Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK

A new workweek is upon and that pretty much always calls for a drink. So . . . let’s do it right, break out a bottle and get into some Tastings Notes on NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK.

Founded by Business Mogul and CEO of Detroit Equities, Dennis McKinley, Former VP for Remy Cointreau, Patrick Charpentier, and Jerome Hyafil, a former EVP at Seagram’s Spirits and Wines, NYAK is a premium Cognac brand that was conceptualized at “a time when Cognac houses in France started to realize the consumption in the U.S. was drifting away from its tradition of being used as a digestive toward a more casual, fun-loving, and informal approach.” Combine that with the fact that “the African-American community was making monumental breakthroughs in pop culture,” and there could not have been a better time for NYAK to hit the spirits scene.

NYAK VS (Very Special) is a “contemporary” take on Cognac that possesses “distinctive, finely grained” aromatics of “delicious toasty oak notes (Bourbon vanilla, toasted bread) that stand out against a delightful peppery gourmet base (pear, grape, light honey).” It goes on to promise a flavor experience comprised of “silky tannins . . . followed by notes of pastry and jammy fruit (marmalade, ripe apricot), pear, butterscotch and a subtle spiced finish.” Coming in at 40% ABV, NYAK VS Cognac possesses “a delicately distilled flavor that is perfect over ice.”

NYAK VS Cognac is available in 750ml bottles, 500ml bottles and 200ml bottles. You can expect to find NYAK offerings at fine bottle shops located in Florida, Texas, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Delaware and Connecticut.

Now that we know the details and inspiration behind NYAK, let’s uncork this bottle, pour up a finger or two and see what this Cognac has to offer over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for NYAK Cognac VS from NYAK

Appearance: Served neat and at room temperature in a shaped spirits tasting glass, NYAK pours a gorgeous, tawny amber in color. When held to direct light, the amber glows with brighter orange and glossy brown hues. The liquid is perfectly clear. When jostled about, the Cognac coats the glass with a syrupy arc that drops a bounty of thin, quick-moving legs down the side of the glass.

Aroma: The profile opens with notes of toasted bread drizzled with sweet honey. Boozy, bourbon-like tones offer deep pulls of wood and vanilla. Things then begin to open up with complex fruity notes comprised of grape, stonefruit, raisin and fig. A touch of pepper finally settles in to close the aromatics out.

Taste: Rich tones of butterscotch and caramel burst forth and then immediately back off to allow the wood-sourced vanilla to combine with notes of apple, pear and spice to create an apple pastry-like character. This blooms further to offer lightly floral tones that mingle with notes of apricot jam, raisin, and figs dipped in honey.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium length finish, this Cognac is fruity and sweet but still manages to dry out beautifully. Slick on the palate and incredibly smooth, it finishes clean and the 40% ABV offers very little heat. The aftertaste is all honey-laced figs, raisins and apples.

Final Thoughts: NYAK easily proves to be an absolutely delightful and smooth sipper. It has plenty of complexity and nuance, but it truly wows with its wonderful level of dryness that keeps the experience ridiculously easy-drinking and not at all cloying. It is a solid option for fireside sippin’ when the temperatures drop in the coming months, on the rocks or in most cocktails that call for cognac. All in all, NYAK Cognac VS is difficult to beat at the price point and is absolutely worth a spot in your liquor cabinet. Prost!


Bushwacker Spirits Launches Popular Cream-Based Spirit in the Southeast

Bushwacker Spirits (Sarasota, Florida) has officially announced that Bushwacker, the popular Gulf Coast cocktail, is now available in a “convenient and beautiful” package throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.

Inspired by the cocktail “created in a beachside bar in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands in the 1970’s and popularized over the years in bars along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama Gulf Coast,” Michael Smith and Carter Echols “produced their first official Bushwacker bottle on May 5, 2020 and began sending samples to distribution representatives.” By taking a grassroots approach to developing their brand, Smith and Echols slowly introduced Bushwacker “in northern Florida and Tennessee, and Alabama soon followed, landing Bushwacker in more than 300 stores in their first year of operation.” Bushwacker is now ready for wide availability throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, and “more southern states will be announced throughout 2021, as well as the Midwest.”

This packaged version of Bushwacker is made with “Caribbean rum, natural coconut, Wisconsin dairy cream, coffee and chocolate.” Bushwacker comes in at 17% ABV and can be enjoyed straight from bottle or in the following recommended recipe:


4 large scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup Bushwacker
1/4 cup whole milk
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup
Maraschino cherries

In a blender, combine ice cream, milk and Bushwacker and blend until desired consistency. Pour into glass and garnish with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a Maraschino cherry

Bushwacker is available now in 750ml bottles at fine wine and spirits retailers located throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Florida (click here to find a retailer near you). Prost!

