March 8, 2013
(Image via World Red Eye)
As you may already know, a certain Mr. George Clooney recently added his considerable star power to a new brand of tequila called Casamigos. In doing so Clooney joined a considerable trend of celeb-backed spirits - a few of our favorites are Ludacris (cognac), Dan Aykroyd (vodka) and Marilyn Manson (absinthe). But is Casamigos tequila worth buying - especially at a relatively hefty mid-$40s price tag - or is it the tequila equivalent of a box office flop?
Continue reading: "Casamigos Tequila Review (With Apologies to Mr. Clooney)"
September 4, 2012
These are sample bottles, but yes you can get them in 750ml bottles at retail.
We received several samples of Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, and some Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, and we can safely say - this stuff makes a great drink (see after the jump). How did this new liquor come to be? Cognac Ferrand owner Alexandre Gabriel with help from cocktail historian David Wondrich wanted to recapture the spirit of the quintessential cocktail days of the 1800s and Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula was born.
Back in the nineteenth century, when the art of the cocktail as we know it first came together, barkeepers knew that nothing made for a better mixed drink than a good "three-star" Cognac. Pierre Ferrand 1840 is bottled at 90 proof, higher than most Cognacs, making it exceptionally mixable in cocktails like Crustas, Juleps and Punches.
Continue reading: "Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac"
June 11, 2012
When we receive whiskey around the Liquor Snob offices it's always a cause for celebration. We love whiskey and we love whiskey drinks. The folks from Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey sent us a bottle this week and the promise of a whiskey you could simply drink and make cocktails was delivered upon. This whisky is meticulously handcrafted using the finest hand-selected grain and barley and the whiskey has a smooth, sweet taste with a malty finish.
Now Kilbeggan isn't expensive whiskey at $20 bucks a bottle, but it's also not cheap-tasting. We tried it both alone over ice and also made several drinks including our favorite Punt e mes Manhattan. Everything we had we enjoyed.
Continue reading: "Review: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Delivers on its Promise"
February 7, 2012
We were recently sent a review bottle of Trader Joe's new-ish tequila product, AKA Trader Jose's Premium Silver Tequila. This is a 100% agave spirit that weighs in at a fairly standard 80 proof (40% ABV) and costs in the neighborhood of seventeen bucks ($17). Trader Joe's is a brand we always associate with good quality at a reasonable price - so how does it taste when Joe dips his toe into tequila?
Since they're not aged, many silver or white tequilas run a bit hotter than your reposados or anejos, but that doesn't mean they can't be delicious. In fact, we here at Liquor Snob tend more toward a silver than the aged varieties, especially when mixing typical cocktails. We found this one to have a sweet floral nose heavy on good old agave, which was very appealing without burning our nose hairs.
When we tasted it had a hint of smokey grass, a big wallop of agave, and a slightly bitter finish. All in all we thought it was tasty straight, and the flavor was improved greatly on the rocks. It was great for most people's typical tequila needs - you know, margaritas and body shots - and measured up well with tequilas that were a smidge pricer...maybe $20-$25.
All in all we thought Trader Jose put a good foot forward with this tequila and it feels like a good addition to your shopping cart between the plantain chips and the frites.
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August 1, 2011
We've waxed poetic before about Nolet's Dry gin, the new botanical spirit from the family that brings you Ketel One vodka, so we can probably just cut to the chase - it's good, and you should buy it if you have even the slightest taste for gin. It has a mild and floral scent, reminiscent of roses and lavender, berries and pitted fruits, with a hint of juniper. When we tasted it we were struck by the smooth flavor, the long finish, and the delicate warmth.
Here's what Nolet's have to say on their website:
This floral and fruit-forward gin is bottled at 47.6 % Alc./Vol. (95.2 Proof) and expresses the essence of three coveted ingredients: Turkish rose, white peach and raspberry.
