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The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more…

powers 12 year special reserve irish whiskey1111 The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...St. Patty’s Day Special: The Best Irish Whiskeys

By Matt Goldstein and Sommelier Tom Pittakas

In honor of this St. Patty’s Day, the Whiskey Goldmine has compiled our list of the best whiskeys from Ireland.  From sipping neat, on the rocks or in a shot, we give you a magnum opus of whiskey classics.  The following whiskeys are an absolute must try! 

 

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powers 12 year special reserve irish whiskey1122 The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...1. Powers Special Reserve 12 Years Aged Irish Whiskey

Powers Special Reserve 12 years aged is crafted from the finest Irish Barley and water, triple distilled and matured in American Oak casks.  Powers 12 doesn’t need to any ice; this whiskey should be sipped neat.  Scoring 91 points from Malt Advocate Magazine, Powers 12 is a complex and flawless whiskey. The regular Powers Gold Label is the best selling whiskey in Ireland.  Yes, it crushes Jameson in sales actually.

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2. Redbreast 12 Year Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Redbreast 12 Year is perhaps the smoothest Irish whiskey in the world.  With a scotch like complexity and slight sweetness, Redbreast has a perfect whiskey flavor with a flawless bite.  Redbreast 12 Year is the only aged pure pot still whiskey in the world and is matured in sherry and bourbon casks.  

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Tullamore dew 12year bottle The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...3.  Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Special Reserve

Founded in Tullamore, Offaly County in the heart of Ireland in 1822, this “legendary” Irish Whiskey is famous for it’s copper pot still blend.  Triple distilled and aged in American Oak and Spanish Olorosso Sherry Casks, Tullamore Dew 12 is a sweet and complex Irish Whiskey with notes of malt, nuts and oak.  “Give everyman his Dew!”    

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4.  Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve

The Jameson 18 is a Blended Irish Whiskey is handpicked by the Master Distiller.  Aged in American Oak Bourbon Casks and Olorosso Sherry Casks, the Jameson 18 Year Old is a classic! 

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tyrconnel single malt irish whiskey 300x189 The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...5.  Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Aged in Madeira casks and scoring a 98 by the beverage tastings institute, the Tyrconnell is a bit pricey but also critically acclaimed.  Tyrconnel 10 Year has pioneered the single malt revolution in Irish Whiskey.  It’s an absolute must try. 

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6.  Knappogue 12 Years Aged Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Distilled in copper pots with malted barley and aged in oak casks, Knappogue 12 is made with pure Irish spring water which creates a very light, smooth and easy drinking style.  Well rounded with medium intensity and a clean finish, Knappogue is a uniquely light but complex whiskey that still retains character. 

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bushmills single malt 16 year old irish whiskey The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...7.  Bushmills 16 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Bushmills 16 Year Old is triple cask matured in a combination of seasoned American Oak Bourbon Casks and Sherry Olorosso Casks, and finished for a few months in Port Wine Casks.  The triple cask maturation gives this whiskey one of the best finishes in the world. 

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8.  Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Scoring a 93 by the Beverage Tasting Institute and a 90 by Wine Enthusiast, this little known but critically acclaimed single malt Irish whiskey is very well rounded and one of the most underrated Irish Whiskeys ever made.

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Jameson 12 year old special reserve irish whiskey 1111 The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...9.  Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve  

The Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve Blended Irish Whiskey is a triple distilled, pot still and sherry cask blend.  The 12 year took the gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2007 & 2009.  The Jameson 12 is very smooth and dry with a great scent and taste of malts; with notes of oak, wood and spice.  The Jameson 12 is a full bodied Irish whiskey, with a slight sweet, rich and full finish.

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1o.  Tullemore Dew Blended Irish Whiskey

Tullamore Dew is the 2nd best selling Irish Whiskey in the world and is also growing the fastest.  Tullamore Dew has won 22 gold medals in the last 10 years and is simply one of the best whiskey shots in the world.   

