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Raleigh man launches Flight 69 gin

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Raleigh entrepreneur Reno Aragon has entered the premium liquor business with his Flight 69 gin.

Aragon, 54, who has long worked in the wine industry, is making a calculated bet that gin will be the new vodka. As the vodka market has exploded with hundreds of flavors from marshmallow to pumpkin pie, Aragon hopes consumers' interest in gin will follow.

His gin got a good review from The Tasting Panel, a beverage industry trade magazine. Editor Meredith May gave it a "wildly infatuated" rating and wrote: "Distilled from California wine grapes, this small-production 80-proof spirit lifts off the nose with a sweet juniper. A persistent aromatic and taste of lavender is present, perfumed and entwined with raspberry and a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, lending a smidgen of weight to the texture. This is a special sipping gin, but we know that, when mixed, it will be sinful."

(While we may not have May's refined palate, our tasters noticed a subtle juniper flavor and a grapey aftertaste.)

The gin is now on sale at state-run liquor stores for $29.95 a bottle. The gin is also available in as set of 15 mini-bottles in a small suitcase, continuing the air travel theme, for $31.50.

For more information about the gin, go to

(A footnote for Wolfpack fans, Aragon's son Brian was an outfielder on the N.C. State baseball team who got drafted by the New York Yankees in 2006.)

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About the blogger

Andrea Weigl has been the food writer at The News & Observer since the summer of 2007. She has won a handful of awards from the Association of Food Journalists and the Society for Features Journalism. Her profile of chef Ashley Christensen titled "A Force of Nature" will be published in the sixth edition of "Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing." She is serving a three-year term on the James Beard Foundation book awards committee. Follow her on Twitter at @andreaweigl.