Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stone Brewery Double Bastard Ale

This past week Stone Brewery released their tenth edition of the Double Bastard Ale, a doubled up version of their popular Arrogant Bastard Ale. I have loved the Arrogant Bastard for many years now and the Double Bastard is just that much better. It pours are golden copper color with a thin white head that dissipates quickly. The nose is kind of sweet with notes of caramael and cane sugar with a slight bit of citrus from the hops. At first taste the Double Bastard comes across well balanced between the sweetness of the malts and the bitterness of the hops, but as the beer lingers the hops really start to show through. I get flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, anise and citrus and since this beer is 10.5% ABV the flavors are intense and dominating.
$6.99/22 oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Friday, November 6, 2009

Glenrothes Select Reserve Single Malt Scotch

For 125 years, The Glenrothes Single Speyside Malt has been recognized by distillers as one of the finest of all single malt whiskies. It is the long and careful maturation in cask that forms the distinctive character of The Glenrothes. Glenrothes challenged John Sutherland, their Distiller, to find some exceptional casks to bottle as his 'Select Reserve'. This is the first non-vintage statement whisky produced by Glenrothes, as the vintage bottlings tend to sell out quick. The yougest vintage in this bottling is from 1998 making this Glenrothes available year around. The result is a whisky with aromas of dried fruit, coconut and vanilla. Followed by delicious ripe fruits, fresh citrus flavors with oak-infused vanilla and a hint of spice, plus a typically creamy texture on the palate.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

This is perfect for a Thanksgiving treat! This is the pride and joy of one of the most prominent Bourbon distillers, Austin Nichols. Rare Breed is a blend of 6yr, 8yr and 12 yr old Wild Turkey, and is bottled uncut at barrel proof. The nose is fruity and sweet with aromas mostly of honey, with hints of light oranges, mint, and tones of sweet pipe tobacco. The finish is long, warm and nutty and lingers in the mouth with hints of hot peppers and well-toasted whole wheat bread. The first taste is of oak, followed by the honey, slightly more assertive than the also impressive 12 Year Old, yet possessing of a slightly smoother character than the 101 proof 8 year old bottling. This spirit is best enjoyed slowly, and followed with as fat a cigar following your Thanksgiving meal.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2007 Caitec Pinot Noir

A great Pinot Noir from a region you wouldn't expect, Patagonia, Argentina. When it comes to Pinot Noir I am usually more likely to choose a French Red Burgundy or something from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, but this one really surprised me. The vineyard is located on the banks of the Neuquen River that stretches throughout Patagonia. The nose exudes aromas of cherry, blueberry and fresh herbs. Flavors of cherry and plum lead into a nice acidity balanced with some tannins. The finish is soft but acidic while the cherry flavors linger for a few moments.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Odell's Brewing Company India Barley Wine

At the beginning of October Odell's Brewing Company released their India Barley Wine, the second release in a series of 750ml bombers offerings. This beer is part double IPA and part Barley wine and is both and neither at the same time. This specialty brew is both unique and complex with huge amounts of malts and hops. Don't be turned off by the little green specks floating around as they are chucks of hops leftover from fermentation and help accentuate the huge hoppy aromas. Pours a nice creamy golden color with slight greenish hue to foamy head. Aromas of malts and hops give way to dried fruit. While the palate is both sweet and bitter with strong hoppy flavors with lots of grapefruit and a touch of mango. The finish is well balanced between the bitter flavors of the double IPA and the caramelly sweetness of the barley wine.

Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Friday, October 16, 2009

Glenrothes 8 year old Single Malt Scotch

Established in 1878 in the Speyside region of Scotland, the Glenrothes distillery has been well known for producing superb single malt scotches all over the world. The Glenrothes 8 year old is not a typical distillery release, but has been aged and bottled by an independent bottler, Gordan & MacPhail. This scotch is best served neat and has a fruity nose with hints of of green apples and gooseberries with some malty cereal notes. The palate is sweet with fruity,floral and grassy flavors with hints of dark chocolate, hazelnuts and tobacco. The finish is short and clean with notes salt water and used sherry oak. A pleasant everyday dramming single malt bottled by Gordon & MacPhail one of the most respected independent bottlers of fine scotch whisky. Without Gordon & MacPhail a lot of the great single malt scotches would have been lost forever.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2006 La Spinetta Ca di Pian Barbera d'Asti

