Hangar One

Hangar One

American vodka is not as overly common as some may think. It’s still the European countries that dominate the UK market, but the likes of Skyy do pop up every-now-and-again. The same can be said for Hangar One, a brand that see’s its heritage coming from Alameda, California.

St. George Spirits was founded as America’s first eau de vie distillery in 1982 by Jörg Rupf, a gentleman who had grown up in Germany’s Black Forest to a family of distillers. He went into law and became, at the time, Germany’s youngest judge. On a visit to the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1970’s, he decided to stay and distill local fruit to produce eau de vie. In August 2001, Rupf met with fellow artisan distiller Ansley Coale, president of Craft Distillers and a collaborator in Germain-Robin brandy, to discuss producing flavored vodkas using a method similar to the production of eau de vie.

Hangar One Vodka was founded back in 2001, with Rupf overseeing production and Coale handling design and marketing. Operations were initially based in Rupf’s St. George’s distillery in Hangar 1, a 2,000 square-foot World War II-era hangar at the old Alameda Naval Air Station, before expansion saw it move to a 60,000 square-foot hangar in Alameda, California, in 2004. In April 2010, Hangar One was acquired by Proximo Spirits, who continued to produce the vodka in Alameda through St. George until the Summer of 2014. It is now produced in the building next to St George’s distillery which it shares with Faction Brewery, and is headed up by Master Distiller Caley Shoemaker.

So what about the vodka itself?

Hangar One prides itself as a small batch vodka made from a blend of pot-distilled Viognier grapes and column still-distilled Midwestern American wheat. The flavored varieties are created by infusing the vodka base with fresh fruit, and then distilling the vodka within a pot still which takes about four weeks per batch from start to finish.

So how does the mix of grape and wheat fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Hangar One Straight – 40%

Light, perfumed aromas of the Viognier grapes scented along a base of the American wheat on the nose. Scented upon the palate too, with the grapes dominating initially, and the creamy wheat base comes through to offer a ripe, stringent and lively spiced finish. Long.

Hangar One Mandarin Blossom – 40%

Ripe mandarin and satsuma upon the nose, with soft hints of rose petal coming through. Bold, thin yet light on the palate, with a soft warmth of the orange, mandarin and subtle honey notes. Fresh on the finish, with a rich kick to develop a long experience.

Hangar One ‘Buddha’s Hand’ Citron – 40%

The ancient relative of the modern lemon, Buddha’s Hand Citron offers a lower acidity. Very ripe, sharp citrus upon the nose, with sherbet following closely. Soft on the palate, with small bursts of dry lemon, apricot and earthy notes such as basil. Lingering at the finish.

Hangar One have many a serve to suggest, but maybe try one or two of these –

Cranberry Citrus
Cranberry Citrus

Cranberry Citrus, by Jillianastasia

Glass –


Ingredients –

60 ml Hangar One Straight Vodka
120 ml Ginger ale
60 ml Cranberry juice
60 ml Orange juice
60 ml Pineapple juice

Method – 

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, and pour into glass. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary. Serves 2.

or perhaps,

Apple Hinny
Apple Hinny

Apple Hinny, by Jason Cousins

Glass –


Ingredients – 

50 ml Hangar One Straight Vodka
30 ml Fresh green apple juice
15 ml Lime juice
Ginger beer
Nutmeg dusting
Apple fan garnish

Method – 

Combine the ingredients within an ice filled highball glass, stir, garnish and serve.

A very underrated vodka, with two different flavour profiles of the flavoured expressions. Perhaps one for the cabinet at home? 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

E&J Gallo Winery

Gallo Spritz

E&J Gallo is one of the most well-known brands within the wine category here in the UK, and you have no doubt come across one of its expressions over dinner, a gathering with friends or trying one of the many cocktail recipes they like to release to show off its versatility. But what do we actually know about the brand itself?

