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Rich Journey believes that the liquor a sophisticated gentleman or lady consumes tells a detailed story about who they are as a person.

Rich Journey believes that the liquor a sophisticated gentleman or lady consumes tells a detailed story about who they are as a person.

Lillet Debuts its 2010 Reserve de Jean Lillet at ACE Hotel

Maison Lillet recently launched its Jean de Lillet 2010 Reserve at a trendy invitation only at the ACE HOTEL in downtown Los Angeles and RICH JOURNEY was there to check it out.  Brand ambassador Claire Needham was on hand-mixing up the cocktails as a band were playing Hot Club De Paris music- Django Reinhart style to the fifty or so guests in attendance at the rooftop bar.

Tequila Herradura Unveils Limited Edition Colleccion de la Casa

Rich Journey was live in Mexico last week to be one of the first people to taste the latest release from Tequila giant Herradura. The tasting of the Coleccion De La Casa with a Scotch Cask finish was held in the distilleries executive tasting room along with six other prominent spirits writers and the companies Master Distiller Teresa Lara and Master Taster Ruben Aceves who also serves as the distillery VIP tour guide.

Ole Smoky Moonshine Lands Major Distribution Deal-Now Available in 49 States 

Moonshine has now been legal for about 4 ½ years and of the handful of companies selling right now, OLE SMOKY out of Gatlingburg, Tennessee seems to have the upper hand.  About 750,000 cases of the stuff a year are now being shipped in the USA, and the international market is about to open up as the perception of what moonshine is becomes clearer.  It is essentially un-aged whisky to simplify with the prime ingredient being Tennessee corn and the higher quality Indiana corn.  The new deal with Southern Wine & Spirits takes their product into eleven new states which according to CEO John Cochran took about four months of intense negotiations to secure. California is the biggest market for Moonshine.

Champagne Jacquart and the Cuvee Alpha Female Head Winemaker visits Beverly Hills 

The new winemaker for Champagne Jacquart was in Beverly Hills this week for a private tasting whch included their premium release called Cuvee Alpha.  Her name is Floriane Eznak, and although I do not know what percentage of champagne producers have women as their head winemaker, but this particular one certainly knew her stuff.  She has only been on board for three years, so her wine will make its debut in 2015, and observers will be keenly waiting to compare to previous years.

Highland Park Launches Dark Origins Single Malt

Highland Park Scotch Whisky has a rich heritage from its home base in Orkney where it is one of the few distilleries in the farthest Northern outpost of the British Isles. The new Dark Origins expression is inspired by the tenacity and fortitude of the Highland Park founder Magnus Eunson. Legend has it that the distiller was a Scottish version of a ‘bootlegger” over 216 years ago in Orkney avoiding the hated tax collector as he distilled his dark whisky for the people. During daylight hours he provided spiritual salvation in his church, and at night he was a secret distiller.

Grey Goose Launch New VX Product -Rich Combination of Vodka and Cognac

September sees the release of the latest product in the Grey Goose empire, VX Grey Goose, a combination of their brand leader vodka and cognac.  A soft launch of private tastings in select cities saw RICH JOURNEY (www.richjourney.com)  treading the boards in West Hollywood this week for a very select gathering that included two of their brand ambassadors, bar owner David Kaplan and roving ambassador Guillaume Jobien.

Campo de Escanto Pisco from Peru-Powerful Spirit Making Inroads into the Market

I know very little about this spirit from Peru, but the people behind it seem very nice and it is really a labor of love to spread the word about it in the USA.  The spirit is also very nice, although maybe a little too strong to drink neat, and lot more acceptable to use in a cocktail. However I was assured that you will never experience a hangover after drinking this stuff, and after trying a few fruity style cocktails at a recent tasting in Santa Monica with the San Francisco folks from Campo De Escanto I am more than happy to spread the word.