This is one of the best Barberas on the market and it is by one of my favorite Italian producers. From the prestigious area of Piedmont, Italy this wine is 100% Barbera from the Asti region from 20 year old vines. After harvest the wine spends 6 to 7 days in rotofermenters at a controlled temperature then transfer into new and used french oak barrels for 12 months. The color is ruby red with a touch of purple with intense aromas of red cherries, blueberries and cassis. The palate is fresh and fruity with a nice acidity the balances well with tannins. The finish is smooth and acidic with just a touch of dark chocolate showing through. This pairs well with all sorts of appetizers and strong cheeses.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Avery Brewing Company DuganA IPA

After much anticipation Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, CO has finally released the Dugana IPA after two years of experimentation, many test batches and countless tasting sessions. This beer was created for those who enjoy their Maharajah Imperial IPA but wanted a similar tasting beer that could be drank on a more regular basis. Many craft drinkers believe that the market is currently flooded with quality IPAs, and they are right, however the guys down at Avery say that they are just beer lovers that can't themselves from making new beers. This IPA has loads and loads of flowery hop aromas just leaping out of the glass. After smelling it I expected it to be a crazy hop bomb, but was pleasantly surprised that the palate was very well balanced with touch of that caramel flavor found on most Imperial IPAs. Finishes bitter, dry and incredibly long.
$7/ 22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Friday, September 25, 2009

Travis Hasse's Apple Pie Liqueur

In rural Missouri you can step into any tavern and upon request ask the bartender for their homemade version of apple pie liqueur. This is the case with tavern owner Travis Hasse who joined the tradition by blending a rich mash of fruit and spices with neutral grain spirits. The result is this 40 proof liqueur really does taste like apple pie, with a kick of coarse. This recipe blends neutral grain spirits with apple juice, cinnamon, as well as, other baking spices which produces a tasty libation that has intense aromas and flavors of baked apples and cinnamon. This is a keeper for cocktail mixing and can be served warm or cold. Apple Pie Martini: pour 6-8 oz. Apple Pie Liqueur and 1 oz. premium vodka into a martini shaker, strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2007 Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache

This has been one of my favorite go-to reds for the past year or so. Something I like to keep around the house for when I want a glass of red without going into something that has more prestige or is at a higher price. Spanish Grenache, most commonly know as Garnacha, I find to be some of the most versatile wines on the market, they are not to heavy, not to light, have good fruit and lovely hints of spice and earth. This wine pours a great deep ruby color with extraordinary aromas of raspberry and kirsch liqueur. The palate is medium bodied with flavors of cherries and raspberries with hints of licorice, black pepper and minerals. A great wine at a great price!

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Belgium Hoptober Golden Ale

Once again another new seasonal beer from New Belgium. This Hoptober (not to be confused for an Oktoberfest style) will be released as their fall seasonal. This Golden Ale is comprised of five hops (Centennial, Cascade, Sterling, Willamette, and Glacier) and four malts, in which the pale and wheat malts are mashed together with rye and oats. The beer pours with clear golden color and foamy white head with aromas of citrus. Flavors of grapefruit very prevalent throughout the palate with a slight hint orange. The finish is crisp and dry but is short lived. Overall this new seasonal from New Belgium was okay, but really it reminded me of a water downed IPA.
$8/ 6-pack bottles

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2008 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel

Seghesio Family Vineyards produces some of the best Zinfandels on the market. Last year the 2007 vintage received 93 points from Wine Spectator and was ranked #10 in the Top 100 Wines of 2008. Because of this press the wine disappeared quickly off the market so be sure to snag a few bottles of the 2008 vintage before they are all gone. The nose is loaded with berries with notes of licorice and spice that lead into a full bodied layered palate. Surprisingly the palate shows elegance and balance especially when considering the huge amount of alcohol that lies beneath the surface. The finish is long lasting and tannic with hints of dark chocolate starting to show. This wine is absolutely delicious and is everything I think of when drinking Californian Zinfandel.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stone Brewery Vertical Epic 09/09/09

On 9-9-09 Stone brewery released the eighth edition of their Vertical Epic Series exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day from the previous years release. These beers are built and designed to be aged until sometime after 12-12-2012, but good luck keeping your hands off of it. This years release is a Belgium style ale brewed with spices and is in fact a complex and layered beer. This beer pours toasty brown color with a creamy caramel colored head. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate and citrus leap out of the glass and make the first sip intriguing. Smooth chocolate malts meld well with the Belgium yeast giving it slight banana flavor and hints of baking spice. The addition of tangerine peel balances the palate with notes citrus. The finish is smooth and lingering with additional flavors of vanilla and toasty french oak.
$7/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Appleton Estate VX Rum

