All posts in “Drinks”

The 10 Beer Styles Perfect for Fall, and the Ones to Drink

While summer is the time to stick to light and refreshing beers, fall presents opportunities of its own. And no, that doesn’t just mean falling into the trap of pumpkin beers. It’s time to dial down the hops and drink something a little different. Here are 10 beer styles perfect for fall weather, and a few standout examples of each.

Oktoberfest

One to Try: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company x Bitburger Oktoberfest
While Oktoberfest itself is winding down, there isn’t a better beer to signal the changing of seasons. Oktoberfests are malty, medium-bodied and copper in color, presenting a perfect match for the fall. Each year Sierra Nevada partners with a German brewery to produce a collaborative Oktoberfest, and this year’s, made with Bitburger Braugruppe, might be the best yet.

Clocking in at 6 percent ABV, it’s sweet, complex and full of the perfect amount of Oktoberfest spices. Considering it’s the first time ever that Bitburger’s sealed hops and yeast were used outside of Germany, this is a special fall beer and you should get your hands on it if you still can.

Three More:
Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Jack’s Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest
Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

Brown Ale

One to Try: Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale
Brown ales are among the most underappreciated styles out there. They provide a great balance between heavy dark beers and crisp, hoppy brews — especially the American versions.

Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a great example of that; combining caramel, cocoa and malty notes with generous use of American hops to present a light and comforting beer. At only 5.8 percent ABV, it’s one you can drink a few of in the fall and still have a good time.

Three More:
Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

Porter

One to Try: Anchor Brewing Anchor Porter
If you’re more of a light beer drinker and want to dip your toe into the waters of darker beer this season, reach for a porter. Typically lighter than stouts, porters have a thinner mouthfeel and lower malt bitterness thanks to the lack of roasted barley. Notes of chocolate, coffee and a little sweetness make porters the easy-drinking cousin of stouts.

Anchor Steam’s Anchor Porter is as classic as it gets. The first American version ever brewed (in 1972), it offers more fruity notes like dark berries and unroasted coffee. The 5.6 percent ABV brew produces a deep black color and a thick head for a definitive example of American porter.

Three More:
Maui Coconut Porter
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Maine Beer Co. King Titus Porter

Pilsner

One to Try: Allagash Brewing Truepenny
Pilsners and football just go together. The most popular beers in America are pilsners because everyone can understand them, they’re refreshing, they’re light and they have a much more palatable hop character than IPAs. They don’t tend to take many risks, which makes Allagash Brewing’s Truepenny Pilsner all the more brilliant.

It’s a Belgian-style pilsner fermented in two ways: one part of the batch with pilsner yeast and the other with its house Brettanomyces yeast. They then blended those two batches back together to create the first-ever Allagash pilsner. It hits crisp like a traditional lager off the bat but the backend offers more complexity than you’d expect from the style.

Three More:
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Pivo
Three’s Brewing Vliet
Oxbow Brewing Lupplo

Stout

One to Try: Guinness Open Gate Brewery Over the Moon Milk Stout
Stouts usually conjure up images of dark, heavy beers best drank next to a fire on a cold winter’s evening. But not all stouts have to be 13 percent bombs that smack you in the teeth like imperial stouts, barrel-aged stouts or pastry stouts. Even Guiness, the most popular stout int he world, isn’t like that.

But instead of reaching for old reliable, reach for Guinness’s new Over the Moon Milk Stout. Brewed out of the Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s an approachable 5.3 percent ABV that offsets stout’s standard roasted barley by way of cream-like sweetness from milk sugars. It’s an easy entry for those looking to try darker beers in the colder months.

Three More:
Modern Times Black House Stout
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Flanders Red Ale

One to Try: Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic
Few beers can offer an entrypoint into sours and mixed fermentation better than a Flanders red ale. The most near-wine beer out there, oak barrel aging and fermentation by way of lactobacillus and Brettanomyces end up giving this old world style ruby to deep red colors along with a fruity tartness not disimilar to red wine.

When going for this sour ale, a tried-and-true variant like Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic is the way to go. It sets the bar for Flemish red ales, having been brewed since the late 1800s. It consists of 75 percent young beer and 25 percent beer that has been matured in oak foeders for two years. Fresh, softly acidic and sweet, at 5.2 percent ABV it’s as good as it gets.