Back on September 22nd 1933, brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded a winery at 11th and D streets in Modesto, California, and grew over the next 36 years to the point of recognition as the largest winery in the USA based on volume of sales. In the same year of 1966, they introduced their first range of sparkling wines, Eden Roc and André, which incidentally went on to become the largest selling brand in the USA. November 27th 1972 saw one of their biggest marketing recognitions as Ernest and Julio Gallo appeared on the cover of Time for an article titled “American Wine Comes of Age”, followed by the opening of their first International office in London and the release of their first vintage-dated wines, both in 1983.

1993 saw the introduction of the Gallo Estate Wines, but also the unfortunate passing of Julio Gallo at the age of 87. Before the turn of the century though, E&J Gallo was named “Winery of the Century” by the Los Angeles County Fair’s Wines of the America’s competition and “Best American Wine Producer” by the London-based International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2000. The acquisition of wineries and vineyards in Napa, Monterey and in the Central Coast over the next few years certified the continued growth of E&J Gallo, carrying on a tradition introduced with the first acquisition back in 1954 with the purchase of Cribari Winery in Fresno.

In 2005, they became the first USA based winery to receive the International Standards Organization’s ISO 14001 certification, and purchased the popular Barefoot Cellars brand before the passing away of Ernest Gallo in 2007. The family still live on within the company as Ernest and Julio’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have roles within, effectively becoming the world’s largest family owned winery and the largest exporter of California wine.

So how do their expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes to the varieties I have had the pleasure of experiencing –

Gallo Spritz, Pineapple and Passionfruit – 5.5%

Gallo Pinot Grigio gently spritzed and blended with natural flavours of pineapple and passionfruit.
A soft nose of the well-balanced pineapple and passionfruit, with a natural sweetness and fresh grape aroma coming through. Light on the palate, with a slight burst of the fresh passionfruit, followed by the soft pineapple base. Bursts of the fresh Pinot Grigio comes through on the lingering finish.

Gallo Spritz, Raspberry and Lime – 5.5%

Gallo Grenache Rosé gently spritzed and blended with natural flavours of raspberry and lime.
Light notes of the raspberry and lime on the nose, with a fresh zest and soft sweetness following. The raspberry dominates a fresh and crisp palate, with the lime following to soften the dryness on the long, aromatic finish.

As you may have guessed, these are not your usual expressions when talking about wine, but the inspiration for me to look into E&J Gallo came from the introduction of the Spritz range this year (2015), itself inspired by the sun-drenched fruits of California. The Spritz expressions are said to be “perfect for those who like the idea of wine, but love fruity tastes and want something more informal”. The best way to enjoy is to serve each chilled or over ice.

Of course the more traditional expressions are available, including the base of the pineapple and passionfruit Spritz in the Pinot Grigio, as well as Chardonnay and Moscato, a Whtie Grenache and White Zinfandel if you prefer your rosé styles, and of course Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir amongst the expressions of red available.

The Spritz though are a great change to your normal sparkling choices, and well worth a try before the Summer turns to Winter!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 86 Company

86 Company


The lifeline of any country when the serving of drinks is concerned.

The connection between bottle and customer.

The guys and girls every brand needs to get on their side to really make a splash in the bar world.

Welcome then to The 86 Company.

The 86 Company was formed back in September 2012, launching four expressions that have been worked on closely by some of the worlds best distilleries and distillers available, all with feedback and inspiration from bartenders. So from here on, we’ll be taking a look at what company has come up with, and lets see if they’ll catch your eye too.

Aylesbury Duck Vodka

Aylesbury Duck is a Canadian vodka, made from soft white winter wheat sourced directly from local farmers in the Western Rockies close to Calgary. The distillers create their own mash from the winter wheat, which is then fermented for three days and results in an abv of between 9.5 and 11%. From here it will go to the beer holding tank and onto the beer still for distillation. The spirit will be continuously distilled in three separate copper plated column stills, with all three being built back in the 1940’s, and using Canadian glacial water. In the first still (The Beer Still) the spirit is distilled to 65% abv then moved to stills 2 and 3, or the rectifying stills. Here, it is distilled to a proof of 96.5% abv.