On my recent trip to Jamaica the only thing that made the heat and humidity tolerable was sipping on the Appleton Estate VX Blended Rum. A huge step up in quality from their basic Appleton Special Gold Rum, the VX is a blended rum comprised of various types of rum that are aged between 5 and 10 years, blended in oak vats and aged for a few more months in oak. The end result is rum that is somewhere between a white and dark rum with aromas of molasses, brown sugar and vanilla. The flavors of maple syrup are balanced with oak which tones down the sweetness of this rum while adding citrus and nutty flavors. The finish is creamy, mellow and dry but is long lasting just enough for you to get to your next sip. This is an excellent introduction into the aged rum category that doesn't break the bank.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2006 Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache

Another knock out from one of my favorite producers from Australia! The Wallace by Ben Glaetzer is named so as it is the old family name of Ben's grandmother Judith whose ancestors hailed from town of Cupar in Fife, Scotland. The wine itself is infusion of two classic grapes, Shiraz and Grenache, from the prestigious sub-region of Ebenezer in the Barossa Valley. Aged in used French and American oak for 14 months this blend of 80% Shiraz and 20% Grenache has ripe aromas of cracked pepper, blueberries and toffee. The palate is balanced between the Shiraz, which contributes weight, texture and richness with flavors black berry and blueberry. While the Grenache adds sweet cherry, strawberry and earthy characters. This wine is definitely drinking well now but if you do cellar it would be a very nice treat in about 5 years.

Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great Divide 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

On June 6th the Great Divide Brewing Company celebrated 15 years of business. To kick off the celebration they released their Wood Aged Double IPA, an intensified, oak aged version of their popular Denver Pale Ale. This pours a great copper color with a creamy white head. The pungent aromas of grapefruit from the hops and vanilla from the oak show a great intensity, however I felt the taste was a little lacking. At first taste the hops really show through, however as the beer warms the oak really starts to show with strong flavors of vanilla extract that make this double IPA almost sweet to the palate and takes away all the bitterness from the hops.
$8/ 22 oz. Bomber
Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky

Rye whisky was one of the first whiskey types to be distilled in the United States, mainly distilled in the Northeastern regions of the U.S. Unlike popular belief blended Canadian whiskey is not rye whisky. This belief comes from the time of prohibition when bootleggers were smuggling whisky across the border from Canada where rye was a dominating crop. The bootleggers would take one barrel of rye whisky and blend it with neutral grain whiskey to turn one barrel of rye whisky into four barrels of blended Canadian whiskey. One of the distinctive characteristics of Rittenhouse is that it is bottled in bond, which means it had at least four years of cask aging and is at least 100 proof. The extra aging gives the whisky more complexity than some of the other ryes I have tried and makes it a worthy substitution for other American or Canadian whiskeys, especially in cocktails. For a classic Manhattan cocktail add 3 parts Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky to 1 part sweet vermouth, stir with ice and strain into a glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Avery Brewing Company 'The Kaiser' Imperial Oktoberfest

I look forward to the release of this beer every year. I truly enjoy Oktoberfest beers and this is ranked up there among my top favorites. The Kaiser is brewed with imported German malted barley, noble hops, authentic German lager yeast and cool Rocky Mountain water which are all intensified to bring this beer to 9.73% ABV. This beer pours a copper color with an orange tinge and a small white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Aromas of malt, dried red berries and figs extend out of the glass bringing you classic aromas of Okotberfest marzen styles. Flavors of sweet malts and yeast linger on the palate with some alcohol warming. The finish is smooth and long with malty flavors pulsing the whole way through.
$8/22 oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2006 Casa Barranca Cabernet Sauvignon

Organic wines are all the rage right now and this is an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the first certified organic wineries in the California. There is a common misconception that organic wines do not contain sulfites, this is absolutely wrong. Sulfites naturally occur during the fermentation process, so unfortunately there is no getting around the sulfites. However, most organic wineries do not add any additional sulfites to their wines like some non-organic wineries do as the sulfites act as a preservative. This wine is a classic blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot and offers lovely aromas of cassis, violets and cedar. The lively palate exudes with flavors of black currant and raspberry accented with vanilla and oak leading to a long round tannic finish.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kubler Swiss Absinthe Superieure