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11.  Green Spot

 

Powers Whiskey The Top 10 Best Irish Whiskeys: Powers, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and more...12.  Powers Gold Label

Powers Gold Label is the best selling whiskey in Ireland.  Yes, it crushes Jameson in sales actually.

 

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13.  Bushmills 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey

14.  Michael Collins Single Malt Irish Whiskey

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PBR: Pabst Blue Ribbon, A Review

pabst blue ribbon PBR: Pabst Blue Ribbon, A ReviewA PBR Review:  Hipsters Rolling their Eyes Everywhere

By Matt Goldstein

When I had a PBR last summer, there was something wrong with the tap and the beer was spoiled.  It was basically undrinkable.  Now, considering I can drink even the worst of beers without a flinch, I decided that Pabst Blue Ribbon deserved another try.  Pabst Blue Ribbon is the first beer to sell 10 million cases of beer in the United States.  It’s an American staple and deserves recognition for that alone.  Let’s give Pabst Blue Ribbon the chance it deserves: A Whiskey Goldmine Review. 

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Pabst Blue Ribbon Tasting Notes:

PBR is sweet, dry, crisp with a grain aftertaste.  Very refreshing!  There you have it.  That’s our review.  It’s an easy drinking session lager and pretty good flavor.  We love it.  If you got a problem with that, nobody cares.

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clint eastwood pabst blue ribbon PBR: Pabst Blue Ribbon, A ReviewPabst Blue Ribbon and the Hipster issue: 

Now, it wouldn’t be a Pabst Blue Ribbon article if we didn’t address the hipster issue.  Yes, Hipsters drink PBR at staggering amounts and the Hipsters are multiplying exponentially like a badass zombie movie.  The Hipsters where PBR t-shirts, and drink PBR like it’s their uber sudo liberal (but not the democratic party) political identity.  Yup, their socially advanced, and your craft beer is just too cool to be cool. Drinking real beer is uncool.  It’s scary, frightening and Hipsters could simply revolt and kill us all.  However, now that everyone knows the Hipsters drink PBR to be cool, or un-cool, they are moving on to a new beer.  And they probably will officially move on after this review.  It’s too cool to be called un-cool.  Hipsters are moving on to National Bohemian.  Yup, they be drinkin the “Nati bo.”  Review coming soon.  We’re gonna single handedly do our best to destroy the Hipster Nati Bo revolution.  Someone might get smacked in their face for this one.         

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pabst blue ribbon mobile wallpaper can PBR: Pabst Blue Ribbon, A ReviewHere are some facts to enjoy about Pabst Blue Ribbon: 

Pabst Blue Ribbon
American Style Premium Lager

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a premium lager brew crafted with a hefty infusion of 6-row barley in its ingredient package, a carefully balanced carbohydrate profile from corn syrup, and a unique combination of Pacific domestic hops blended with an imported Yugoslavian variety.  Fermented with a pure culture of yeast and aged at high gravity, PBR is cellared and finished to the smooth, robust likeness of a fine Pilsner.

144 calories

12.8 grams of carbohydrates

Pabst Blue Ribbon Light
American Style Light Lager
Pabst Blue Ribbon Light is brewed with the traditional grains and malts of a fine lager, and is tailored to the brewing specifications of a low calorie beer.  Hopped with the same intensity as PBR, the light version is a satisfyingly superior way to bend an arm.

113 caloreies

8.3 grams of carbohydrates

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The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

buffalo trace kentucky straight bourbon whiskey bottles The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyBuffalo Trace: The Best Bourbon in Class

By Matt Goldstein and the Sharkey’s

Buffalo Trace is one of the biggest and best bourbon distillers on the market.  Owned by the Sazerac Company, Buffalo Trace distills many critically acclaimed bourbons, whiskeys, and spirits.  The oldest continually operating distillery in America, Buffalo Trace has won “distillery of the year” 7 times.  Winning a double gold medal in 2009 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys is simply one of the best in class.  At about $20, it will be very difficult to find a better bourbon for the price.  The Buffalo Trace distillery cannot be touched when it comes to making quality premium whiskeys at an excellent price; evidenced by their celebrated Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Elmer T. Lee Kentucky Straight Bourbon and 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  All of these bourbons are better than most other bourbons and whiskeys at their price range.