Nolet Silver is a nice alternative for folks who like a certain Scottish gin, and want to expand their horizons. It's not cheap, weighing in somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, but it's worth the money if you're looking to put that little something special in a cocktail.
We were sent some excellent recipes to use Nolet's in along with the sample bottle provided to us by their representatives, and we wanted to share those with you as well...they call for some exotic ingredients but offer substitutions if you can't get your hands on them. Find the recipes after the jump.
Continue reading: "Nolet's Silver Dry Gin Review"
February 23, 2011
The Bitter Truth - E**X**R
Amaro-style herbal liqueur
60 Proof (30% ABV)
The Bitter Truth
They Say: "E**X**R is velvety smooth while at the same time clean, aromatic and herbaceous. It embodies the caramel sweetness of port and the bitter flavors of a classic Italian Amaro."
We Say: We're fans of The Bitter Truth bitters, and we were surprised when we heard they were making a liqueur. The nose is bitter, which is to be expected, and most folks would acquaint the smell with a certain famous herbal liqueur called Jagermeister. The flavor is sweeter than we expected up front, with a lingering herbal taste that lasts, and it feels a bit syrupy on the tongue. At the end it's much closer to a Fernet than a Jager, and it's something we'd like to experiment more with in terms of cocktails. One of the recipes on the website is E**X**R and Ginger, which we mixed and really enjoyed the way the herbal flavors opened up with the ginger beer.
The Verdict: E**X**R is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, smothered in mystery sauce. It starts off sweet and ends up with a pleasant bitterness that will appeal to adventurous drinkers and those who like their drinks with some zazz. Try it in Negronis, or swap it in for vermouth in your favorite drinks - give in to your spirit of adventure and we think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
February 10, 2011
Charbay Whiskey: Release 2
Aged Hopped Whiskey Distilled from Pilsner
110 Proof (55% ABV)
Price: Don't Ask
They Say: "There is no other whiskey out that you can really taste the beer that it's made from. The spice from the hops and the barley flavors are very well balanced with just the right amount of oak."
We Say: It tastes so good when it touches our lips! This is like a "hop schnapps" all grown up into a full-blown whiskey, and our minds are reeling over the adventurousness of the flavor of whiskey and hops. Let's put it this way - if scotch was typically flavored with hops instead of peat, we'd move to Scotland.
The look of the bottle is classy all the way, with that gold-embossed black label, and the nose is excellent - did we mention whiskey and hops? It also smells like hops and whiskey. One of our interns called this the "mullet" of whiskeys - bourbon up front, hops in the rear - but that doesn't really capture the refined tastes you'll get of hops, berries, top-shelf bourbon, pepper and a touch of oak. This is excellent stuff, and if you mix it with cola we will come find you.
The Verdict: Punch your grandmother if that's what it takes to be able to taste this stuff. Seriously. If she loves you she'll be cool with it when you explain why.
Charbay Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey
White Dog Whiskey made from bottle-ready IPA
99 Proof (49.5% ABV)
Price: ~$60 per liter, if you can still get your hands on this limited run
They Say: "The result of using a great IPA is all the hop flavors and two row malty flavors distilled over into the final spirit. The hops give the D&T a fruity, floral, very green spicy character, unlike any other whiskey out there."
We Say: When you're right, you're right, and these Charbay folks are right on, both with their description of Doubled & Twisted and the fact they even made it. What kind of geniuses decide they're going to take a bunch of bottle-ready IPA and distill the hell out of it? To us, it's a discovery so big it's like they invented the wheel, harnessed fire and discovered the lost city of gold, all at once.
The nose was all IPA and the black pepper rawness of an unaged whiskey, without burning our nose hairs. When we tasted it the hops in the IPA came through loud and clear, moreso than we would've expected even, and it has a nice, long hoppy finish we really enjoyed. On the recommendation of Rick from CocktailGoGo we mixed one of our 50ML sample bottles into a Manhattan, and we will never look at the drink the same way again. To paraphrase a certain beer drinking movie, we wished we could freeze it into ice blocks and skate on it, and melt it in the spring time and drink it.
