Looking for a new flavor? Need a little help making your next choice at your local bar or bottle shop? Dining and drinks writer and judge Virginia Miller combs through new craft spirits releases to taste, review, and recommend. Here are her top 12 picks of the month, rated on a scale of one to five.

My bottle review column (last month’s edition here) is about what is unique, standout, new and/or trending in spirits with my review ratings on a 1-5 rating scale. My 10 bottle reviews of the month:


Photo courtesy of Amante 1530

Amante 1530


Amante 1530 is a new aperitif brand from Tuscany’s historic Il Palagio 1530 estate. It’s got a subtle bitterness, but is heavy on floral citrus notes, as well as noticeable ginger. It runs a bit sweet and candied for me — I’d prefer a stronger herbaceous hit. But it’s a great entry-level amaro for those not accustomed to the bitter profiles. It’s obviously ideal for spritzes and breezy soda cocktails, which helps dry out the sweetness, and it works nicely with flavors like cucumber and citrus.
Taste Rating: 3.5


Tenango Rum


Just launched from restaurateur Sophia Deleon to celebrate her Guatemalan heritage, Tenango Rum ($49.99 SRP) is an additive-free rum distilled from Grade A molasses and aged in American white oak. Deleon’s rum tributes her great-grandmother who home distilled cusha, a traditional Guatemalan moonshine. Admirably, Tenango gives back, employing Guatemalan women to hand-make colorful bottle covers, traditional Mayan sheaths woven on a foot loom, reaching to provide sustainable income for over 10,000 families by 2030. At a standard 40% ABV, Tenango is unexpectedly a bit hot on the finish, and heavy on the brown sugar, caramelized sweetness. Though I prefer funky rums, this bracing rum will please those who like caramel, banana, chocolate notes, but not cloyingly sweet rum.
Taste Rating: 3.5


Juliette Peach Liqueur


It runs a bit sweet for me, but Juliette’s elegant, Art Deco-esque bottle and fresh peach flavor stand out. I could use less vanilla and more acid or leanness, but for those who like sweet peach, this is nicely done. Master blender Jean-François Bardou blends a distillate of fruits grown in the French countryside. Cocktail recipes on their site offer combos that help dry out the sweetness.
Taste Rating: 4


Komos Reposado Rosa Tequila 


Taking a “Mediterranean” approach to tequila, Komos’ striking ceramic bottles look Greek.  In the ongoing rosé tequila craze, they’ve released a Reposado rosé tequila aged in French red wine barrels. It’s rosy pink with floral, berry, green agave and subtle caramel notes. Unlike other tequilas in the line that can veer towards the vanilla-caramel side, the rosé is nicely drier, subtle wine tannins.
Taste Rating: 4


Sailor G’s Navy Strength Gin


O.H.S.O. Distillery in Scottsdale, AZ, distills sugarcane-based spirits and is also a brewery and restaurant. Last year (2023), they released Sailor G’s Navy Strength Gin, a bracing and silky gin at 57.1% ABV that is surprisingly clean and silky for its proof. Like all their spirits, it’s a sugarcane base with the same botanicals as their other gins but for the addition of grapefruit and pink peppercorn. This adds a bright, citrus-forward presence that doesn’t (thankfully) mask the herbaceous.
Taste Rating: 4 

RTDs (Ready-to-Drink/Canned or Bottled Drinks)

• Grown Folks


Grown Folks is the first female and black-owned brand featuring soul food-inspired hard seltzer and drinks. Danica Dias founded the brand in Los Angeles, but grew up in Louisiana with Creole heritage, celebrating her family’s black Southern traditions in hard seltzer flavors: Peach Cobbler, Ambrosia, Key Lime (6% ABV), and a refreshing Front Porch Light Lager beer (4.5% ABV). The hard seltzers are made with real fruit juice and fermented sugar, tasting fresh and not saccharine. Key Lime is my favorite, literally expressing the creaminess of the pie with tart lime. These are fun, playful entrants in the seltzer category that are bolder and less subtle than many hard seltzers.
Taste Rating: 4 to 4.5