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The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Tasting Notes         

Tasting Notes:  The scent is a light grain and a bit strong.  The taste is malty, balanced and a touch sweet.  With notes of grain, corn and a bit dry and malty, the Buffalo Trace is smooth, hint bitter, with a flavorful finish.  This is a very complex bourbon for $20.  We are right there with Wine Enthusiast when they say this bourbon is “highly recommended.”  We would recomend Buffalo Trace over Makers Marks and Jack Daniels (technically not a bourbon.)Read below about the process on making this great bourbon.  .

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Buffalo Trace LOGO pic The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyThe Grain

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is expertly crafted in the time-honored tradition unique to bourbon. Buffalo Trace begins with the finest Kentucky and Indiana corn, selected rye, and superior malted barley. Together, these grains represent our unique mash bill–a trade secret known only by those craftsmen responsible for producing this highest-quality whiskey.

Upon delivery the grains undergo a general visual inspection for any obvious abnormalities. Bushel weight is then checked to ensure the grain demonstrates the proper baseline characteristics. Finally, a sample of the grain is tested in the distillery laboratory to determine if it meets Buffalo Trace’s rigid standards for moisture levels and chemical balance.

buffalo trace the buffalo The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyThe Milling

To prepare the newly received grains for the mashing process, they must first be carefully milled to exactly the right specifications. Grains at Buffalo Trace are milled with a hammer mill using a screen that only allows particles of milled grain as large as 10/64 of an inch in diameter through. In our experience, we have found that this size screen, called a #10, lets more of the true grain through to be part of the mash without compromising the integrity of the mash itself. The next larger screen would allow whole kernels of rye and barley through, and the next smaller screen would create too fine a grain, causing the mash to become too thick.

The Mash

Mashing water–fresh and rich with minerals from its natural filtration through Kentucky limestone–is heated in a steam-generated pressure cooker. Once the water reaches the proper temperature, the corn is cooked under pressure until it is ready for rye to be added. After the addition of the rye, a malted barley slurry is added to the mixture, which allows its activated enzymes to turn the starch from the cooked grains into a soluble sugar. The new mixture is, at this point, a sweet mash.

Fermentation

This part of the process takes place in our 12 fermenters – with each fermenter holding 89,962 gallons; they are the largest in the industry. After the mash has cooled, yeast is added with a small amount of the previously fermented and distilled mash, also known as sour mash. The sugar present in the mash feeds the yeast to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The uniquely rich nutrients of the pure Kentucky limestone water used in this process also enrich the yeast. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey undergoes a natural fermentation lasting anywhere from three to five days.

The Distillation Process

The fermented mixture, or beer, complete with solids, enters the top of the beer still and descends through plates, similar to those in a coffee percolator. Steam, pumped in from the bottom of the still, encounters the falling beer, creating an alcohol-rich vapor. The vapor is then recondensed and passed through a second still, known as a doubler, to create a crystal clear liquid that, by law, can be no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume. For Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, however, the final liquid is removed from the doubler at a significantly lower proof in order to preserve more of the flavor and characteristics of the grains. This liquid, which is commonly referred to as raw spirit or “white dog,” is then entered into newly charred, virgin white oak barrels. Consistent with our desire to optimize flavor and characteristics of the grains, we enter the white dog into the barrels at 125 proof.

The Barrels

Before Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is placed into barrels, the barrels themselves undergo a rigid inspection. Barrels to be used for Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey must be made of naturally aged, “center ring” wood from trees typically 70 to 80 years old. This center ring falls between the outer ring, called sapwood, and the core of the tree. Our standards for wood selection are more expensive, but they make for a finer whiskey. Also, the grain of the wood is inspected for coarseness. Very fine wood grain results in immature whiskey that is weak and less flavorful. Grain that is too coarse leads to an excessive wood taste. Barrels also are reviewed for broken or cracked staves and open joints. As a result of these criteria, Buffalo Trace Distillery has the highest rejection rate of barrels in the industry.