The restriction on absinthe was lifted last summer and ever since this European cult cocktail has been making a lasting impression on the states. Kubler Absinthe is distilled in the Val de Travers region of Switzerland, known as the birthplace of absinthe. It was first produced in 1863 and was the first brand legally sold in Switzerland after the ban was lifted in March, 2005. Made according to the original Swiss formula this absinthe is not green in color but rather clear with the primary ingredients being herbs grande wormwood and anise. Kubler uses a base spirit distilled from Swiss wheat that includes hyssop, lemon balm, coriander, star anise, Roman wormwood, mint and fennel. Pour one shot absinthe into a a tumbler, place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon (a tablespoon will work also), douse the sugar cube with the absinthe, light in on fire and let the sugar melt into the glass. Next fill the glass with water to give the cocktail a creamy white color. If you like black licorice you will love this.
$47/1 liter

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hacker Pschorr Sternweisse

One of Munich's first wheat beers. This unique honey golden beer is brewed according to a traditional recipe using the greatest care, technical skill, premium ingredients and in accordance with the Rhienheitsgebot (Purity Law) of 1516. This beer has a slightly hazy dark orange hue when poured. The aroma is a bit yeasty much like that of dark bread with notes of citrus, banana and herbs that fill your nose. Hacker-Pschorr Sternweisse's taste opens with a malt, yeast and clove spiciness with sweet banana flavor and and orange notes quickly follow. As the beer warms some find hints of cinnamon and other baking spices begin to creep out. The swing top bottle first developed in 1877 and was released in 2002 shows a commitment to brewing tradition and expertise. The swing top bottle conveys a sensation of freshness when opening the bottle for the first time, it also makes the fresh and authentic beer flavor last even longer.
$3/500ml single bottle

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2007 Charles Smith Eve Chardonnay

This is a great summer Chardonnay, a much leaner and crisper style not typically seen in domestic Chardonnays and it is refreshing to find a domestically produced Chardonnay that is not buttery or over done with oak. This wine is reminds me of some white Burgundies, such as Chablis, with its chalk minerality and floral aromas. Eventhough this wine has a bit of old world character you still find the enormouse amount of red apple aromas and flavors that are pretty distinctive of Washington State Chardonnay. The palate is lean but full bodied with well balanced flavors of red apple, melon and honey leading to a crisp but lingering finish.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve is matured for most of its life in traditional oak casks then, a portion is aged in new, specially coopered French Limousin oak casks. The final marriage of the whiskies from the Limousin and traditional oak barrels produces a unique, smooth spiciness that complements The Glenlivet's mellow fruity flavors. Scotch whisky is not traditionally aged in Limousin oak, they are generally reserved for the aging fine wine, making this distinctive maturation an innovative process that reflects the pioneering history of The Glenlivet itself. The aromas are both intense and sweet with notes of cedar and citrus surrounded by vanilla. The palate is beautifully structured with well-balanced flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and mandarin oranges with a touch of pepper. The finish is long and sweet with floral notes and flavors of honey and vanilla.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2006 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz

I just tried this today and thought it was a fantastic Shiraz for the money. Unlike many of the Shiraz produced out of Australia, this wine is not the huge fruit bomb you typically find out of the land down under. It is actually a bit more old worldish in style offering a bit of spice and earth layered within the dark berry flavors. The Lodge Hill vineyard is one of the highest vineyards in the Clare Valley, where they can grow Riesling on the cooler, less sunny side and Shiraz on the warmer side, ensuring both cool nights and warm days for the Shiraz portion of the vineyard. The color is deep and dark in the glass with big, ripe and juicy aromas of plum, black cherry and dark chocolate. The high alcohol and silky tannins make the palate balance perfectly between the huge fruit flavors and peppery spice.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Monday, July 27, 2009

Green Flash Brewing Co. Le Freak

The brewers at Green Flash Brewing Company have really out done themselves with this convergence of beer styles where American Imperial IPA meets Belgium trippel. The end result is a zesty brew with enticing American hops and Belgian yeast aromatics that lead you to delicious malts and a complex layering of hop flavors that quench and refresh your pallet. When you pour it you notice its orangish amber color with a huge amount of American hops on the nose with notes of citrus. The palate itself feels heavy at first but then leaves you with a silky smooth mouth full of yeast and hops beautifully layered with fruity flavors of banana and grapefruit.
$7/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka

Tea flavored vodka, I know it almost sounds ridiculous but this flavored vodka sensation has been taking the country by storm all summer long. I was a little sceptical at first but when you actually sit down and try it this flavored vodka tastes just like a great glass of ice tea. It is not as sweet as the label may lead you to believe, unlike a lot of those southern tea brews although it is sweet enough to be refreshing. The tea flavor is genuine made with tea leaves grown just five miles from the company's distillery in Charleston, South Carolina. This stuff makes a great spiked Arnold Palmer just add 1 part sweet tea vodka to 1 part Lemonade fill with ice and garnish with a lemon. Be careful though, this stuff goes down a little to easily and will definitely get you into trouble if you don't watch it.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2007 Adelsheim Pinot Gris

Some of my favorite domestic wines come from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio but they typically are a bit more concentrated and rich with its flavors than its Italian counterpart. Crisp and bright flavors have always gone hand in hand with the Adelsheim Pinot Gris. In this 2007 vintage you find delicate aromas of pear, peach and apple skins that lead you to a refreshing palate with just the right amount of acidity that keeps it light and lively. Flavors of nectarine, citrus and melons show through nicely with just a touch of minerality. The finish is surprisingly creamy which lends a mouth filling texture and extends the finish longer than you would expect from a wine that starts off so crisp and clean.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2008 Gouden Carolus Cuvee de Keizer Blauw

Every year on the 24th of February Gouden Carolus brews the Cuvee de Keizer Blauw, or "Grand Cru of the Emperor" to celebrate the birthday of Charles V. The Cuvee de Keizer is brewed uniquely with only fine Belgium hops and with it being 11% ALC/VOL. this beer will age extremely well over the next several years with a complexity and intensity usually reserved for only the finest wines. This beer pours with a deep caramel color and golden tan head with aromas plums, raisins and wood leaping out of the glass. The palate starts of with sweet caramel that soon gives way to fruity flavors of figs and plums with a slight tart quality. The finish is long and mouth filling as the Belgium hops flex their muscles making it both sweet and bitter at the same time. It is still a little young so if you can keep your hands off of it the 2008 Cuvee de Keizer will only continue to develop over the next couple of years. What a treat!

Rating: 9.7 out of 10

Friday, July 17, 2009

Drumguish Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Drumguish is a five year single malt whisky produced at the Speyside Distillery. The distillery takes its name from the original Speyside Distillery in Kingussie which started in 1895 and only produced until 1905. It was demolished in 1911. The pure local water coloured and flavoured by the peat of the Cairngorm mountains, together with the fine malted barley from the Moray Firth region, and,of course, our unsurpassed attention to detail. The nose is soft and medium sweet, with a slight bit of fresh earthy peat. The palate was lighter than most highland single malts with medium dry flavors of mint with a gentle smokiness and a little bit of sea salt. The finish is where you notice the salt and peat the most, but it still has a small amount of the sweetness that highland single malts are known for. An excellent value single malt scotch.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXI

On June 27, 2009 the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, OR turned 21 years old and to commemorated this achievement they released a limited batch of Black Butte XXI. This is a doubled up, barrel aged version of the popular Black Butte Porter. This imperial porter is loaded with hops and malts, a healthy amount of coffee, cocoa nibs and is barrel aged in used bourbon barrels. It pours black as night with roasty aromas with hints of almonds, dried berries and chocolate. The palate is loaded with hops, strong notes of bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans and red berries. The flavors are all very complex, however they meld together to create a wonderful drinking experience. Unlike many cocoa porters this beer doesn't come across sweet, in fact it is just the opposite providing a nicely well balance bitterness that incorporates the cocoa instead of it being the defining feature.
$11/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.6 out of 10

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2005 Luigi Bosca Malbec Lujan de Cuyo D.O.C.

This is the only Malbec from Argentina that I have seen labeled with a D.O.C. (Denominacion de Origen Controlada) classification. Typically you see these types of classifications on European wine labels, especially those from France and Italy, where there are much more strict laws governing winemaking. The D.O.C. of Lujan de Cuyo was established in 1989 with the objective of protecting and regulating the Malbec variety, which is native to the region. A wine labeled with the D.O.C. certification must comply with the strict protocol that begins at the vineyard and finishes once the wine is produced, after getting the go ahead from the Regulating Board. The grapes come from 70 year old vines and sees 14 months in oak barrels. It shows an intense shade of violet with ripe cherry and plum aromas followed by a palate that is spiced with hints of mocha and blackberry summed up by a velvety tannic finish.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hendrick's Gin