Photo courtesy of Long Drink

• Finnish Long Drink Peach


The Finnish Long Drink is a crushable, low proof RTD and Finland’s traditional drink, heavy on juniper berry and ideal for gin lovers. Their first new expression in over four years is Peach. At first a limited edition flavor, it’s now launched as part of the permanent line due to its popularity. For those who love peach, it’s bright with ripe peach and floral peach blossoms, but I’m glad to say the juniper berry still comes through.
Taste Rating: 4


Meikle Tòir The Original 5 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Meikle Tòir The Original 5 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky strikes a winning balance of bold peat contrasted by nutty spice, pear, leather, ginger, earthy chocolate and espresso. The nuttiness is warm, while the bold yet not overwhelming smoke finish is long and elegant. This is under-the-radar Scotch is well worth seeking out.
Taste Rating: 4.5


• Westland Distillery Solum 2nd Edition American Single Malt


I’ve long appreciated Seattle-based Westland Distillery’s refined American Single Malt whiskies, Scotch-worthy in their elegance and restraint (my review of their unique Garryana whiskey in 2016). In February 2024, they launched Solum 2nd Edition ($183.58; ABV 50%), aged 53 months in Cooper’s Reserve and Select New American Oak. Solum exhibits all that gorgeous balance of fruit and smoke inherent in their standard American Single Malt. But the higher proof and oak combination exudes more robust notes of rosemary and sage, tobacco, tea tannins and balanced peat. Admirably, also in February, they achieved B Corp™ Certification status, confirming adherence to the highest levels of social and environmental accountability in everything from workers to environmental practises.
Taste Rating: 4.5

• 15 Stars Fine Aged Bourbon


Father and son Rick and Ricky Johnson’s 15 Stars first released First West Rye, but just launched First West bourbon (53% ABV; $139 MSRP), a blend of whiskeys from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, aged 7, 9 and 15 years. Already winning Gold and Double Gold medals at various competitions, the bourbon was released to more states and online on March 25, 2024. The bourbon is not near as tannic as many over-oaked bourbons. Older age mellows it a bit, though it’s still wood-forward with more vanilla, brown sugar, maple sweetness than I prefer, but some welcome layers of rye spice and subtle tobacco.
Taste Rating: 3.5

Ready for another round? Visit Virginia’s website http://www.theperfectspotsf.com/wp02/for last month’s edition, plus personal recommendations on the best spots in cities around the world.

Previous articleAustralia and New Zealand: 2023 in Review
Next articleFrey Ranch Distillery
Founding The Perfect Spot in 2007 sharing top recommends globally in food and drink, Virginia Miller is W. North America Academy Chair for The World's 50 Best Restaurants, regular columnist at The Bold Italic and Medium, Distiller Magazine, American Whiskey Magazine, Whisky Magazine, VOICES, Liquor.com, Gin Magazine, etc. She held roles as Zagat SF/NorCal editor, SF Guardian restaurant critic, Table8 National Editor/VP of Content. Published in over 60 international publications, she’s covered global dining, travel, spirits, cocktails, hotels and bars with regular columns at Time Out, Where Traveler, Google’s Touringbird, Food Republic, Thrillist, Travelux, to name a few. She wrote The Official Emily in Paris Cocktail Book. Virginia consults in dining, spirits, cocktails and drink. She co-created Avion’s Reserva Cristalino tequila with Pernod Ricard’s House of Tequila innovation, marketing and distilling teams and is now working multiple agave spirits projects in Mexico over recent years, including cutting edge innovation products and blends for different clients. She consults for multiple distilleries on short-term projects, whether evaluating and providing feedback on samples or products or multiple versions. She helps create various samples and flavor profiles with distilling teams or in labs, edits or writes tasting notes, provides feedback on marketing materials and leads tastings virtually or in-person. She leads tastings virtually for Whiskies of the World and for company parties or private events, educating on a range of spirits. Virginia creates drink menus for Michelin-starred restaurants (like Dominique Crenn’s Golden Poppy in Paris, a multi-month project creating an entire menu of cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails with stories and photos for the restaurant’s launch). She aids in honing and curating food and drink menus and provides feedback on dishes and drinks. Virginia judges in many international dining, food, spirits, cocktails and bars competitions and awards (including SF World Spirits, ADI Craft Distilling, Tales of the Cocktail, Good Food Awards, IWSC in London, Nola Spirits Comp, Whiskies of the World, etc.) and has visited over 13,000 restaurants and even more. top bars around the world.