The distilled vodka is then shipped to a bottling facility in California where water from a well in Mendocino County is added by Domaine Charbay Distillers.

So how does it fare?

Aylesbury Duck – 40%

Clean on the nose with hints of the winter wheat, and a slight potato notes near the end. Slightly sweet on the palate, with the flavours of the wheat, baked caramel and a slight light citrus to experience.

A cracking spirit on its own, but how about one of these?

Duck Martini

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

5 Parts Aylesbury Duck Vodka
1/2 Part Dry Vermouth

Method – 

Stir over ice, pour into a Martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel

Caña Brava Rum

Caña Brava is named and made from sugar cane grown in the region of Herrera, Panama. The rum is produced in the Las Cabras Distillery, which was first erected in 1919 as a sugar mill until the mid-nineties when Francisco “Don Pancho” J Fernandez (a Master Distiller for 45 years) and Carlos Esquivel discovered the neglected warehouse and copper column still. It is here that they boil the harvested sugar cane juice to crystalize the sugars, which are then removed by centrifugal spinning, leaving behind the molasses. The molasses are then diluted and fermented with the aid of “Don Pancho’s” distinct natural pineapple yeast.

The fermented liquid is then distilled through five continuous stills to an abv of between 92-94%. The first 4 stills are copper plate whilst the last still is 100% copper and brass. Once distilled, it is cut to a proof of 75% abv and placed into new American oak barrels and aged for 18-24 months. After the time period, the spirit is cut to 49% abv and moved to used American whiskey barrels (a mixture of bourbon & Tennessee whiskey barrels) and aged for a further 12-24 months.

After ageing, the rums are blended with older rums for consistency, then tried and tested in Daiquiri’s and other famous mixed rum drinks to choose the final blend before being filtered three times – Carbon filtration, Millipore Cellulose filtration and cold filtration.

So how does it fare?

Caña Brava – 43%

Very light on the nose with a slight hint of vanilla, citrus and oak combining. Very smooth on the palate, with soft hints of toffee, oak and cocoa leading a lingering finish.

Of course, works well in a Daiquiri.

Daiquiri Classico (1898)

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

60 ml Caña Brava
30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
15 ml Simple Syrup (2:1)

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Fords Gin

Fords Gin is distilled in London at Thames Distillers, and is the result of a partnership between 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co. Using a mix of 9 botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, jasmine flower, orris, angelica and cassia) that are steeped for 15 hours within a base spirit of neutral grain spirit made from English wheat. Two stills are used at Thames Distillers, Tom Thumb and Thumberlina in a distilling process that lasts 5 hours. The finished distilled spirit is shipped to San Francisco where it is cut with water from a well in Mendocino County.

So how does it fare?

Fords – 45%

Light on the nose with a slightly dry citrus note. Aromatic hits of the jasmine and juniper come through. A developing spice on the palate, slight oily texture with a good kick of rind from the grapefruit and orange on the lingering finish.

Great on its own, but how about one of these –

White Negroni

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Ford’s Gin
25 ml Suze or Gran Classico
30 ml Lavender infused Dolin Blacn Vermouth

Method – 

Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice within a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Tequila Cabeza

Tequila Cabeza is made from 100% estate owned agave that is grown in the Los Altos region of Arandas in Mexico and produced at the El Ranchito Distillery since 1994. The agave are grown by the Vivanco family, who have been cultivating agaves on their 800-hectare mountainside land for five generations, and hand-picked by the Jimadores at seven to nine years of age when the agave has a sugar content of 23-28%. Once harvested, the piñas are cooked in brick ovens for 24 hours at 100 °C and are then left to cool for 24 hours
before being fed manually into the shredder. Here, the agave juice is extracted and the fibres are separated. Natural spring water is added during the process too.