The Aging

While every step of the production process is important, Buffalo Trace Distillery believes the aging process is the greatest factor in producing truly outstanding whiskey. The Distillery’s best whiskey comes from aging in Warehouses C, I and K, and only on selected floors. For instance, the fourth and fifth floors of Warehouse C and the fourth through sixth floors of Warehouses I and K produce the distillery’s finest whiskey. These floors represent the middle floors in each of the warehouses and have the greatest temperature changes in the course of a year–the key to reaching full maturity and producing a balanced whiskey. Warehouses C, I and K also are rick warehouses constructed from large wood beams and surrounded by a brick shell. Each of the warehouses has an earthen floor, which best allows nature to do its part in the aging process and produce truly outstanding whiskey. Additionally, steam pumped throughout the warehouses during the extreme cold of winter compensates for the dramatic drops in temperature and gives the whiskey additional cycles in and out of the wood.

The Selection

Only the best bourbon produced by the distillery is bottled as Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Approximately 30-35 barrels of aged whiskey are selected from the middle floors of Warehouses C, I and K. Samples from these barrels are reviewed by the distillery’s tasting panel. If any one taster rejects a sample, the barrel it represents will not be used for Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Only the barrels of approved bourbon samples (usually no more than 25-30 barrels) will be married and bottled as Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

The Filtration

Whiskey from selected barrels is married and passed through a chill filtration process, lowering the temperature of the bourbon to below 30″F (-1ºC). This process ensures that more of the color and flavor naturally present in the bourbon is maintained than does filtering through activated charcoal. The bourbon is then reduced to 90 proof, its bottling proof (45% ABV), using water that has undergone reverse osmosis filtration. Buffalo Trace Distillery was the first distillery to use this process, which is regarded as a benchmark within the industry for producing the highest quality bourbon. Reverse osmosis water begins as pure Kentucky limestone water that is placed in a tank containing a double-sided filter. This filter is cycled through the water, removing all the minerals and producing the purest form of water obtainable.

No other colors or flavors are added to the final product, a claim only bourbon, among all whiskeys, can make. Buffalo Trace’s proprietary bottles are then carefully filled, corked and sealed by hand, and then packed for limited distribution.

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The Cragganmore 12 Years Single Speyside Malt Scotch Whisky

cragganmore 12 year single malt scotch 225x300 The Cragganmore 12 Years Single Speyside Malt Scotch Whisky“Classic Malt” Disappoints: Smooth but No Flavor, Finnish or Complexity

By Matt Goldstein & Eric Duncan

Cragganmore 12 Years Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky is considered one of the “Classic Malts” of Scotland.  Cragganmore is named for the hill behind the distillery that supplies the water for the making of the Scotch.  Cragganmore was Established in 1869 by John Smith who was manager at Macallan & Glenlivet, and lease holder at Glenfarcas.  Very experienced in the world of single malt scotch, John Smith decided to start his own distillery, Cragganmore.  The six “Classic Malts” of Scotland are as follows:  Dalwhinnie from the Highlands, Talisker from the Isle of Skye, Cragganmore from Speyside, Oban from West Highland, Lagavulin from Islay, and Glenkinchie from the Lowlands. 

Cragganmore 12 Year Tasting Notes:

The scent is complex, sweat and peaty.  The drink is smooth, and thin with a light peat.  The Cragganmore is very drinkable but lacks flavor, complexity and finish.  There’s no oak or wood flavor and there is just something missing here.  Smooth isn’t always good.  However, we did crush the bottle in about 2 hours so it can’t be that bad.   