Cabernet Souvignon from Tanner Dafoe Winery: Boutique Operation Sets a High Standard

Only 142 cases of the 2010 Tanner Dafoe 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon are produced and since this is a wine you can keep for up to 15 years we must assume that if you can force yourself not to drink it, it is a good investment. This full bodied and very rich wine builds on the 2009 release offering more in the high tone aromatics and just as elegant. The Santa Ynez based winery also has an excellent 2011 Rogues Blend that is as subtle and sharp as the very sleek and all black packaging of the product indicating something out of the ordinary and special to the consumer. Based out of a small and rocky vineyard at the eastern end of the valley in the Buellton area, Tanner Dafoe are determined to produce wines as good as those coming from Bordeaux and they seem to have captured the essential spirit of the wine. Grape breakdown for the Rogue’s Blend is 75%  Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc.

Schramsberg Sparkling Wines and the Political Connection

Schramsberg Wines are based in Calistoga, California, and the relatively high end Winery has been family owned since 1965 at the original estate started by German Immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862. Interestingly at that time their were 21 wineries in Napa Valley utilizing less than 50 acres of vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery ceased operations in 1912 seven years after the death of Jacob Schram, and re-opened in 1965 when the property and land was purchased by Jack and Jaimie Davis. Today the winery is run by Hugh Davies, who was born a month after his family took over.

A Closer Look at some Interesting and Affordable new Wines

It sounds like an Italian designer clothing line, but is in fact a wine company from Vallagarina in Italy ’s Adige Valley . I recently tried their 2006 Cassetta and the 2009 Pinot Grigio from Val d’Adige at Terra del Forte. These “green style” wines only surfaced in April 2009, and Silvertap is the first brand in the country to create a winery for the purpose of producing high quality wine for keg distribution. New releases from a vineyard we like a lot and priced around $14 deserve special mention partly due to the passion of winemaker Adam Richardson. The Cupcake 2009 Riesling (20,000 cases) comes from the Mosel river valley where the vineyards are as steep as they come and the grapes are hand harvested. Check out the Sauvignon Blanc from the 240 acres Franciscan Estates (established 1972), great value at $16, from a winery located in the Oakville District of Napa, an area with a total of 5,000 vineyard acres. A combination of soil (gravelly and well drained), topography and climate make this area a bit of a treasure for winemakers. The winemaking process under Janet Myers takes place in St.Helena, a few miles north of the vineyards, which also hosts a relatively brand new visitor’s center.

Brokers London Dry Gin - Is it the World's Best?

Here is a gin that comes highly touted as the “World’s Best Gin” from the makers of course. The people at Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Plymouth , Tanqueray and Oxley might have something to say about that, but in all honesty Whitley Neill remains my favorite.  However the list of awards for Broker’s is impressive, such as Gold Medal at International Spirits Competition (Germany 2009) and the Masters Award at Gin Masters (London 2008).  More recently, Broker’s was the Chairman’s Trophy Winner at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge (New York 2010) racking up a whopping 97 points beating out such luminaries as Beefeater (96), Citadelle Reserve, Tanqueray and the excellent Plymouth who all had 93 points.

St. Germain-French Elderflower Liqueur

II came across this extremely versatile liqueur by chance at a French Film Festival, and it is now fast becoming a staple in my martinit drinks, expecially Gin.  St. Germain is 100% made from fresh, wild and hand selected elderflower blossoms picked in late Spring by local foragers in the glorious foothills of the Alps and has been on the market since late 2007.  

Bacardi Torched Berry Rum Hits the Market

The Rum market continues to catch up with the Vodka industry with the introduction of flavored rums to the market, and I just tried the brand new Bacardi Torched Cherry Rum priced at only $13.99 from the Puerto Rican rum dynasty. Following hot on the heels of the other Bacardi flavored rums such as Dragon Berry and Bacardi Limon, it is a trend that refuses to slow down.