The resulting agave juice (mosto) is fermented with the aid of a Champagne yeast in cooper tanks during the winter months (the cooler temperature allows for an extended mash period (approximately 10 days). Once the fermentation is finished,
the mash sits for two days before distillation. Distillation occurs in two separate copper pot stills, the first being the destrozador still that produces the ordinario at 20-22% ABV, which is then filtered. The second distillation, in the rectificator still, produces tequila at 55-56% abv. There is no filtration after the second distillation, but distilled natural spring
water is added to bring it down to 43% abv. The spirit is then rested in stainless steel for 60 days before bottling.

But how does it fare?

Tequila Cabeza – 43%

Very smooth agave notes on the nose, with hints of coriander spice that follows onto the palate. A citrus and earthy combination blends well, with hints of black pepper but plenty of agave kicks on the long finish.

Way back at the beginning, I spoke about how bartenders have influenced the four expressions above. 4 spirits created for some of the worlds most famous cocktails, versatile in use and a bottle to match. But did you notice, each spirit has a different bottle finish? The neck, for example, has been designed to easily hold with a full hand, whilst there is a ridge in the middle of the bottle for bartenders with smaller hands and is weighted for the perfect pour! Now that’s looking after bartenders, and ultimately giving you a better experience too.

Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these yourself at home, and they offer a difference to your usual classic cocktails. Grab some bottles for your drinks cabinet, or head to your local bar and see the bartenders in action with their favourite, bartender in mind, bottles of spirit.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stevens Garnier Trade Tasting Roadshow

A few weeks back, Castlefield in Manchester was the base for the Oxford wine agency of Stevens Garnier to showcase their very best offerings in their latest trade tasting roadshow. Attracting wine makers from countries including Austria, Portugual, California and France, as well as industry folk like Ruth Yates of Corks Out and Chris Green of the Manchester Wine School, you just know your going to be in for a treat! But before we get onto the wines, who are Stevens Garnier?

It all started in 1976 by two gentleman named Edward Garnier and Alastair Stevens, and carried on by Alastair after the early departure of Edward for the next 32 years. The relatively small team invested themselves into ground breaking imports from Argentina, Chile, Australia and Canada in the early eighties – something of an unknown territory back then. Stevens Garnier were also amongst the first to bring Bag in Box wines to the UK and one of the first to form a winery/agency joint venture when Sogrape of Portugal took a stake in the company in 1986.

So with a little Stevens Garnier knowledge brought to the table, the event was set in the Castlefield Rooms next to Dukes 92, where a horseshoe of wines (105 to be precise, with 5 Champagnes and 10 ports also making the grade) were presented to us, with the wine makers waiting with a wealth of information as we prepared to sip and swirl through the delights! Now I have to admit, I didn’t try all 120 offerings, but below I give to you a selection with my thoughts and tasting notes on each –

Champagne Bernard Remy Carte Blanche – 12%

Light honey and citrus on the nose that develops into an intense freshness once it hits the palate. Lots of mint flavours mixing well with the lively bubbles.

Champagne Bernard Remy Blanc de Blancs – 12%

Bright and lively nose with no significant aroma, but soft offerings of citrus are present on the palate.

Champagne Bernard Remy Grand Cru – 12%

Soft citrus aromas swirl on the nose and hit hard on the palate and gives a long after-taste.

Champagne Bernard Remy Rose – 12%

Lots of fresh fruit on the nose dance well, with significant dark red fruits coming through on the palate to create an intense finish.

Champagne Bernard Remy Vintage – 12%

Light aromas of vanilla lie on the nose, with a good hit of floral flavours hitting the palate.

Cave de Kientzheim-Kayesersberg Pinot Gris 2010, France – 13%

Bold hit of fresh, ripe fruits on the nose that leads straight onto the palate. Short, sharp and crisp.

TYDY Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays de Loire 2011, France – 12.5%

Herbal and floral aromas mix well on the nose, with a good blast of grapefruit. Fresh fruit flavours on the palate, with a fantastic crisp finish.

Domaine Joel Delauney Les Cabotines Rose 2010, France – 13%

Lots of fresh fruits that become masked with a subtle flow of spice on the nose. Soft offerings of fruit on the palate sooth down the aromas that leads to a refreshing end.