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The Ithaca CaskaZilla Red Ale & Ithaca Ground Break Saison

ithaca brewing cascazilla 300x253 The Ithaca CaskaZilla Red Ale & Ithaca Ground Break SaisonBy Matt Goldstein

The Ithaca CaskaZilla Red Ale

The name CascaZilla is a play on both the name of a gorge in Ithaca called Cascadilla and the monster amounts of Cascade Hops we use to make the beer.  The predominant flavor and aroma of this beer comes from fresh American hops.  Made with 2-Row, Crystal, and Black malts, Cascade, Chinook and Crystal hops, then dry hopped with Cascade, Amarillo hops, the Ithaca Caskazilla has 50 IBU’s and 7.0% ABV. 

Ithaca Caskazilla Tasting Notes:  WOW!  Deep thick Brown in color, thick and cloudy with sediment, a scent of fruit, scent of yeast, and sour taste.  The Caskazilla flavor is heavy in hops, sour, dry and slightly bitter.  With notes of fruit with a sweet taste, the dry crisp yeast and hops with slight malt give it a great balance.  This is a great ale! 

ithaca ground break 276x300 The Ithaca CaskaZilla Red Ale & Ithaca Ground Break SaisonThe Ithaca Ground Break American Style Saison

An Americanized hoppy Saison, the Ground Break is brewed with generous amounts of Amarillo, Crystal and Glacier hops and flaked rye.  It’s fermented with a blend of Belgian and American yeasts.   

Ithaca Ground Break Tasting Notes:  The color is a brownish gold, slightly cloudy, with flavor full of the classic Belgian style yeast.  Sweet with a thick mouth feel and slightly crisp, and a nice sour taste for a saison, the scent of fruit and Yeasty light malt finish is just a touch dry.  An excellent and unique styled saison. 

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Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year & Dewars 12 Year Blended Scotch Whisky

johnnie walker black label 260x300 Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year & Dewars 12 Year Blended Scotch WhiskyJohnnie Walker Black is the #1 Selling Premium Blended Scotch Whisky in the World!

By Matt Goldstein

Johnnie Walker Black Label dates back to 1790 but officially became the Black Label in 1909.  One hundred years later, Johnnie Walker Black is the #1 selling premium blended scotch whiskey in the world.  Although there is no whiskey inside the blend that is younger than 12 years, Johnnie Walker claims that each bottle is at least 20 years in the making, from the selection of the oak for cask aging to drawing from Scotch whiskies all over Scotland, drawing from West coast malts to East coast scotch. 

Tasting Notes of Johnnie Walker Black:  The scent is a light peat; the flavor is a smooth, medium to heavy peat.  There is a full flavor malt aftertaste, slightly dry and thin with medium warmth.  Johnny Walker Black is a classic and complex blended scotch whisky and sets the standard for any smoky style blend.  Give us a glass of neat Johnnie Walker anytime and we’re a happy happy whisky drinker. 

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dewars 12 year scotch whisky 225x300 Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year & Dewars 12 Year Blended Scotch WhiskyDewar’s 12 Year Blended Scotch Whiskey

The Dewar’s 12 Year is “double aged” and finished in a vintage Oak cask, and up to 40 different whiskies go into each blend.  Founded by John Dewar and dating back to 1846, Dewar’s blended Scotch whisky is available in White Label, 12 Year, 18 Year and Signature blends. 

Dewar’s 12 Year Tasting Notes:  Lightly smoky, thin flavor, medium warmth, complex and a thin flavor, smooth and a bit sweet.  This is a good quality blended scotch whiskey. 

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Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger Imperial IPA

russian river pliny the younger Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger Imperial IPAPliny the Younger: World Renowned Triple IPA

By Jeremy Thomson of the Khyber Pass Pub

The elusive Russian River Pliny the Younger has been called “The Best Beer in the World” and has caused near riots in Northern California where it is brewed.  Brewed once a year and only distributed on draft to a very small handful of markets in California, Denver and Philadelphia, this brew creates a crowd anywhere you are lucky enough to find it poured.