Rogue Ales & Spirits Introduces Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda & Bayfront Vodka Party Pack

Rogue Ales & Spirits (Newport, Oregon) has officially announced the recent launch of Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda and the upcoming release of the Bayfront Vodka Party Pack in April 2021.

Developed to help you “liberate the cocktail experience and enjoy an authentic, high-quality cocktail anytime, anywhere,” Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda and the Bayfront Vodka Party Pack – a mixed 8-pack of 12 oz. slim cans – are the two newest, convenient options available in Rogue’s ever-expanding lineup of Sparkling Canned Cocktails. Details on these two new products are as follows (descriptions sourced directly from the brewery’s press release):

Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda

  • Ingredients: Bayfront Vodka, Meyer Lemon, Darjeeling Iced Tea, Sparkling Water, Cane Sugar
  • ABV: 7.5% ABV
  • Taste: Our Rogue Spirits Bayfront Vodka forms the base of this cocktail while the lemonade and iced tea bring a refreshing blend of citrus and sweet spice.
  • Availability: Nationwide
  • Packaging: 4-pack 12oz slim cans

Bayfront Vodka Party Pack

  • Details: Four varieties of canned cocktails so everyone can enjoy their favorite cocktail anytime, anywhere.
  • Cocktail Flavors: Cranberry Elderflower Vodka Soda, Grapefruit Vodka Soda, Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda, Ginger Lime Vodka Mule
  • ABV: 7.5% ABV
  • Availability: April
  • Packaging: Eight 12oz slim cans (two cans of four flavors)

“We’re feeling all the spring vibes and are beyond ready to leave our house and enjoy the warm weather with a beverage in hand,” says Steve Garrett, VP of Business Development. “Rogue Spirits Sparkling Craft Cocktails were made for this type of outing. Forget the jigger, the strainer, the muddler and the shaker because we did all the work for you. We mixed quality cocktails and packaged them in a portable can, so you can enjoy your cocktail wherever life takes you.”

“Canned cocktails were a fun next step for our brand,” says Jake Holshue, Rogue Head Distiller. “We use our Rogue Spirits Bayfront Vodka as the base and added natural ingredients to create bright and flavorful cocktails. What I like about our cocktails is that they make high-quality spirits more accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Lemonade Iced Tea Vodka Soda is officially available now and the Bayfront Vodka Party Pack is slated to release in April 2021. You can expect to find both of these offerings at retailers located in Oregon and throughout the rest of Rogue’s nationwide distribution network. Prost!

Rogue Spirits Introduces Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule as Newest Canned Cocktail

Rogue Spirits (Newport, Oregon) has officially announced that it will add Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule to its lineup of Sparkling Craft Cocktails in mid-October 2020.

Arriving just in time for the holiday season, Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule (7.5% ABV) is a Sparkling Craft Cocktail that uses Rogue Spirits Whiskey – “a blend of 4 to 6 year old Rogue Whiskey that was distilled and aged at the Rogue Spirits distillery in Newport, Oregon” – as the base spirit “while ginger and lemon provide a refreshing balance of citrus and spice.” Like all of Rogue’s Canned Craft Cocktails, Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule is “made with Rogue Spirits and 100% natural ingredients, [and offers an] authentic, gluten-free, bar quality recipe in the convenience of a can.”

“Released just in time for the holiday season, our Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule is made for those special occasions when you want to spend less time making drinks and more time celebrating with the ones you love,” says Hagen Moore, VP of Marketing & Creative. “Dressed for a holiday party, the shiny copper packaging evokes a feeling of celebration from the outside in. On the palate, the warming ginger and lemon flavor provide a refreshing balance of citrus and spice. These are sure to be a welcome addition at any holiday gathering.”

Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule is rolling out now and will be available Year-Round alongside Rogue’s other Sparkling Craft Cocktails: Cranberry Elderflower Vodka Soda, Cucumber Lime Gin Fizz, Grapefruit Vodka Soda and Ginger Lime Vodka Mule. You can expect to find Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule available in 4-packs of 12 oz. slim cans at craft spirits-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Rogue’s nationwide distribution network. Prost!

Vital Information for Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule from Rogue Spirits

Release – Year-Round; launching October 2020
Style – Canned Sparkling Craft Cocktail
ABV – 7.5%
Ingredients – Rogue Spirits Whiskey, Ginger, Lemon, Simple Syrup & Sparkling Water
Availability – 4-packs of 12 oz. cans
Beer/Cocktail Finder – https://finder.rogue.com/

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we comfortably ease into the second half of the workweek with the help of a few cans of Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails (Los Angeles, California).