If you are like me whiskies and other brown spirits are little to heavy for me during the summer months. That is why when the temperatures are up I turn to Gin and Hendrick's is probably the most complex and unique Gin I have ever had, however it is not for everyone. In fact, the pamphlet that comes with the bottle boasts that it is "Preferred by 1 out of 1000 Gin drinkers". Hendrick's is distilled in small batches in Ayrshire, Scotland using a rare distillation process using a Carter-Head Still that was built in the 19th century, was full restored by their full time coppersmith and there are only 3 others like it in the world. The botanicals are infused as the Gin is distilled first with the essential oils pressed from the petals of Bulgarian Rose. Next comes the coup de grace, or mashed cucumber that is mixed with cold water. This is what gives Hendrick's its unique flavors and makes it a whiskey lover's Gin.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Friday, July 10, 2009

Full Sail Brewing Company Sessions Black Lager

Just because a beer is dark does not mean that it is heavy, in fact some of the most famous darker beer are actually quite light. The darker color of these beers comes from the use of roasted malts, which is basically barley or wheat roasted until the grain has a dark brown color. The Sessions Black Lager is truly unique with its old school squatty bottle, its retro looking label and great flavor. The beauty of Sessions is that it is not a microbrew, not a macrobrew nor an import, it is all of them and none of them at the same time. The beer itself is smooth, dark and surprisingly refreshing with initial tastes of chocolate and caramel malts with a touch of citrus. The hops and malts are balanced nicely providing a long, smooth and slightly bitter finish. Definitely a beer I will drink all summer long!
$13/12 pack

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2007 Michael-David Vineyards Petite Petit

This is the latest installation from Micheal-David Vineyards, who proudly make the popular Seven Deadly Zins. In my opinion, this is by far the best wine I have had from them. This wine is properly named since it is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petite Verdot, and with the way U.S. wine laws are you would usually see this style blend just labeled 'Petite Sirah' since there is more than 75% of Petite Sirah in the blend. When you pour it into your glass you first notice the deep purple color that leads to nose full of plums, violets and baking spices. The palate is big and bold with flavors of plum, blackberry and currant that almost slap you in the face. The wine is aged for 14 months in French oak which adds a slight vanilla flavor in the already smooth and everlasting finish.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ommegang Abbey Ale

I broke this beer out at a barbecue the other day to show one of my neighbors what real beer is, needless to say he put down his Miller Lite and wanted to drink my entire bottle. Brewery Ommegang was started in 1997 in a traditional Belgium style farmhouse located four miles south of Cooperstown, New York. Demand became so overwhelming that in 2003 Brewery Ommegang was sold to the Belgium brewery responsible for Duvel Golden Ale and now Ommegang brews are made both in Belgium and Cooperstown. This particular brew is made in Belgium is the first beer produced by Ommegang and was inspired by the ales produced by the Belgium Trappist monks. This beer pours nicely into a dark red brown color with a nice fat foamy head. The aromas are full of Belgium yeast as well as some fruity and nutty notes. The palate is full and robust with breadiness that dissipates to fruitiness as you reach the exquisite finish.

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Sunday, July 5, 2009

2007 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

It can be difficult to find good Pinot Noirs under the $30 price range, mainly because Pinot Noir is a very low yielding vine and it can only be grown in certain pockets of the world unlike Cabernet Sauvignon that can pretty much be grown wherever. However, the Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is one of the few good quality Pinot Noirs that is priced under $25. Aromas of strawberry, Bing cherries, raspberries and mocha leap out of the glass. The palate is well balanced with a good acid backbone and exhibits flavors of pomegranate and cranberry. This is not your typical fruit driven Pinot that are usually seen out of California, which is mainly caused by the cooler climate of Santa Barbara County. A fantastic value!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ska Brewing True Blonde Dubbel

I brought this 22oz. waxed capped Belgium style Pale Strong Ale over to a friend's house and happily sipped it away for hours. When you first pour it you notice its hazy golden yellow color with a thick creamy head. The aromas come off sweet with notes of caramel roasted hops, citrus and apples. The palate has a sugary sweetness with yeasty, honey, and fruity flavors surrounded by caramel roasted malt that leads into a long, slightly bitter finish. With such intense aromas I was expecting a little more from the palate, which I found to be a little flat. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful craft beer for the summer time.
$6/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crystal Head Vodka