In Search for the most Expensive Rose in the World

I was not aware that almost 85% of the wines from the idyllic region of Provence were in fact Rose. These wines are used as a welcoming tool for friends and visitors alike, and are made for sharing. The grape growing tradition in the region dates back thousands of years, and although certain Provencal wines have a solid worldwide reputation, others remain an undiscovered secret.  If you think that Rose is an uninspiring wine for food pairings then think again.

Birthplace of Wine and the Constitution

Known as the Father of the American Constitution and the birthplace of his democratic progressive thoughts and rights of people, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello , Virginia outside Washington DC was also the birthplace of wine industry in America .  Monticello itself is the major tourist attraction in the area, and even on a rainy midweek day it was pretty crowded with a 2 hour wait to get onto the tour of the house and grounds.

Citadelle and G-Vine Gin From France

France is not really known at all as a producer of Gin, but two additions to the gin market both from France that I recently became aware of should make consumers take note pretty quickly. Both gins are well worth checking out, and which of the two you prefer will depend on personal tastes.  Citadelle comes from the sea port of Dunkirk from a recipe originating in the 18th century. Dunkirk is famous of course for the 2nd World War evacuation of the British Army in thousands of vessels of all sizes. The French distillers Carpeau and Stival took spices from the Orient and Africa and distilled them in 12 copper mills at the Citadelle Distillery.

Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whiskey was virtually unknown in the USA fifteen years ago, but now it is ranked as high as number four in the sales in the USA Distilled at the William Grant Distillery in Scotland, one of the few Scottish owned in the country left standing, and home of the signature Glenfiddich Line. It is a distillery that I have had the good fortune to visit on my last visit to Scotland, and the facility employs 175 people out of a small village of Dufftown. in the Highlands that is home to about 2,000 inhabitants.

Dave Koz Wines Debut at the Hollywood Bowl Concert

Dave Koz, the diminutive but popular jazz saxophonist and radio DJ has launched three wines with the profits earmarked for his favorite charity, the Starlight Children’s Foundation. He chose his concert at the Hollywood Bowl in August with Brian Culbertson, Peabo Bryson and others to launch the range of two reds and a very good Sauvignon Blanc that could easily become prized collectors items due to their very limited production.

Helfrich Wines From Alsace- A Worth Find

Helfrich wines come from Alsace in Northern France and it is one of only fifty one vineyards that have the Grand Cru designation. The vineyard dates back to the reign of King Childebert 11 (589AD), and the Helfrich family has now been involved for six generations. Despite that history, the brand is hardly known in the USA and the vineyard does not even have its own website.

Corzo Tequila- Classy Newcomer

When the bottle arrived eagerly I opened up the package and loved the sleek look of the bottle which has been designed by Fabien Baron. Would the tequila inside be as classy I thought, and I was not disappointed. After a bit of research I discovered that each bottle of Corzo takes 7 ½ years to make, and they also use twice the agave that most tequila brands utilize from the Los Altos region of Jalisco.

Just How Good is Zacapa Rum?

Rum is a great drink that I have kind of re-introduced myself to lately, and one of the reasons is the increased exposure of Zacapa Rum from Guatemala into the USA market late last year. They have signed a distribution deal with the mighty Diageo, so look for a lot more exposure for this dark and heavy rum. The prime reason that this rum is different and a bit of a standout from the Bacardi’s and Captain Morgan’s of the world is the fact that it does not use molasses in the production, but uses only the first pressing of sugar cane juice, also known as “virgin sugar cane honey.”

Oregon Gets into the Gin Business

The development of small distilleries in Oregon is an interesting trend and we will start with one of the newest called ORGANIC NATION. They started out with organic vodka in 2008, and have recently launched O-N Organic Gin, a surprisingly good organic gin that is made special by having 12 Oregon botanicals giving it a fresh citrus savory taste.