At 11% ABV this enormous Imperial IPA, packs a punch.  However, the true beauty of this beer lies in the fact that its heavy hop bill is so well balanced against a malt backbone just large enough to get the ABV so high.

russian river brewing Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger Imperial IPASipping this sublimely golden ale one might guess it weighs in closer to 8.0%–or less.  A tropical citrus aroma emanates from the glass and these characteristics continue into the flavor but are also joined with an overwhelming piney resinous (maybe the reason “Pliny” is often misspelled “Pliney”?).  Younger rounds out finishing surprisingly dry with little of the sweetness typically found in a brew this large.  This beer is not a hop bomb like so many Imperial IPAs, but rather explodes with the balance that few, if any, beers achieve.

Is it the best beer in the world?  Probably not.  But the first time you are lucky enough to try Pliny the Younger, you may find yourself plotting, planning and missing work just to get a second glass of this big, balanced elixir.

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The Vodka Trials: Crystal Head, Tanqueray Sterling, Belvedere, Pinnacle, Tito’s, Stolichnaya & Grey Goose Vodka’s

Crystal Head Vodka1 logo 199x300 The Vodka Trials: Crystal Head, Tanqueray Sterling, Belvedere, Pinnacle, Tito’s, Stolichnaya & Grey Goose Vodka’sCrystal Head Vodka Crushes Competition in Double Blind Taste Test

By Team Goldmine

The Vodka Trials were a double blind taste test featuring premium grain vodka’s going head to head with vodka’s that cost as little as $10 a bottle.  The vodka’s were randomly selected from different price ranges, ratings, fame, popularity and respectability.  Although the expensive and premium Crystal Head stole the show, some more less expensive vodka’s performed very well compared to other premium vodka’s such as Grey Goose, which finished dead last.  The vodka’s finished in the order as follows:

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1. Crystal Head Vodka:

Crystal Head Vodka was the clear winner of the 2011 Vodka Trials and was voted #1 by the majority of tasters.  Legend has it that the 13 crystal heads have been found in regions around the world, from the American southwest to Tibet. They’re dated between 5,000 and 35,000 years old, and were supposedly polished into shape from solid quartz chunks over a period of several hundred years.  This legend is completely full of crap, but hey, the vodka is no joke.  It’s a bit pricey and gimmicky and also owned by Dan Akroyd.  Crystal Head Vodka is made with pure glacier water from Newfoundland Canada, purified through quartz crystals, also known as Herkimer diamonds and four times distilled.  This is simply one of the best vodkas available.  Priced at about $50.

Tasting Notes:  great even flavor and balance, dry, light kick but smooth and very drinkable with a little aftertaste.

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Tanqueray sterling vodka 124x300 The Vodka Trials: Crystal Head, Tanqueray Sterling, Belvedere, Pinnacle, Tito’s, Stolichnaya & Grey Goose Vodka’s2. Tanqueray Sterling Vodka:

Who knew Tanqueray made a vodka?  Guess what!  This vodka is a flat out stud.  Two times distilled, once in a 220 year old copper pot, and made with pure grain, Tanqueray Sterling is a perfect martini vodka, perfect for drinking it straight or a mixer and its only $14.  We love it!

Tasting Notes:  great kick, all around well balanced vodka flavor, spicy, light to medium warmth.

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3. Belvedere Vodka:

Belevedere vodka is one of the world’s first premium vodkas.  Quadruple distilled and made with Danowski gold rye and zero additives, Belvedere is made with water from Belvedere’s own artisan well.  Let us reiterate, this was a double blind taste test and Belvedere vodka almost tied for 2nd place.  This premium vodka proved to be real when it comes to a martini.

Tasting Notes:  Excellent!  Tasty with a kick, extra smooth, great aftertaste, well balanced, distillation very evident and medium warmth.