New to the market, the New Crystal Head Vodka has already gain a huge amount of buzz on the Internet from the latest video of Dan Aykroyd showing off his new vodka in the interesting crystal skull bottle. The bottle itself is supposedly reminiscent of the 13 crystal skulls unearthed around the globe that date as far back as 35,000 years ago. The crystal skulls are supposed to possess spiritual powers that enlighten anyone how touches them. If you are thinking what I am thinking, this sounds a lot like the latest Indiana Jones movie. The vodka is triple filtered through polished crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds and is free of additives.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2006 Juan Gil Jumilla

This wonderful Spanish red has done nothing but impress me vintage after vintage. The Jumilla region of southern Spain is located in the province of Murcia along with other notable appellations, such as Yecla. Monastrell, known as Mourvedre in most parts of the world, is the primary grape grown and produced in Jumilla and the Jual Gil is an excellent introduction into both the region and the grape. The grapes are selected from 40-year-old vines, which are grown in chalky soil with arid conditions that lead to very low yielding vines. After a 25 day sur lie maceration the grapes are pressed and aged for 12 months in French oak. This all leads to a wine that has deep rich color, intense aromas of smoked wood, earth and blueberries, with a complex, supple and long palate. This wine will continue to evolve over the next 5 years, drink from 2010 to 2015.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2006 Rivetto Nebbiolo d'Alba 'Lirano'

This is hands down one of the best values in Nebbiolo wine available on the market today and with it being priced around $15 it has been dubbed by many as the "poor man's Barolo". Nebbiolo is, of coarse, the same grape varietal used in the making of the very prestigious wines of Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont Italy. What I love about Nebbiolo wines is that they are light to medium bodied like a Pinot Noir, but has the tannin structure of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Kind of the best of both worlds. This particular Nebbiolo is a bit more new world in style than most others with an alcohol content pushing 14.0% and a more fruit driven character. Classic floral aromas reminiscent of roses lead you into light to medium bodied palate with flavors of bright cherry fruits with a firm but soft structure and a smooth lingering finish. This is a wine that everyone must try!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Belgium Lips of Faith Biere de Mars

The best beer New Belgium has ever produced is back! A few years ago this beer was sold as a seasonal six pack available throughout the months of March and April and then out of the blue they stop producing it. This was a beer I look forward to every year and I was hugely disappointed when I couldn't get it anymore. I jumped for joy when I heard that New Belgium was re-releasing this beer as part of their new Lips of Faith bomber series. This classic farmhouse style beer comes originally comes from Walloon region of southern Belgium. The Bière de Mars is a fresh, bready amber ale made with barley, wheat and oats but possessing a slightly tart flavor. It is inoculated with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain that spoils many beers but here lends a mild barnyard or grassy, wet hay flavor.
$8.49/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2008 Charles Smith's Kung Fu Girl Riesling

The first time I met Charles Smith was at local distributor tasting in Downtown Denver and the only thing that stood out, other than his wines, was his very eccentric and playful personality. His personality definitely shows through in his winemaking and label choices. The grapes used in the Kung Fu Girl Riesling come from a single rocky vineyard which results in a off dry minerally style Riesling that is very similar to those produced in the Rheingau region of Germany. The nose is bursting with Asian pear, green apples and spring aromas. Apricot, pear, lime, and a pleasant minerality keep this off-dry wine at the perfect level of subtle sweetness. Washington has become one of the most important wine producing states in the United States, and development continues to grow rapidly. In 1969, when California was exploding as a wine producer, Washington had only two wineries, but by 2000 that number had passed 100. This particular Washington State summer wine goes great with sushi or just a relaxing afternoon on the patio.
Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2005 Charles Cimicky Reserve Shiraz

I have always been impressed with the Charles Cimicky wines from the Barossa Valley of Australia and the 2005 Reserve Shiraz is no different. This wine spends 14 months in new oak barrels of which 60% are French oak and 40% are American oak. Dark purple almost black in color this wine will leave a thick purple film on your glass and teeth. Splendid aromas cedar, pepper, bacon blueberry and blackberry lead into a full round palate that is both dense and lush. There are tons of blue and black fruit flavors, ripe smooth tannins and full minute long finish. This is the type of wine that your typical Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon drinker will enjoy because of the fruit driven nature and complexity.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

