. This year’s Master’s Collection from Woodford reserve is a curve ball of sorts, since it…

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Our new favorite Russian export

Tasting Notes: Russian Standard Gold Vodka

The latest vodka to enter the US, Russian Standard Gold Vodka ($45) is made from 100 percent Russian ingredients, including winter wheat from the Russian Black Steppes, soft glacial water from Lake Ladoga in Northern Russia and Siberian Ginseng extracts. The spirit has a luxuriously rich mouthfeel and smooth taste. Hinting at herbs, caramel and…

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Getting in the holiday spirits

Tasting Notes | ‘Tis the Season: Three Holiday Cocktail Recipes

The holidays, scenario one: a time for feasting, enjoying the company of family and friends and exchanging gifts. That’s reason enough to clink glasses. The holidays, scenario two: a time for stress, empty wallets and judgmental in-laws. That’s even more reason to knock back a few drinks. Whichever circumstances best describe your impending holidays, we’ve…

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Canned craftsmanship

Tasting Notes: Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA

These days, craft beer is all the rage. And gaining more momentum seemingly every day is the canned beer revolution, in which many craft beers are eschewing bottles for cans. One of our favorite in-can libations is Bengali Tiger IPA from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Craft Ales. Unlike some overly-hopped, bitingly bitter India Pale Ales, Sixpoint’s Bengali…

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It's not your grandfather's gin

Tasting Notes: No. 209 Gin

One of the most exciting product categories of recent years is New American gin. Eschewing the juniper-driven backbones of London Dry style gins like Seagrams and Beefeater, New American gins encompass a broader range of botanicals, which leads to unique combinations of flavors and aromas. One such gin is No. 209 ($35), distilled at San…

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A whisky-soaked punch in the mouth

Tasting Notes: Compass Box Peat Monster

Compass Box Whisky Company is a specialty Scotch whisky maker that, since forming in 2000, has made a big splash in the boutique whisky market. American John Glaser is the man behind the label, and his experimentation with unconventional malt combinations and oak maturation have resulted in some very interesting drams. From its core range,…

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Light Beer, Guinness-Style

Tasting Notes: Guinness Black Lager

The first thing you should know about Guinness’s latest creation is that it’s targeting a broader market of drinkers who may not be fans of their meal-in-a-pint stouts. Though it’s called a Black Lager, beer geeks will point out that it’s technically a very specific German brew called Schwarzbier or “black beer”. Developed long before…

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Double aged for twice the taste

Tasting Notes: Brugal 1888 Rum

Brugal 1888 ($45-50) is what happens when five generations of Maestros Roneros, or Rum Masters, have been hand-crafting Brugal rums since the company was founded in 1888. This latest product blends that experience with a double distillation and double aging process for a unique, flavorful rum that’s perfect for sipping on a cool fall day….

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New whiskey from an industry veteran

Tasting Notes: Angel’s Envy Bourbon

Angel’s Envy Bourbon ($43) comes courtesy of Lincoln Henderson, a former 40-year veteran of Brown-Forman who was tasked with crafting some of the world’s most popular and widely-consumed whiskeys. Henderson’s latest venture defies rules and corporate expectations as he makes the bourbon he always wanted to make. Angel’s Envy starts with Kentucky-grown corn and rye…

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Good tequila, great value

Tasting Notes: Espolon Reposado Tequila

Crafted from 100% blue agave in the highlands region of Jalisco, Mexico and aged for six months in American oak barrels, Espolon Reposado Tequila ($20) has a rich, golden hue. The nose gives off pleasant aromas of spicy agave, pepper and hints of sweet caramel, and the bold flavors range from roasted agave and sweet…

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A history of the new world in 10 cocktails

Tasting Notes: And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis

William Faulkner once said, “Civilization begins with distillation.” Sounds about right. The more history you read, the more entwined it becomes with booze, and not just because you’re often drinking while reading. In his book And a Bottle of Rum ($11), travel writer Wayne Curtis tells the tale of rum-soaked America, from its innocent beginnings…

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Bottled History

Tasting Notes: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac

Don’t be confused by the name. This Cognac isn’t 171 years old; rather, it’s fashioned in the style of “three-star” Cognacs that were consumed around 1840. Those Cognacs were very mixable and often bottled at a higher proof (Pierre Ferrand 1840 rings in at 90 proof) than today’s Cognacs, which are primarily meant for sipping….

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Sip, savor, repeat

Tasting Notes: Ron Abuelo 7 Anos Rum

Ron Abuelo 7 Anos Rum ($23) hails from Panama where it’s produced entirely from estate-grown sugar cane. It’s a rich blend of rums hand-selected by the Master Blender and aged for seven years in small oak barrels, which gives the rum a rich, mellow and refined flavor. In the glass, the rum is a lovely…

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Vodka, With Flavor. Not Flavored Vodka.