Milagro Tequila Ready for Prime Time

Milagro Tequila has been around since 1977, but now that Scottish distillery William Grant & Sons have muscled in with their distribution know-how, look for Milagro (miracle in Spanish) more and more. Founded by two college students passionate about Tequila, there are now six different versions to choose from, the Super Premium Line and the high end Select Barrel Reserve Silver, Reposado and Anejo.  The Select Barrel Reserve varieties enjoy their lengthy aging and mellowing in French Oak Barrels, equaling the quality of the hand blown glass bottles, countered around the outline of an agave plant.

Cupcake Vineyards Launching New Varieties

Yes the name is slightly strange for a line of wines, but Cupcake Vineyards in Soledad , California , have recently launched a series of wines that deserve some attention for those of you always searching out new wines. The wines currently on the market are Cupcake Chardonnay, Cupcake Merlot, Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon and Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc. All are priced at $14.99 and represent good quality in that price range, and at a recent tasting with winemaker Adam Richardson, I tried them all and came away with a very favorable opinion.

Whitley Neill-London Dry Gin Inspired by Africa

The word is out on Whitley Neill London dry Gin, and as soon as I heard about it I had to get my hands on a bottle. I was not disappointed as this is a top class sipping gin that includes two African botanicals that gives it its vibrancy. The smooth taste lingers in the mouth quite a while, and the tastes include citrus, exotic spices, herbs, cocoa and candied lemon peels.  The two botanicals that make all the difference are Baobab and Cape gooseberry (physalis), and when the latter is added to the classic Gin & Tonic, expect something special.

Don Tepo Anejo Tequila Making Its Mark

Here is yet another new entrant to the premium Tequila market, and judging by the packaging of  Don Tepo they are going for the traditional tequila market. Even the production methods are old school with the agave methodically placed and slow baked in earthen ovens to ensure that the distinct agave flavor is retained. The old school packaging is augmented by the hand blown bottles, and the hand fitted wood corks.

Puriste Vodka from Austria About to Launch in the USA

This is a Vodka that hails from Austria , and at press time had not even hit the shelves in the USA . It should start showing up around January 2009 in the hippest and trendiest of bars and restaurants, where even jaded bartenders and mixologists who have seen and tasted everything are likely to be impressed.

Organic and Cucumber Vodka from Square One

Here is a new product from Square One Vodka in Novato , California , that has pure Organic Vodka and Cucumber infused Organic Vodka. Even though the vodka market is saturated by new products, there is a touch of originality about this entrant, and it may stand a chance to make an impact of sorts. I expect that creative mixologists will have a lot of fun with this one, and we can absolutely advise readers to try Square One for themselves.

Karlssons Gold Vodka from Sweden

In the never ending quest to find new Vodka’s to try, I was lucky to come across Karlssons Vodka from Sweden , and although the price of $40 might turn a few people off, it warrants checking out. The vodka has a smooth peppery taste, and is of obvious quality, and one that I think is a must try despite the lofty price to the average consumer. 

Asombroso Pushes the Edge in Tequila

If the design of the Tequila bottle was a major factor in winning gold medals at Tequila events, then Asombroso would be one of the top contenders every time. Luckily the tequila itself is very worthy, and for the second year in a row, the judges from the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition have singled out Asombroso.

Remy Martin 1989 Cognac-One for the Ages

Cognac drinkers in the USA are in for a treat with the launch of the 1989 vintage in September at the RRP of $300 per bottle. I tasted a sample recently of this very potent vintage blend, with a hint of figs and other fruits. At 45% alcohol by volume, you will love this superb Remy Martin Cognac , either neat or on ice. Suggested foods to enjoy with this treat are canapés and tapas, or creamy desserts such as buttermilk or Panna Cotta.  

Snow Queen Vodka Arrives Across the Atlantic

A highly touted Vodka from Kazakhstan which is distilled five times has arrived to the States.   Snow Queen Vodka  was recently awarded the Top Vodka medal at the recent 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country by land area in the world, and the sixth largest producer of grain.