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Titos handmade Vodka 225x300 The Vodka Trials: Crystal Head, Tanqueray Sterling, Belvedere, Pinnacle, Tito’s, Stolichnaya & Grey Goose Vodka’s4. Pinnacle Vodka:

Pinnacle is a small batch quadruple distilled vodka made with spring water from Northern France.  Made with wheat from the Brie region, and purified through charcoal after distillation.  This is an excellent vodka for $10.  Yup, you can get a full 750ml for just $10.  Pinnacle beat out a couple of vodka legends in our double blind taste test so it can’t be a bad move.

Tasting Notes:  Little kick, light flavor, smooth, crisp with a light aftertaste and medium warmth.

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5. Tito’s Handmade Vodka:

Tito’s is produced in Austin at Texas’ first and made in small batches in an old fashioned pot still.  Tito’s is simply one of the best vodka’s available for just under $20 and one of America’s best vodkas.

Tasting Notes:  Slightly smooth, A bit heavy, strong with a strong aftertaste, a well balanced strong and heavy flavor.

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grey goose 300x300 The Vodka Trials: Crystal Head, Tanqueray Sterling, Belvedere, Pinnacle, Tito’s, Stolichnaya & Grey Goose Vodka’s6. Stolichnaya Vodka:

Made from wheat, rye and glacier water, Stolichnaya is considered to be the classic Russian vodka.  Stoli is solid in a martini, straight or in a mixer but was simply out was simply outgunned in the 2011 Whiskey Goldmine vodka trials.

Tasting Notes:  Dry but flavorful with a great finish and light warmth.

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7. Grey Goose Vodka:

Grey Goose is made from fine French wheat, and water naturally distilled through champagne limestone.  Grey Goose vodka is distilled according to the traditions of the Cognac region and a full flavored medium bodied vodka.  We were always a fan of Grey Goose be it martinis, on the rocks, a shot or in a mixer, but there is no doubt that Grey Goose got crushed in the 2011 Vodka Trials finishing dead last.  What else is there to say?

Tasting Notes:  heavy warmth and burn but smooth, and intense.

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The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A Review

Capital Grille 2 300x139 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A ReviewUpscale Steak Chain with a Wine List Unmatched

By Matt Goldstein & Carolynn Chapman

Considered to be the dry aged steak specialists with a wine list of over 350 wines and over 40 locations, the Capital Grille has a unique take on the upscale steak chain.  With handcrafted mahogany, leather chairs and metal dimples, walls lined by artwork, wine bottles and wine lockers, the Capital Grille sets the stage for a pricey menu with a high society like atmosphere.  We’ve reviewed everything from the wines, salads, steaks to desserts, and the Capital Grille has done some things perfectly and some others not so perfect.  It was main line restaurant week so we enjoyed a price fixed menu and the available wines by the glass.      

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Capital Grille ouside patio 272x300 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A ReviewThe Flatbread: Excellent!  A

The butter for the Flatbread and other breads:  A

Seeded Bread and Onion Bread:  Just OK.  B-

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Rudi Weist Reisling, California:  A 

Very light, smooth, refreshing, balanced and perfect.   

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Russian River Chardonnay 2009, California:  C

When we were first brought over this $14 glass of wine it was spoiled.  This happens from time to time when ordering wines by the glass but if the Capital Grille wants to lead the pack in wines when compared to other upscale steak chains then it must take better care of their wines.  A simple rubber stopper / vacuum can easily solve this problem.  The spoiled wine was flat dead with an old scent.  We asked the waitress for a new glass and she obliged without hesitation.  The new glass?  Ahh!   Much crisper, light, dry, and refreshing.

capital grille food wine pics 300x43 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A Review.

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Caesar salad:  B

The salad was good but the croutons were a bit soggy, although that could have been intentional, but probably not.  The Caesar was good, not great. 

banfi rosa regale sparkling wine 126x300 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A ReviewBanfi Rosa Regale Sparkling Wine, Italy:  A

This sparkling wine is a perfect sweet, light and bubbly with a thick mouth feel.