Tasting Notes: Reyka Vodka

In the world of vodka, there’s more parity than any other spirit category, and there’s seemingly a new vodka on the market each week. Given the competition, most resort to lifestyle claims for differentiation tactics – and to justify steep prices – rather than focusing on what’s in the bottle. Bucking that trend is Reyka…

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Liquor from a beer state

Tasting Notes: Death’s Door White Whisky

The unaged whiskey category is alive and well, with product offerings available from heavy hitters like Buffalo Trace and artisan producers like Death’s Door. Death’s Door White Whisky ($30) is distilled in Wisconsin and made from a blend of local wheat and malted barley. As the name implies, the spirit lacks the gold, amber or…

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Small Batches and Pretty Bottles

Tasting Notes: Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado Tequila

Milagro makes a full range of quality tequilas – silver, reposado and anejo – each distilled in small batches from 100% blue agave grown in the Jalisco highlands. In addition to the base lineup, Milagro offers its line of Select Barrel Reserve tequilas, which are produced from hand-selected agave meeting specific quality requirements. Milagro Select…

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Czech It Out

Tasting Notes: Becherovka Liqueur

More than two centuries old, Becherovka ($26) is a bitter herbal liqueur hailing from the Czech town of Karlovy Vary. The top-secret recipe includes a mix of more than 20 herbs and spices blended with aromatic oils and mineral-rich water. It’s the number one imported spirit from the Czech Republic, but until its recent distribution…

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Hand-crafted in Austin, TX

Tasting Notes: Treaty Oak Platinum Rum

Rum: the storied beverage that fueled the slave trade and pirates, and still fuels tropical vacations. Texas: the larger-than-life state of red meat and cold beer. Merging the two dissociated subjects is Austin-based Treaty Oak Platinum Rum ($25), a spirit containing only Texas ingredients, including molasses from the last operating sugar mill in the state….

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That’s right, Tasmania

Tasting Notes: Lark Tasmanian Whisky

Though most malt whiskeys emanate from Scotland, other countries including the U.S.A., Japan and even India produce some terrific drams. Established in 1992, Tasmania’s Lark Distillery makes one of those worldly whiskeys that’s impressed us with both its heritage and its single cask offerings. Lark Tasmanian Whisky ($100-$150) is available in three expressions: 86 proof…

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On July 27th, Celebrate Accordingly

Tasting Notes: National Scotch Day and The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

It’s not that we ever need a reason to drink, but when one presents itself – especially one of such distinction as National Scotch Day – we’re obliged to raise our glass. The origin of this boozy holiday, like most, is shrouded in mystery and probably found life on the cocktail napkin of some marketing…

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Aged Ale

Tasting Notes: Odell Brewing Co Woodcut No. 5 Oak Aged Belgian Style Quad Ale

After last year’s release of their oak aged lager, Odell went back to their woodcut roots. This time, though, the crafting process was applied toward the creation of a Belgian style quad ale. The company has become a bit of an aging aficionado, which included an expansion of their brewery and the addition of a…

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Two casks, one great whiskey

Tasting Notes: Bowmore Islay Darkest 15-Year Single Malt Scotch

Bowmore produces a full range of Scotch whiskeys, from the entry-level 12 year old bottle to the 25-year, plus some really rare drams that sell for thousands at auction. One of the most interesting in the whole lineup though is Bowmore Darkest ($70), aged 15 years. Bowmore Darkest is an apt name for this whiskey….

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From Peru to you

Tasting Notes: Pisco Portón

In the mid-to-late 1800s, pisco was all over San Francisco, shipped up the coast from Peru to quench the thirst of hopeful gold miners who moved west in 1849. Pisco Punch was the most popular cocktail at the time, and in general, life was good for pisco producers until Prohibition ended its rampant supply. Since…

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A boozy tribute to Kentucky

Tasting Notes: 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon

Named for the year that Kentucky became a state, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve ($28) is a handcrafted small batch bourbon from the whiskey-soaked hills of Bardstown. Created with a high percentage of rye grains, aged for eight years and bottled at 93.7 proof, this bourbon is spicy, complex and full-bodied. On the nose, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve…

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Before Gin, there was Genever

Tasting Notes: Bols Genever

Originally produced as medicine in the late 1500s by a Dutch chemist, genever was a spirit distilled from malt wine. It was strong and not particularly tasty, but juniper berries and herbs were added to improve the flavor. Soon genever was a favorite drink among the people of Holland. It eventually made its way to…