Three More:
New Belgium La Folie
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales La Roja

Saison

One to Try: Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
Ah, saisons. Where a Flemish red ale might be a bit more sour, a saison can be more citrusy, spicy and carry a earthy, hoppy bitterness. This wildly fermented style relies on lactobacillus (or Brettanomyces) yeast strains but come out with a much more pale, amber color.

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont is the saison all other saisons are compared against. It brings a little more sweetness than others, but remains as complex an any. It clocks in at 6.5 percent ABV and thanks to refermentation that happens in the bottle.

Three More:
Oxbow Brewing Company Farmhouse Pale Ale
Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
Hill Farmstead Brewery Arthur

ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

One to Try: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Moondog Ale
ESB once had a promising presence in America, but for hop-related reasons (we’re looking at you New England-style IPAs) has fallen out of graces along with its American cousin amber ales. But the English-style beer is essentially an ode to fall: malty, mellow and easy drinking. They tend to not be very bitter compared to hop-forward IPAs, and they share a lot in common with fuller amber ales that can be enjoyed on cooler evenings.

Moondog Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co. is a three-time gold medal winner at the World Beer Championships and is one of the best American versions of ESB. A little hoppier than the standard ESB, it brings along those floral hop scents to pair well with crisp, sweet malts and comes through at 5.5 percent ABV.

Three More:
Fuller’s ESB
Red Hook Brewery ESB
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Harvest Ale

Schwarzbier (Black Lager)

One to Try: Uinta Baba Black Lager
Schwarzbiers, German for “black beers,” are even lighter in body than porters and present another great opportunity for giving a go at dark beers. Good black lagers balance roasty malts and chocolates with hoppy crispness for a dry finish.

Produced year-round at Uinta Brewing’s Utah brewery, Baba Black Lager is one of the most readily available in the category. It’s light in body, low in alcohol (4 percent ABV) and offers notes of dark coffee and chocolate. This blends incredibly well with the hop count (38 IBUs) for a smooth dark beer that doesn’t necessarily taste like one.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Bones Shirt
New Belgium 1554 Black Lager
Cigar City Ligero Black Lager

Rauchbier

One to Try: Alaskan Brewing Co. Smoked Porter
While black lagers are arguably the most accessible dark beer, Rauchbiers (also called smoked beers) are going to challenge you. A Rauchbier presents a distinct smokey flavor that comes from the drying of the malts over an open fire. Modern day versions recreate this historical style and blend it with modern brewing flavors to dial up (or down) smokiness in a myriad of different approaches.

That’s why Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter remains one of America’s greatest versions of Rauchbier. For over 30 years, Alaskan Brewing Co. has utilized direct heat from local alder wood to malt its barley — the same technique used for smoked salmon. This limited release seasonal comes in at 6.5 percent ABV and offers a dark, robust body that pairs perfectly with cooking dinner over a fire on a cool fall evening.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Stands to Reason
Fort Point Beer Co. Manzanita
Fox Farm Brewery The Cabin

A Complete Guide to Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon: History and Hype Explained

You’d think Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction — except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy,” other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight. Here’s everything you need to know about America’s most-sought-after spirit.

Pappy History, Abbreviated

Opening Shop: Pappy Van Winkle refers to Julian Sr. “Pappy” Van Winkle, who created the original line of Van Winkle whiskeys. Van Winkle is a Dutch name that loosely translates to “from shopkeeper.” After gaining some experience through jobs and an earlier distilling venture before Prohibition, Julian Sr. opened a new Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1931 at the age of 61 outside of Louisville. He influenced the business until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

A Decades-Long Decline: In the 1970s and 1980s, the public’s drinking preferences shifted towards other spirits (especially vodka), a change that severely damaged the bourbon industry. After years of steady declines in sales and a disagreement between heirs around what to do with the business, Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., sold the Stitzel-Weller distillery and the rights to all of its whiskey brands in 1972 — except for the Old Rip Van Winkle name.

Julian Jr.’s decision to purchase back some of the Stitzel-Weller whiskey stock and bottle it under the Old Rip Van Winkle label had preserved his father’s work to some degree, but the market for Kentucky’s whiskey remained dry. Julian Jr. died in 1981, leaving the Old Rip Van Winkle line and the Stitzel-Weller stocks to his son, Julian III. Around that same time, Stitzel-Weller stopped bottling for the Van Winkle family. So Julian III switched to the Hoffman Distillery down the road in Lawrenceburg to bottle and store his whiskey.

Mr. Pappy Van WInkle himself.

Mr. Pappy Van Winkle himself.