Founded by Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar – lifelong friends and LA natives – and inspired by their time studying abroad in Spain, Costa Brava Cocktails is a new lineup of craft cocktails packaged in “vibrant 12 fluid ounce [cans] that [capture] the spirit of Los Angeles’s sun, surf and sand lifestyle.” Crafted to be “a unique twist on a classic cocktail,” Lemon Drop is a delightful mix of premium vodka and “a light lemon kick” that comes in at just “6.7% ABV, [contains] only 130 calories, and [is] gluten-free, without sacrificing the great taste.”

Costa Brava Cocktails is currently self-distributing Lemon Drop in Los Angeles, California. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans at “select West Los Angeles liquor stores and on-premise locations.” Costa Brava Cocktails are also available for direct purchase (in states where legal) from the company’s online store.

Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with the background info on Costa Brava Cocktails and Lemon Drop, let’s pop the top on a can and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

Appearance: A gentle pour from a slim 12 oz. can into a tall highball glass produces a pristine, colorless Lemon Drop that is completely devoid of any foam or froth on top. When held to direct light, nothing changes in the color department and the presentation remains the same. The liquid is perfectly clear and filled with large, fast-moving carbonation bubbles. If we had to sum up the look in a few words, it basically looks like a super clean sparkling water.

Aroma: The aromatics are a muted, but a note of fresh lemon and a bit of lemon-lime soda fill the nose with each inhale. A slight amount of vodka booziness settles into the background, but it is very reserved. All of the expected notes are accounted for.

Taste: The first thing to hit the palate is a gentle pop of high-quality vodka. Seriously, it is like straight-up, real deal vodka. This is mellowed out quickly as bright lemon notes bloom alongside a touch of sweetness to create an incredibly satisfying lemon soda-like quality. The experience closes with a refreshing wash of sparkling mineral water.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light in body with a wonderfully bright carbonation presence, this cocktail is exceedingly refreshing and easy-drinking. Crisp and clean, there is nothing aggressive, overwhelming or overly sweet about this offering. The 6.7% ABV is expertly tucked away and provides zero warmth or indication that this is an alcoholic beverage (well, other than the vodka presence in the flavor). Aftertaste is just a bit of lemon soda.

Final Thoughts: The most striking thing about Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails is the very real presence of vodka in both aroma and flavor. All too often when it comes to canned cocktails, they tend to taste like watered down offerings with no real hint of the advertised booze contained within. That is not at all the case here. Premium vodka is quick to make itself known in each sip and that really drives home an actual cocktail experience.

Combine that with Lemon Drop’s ridiculously refreshing citrus notes and high level of drinkability, and you have the perfect canned cocktail option for drinking around the pool, at the beach, on the back porch during a barbecue or gathering, or just when you want a quick cocktail without the hassle of having to mix something up on the fly. If you have been on the hunt for something different to add to the fridge or cooler, Lemon Drop and Costa Brava Cocktails really need to be on your radar. Prost!

Ogden’s Own Distillery Introduces Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey

Ogden’s Own Distillery (Ogden, Utah) has officially announced that Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey will join its fan-favorite line of Porter’s flavored whiskeys in August 2020.

Arriving as further proof of “Ogden’s Own’s willingness to take risks through experimentation with bold, unconventional flavor profiles through its beloved Porter’s line,” Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey is a Canadian Whiskey that “captures the unmistakable, one-of-a-kind essence of peanut butter and balances it with a hint of rich chocolate flavor, delivering a familiar yet subtle peanut butter presence that . . . elevates the whiskey itself.” Coming in at 66.6 PROOF, Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey is “an ideal candidate for any consumers looking to indulge their curiosity in the unexpected sipping experience of a peanut butter spirit, as it is completely safe to drink for those with peanut allergies.”

“Our top priority at Ogden’s Own has always been listening and catering to the feedback of our customers, the loyal community that has embraced our distillery and grown it into what it is today,” said Steve Conlin, CEO and Co-Founder of Ogden’s Own. “Those who know us know that we’re not afraid to take risks and think outside of the box when it comes to our products, and Porter’s Peanut Butter represents our willingness and desire to provide our fans with a unique offering that not only taps into a burgeoning consumer trend, but slots in seamlessly with our existing Porter’s whiskey portfolio. We couldn’t be more excited to see the response. After all, who doesn’t love peanut butter?”

Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey is available now at Ogden’s Own Distillery (615 W. Stockman Way | Ogden, Utah) for the price of $19.99 per 750ml bottle. Nationwide availability for Porter’s Peanut Butter Whiskey is expected to follow in the coming weeks via the brand’s retail and online partners. Prost!

Rogue Ales & Spirits and Iron Chef Morimoto Collaborate on Limited-Edition Single Malt Whiskey

Rogue Ales & Spirits (Newport, Oregon) has officially announced that will begin the Limited Release of Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey, a special collaboration project with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, in early August 2020.

Arriving as the latest offering to come out Iron Chef Morimoto’s long-running collaborative relationship with Rogue Ales & Spirits, Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey started life in 2016 as Morimoto Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Black Obi Ale. Once these beers finished fermenting, the “wash was transferred from the Rogue brewery to the distillery to be distilled and barreled in American Oak barrels . . . [that] rested in Rogue’s Ocean Aging Room where they absorbed the Pacific Ocean air for over two years.” The liquid was then transferred to and finished in “Oregon Oak barrels [that] were built by hand at Rogue’s cooperage, Rolling Thunder Barrel Works, and previously aged Rogue’s award-winning Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout. After 1.5 years of further aging, these Oregon Oak barrels “were masterfully blended and smithed to create a unique, bold and limited American Single Malt Whiskey.” The finished Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey was then packaged in 750ml bottles adorned with “a label that was designed by Chef Morimoto himself.”

This lengthy and meticulous process supplied Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey (42.5% ABV/85 PROOF) with “spicy aromas on the nose with subtle smoke and hints of coffee, chocolate, cocoa and dried fruit” while the flavor profile features a “prominent soba nut flavor [melding] with the distinct dark cocoa, toffee, coffee and vanilla provided from the Imperial Stout and subtle smoke from the Rolling Thunder barrels.”

“It has been an honor to work with Chef Morimoto for nearly 20 years to make unique and interesting beers and spirits,” says Dharma Tamm, Rogue President. “This new single malt whiskey is no exception – the combination of Morimoto Signature Imperial Pilsner and Black Obi, Rolling Thunder barrels and distiller selected proof make this something truly special. It has been a labor of love that we’ve spent years making.”

“My relationship with Rogue Ales & Spirits goes back nearly two decades and is the longest partnership of my career,” said Chef Morimoto.  “The Morimoto-branded beers have been guest favorites in my restaurants around the world, and I’m very excited to introduce this very special single malt whiskey to them this year.”

Morimoto Single Malt Whiskey is rolling out now and will be available only as long as supplies last. You can expect to find this Limited-Edition Release available in 750ml bottles at Morimoto restaurants, Rogue pubs and fine liquor retailers located throughout the country. Prost!

Ghost Train Brewing Co. Releases OhEmGee Portable Craft Cocktail

Ghost Train Brewing Company (Birmingham, Alabama) has officially announced that it will release OhEmGee, Alabama’s first and only portable craft cocktail, in late July 2020.

Not to be mistaken for a hard seltzer, OhEmGee is a legit craft cocktail that combines Ghost Train’s award-winning Proven Spirits Vodka with an infusion of lemon and lime. Coming in at just 7% ABV, 90 calories and 2 grams of carbs, OhEmGee is a “bubbly beauty . . . rocking the crisp, light mouthfeel you would expect from a vodka & soda, with a hint of fresh lemon and lime to keep things interesting.”

OhEmGee officially debuted in the Tasting Room at Ghost Train Brewing Company on Monday, July 20 with availability in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. OhEmGee is currently only available at the brewery and there is no word at this time as to when or if it will hit distribution. Prost!

Vital Information for OhEmGee from Ghost Train Brewing Company

Release – Launching July 20, 2020
Style – Canned Craft Cocktail
Featured Spirit – Proven Spirits Vodka
ABV – 7%
Calories – 90
Carbs – 2 grams
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans
Distribution – None. Brewery only for now

Vision Wine & Spirits and VDKA 6100 Strike U.S. Distribution Partnership

Vision Wine & Spirits (Taunton, Massachusetts) has officially announced that it has entered into an agreement with VDKA 6100 (New Zealand), “the world’s first premium vodka made from whey, not grain,” to handle nationwide distribution of the brand effective immediately.