Right Gin Set to Launch in Los Angeles

Right Gin is a relatively high end drink imported from Sweden that is now set to launch in Los Angeles and Miami this month. Priced at $40 a bottle, the drink was created by W.L.Lyons Brown, a descendant of the family that owns Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort. The brand launched in 2007 big time at the Gwen Stefani concert after party in Las Vegas , and is being clearly marketed at the under-30 crowd, not a group that you can really associate with Gin. 

Is U'luvka Vodka The Best of the Bunch?

For those of us who are paid to drink this stuff, and for others who hang out at the hippest and trendiest bars and hotels in the world, we get the chance to try the best. U’Luvka Vodka from Poland launched in England in 2005.

Boomerang Vodka Hits the Target

What do kangaroos, Ayers rock and Foster’s beer, and Chris Williams have in common?  They are all from Australia of course.   Who might you say is Chris Williams? He is from the land “down under” and owner of the Wattle Creek Winery where he has developed a new fresh tasting vodka from a special blend of grapes grown in Sonoma , California Boomerang Vodka is a light clear refreshing vodka distributed through Foster’s Wine Estates. 

A Tale of Two Vodkas: Level & Absolut 100

Here are two vodkas from the Absolut Family in Sweden that are so different in taste and texture,  that it is hard to believe they come from the same family. Absolut started out shipping their Vodka to the United States during the reign of Abba in 1979, and just like the supergroup, they believe in creating new boundaries and taking some risks along the way. They have been in existence since 1879, and are now the world’s third largest Vodka firm.  The advertising campaign for LEVEL VODKA indicates something that is smooth, sophisticated and sexy.

Chivas Whiskey Launches Their Ultra-Premium Whiskey 25

Premium Whiskies are starting to hit thick and fast in the market, and the latest is Chivas Regal Original 25, created by Master Blender Colin Scott, a thirty year veteran of the industry. Scott was in America recently to launch the brand, and was so passionate about this whiskey, that $299 a bottle seemed a bargain. 

Lotus White Vodka Hits the Market

With about three new Vodka brands launched every day, it has now become our mission to try and inform our readers of those brands we think deserve more attention. White Lotus Vodka falls into that category, and this brand new entrant into the very crowded and competitive market place looks like a winner to this writer.

Jose Cuervo Launches a Family Secret- Platino Tequila

The already crowded shelves stocking super premium tequila will have to make way for a new interloper with massive brand recognition and the marketing clout to match. Jose Cuervo has just launched their Platino label this past September. The new sixty dollar 750 milliliter bottle contains is a rich silver tequila that up to now was reserved for the Cuervo family’s private enjoyment. 

Johnnie Walker Unveils New Ultra Deluxe Whiskey  

Encouraged by the world wide success of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whisky that has become the whisky of choice for the corporate gift set; the company has just announced the launch of Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V Edition.

Ciroc Vodka-Leader of the Pack

Ciroc Snap Frost Vodka stands out from the pack in my opinion, and although there are obviously technical reasons for this, it is just the taste that makes it for me.

"Tastes Great, Less Filling" Tequila from Partida

It is fashionable for tequila enthusiasts and connoisseurs to spend years debating the intricacies of which distillery makes the best tequila.  The irony is drinkers may spend hundreds of dollars on premium tequila brands only to mix it with a supermarket generic margarita mix.   There needs to be a way of maintaining the blue agave purity of tequila in a margarita drink form.  Partida Tequila recognizes this “margarita paradox” and has developed a drink solution. 

Herradura Tequila Making a Bold Claim to be the Best

Herradura Tequila has been around on the market since 1964, and today the company claims to be the largest holder of barrels in all of Mexico and one of the leading marketers of aged tequilas in the world.

A Journey into the Past

Walking around the small town of Tequila, Mexico, one finds a strong sense of the past and history. Three part story on the origin and history of tequila and the Jose Cuervo premium tequila, Familia de Reserva.