The Comeback: In the late ’80s and early ’90s, bourbon started creeping back into American drinking culture, and Julian III’s brand began garnering attention. He began sourcing older whiskeys he purchased from other distilleries — Stitzel-Weller chief among them — and released a 10-year-old bourbon, followed by 12-, 14- and eventually 20- and 23-year-old bourbons. A Chicago sales rep entered the 20-year-old bottle into the Beverage Tasting Institute’s panel, where it scored a 99. It was the company’s first big break. According to Julian III, the bourbon inside that bottle had been purchased from Wild Turkey, who had acquired it themselves from a distillery called Old Boone. This was the genesis of Pappy hype culture.

Whiskey Craze: The question of who made the juice inside any particular bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is a huge source of debate and interest for die-hard whiskey fans, particularly in the light of the Buffalo Trace partnership. There is no possible way that Buffalo Trace could produce the exact same bourbon that had won Pappy awards in the past.

At some point after 2002, a portion of whiskey produced by Buffalo Trace was being mingled with the old Stitzel-Weller stock to create new bottles of Pappy and Old Rip Van Winkle. The speculation on which vintages of each offering stopped including Stitzel-produced bourbon, a distillery with a certain mystique, have added mystery to Pappy lore, and made older bottles far more valuable.

Today, few names in whiskey demand the money and interest Pappy does, and none trigger the same fanatical cold calling of liquor stores hundreds of miles away.

How to Buy Pappy

Spoilers: short of having a connection with a liquor store owner or distributor, there are no guarantees in the hunt for Pappy. Use these best practices wisely, but temper expectations at the door.

Get on the List: Even the best liquor stores are limited to the allocated bottle count distributed to them. After Buffalo Trace has sent out the year’s allotment, there won’t be new bottles until the next year. This means stores have very few bottles and lots of customers who want them. The most common solution for shops of all sizes is a raffle, so ask the cashier at your local spots if one exists and get yourself on it. Winning the raffle won’t net you a free bottle, but at least you get a chance to buy it.

Look at a Map: Stores in population centers are more likely to be allocated coveted whiskey, but they’re also more likely to pull huge crowds. Stores with less visitors or in lower-populated areas are allocated less of the good stuff. This makes the edges of suburbia prime whiskey hunting territory — where retailers are more likely to receive Pappy and there are fewer people fighting for each bottle.

Be a Good Customer: The simple and sagely advice of all experienced whiskey collectors. Give your business to a store near you over a period of time and you’re more likely to get a “sure” when asking about rare or allocated bottles. It should be noted that this technique is employed more effectively with smaller stores, as larger ones aren’t necessarily fighting to keep every customer that comes through the door.

Open Up Your Wallet: It can be comforting (or obnoxious) to know that once every method is exhausted, there are always sellers somewhere out there. It could be a friend of a friend, some guy on Craigslist or an exchange through Facebook direct message, but rest assured someone out there is willing to take you for all you’re worth for the whiskey you seek. It will be expensive and you could get ripped off (fake Pappy is not uncommon), but, like it or not, these secondary buying markets do exist.

Mark Your Calendar: The Pappy Van Winkle Collection releases around the same time every year — late October to November. Whether you’re chasing it at retail (best of luck!), signing up for raffles or resigning yourself to paying exorbitant secondary market prices, that’s when new bottles begin circulating. Be warned: most shop owners are either hesitant to provide, or flat-out don’t know, when their allocation will arrive. Shipping to stores can vary by region, state and city; short of having a friend who works for the distributor, you won’t know exactly when it’s landing.

Pappy-Van-winkle-Bottles-Gear-Patrol

Every Bottle of Pappy, Explained

The Pappy Van Winkle Collection is made up of six bottles. Find tasting information, retail prices and street prices for all six here.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year

Retail Price: $70
Street Price: ~$500
Proof: 107

A charming, out-of-place wizard with a rifle pressed across his chest dons the label of the most available of the Van Winkle whiskeys. It’s just under barrel proof, with a splash of water added after it’s batched to reign it in. Its proof and age mean there’s a flavor punch, but it’s mostly baking spices, wood and alcohol, rather than the sweetness that earned Pappy its rep. It’s a great bottle to track down for completionists or those who just want a bottle for bragging rights.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year