The Verdict: As an unaged product made from high-end ingredients, Doubled & Twisted is the Tarzan of whiskeys - an excellent pedigree, but a bit lacking in table manners. As long as you know you're in for a moonshiney experience, we can see craft beer enthusiasts and whiskey lovers alike going gaga over D&T - assuming, of course, you can get your hands on it.
February 9, 2011
Absolut Wild Tea
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: < $20
They Say: "Absolut tea and elderflower is an unexpected combination of naturally sweet, fruity, floral flavors. Refreshing tea and white elderflower blended with vodka from grain grown in the rich fields of southern Sweden."
We Say: You'll be able to tell this is an Absolut vodka from a mile away thanks to their distinctive round-shouldered bottle, but you might be thrown by the sight of plants and flowers crawling up the side, especially if you don't know what elderflowers look like. Don't be scared - if you like tea or elderflower liqueur, we bet you'll like this one.
The nose is heavy on elderflower, a pungent sweetness, with a bit of black tea's bitterness and complexity on the back end. When you taste it you'll get the same flavors - maybe a sun tea lightly sweetened with an elderflower syrup. The effect is really interesting - not super-sweet like some flavored vodkas, and pretty distinctive all around. We can see this shining in the right cocktail - Absolut's recipes page suggests items from Mojitos to Martinis, and we can see it being delicious with just soda water and a twist.
The Verdict: Pick it up if you're feeling adventurous, or if you just want a splash of something in your iced tea.
January 31, 2011
We got our bottle of Blackbeard Spiced Rum back in October, and if you had put a gun to our heads we would have sworn we reviewed it already, especially considering how bullish we were on the stuff. When it was brought to our attention the review was not online we all pointed fingers at each other and did our usual hair pulling routine but realized that wasn't going to solve the problem. So, with apologies, here is our belated Blackbeard review.
Blackbeard Spiced Rum
"Puerto Rican Rum with Spices and Other Natural Flavors" - 86 proof (43% ABV)
Blackbeard comes in a clear bottle with a striking black and red label, with its namesake pirate menacing you with two swords on the neck, and just chilling in profile down below. Maybe the suggestion is that he already killed you with those swords - we're not sure.
The nose is all kinds of vanilla and caramel, with a hint of oak and other spices. When we sipped, the vanilla and caramel definitely stayed out in front, with a hint of heat from cinnamon and other spices playing over our tongues. All our reviewers agreed we liked the level of vanilla sweetness and spice, and we all agreed we enjoyed it more than the syrupy sweetness of some big-name pirate rums out there, not that we're naming any names for fear of being keelhauled. We liked the spiciness at the finish that was accompanied by a slightly citrusy tang as well.
All in all Blackbeard is an excellent showing among the spiced rums we've tried, and an excellent value at around $15 for 750ML and under $20 for a liter. We can see this particular pirate sailing off the shelves, especially for folks who are looking for a change of pace from all those Captains and Admirals out there peddling spiced rum. This was our favorite spiced rum of 2010, and we plan to keep ourselves well-stocked.
December 10, 2010
Our local package delivery man (that sounds a bit dirty) was kind enough to drop off another gurgling box at the Liquor Snob offices today, and once we tore it open we saw it was a bottle of Revel Stoke spiced whisky. As you can tell by the missing "e" in whiskey, Revel Stoke is Canadian. As you can tell by the image above, it's spiced with ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom and coriander.
We've gotten into a bad habit lately of sitting on reviews, so we're doing an early New Year's resolution to review bottles as soon as they come in. So, with no further ado, our thoughts on Revel Stoke.