I had been staring at this beer in my refrigerator all weekend, then I finally got a chance to open last night and it was well worth the wait. The brewers at the Stone Brewing Company, located in Escondido, CA, pride themselves on being able to consistently produce such fine works of art like this truly self-righteous ale. This beer was first produced in 2007 as their annual anniversary edition release and was such a huge hit they had to make more. When you poor it into the glass the color is black as pitch with nose that similar to most imperial IPAs with notes of grapefruit that dissipate to hints of red fruits. The palate was bitter, but a balanced bitterness that comes from both the hops and malts, with hints of cranberries in the beginning and finishes long and dry. ABV 8.7%.
$7/22oz. Bomber

Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Friday, June 19, 2009

Glenmorangie Original Single Malt Scotch

This whisky has been called ‘the perfect ten’ and most Glenmorangie drinkers will readily drink to that! After 10 years in ex-Bourbon casks, the Glenmorangie spirit has had enough time to mature and mellow into a beautifully balanced yet marvellously complex malt whisky. Located in the far north of Scotland the Glenmorangie Distillery was established in 1843 and still to this day perfected by the Sixteen Men of Tain. The intriguing pale golden color leads to light and delicate floral aromas with traces of citrus and vanilla. The palate is well balanced with notes of honeyed nuts that shine through to a short clean finish that leaves delicious juices on your tongue.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2006 Tikal Patriota Bonarda Malbec

I just tried this today and thought it was fantastic, a very unique blend that offers great complexity and flavors. The Medoza region is somewhat pf an oasis, where vineyards produce some of Argentina's finest grapes which are hand selected by Laura Catena of the famous Catena Winery, also located in Mendoza. Bonarda is the second most widely planted grape in Argentina and when blended with the fuller-bodied Malbec you are in for quite a treat. This blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec offers aromas of bright cherry and red fruit with dark purple color. It is like swallowing a whole bowl of mixed ripe berries at once. Big body yet very balanced, with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors. Just a hint of baking spice at the end brings it all together.

Rating 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2007 Gritos Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon

The more I try Argentinian wines the more I am impressed with the complexity and flavors these wines offer. The Gritos Malbec/Cab Sauv is from the Mendoza region of Argentina which is approximately 600 miles west of the of the capital city of Buenos Aires and has become the epicenter of winemaking in Argentina. The Gritos is medium-bodied, intensely ruby red wine offering lovely dark berry aromas and a palate focused on red fruit, plums and figs with a hint of dark chocolate. The sweet and persistent tannins are complimented by aging in French oak barrels which adds a hint of vanilla that leads into a long well balanced finish that shows notes of chocolate and vanilla. This wine is particularly good with grilled meats, poultry dishes and pasta with heavy meat sauces. Enjoy now through 2015.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old Single Malt Scotch

Every time I drink this I remember why I love single malt scotch. The Balvenie Distillery lies at the heart of the great scotch producing region of Speyside, located in the Scottish Highlands. Nowhere else while you find a distillery that grows its own barley, still malts in its own traditional floor maltings and still employs a team of coopers to tend to the stills and a coppersmith to maintain the stills. The Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old gains distinctive character from being matured in two oaks. Over the maturation period the whisky is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. The traditional casks soften and add character to the whisky, while the sherry wood brings depth and a fullness of flavor.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Odell's Brewing Company Woodcut No. 1

I can't believe we have some of last years Woodcut left. This was the first release of Odell's barrel-aging series, released August 2008 this oak aged ale already has a year in bottle making closer to its ready to drink time. Cut from new American oak Odell's Woodcut No. 1 was aged in barrels with a medium toast. The wood imparts flavors of vanilla, almonds, and dried fruits, complementing the caramel malt sweetness. Each Woodcut offering is a truly limited-edition beer with unique flavors that comes from hand selecting special hops, fine malted barley and the brewer's personality. Each bottle is numbered and signed. get it while it lasts!

9.7 out of 10

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum

Bacardi Rums have added Dragon Berry to it's range of flavored rum. The rum combines the taste of tropical dragon fruit with strawberry flavor. Dragon fruit is a beautiful fruit grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel. It is actually the fruit of a type of cactus, and the fruit comes in 3 colors: 2 have pink skin, but with different colored flesh (one white, the other red), while another type is yellow with white flesh. Dragon fruit is low in calories and offers numerous nutrients, including Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, plus fiber and antioxidants. This flavored rum has intense fruity aromas resembling Hawaiian Punch, the palate is warm and sweet then smacks you in the face with the taste dragon fruit and strawberry. I don't usually go for flavored rums, but this would be a nice one to keep around to make some summer cocktails.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10