Retail Price: $80
Street Price: ~$700
Proof: 90

Special Reserve 12-year is the Van Winkle whiskey for the Basil Hayden’s drinker. Forgive the heresy of this comparison, anyone who’s tried it knows it to be true. Its lower proof (90) and average maturation time (for Pappy, at least) means you don’t get harsher alcohol burn on the nose or palate and you don’t get swallowed up by oak tannins. That said, like Basil Hayden’s, it’s satisfying for everyone from the novice to the seasoned pro.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,000
Proof: 107

Only three of the bottles in the greater Pappy Van Winkle Collection bear the word “Pappy” on them — this is the youngest. It’s different from its fellow PVW bottles in one major way, and a few minor ones. Major: it’s bottled at barrel proof (107), the only expression in the collection handled that way. So while you get some of the sweetness associated with older Pappy, you also get a thick, oily body and a healthy burn on the first few sips. It used to be the go-to Pappy for those tip-toeing into the collection, but its second-hand price has climbed from splurge to you-better-check-your-bank-account in recent years.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-Year

Retail Price: $200
Street Price: ~$1,500
Proof: 90

The most-awarded of the Pappys, it’s often said 20-year can be mistaken for a fine cognac. It’s significantly lower proof (90) than its compatriots, sacrificing its body for a wicked balance of wood tannins and fruity sweetness. This bottle hasn’t been a reasonable buy in decades, so don’t expect to find any deals here.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year

Retail Price: $300
Street Price: ~$2,400
Proof: 96

This is unobtanium. The oldest of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserves sits right between its younger siblings in proof (96), but distant in flavor. The last three years of maturation it boasts over the 20-year are very clear — this is a woody, tannic, mouth-drying whiskey. Some of the floral, fruit-driven sweetness of the 15- and 20-year is diminished because of this. This isn’t to say it’s not an exceptional sipper; rather, it’s not what anyone would call “smooth.” If you find it under $1,000 anywhere, buy it — you’ll be able to sell it to some schmuck for at least twice that much.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,250
Proof: 96

This is a rye, but we can assume it isn’t a high-rye. The stuff drinks just like bourbon and is probably the second or third best-reviewed of the entire collection. It’s one of the oldest ryes on the market (Sazerac Rye from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection steals the crown) and it shows in spades — whatever spiciness you associate with rye is bowled over by a rich mix of tobacco, honey, toffee and fruit. This is the Van Winkle whiskey for the whiskey nerd in your life.

The Complete Guide to Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Whiskey: Hype and History Explained

You’d think Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction — except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy,” other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight. Here’s everything you need to know about America’s most-sought-after spirit.

Pappy History, Abbreviated

Opening Shop: Pappy Van Winkle refers to Julian Sr. “Pappy” Van Winkle, who created the original line of Van Winkle whiskeys. Van Winkle is a Dutch name that loosely translates to “from shopkeeper.” After gaining some experience through jobs and an earlier distilling venture before Prohibition, Julian Sr. opened a new Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1931 at the age of 61 outside of Louisville. He influenced the business until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

A Decades-Long Decline: In the 1970s and 1980s, the public’s drinking preferences shifted towards other spirits (especially vodka), a change that severely damaged the bourbon industry. After years of steady declines in sales and a disagreement between heirs around what to do with the business, Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., sold the Stitzel-Weller distillery and the rights to all of its whiskey brands in 1972 — except for the Old Rip Van Winkle name.

Julian Jr.’s decision to purchase back some of the Stitzel-Weller whiskey stock and bottle it under the Old Rip Van Winkle label had preserved his father’s work to some degree, but the market for Kentucky’s whiskey remained dry. Julian Jr. died in 1981, leaving the Old Rip Van Winkle line and the Stitzel-Weller stocks to his son, Julian III. Around that same time, Stitzel-Weller stopped bottling for the Van Winkle family. So Julian III switched to the Hoffman Distillery down the road in Lawrenceburg to bottle and store his whiskey.

Mr. Pappy Van WInkle himself.

Mr. Pappy Van Winkle himself.

The Comeback: In the late ’80s and early ’90s, bourbon started creeping back into American drinking culture, and Julian III’s brand began garnering attention. He began sourcing older whiskeys he purchased from other distilleries — Stitzel-Weller chief among them — and released a 10-year-old bourbon, followed by 12-, 14- and eventually 20- and 23-year-old bourbons. A Chicago sales rep entered the 20-year-old bottle into the Beverage Tasting Institute’s panel, where it scored a 99. It was the company’s first big break. According to Julian III, the bourbon inside that bottle had been purchased from Wild Turkey, who had acquired it themselves from a distillery called Old Boone. This was the genesis of Pappy hype culture.