Named after the 6100 miles that extend from “the territorial waters of New Zealand, from which the product is sourced, to . . . the United States, where the brand was born,” VDKA 6100 is a “distinctive, smooth and elegant” Vodka “produced from seasonal cow’s whey in Reporoa, near Lake Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand.” After the whey is fermented with “a unique strain of yeast from Ireland that has been hand-cultivated in Reporoa for over 30 years,” VDKA 6100 is then triple distilled and “filtered through carbon, before being blended with pure New Zealand natural spring water.” Coming in at 40% ABV (80 proof), VDKA 6100 is gluten free, sugar free, lactose free and free from chemical additives.

“VDKA 6100 views this new partnership as an opportunity to gain national distribution while mitigating the massive risk that goes into taking on new markets alone.”

John Castiglione, Vision Wine & Spirits Director – The Americas

VDKA 6100 is currently available in 19 states, and Vision Wine & Spirits will help the brand reach nationwide distribution soon. Once full distribution is achieved, you can expect to find VDKA 6100 available in 750ml bottles at fine liquor retailers located across the county. Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find the line where Vodka meets Whiskey by getting into a dram of Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits (Rigby, Idaho).

Developed to serve as a shining example of Zodiac’s “passion to go a step beyond,” Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka starts with a gluten-free, potato-based Vodka that is “first infused with natural Black Cherry extract and blended in Idaho, USA with water from the Snake River Aquifer.” Once distilled and blended, the Vodka is then sent to rest in American Oak barrels “to acquire the taste of an incredibly smooth and mellow whiskey with soft cherry and spice overtones.” Weighing in at 35% ABV (70 PROOF), Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka “can be enjoyed straight or mixed with your favorite cocktail.”

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka is featured exclusively at Bigfire, a restaurant located in Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando, in its Oaked Cherry Manhattan” and “White Old Fashioned.” If you would like a bottle of your own, you can visit Cask Cartel to purchase a 750ml bottle of Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Alrighty . . . now that we are all caught up on the story behind this offering, let’s see what a “Barrel Rested Vodka” is all about over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

Appearance: Poured slightly chilled from a sample vial into a tasting glass, Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka presents itself as perfectly clear and the lightest of straw yellows in color. When held to direct light, most of the color washes out but a tinge of faint yellow is left to remain. When jostled about in the glass, this vodka leaves a slick arch behind which drops wide tears that retreat slowly down to the liquid level.

Aroma: The aromatics open with a sweet burst of candied black cherry. The barrel then pushes through with a solid rush of sweet vanilla. Alcohol rounds out the profile, but it is quite tame and reserved. The aroma reads almost exactly like the interior of a decadent cherry cordial.

Taste: Each sip opens with that neutral spirit you expect from a good vodka, but it slowly morphs to take on a new, more dynamic personality. Smooth vanilla emerges to offer a creamy, almost bourbon-like vanilla note. The black cherry is shy at first, but it gradually blooms to add a gently sweet fruitiness to the experience. The profile closes with incredibly sneaky, soft tones of cinnamon and spice. All expected flavors are present but not at all overly aggressive.

Mouthfeel: Slick in feel, this offering consumes and coats the palate before quickly evaporating (just as you would hope from a vodka). It does lean to the sweet side, but it is not at all cloying. The ABV offers a pleasant warmth in the throat. The finish is mostly clean but there is just a lingering kiss of black cherry left in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: All too often, a flavored vodka in your glass means there is a good chance that it will be overly sweet, come across as unnaturally flavored, and not give you any indication that it is actually a vodka because it is completely dominated by the added flavoring. This is not at all the case with Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka easily sets itself apart from its peers in the flavored vodka game in many ways. First, it tastes and smells like vodka. Sure, it is no longer purely neutral, but it does retain the spirit of the base vodka by providing that clean vodka finish in both aroma and flavor. Second, the black cherry flavoring was added with a deft hand so that it complements gracefully instead of bullishly consuming the entire experience. Finally, the barrel-resting process pulls natural, bourbon-like vanilla notes out of the wood, further reinforcing Zodiac’s subtly and intent to ensure that this offering indeed tastes like a fine spirit and not just an alcoholic flavored syrup.

By starting with a quality vodka, knowing when to say “when” with the black cherry extract, and venturing into a hybrid territory that falls somewhere between vodka and whiskey, Zodiac Spirits has carefully crafted something incredibly special with Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka. Thanks to its nuance and dynamic character, Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka can be thoroughly enjoyed straight up and also has nearly limitless potential when it comes to both vodka- and whiskey-centric cocktails (one sip of it neat and it becomes quite clear why Bigfire is having so much success in reinventing classic whiskey cocktails with this vodka). It is fun, it is playful, and it will make an incredible addition to anyone’s home bar. Head over to Cask Cartel and get yourself a bottle of this Limited Release while you still can. Prost!