Continue reading: "Revel Stoke Spiced Canadian Whisky Review"
October 6, 2010
We've started posting some of our liquor reviews over at our spiritual sister site cocktailgogo, and we wanted to bring your attention to them. The site is structured more as a community, and gives you the ability to log in with your own Twitter, OpenID or Facebook Connect accounts to add liquor reviews, cocktail recipes, etc. Please see below for excerpts from the two reviews we've added most recently.
Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum Review
Cruzan 9 is the latest addition to the Cruzan line, adding another layer to the brand's already-extensive list of flavored products.
It's a light honey color in the bottle and glass, and gave me a nice mixture of sweetness, spice and a hint of pipe tobacco on the nose.The name "9" comes from the nine spices used to flavor it - allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, clove, mace and juniper berry.
Cruzan 9 has a nice mellow burn without overpowering, and the blend of spices did a good job of tempering the rum even when I sipped it neat.
Read the full review at cocktailgogo
Hiram Walker Original Cinn Cinnamon Schnapps
The smell is of a freshly-baked alcoholic cinnamon bun, and is really appealing. The taste starts off with a nice dry cinnamon heat, then finishes with hints of vanilla and frosting, which keeps it from being overpowering. This liqueur is more "Mom's baking" than "Atomic Fireball," and feels like a strong addition to the world of cinnamon schnapps.
Read the full review at cocktailgogo
August 30, 2010
Now that we've had a bit of time to play around with the ice maker supplied to us by Air N Water, we've taken some time to put together our thoughts. We were impressed overall with the device and its output, and we were glad we were given a chance to play with it. It has a ton of features, is extremely easy to use, and put out ice like it was its job (which it is, we suppose). The AI-210W costs around $200 - and is currently selling for $190 on the Air N Water product page.
- Quick & Easy Setup: We plugged this thing in, poured in some water, and had viable cocktail ice in less than 10 minutes.
- Fast Output: We had more ice than we knew what to do with after the first batch. Of course, we ran much more than one batch, because we don't know when to say when - we didn't make it to the advertised 35 pounds, but we gave it a run.
- Portability: This thing isn't pocket-sized, but it's relatively light and easy to move around, with comfortable handles on each side.
- Easy to Clean: When we were done churning out ice, we just drained the water reservoir, wiped out the inside with a cloth, and put it in storage.
Things to Think About
- Noisy: This thing makes some noise - it rattled the items on our countertop while grinding away during the creation process, and the sound of ice dropping can be jarring. It's not shockingly loud - it's not like you didn't know you would be making ice - but you won't want to run this thing in the baby's room during nap time.
- Counter Space: The machine is big - that's part of the game we suppose when you're getting the throughput this thing does. Don't expect to tuck this away in a corner - you'll have to get it out to run it, and put it away we're guessing, or set it up somewhere outside the kitchen.
All in all we feel the machine works great, and so far it has met all our needs. If you're someone who has a home bar (or has other icy needs) we see this as a good investment, especially if you're sick of running to the corner store for bags of ice.
Check out a video showing all the features of the AI 210 after the jump.
Continue reading: "NewAir AI-210W Countertop Ice Maker Review"
August 12, 2010
Generally speaking, there are three pillars to making pretty much any cocktail - finding the right balance of sweet (e.g., sugar, simple syrup), sour (e.g., citrus), and strong (e.g., booze). This is one of the most important (and sometimes most difficult) aspects of mixing a cocktail is getting that balance right, which is a big reason why people often rely on pre-made cocktail mixers. They're quicker, you don't have to round up a ton of ingredients, but the trade-off is you're pretty much trusting someone else's taste for the balance.
That's why we were interested to review Powell & Mahoney's pre-mixed offerings for some cocktail mainstays - the Mojito, the Margarita, the Cosmopolitan, and the Bloody Mary, as well as a Ginger-flavored mixer that had Dark & Stormy visions running through our head. The labels promised high-quality ingredients and delicious flavors, so we rounded up the proper bottles of hard stuff and waded in, with mixed results.
Continue reading: "Powell & Mahoney Cocktail Mixer Review"