Whiskey Craze: The question of who made the juice inside any particular bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is a huge source of debate and interest for die-hard whiskey fans, particularly in the light of the Buffalo Trace partnership. There is no possible way that Buffalo Trace could produce the exact same bourbon that had won Pappy awards in the past.

At some point after 2002, a portion of whiskey produced by Buffalo Trace was being mingled with the old Stitzel-Weller stock to create new bottles of Pappy and Old Rip Van Winkle. The speculation on which vintages of each offering stopped including Stitzel-produced bourbon, a distillery with a certain mystique, have added mystery to Pappy lore, and made older bottles far more valuable.

Today, few names in whiskey demand the money and interest Pappy does, and none trigger the same fanatical cold calling of liquor stores hundreds of miles away.

How to Buy Pappy

Spoilers: short of having a connection with a liquor store owner or distributor, there are no guarantees in the hunt for Pappy. Use these best practices wisely, but temper expectations at the door.

Get on the List: Even the best liquor stores are limited to the allocated bottle count distributed to them. After Buffalo Trace has sent out the year’s allotment, there won’t be new bottles until the next year. This means stores have very few bottles and lots of customers who want them. The most common solution for shops of all sizes is a raffle, so ask the cashier at your local spots if one exists and get yourself on it. Winning the raffle won’t net you a free bottle, but at least you get a chance to buy it.

Look at a Map: Stores in population centers are more likely to be allocated coveted whiskey, but they’re also more likely to pull huge crowds. Stores with less visitors or in lower-populated areas are allocated less of the good stuff. This makes the edges of suburbia prime whiskey hunting territory — where retailers are more likely to receive Pappy and there are fewer people fighting for each bottle.

Be a Good Customer: The simple and sagely advice of all experienced whiskey collectors. Give your business to a store near you over a period of time and you’re more likely to get a “sure” when asking about rare or allocated bottles. It should be noted that this technique is employed more effectively with smaller stores, as larger ones aren’t necessarily fighting to keep every customer that comes through the door.

Open Up Your Wallet: It can be comforting (or obnoxious) to know that once every method is exhausted, there are always sellers somewhere out there. It could be a friend of a friend, some guy on Craigslist or an exchange through Facebook direct message, but rest assured someone out there is willing to take you for all you’re worth for the whiskey you seek. It will be expensive and you could get ripped off (fake Pappy is not uncommon), but, like it or not, these secondary buying markets do exist.

Mark Your Calendar: The Pappy Van Winkle Collection releases around the same time every year — late October to November. Whether you’re chasing it at retail (best of luck!), signing up for raffles or resigning yourself to paying exorbitant secondary market prices, that’s when new bottles begin circulating. Be warned: most shop owners are either hesitant to provide, or flat-out don’t know, when their allocation will arrive. Shipping to stores can vary by region, state and city; short of having a friend who works for the distributor, you won’t know exactly when it’s landing.

Pappy-Van-winkle-Bottles-Gear-Patrol

Every Bottle of Pappy, Explained

The Pappy Van Winkle Collection is made up of six bottles. Find tasting information, retail prices and street prices for all six here.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year

Retail Price: $70
Street Price: ~$500
Proof: 107

A charming, out-of-place wizard with a rifle pressed across his chest dons the label of the most available of the Van Winkle whiskeys. It’s just under barrel proof, with a splash of water added after it’s batched to reign it in. Its proof and age mean there’s a flavor punch, but it’s mostly baking spices, wood and alcohol, rather than the sweetness that earned Pappy its rep. It’s a great bottle to track down for completionists or those who just want a bottle for bragging rights.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year

Retail Price: $80
Street Price: ~$700
Proof: 90

Special Reserve 12-year is the Van Winkle whiskey for the Basil Hayden’s drinker. Forgive the heresy of this comparison, anyone who’s tried it knows it to be true. Its lower proof (90) and average maturation time (for Pappy, at least) means you don’t get harsher alcohol burn on the nose or palate and you don’t get swallowed up by oak tannins. That said, like Basil Hayden’s, it’s satisfying for everyone from the novice to the seasoned pro.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,000
Proof: 107