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Juan Gil Monastrell, Spain:  A

The Scent is strong, crisp, and dry with a great bite.  We love this red! 

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Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Caramelized Shallot Butter:  A+

First, we always recommend going bone in when selecting steak.  The bone in cut is always one of the best and most flavorful.  It’s never a bad move.  The Bone In Kona was a perfect medium rare with just hints of the grilled flavor and the Shallot butter compliments perfectly.  The Bone-In Kona is tender, juicy, flavorful and a perfect steak.   

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capital grille food and wine pics 2 300x43 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A Review

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Creamed Spinach:  A+

The creamed spinach is absolutely out of control!

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Mushroom Crusted Tournedos:  A

A heavenly cut of steak, and extremely tender beef, even when medium well.  The mushrooms are absolutely perfect with a wonderful texture.  The mushrooms taste like steak on the grill with a perfect snap.  An excellent steak plate.    

capital grille bar menu img2 300x51 The Capital Grille Steaks & Wines: A Review

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Chocolate Espresso Flourless Cake:  A+

Phenomenal, dry and perfect, we will be ordering more flourless everywhere after this experience. 

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Crème Brule:  Just Average, C+ / B-

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Bodegas Nietos Malbec Senetier Reserve, Argentina:  A- 

Light, dry, easy drinking and fruity with a dry finish.  A solid Malbec. 

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Overall, we’d recommend the Capital Grille for anyone looking for an excellent steak with a great atmosphere, not to mention the excellent.  The wait staff went above and beyond the expected call of duty.  Just know that the Capital Grille will come with a steep price tag.  We got out of there for about $200 with tip for everything listed above.  Keep in mind however, it was restaurant week with a price fixed menu so if you’re planning to order this amount of food and drink, expect about $250 with tip included.  Aside from the spoiled wine, soggy croutons and average Crème Brule, the overall food, wine and steak experience at the Capital Grille was excellent.  Our only regret is not getting to try the lobster mac & cheese.  Everyone raves about it. 

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A Quantum Leap: The Bruery Marrón Acidifié & Cigar City Bhor Imperial Stout

The Bruery Marron Acidifie cigar city 300x253 A Quantum Leap: The Bruery Marrón Acidifié & Cigar City Bhor Imperial StoutCourtesy of Billy’s Beer Blog

By Bill Zavorskas

Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962) was a Nobel Prize winning Danish physicist who made significant contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics. Additionally, he was one of the physicists that worked on the Manhattan Project. In his honor, Danish brewer Mikkeller has collaborated with Cigar City on a beer that’s truly the bomb.

Cigar City Bohr (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0) is an astronomical effort from Cigar City and the gypsy brewery. Jet black in color, Bohr has rich notes of coffee, roasted malt, and raisins complimented by sweet dark chocolate and spices. Velvety smooth and well balanced, this imperial stout is quite enjoyable from start to finish. The dessert like character of Bohr will appeal to both aficionados of fine liquor and disciples of imperial stouts.

While I don’t have a degree in physics, I know a great beer. I strongly urge you to give Bohr a try.

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CigarCityBrewing 300x201 A Quantum Leap: The Bruery Marrón Acidifié & Cigar City Bhor Imperial StoutStopped by Mr. Beery’s over the weekend and was glad to see a collaboration ale between The Bruery and Cigar City was on tap. As the story goes, both breweries came up with the recipe over pints at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver during the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

The Bruery Marrón Acidifié (The Bruery; Placentia, CA; Imperial Oud Bruin; ABV: 8.5) is a magnificent sour ale. Dark amber in color, Marrón Acidifié has pronounced notes of cranberries and tart fruit such as cherries balanced by balsamic vinegar, roasted malt, and spices with nice dry finish. There’s a fine woody backbone from the barrel aging, and it gives this imperial oud bruin a smooth red wine character throughout. A couple of more snifters was enough to convince me that Marrón Acidifié is one of the best sour ales that I have ever had.

Many thanks to The Bruery and Cigar City for crafting this superb beer.

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