Rangpur Gin, Latest from Tanqueray

The latest gin from Tanqueray is called Rangpur Distilled Gin that is distilled with rare Rangpur limes for a gin taste more subtle than the usual variety. Expect an aggressive advertising campaign featuring the rather smarmy English bon vivant Tony Sinclair, which is appropriate considering that the English learned to smooth the edges of their gin with a squeeze of fresh Rangpur lime during their time colonizing India. The limes are native to India and resemble a tangerine in color, shape and size, but characterized by the juiciness of an orange with a zestiness of the lime.

Elixir G- The Hot New Ginger Mix

In the never ending search for the perfect cocktail or martini, one can easily forget about one of the most potent spices of all, ginger. There are many kinds of exciting ginger beers out there, including such stunners as the cult Blenheim Ginger Ale from South Carolina.

La Certeza Gives Tequila Lovers Certainty

If there is any doubt and you are uncertain after trying the typical Patron, Souza and Jose Cuervo labels, make sure you try La Certeza (“Certainty”) Tequila.  La Certeza brings together three of the leading families in the spirits industry: the Beckmanns- former co-owners of Jose Cuervo, the Boissets- a Burgandian family celebrated for their terroir, and the La Certeza family- close group of tequila artisans who combine generations of experience.  

Plymouth Gin Bounces Back with Re-Branding

Gin is finally making a belated comeback after spending years in the doldrums following the emergence of Vodka as the drink of choice, and the Martini craze has helped fuel the revival. The history of the cocktail dates back to 1896 when gin was used in the original Dry Martini recipe. One particular Gin looking to benefit from this revival is Plymouth Gin from England, that dates back to 1793, and that is widely considered one of the smoothest gins around according to the experts and certainly by this writer.

Redcliff Liqueur Makes a Stand for the Americans

There is a new liqueur on the block and looking to make a name for itself in the watering holes of America. Redcliff claims to be America’s “first premium liqueur”, and since it is predominately cola based, with a touch of vanilla and about 15 secret spices, that is not an unreasonable claim. Redcliff joins such other national treasures like Baileys Irish Cream (Ireland), Amaretto, Limoncello (Italy), Kahlua (Mexico) and Pimms (England) as the flagship liqueur of a country. It is 65 proof (32.5% Alc/Vol) and is particularly potent when served with equal parts of rum, bourbon, coffee liqueur, amaretto and flavored vodkas.

Tommy Guns Vodka from Chicago

This is an unusual idea to write about Vodka and Tequila in the same article, but in the case of Tommy Guns, we are making an exception. If you thought Al Capone was dead then think again, he is alive and well in the spirit of these two drinks out of Chicago emanating from Al Capone’s Hideaway and Steakhouse.

Trago Tequila- A Drink of High Quality

I have recently come across a new tequila that is really different and superb that I predict will have people talking about it for some time to come.  Trago Tequila is brand new on the market, but already it has made inroads into the competitive world of expensive liquor that seems to be taking over the liquor industry. Distilled initially through copper and then through stainless steel, Trego.

Tukys Tequila- One for the Girls

With almost 1100 different brands of Tequila now on the market, it seems appropriate that there is now one especially geared towards  the girls. Tukys Tequila, a new company formed in the party capital of Las Vegas fits that profile, and the flavored drink is more like a liqueur than a spirit, coming in five tropical flavors.  The Tequila itself comes from the Jalisco region of Mexico , and the target market is females aged 21-35, and in particular those that like a drink with a lower alcohol content and tropical party flavor.

Black Box Wines

By all accounts, wines in a box, is one of the fastest growing trends in the wine industry. Leading the way are Black Box Wines, a company started as recently as 2002 by Ryan Sproule, a former sales consultant and engineer from Alberta, Canada . Now based in Sacramento, he spotted a gap in the market, and all he had to do was come up with the packaging concept, contract out the wine to a major distributor and watch sales grow. Part of the success comes in the packaging itself, a sleek looking black box with an elegant design. It is also the first boxed wine with an appellation that was an American Viticultural Area (AVA).

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