Only three of the bottles in the greater Pappy Van Winkle Collection bear the word “Pappy” on them — this is the youngest. It’s different from its fellow PVW bottles in one major way, and a few minor ones. Major: it’s bottled at barrel proof (107), the only expression in the collection handled that way. So while you get some of the sweetness associated with older Pappy, you also get a thick, oily body and a healthy burn on the first few sips. It used to be the go-to Pappy for those tip-toeing into the collection, but its second-hand price has climbed from splurge to you-better-check-your-bank-account in recent years.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-Year

Retail Price: $200
Street Price: ~$1,500
Proof: 90

The most-awarded of the Pappys, it’s often said 20-year can be mistaken for a fine cognac. It’s significantly lower proof (90) than its compatriots, sacrificing its body for a wicked balance of wood tannins and fruity sweetness. This bottle hasn’t been a reasonable buy in decades, so don’t expect to find any deals here.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year

Retail Price: $300
Street Price: ~$2,400
Proof: 96

This is unobtanium. The oldest of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserves sits right between its younger siblings in proof (96), but distant in flavor. The last three years of maturation it boasts over the 20-year are very clear — this is a woody, tannic, mouth-drying whiskey. Some of the floral, fruit-driven sweetness of the 15- and 20-year is diminished because of this. This isn’t to say it’s not an exceptional sipper; rather, it’s not what anyone would call “smooth.” If you find it under $1,000 anywhere, buy it — you’ll be able to sell it to some schmuck for at least twice that much.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,250
Proof: 96

This is a rye, but we can assume it isn’t a high-rye. The stuff drinks just like bourbon and is probably the second or third best-reviewed of the entire collection. It’s one of the oldest ryes on the market (Sazerac Rye from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection steals the crown) and it shows in spades — whatever spiciness you associate with rye is bowled over by a rich mix of tobacco, honey, toffee and fruit. This is the Van Winkle whiskey for the whiskey nerd in your life.

These 10 Beer Styles Are Perfect for Fall, and There’s No Pumpkin in Any of Them

While summer is the time to stick to light and refreshing beers, fall presents opportunities of its own. And no, that doesn’t just mean falling into the trap of pumpkin beers. It’s time to dial down the hops and drink something a little different. Here are 10 beer styles perfect for fall weather, and a few standout examples of each.

Oktoberfest

One to Try: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company x Bitburger Oktoberfest
While Oktoberfest itself is winding down, there isn’t a better beer to signal the changing of seasons. Oktoberfests are malty, medium-bodied and copper in color, presenting a perfect match for the fall. Each year Sierra Nevada partners with a German brewery to produce a collaborative Oktoberfest, and this year’s, made with Bitburger Braugruppe, might be the best yet.

Clocking in at 6 percent ABV, it’s sweet, complex and full of the perfect amount of Oktoberfest spices. Considering it’s the first time ever that Bitburger’s sealed hops and yeast were used outside of Germany, this is a special fall beer and you should get your hands on if you still can.

Three More:
Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Jack’s Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest
Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

Brown Ale

One to Try: Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale
Brown ales are among the most underappreciated styles out there. They provide a great balance between heavy dark beers and crisp, hoppy brews — especially the American versions.

Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a great example of that; combining caramel, cocoa and malty notes with generous use of American hops to present a light and comforting beer. At only 5.8 percent ABV, it’s one you can drink a few of in the fall and still have a good time.

Three More:
Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

Porter

One to Try: Anchor Brewing Anchor Porter
If you’re more of a light beer drinker and want to dip your toe into the waters of darker beer this season, reach for a porter. Typically lighter than stouts, porters have a thinner mouthfeel and lower malt bitterness thanks to the lack of roasted barley. Notes of chocolate, coffee and a little sweetness make porters the easy-drinking cousin of stouts.

Anchor Steam’s Anchor Porter is as classic as it gets. The first American version ever brewed (in 1972), it offers more fruity notes like dark berries and unroasted coffee. The 5.6 percent ABV brew produces a deep black color and a thick head for a definitive example of American porter.

Three More:
Maui Coconut Porter
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Maine Beer Co. King Titus Porter

Pilsner

One to Try: Allagash Brewing Truepenny
Pilsners and football just go together. The most popular beers in America are pilsners because everyone can understand them, they’re refreshing, they’re light and they have a much more palatable hop character than IPAs. They don’t tend to take many risks, which makes Allagash Brewing’s Truepenny Pilsner all the more brilliant.