Vacheron Sancerre Blanc ‘Le Paradis’ 2009, France – 13%

Incredible ripe green fruits on the nose that leads to a well-rounded sharp flavour on the palate.

Domaine Corsin Pouily Fuisse 2009 France

Elegant mix of citrus and floral on the nose, with a good balance on the palate that has a soft ending.

Domaine L’Arnesque Cotes du Rhone Rouge ‘Fleur de Garrigues’ 2010, France

Black pepper with hints of liquorice on the nose and then combines well on the palate. Very smooth.

Domaine L’Arnesque Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Capelane’ 2010, France

Lots of intense berry aromas on the nose, with hints of figs and prunes as it makes its way to the palate.

Domaine Rose Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010, France – 14.5%

Almonds and fresh fruits dominate the nose, with the fruit becoming bolder as it hits the palate. Long finish.

Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas Blanc 2010, France – 13.5%

Ripe grapefruit mixes well with fresh exotic fruits on the nose. Very lively and fresh on the palate.

Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas Rouge 2010, France – 14.5%

On the nose there is a good mix of blackcurrant and pepper, with the tannins on the palate emphasising the aromas. A long, fruity finish.

Jeaninne Boutin Cote Rotie ‘Bonnevaux’ 2009, France – 13.5%

Rich blackberry aromas are complimented by floral notes on the nose. Soft fruit offerings on the palate that leads to a good, fresh finish.

Chateau Genisson Blanc, AOC Cadillac 2003, France – 13%

Aromas of floral and peach combine with almond on the nose. Bold fruit flavours on the palate with a fantastic long sweetness.

Canapi Pinot Grigio 2011, Italy – 12.2%

Lots of citrus and tropical notes on the nose that combine well on the palate too. Well-balanced and refreshing.

Canapi Nero d’Avola 2010, Italy – 13.4%

A blast of red cherries hits the nose before hints of spice follows it onto the palate. Raspberry flavours follow nicely.

Perfume de Sonsierra 2009

Sonsierra Perfume de Sonsierra 2009, Spain – 14.5%

Fantastic mix of strawberry and liquorice mixing well on the nose, with subtle hints of roasted coffee greeting the palate. An incredibly long and smooth offering.

Duque de Viseu Dao Branco, Portugal 13%

Ripe fruit aromas of grapefruit and pear combine on the nose, which become heavy once it hits the palate.

Herdade do Peso Reserva, Portugal – 14.5%

Intense mixture of blackberries and raspberries on the nose with subtle aromas of spice and pepper coming through. Soft and well-balanced on the palate.

Los Boldos Momentos Chardonnay 2011, Chile – 13.5%

Aromas of green fruit blend nicely, with tropical fruits developing nicely on the palate.

Finca Flichman Tanguero Chardonnay 2011, Argentina – 13%

Light white fruits combine with floral notes on the nose, with a long offering of pineapple and peach on the palate finish.

Finca Flichman Misterio Malbec 2011, Argentina – 13.3%

Lots of deep aromas of black plums on the nose. Blackberry notes on the palate that creates a subtle finish.

Finca Flichman Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina – 13.5%

Deep aromas of blackcurrant and pepper on the nose, developing into a spice offering on the palate with red fruits and hints of chocolate.

Finca Flichman Paisaje Tupungato, Argentina – 15%

Lively nose of ripe cherry aromas that are also present on the palate. Long, delicate finish.

McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2010, California – 14.5%

Bold aromas of cassis on the nose mixes well with sweet hazelnut. Ripe black fruit flavours on the palate that creates a long lingering finish.

A fantastic varied selection, with both the Chateau Genisson Blanc, AOC Cadillac 2003 and Canapi Pinot Grigio 2011 being personal highlights for me. I’ve decided to keep the tasting notes of the two port selections separate, with the full range of both Offley and Sandeman tried and tested. This will be going live in the near future!

All of the above wines are available via the Stevens Garnier website, and the majority that you have read come in at a reasonable price.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.