It’s a Belgian-style pilsner fermented in two ways: one part of the batch with pilsner yeast and the other with its house Brettanomyces yeast. They then blended those two batches back together to create the first-ever Allagash pilsner. It hits crisp like a traditional lager off the bat but the backend offers more complexity than you’d expect from the style.

Three More:
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Pivo
Three’s Brewing Vliet
Oxbow Brewing Lupplo

Stout

One to Try: Guinness Open Gate Brewery Over the Moon Milk Stout
Stout usually conjures up images of dark, heavy beers best drank next to a fire on a cold winter’s evening. But not all stouts have to be 13 percent bombs that smack you in the teeth like imperial stouts, barrel-aged stouts or pastry stouts. Even Guiness, the most popular stout int he world, isn’t like that.

But instead of reaching for old reliable, reach for Guinness’s new Over the Moon Milk Stout. Brewed out of the Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s an approachable 5.3 percent ABV that offsets stout’s standard roasted barley by way of cream-like sweetness from milk sugars. This beer isn’t vegan, but it’s an easy entry for those looking to try darker beers in the colder months.

Three More:
Modern Times Black House Stout
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Flanders Red Ale

One to Try: Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic
Few beers can offer an entrypoint into sours and mixed fermentation better than a Flanders red ale. The most near-wine beer out there, oak barrel aging and fermentation by way of lactobacillus and Brettanomyces end up giving this old world style ruby to deep red colors along with a fruity tartness not disimilar to red wine.

When going for this sour ale, a tried-and-true variant like Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic is the way to go. It sets the bar for Flemish red ales, having been brewed since the late 1800s. It consists of 75 percent young beer and 25 percent beer that has been matured in oak foeders for two years. Fresh, softly acidic and sweet, at 5.2 percent ABV it’s as good as it gets.

Three More:
New Belgium La Folie
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales La Roja

Saison

One to Try: Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
Ah, saisons. Where a Flemish red ale might be a bit more sour, a saison can be more citrusy, spicy and carry a earthy, hoppy bitterness. This wildly fermented style relies on lactobacillus (or Brettanomyces) yeast strains but come out with a much more pale, amber color.

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont is the saison all other saisons are compared against. It brings a little more sweetness than others, but remains as complex an any. It clocks in at 6.5 percent ABV and thanks to refermentation that happens in the bottle.

Three More:
Oxbow Brewing Company Farmhouse Pale Ale
Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
Hill Farmstead Brewery Arthur

ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

One to Try: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Moondog Ale
ESB once had a promising presence in America, but for hop-related reasons (we’re looking at you New England-style IPAs) has fallen out of graces along with its American cousin amber ales. But the English-style beer is essentially an ode to fall: malty, mellow and easy drinking. They tend to not be very bitter compared to hop-forward IPAs, and they share a lot in common with fuller amber ales that can be enjoyed on cooler evenings.

Moondog Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co. is a three-time gold medal winner at the World Beer Championships and is one of the best American versions of ESB. A little hoppier than the standard ESB, it brings along those floral hop scents to pair well with crisp, sweet malts and comes through at 5.5 percent ABV.

Three More:
Fuller’s ESB
Red Hook Brewery ESB
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Harvest Ale

Schwarzbier (Black Lager)

One to Try: Uinta Baba Black Lager
Schwarzbiers, German for “black beers,” are even lighter in body than porters and present another great opportunity for giving a go at dark beers. Good black lagers balance roasty malts and chocolates with hoppy crispness for a dry finish.

Produced year-round at Uinta Brewing’s Utah brewery, Baba Black Lager is one of the most readily available in the category. It’s light in body, low in alcohol (4 percent ABV) and offers notes of dark coffee and chocolate. This blends incredibly well with the hop count (38 IBUs) for a smooth dark beer that doesn’t necessarily taste like one.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Bones Shirt
New Belgium 1554 Black Lager
Cigar City Ligero Black Lager

Rauchbier

One to Try: Alaskan Brewing Co. Smoked Porter
While black lagers are arguably the most accessible dark beer, Rauchbiers (also called smoked beers) are going to challenge you. A rauchbier presents a distinct smokey flavor that comes from the drying of the malts over an open fire. Modern day versions recreate this historical style and blend it with modern brewing flavors to dial up (or down) smokiness in a myriad of different approaches.

That’s why Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter remains one of America’s greatest versions of rauchbier. For over 30 years, Alaskan Brewing Co. has utilized direct heat from local alder wood to malt its barley — the same technique used for smoked salmon. This limited release seasonal comes in at 6.5 percent ABV and offers a dark, robust body that pairs perfect with cooking dinner over a fire on a cool fall evening.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Stands to Reason
Fort Point Beer Co. Manzanita
Fox Farm Brewery The Cabin

10 Great Beer Styles for the Fall That Aren’t Pumpkin

While summer is the time to stick to light and refreshing beers, fall presents opportunities of its own. And no, that doesn’t just mean falling into the trap of pumpkin beers. It’s time to dial down the hops and drink something a little different. Here are 10 beer styles perfect for fall weather, and a few standout examples of each.

Oktoberfest

One to Try: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company x Bitburger Oktoberfest
While Oktoberfest itself is winding down, there isn’t a better beer to signal the changing of seasons. Oktoberfests are malty, medium-bodied and copper in color, presenting a perfect match for the fall. Each year Sierra Nevada partners with a German brewery to produce a collaborative Oktoberfest, and this year’s, made with Bitburger Braugruppe, might be the best yet.

Clocking in at 6 percent ABV, it’s sweet, complex and full of the perfect amount of Oktoberfest spices. Considering it’s the first time ever that Bitburger’s sealed hops and yeast were used outside of Germany, this is a special fall beer and you should get your hands on if you still can.

Three More:
Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Jack’s Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest
Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

Brown Ale

One to Try: Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale
Brown ales are among the most underappreciated styles out there. They provide a great balance between heavy dark beers and crisp, hoppy brews — especially the American versions.

Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a great example of that; combining caramel, cocoa and malty notes with generous use of American hops to present a light and comforting beer. At only 5.8 percent ABV, it’s one you can drink a few of in the fall and still have a good time.

Three More:
Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

Porter

One to Try: Anchor Brewing Anchor Porter
If you’re more of a light beer drinker and want to dip your toe into the waters of darker beer this season, reach for a porter. Typically lighter than stouts, porters have a thinner mouthfeel and lower malt bitterness thanks to the lack of roasted barley. Notes of chocolate, coffee and a little sweetness make porters the easy-drinking cousin of stouts.

Anchor Steam’s Anchor Porter is as classic as it gets. The first American version ever brewed (in 1972), it offers more fruity notes like dark berries and unroasted coffee. The 5.6 percent ABV brew produces a deep black color and a thick head for a definitive example of American porter.

Three More:
Maui Coconut Porter
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Maine Beer Co. King Titus Porter

Pilsner

One to Try: Allagash Brewing Truepenny
Pilsners and football just go together. The most popular beers in America are pilsners because everyone can understand them, they’re refreshing, they’re light and they have a much more palatable hop character than IPAs. They don’t tend to take many risks, which makes Allagash Brewing’s Truepenny Pilsner all the more brilliant.

It’s a Belgian-style pilsner fermented in two ways: one part of the batch with pilsner yeast and the other with its house Brettanomyces yeast. They then blended those two batches back together to create the first-ever Allagash pilsner. It hits crisp like a traditional lager off the bat but the backend offers more complexity than you’d expect from the style.

Three More:
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Pivo
Three’s Brewing Vliet
Oxbow Brewing Lupplo

Stout

One to Try: Guinness Open Gate Brewery Over the Moon Milk Stout
Stout usually conjures up images of dark, heavy beers best drank next to a fire on a cold winter’s evening. But not all stouts have to be 13 percent bombs that smack you in the teeth like imperial stouts, barrel-aged stouts or pastry stouts. Even Guiness, the most popular stout int he world, isn’t like that.

But instead of reaching for old reliable, reach for Guinness’s new Over the Moon Milk Stout. Brewed out of the Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s an approachable 5.3 percent ABV that offsets stout’s standard roasted barley by way of cream-like sweetness from milk sugars. This beer isn’t vegan, but it’s an easy entry for those looking to try darker beers in the colder months.

Three More:
Modern Times Black House Stout
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Flanders Red Ale

One to Try: Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic
Few beers can offer an entrypoint into sours and mixed fermentation better than a Flanders red ale. The most near-wine beer out there, oak barrel aging and fermentation by way of lactobacillus and Brettanomyces end up giving this old world style ruby to deep red colors along with a fruity tartness not disimilar to red wine.

When going for this sour ale, a tried-and-true variant like Brouwerij Rodenbach Classic is the way to go. It sets the bar for Flemish red ales, having been brewed since the late 1800s. It consists of 75 percent young beer and 25 percent beer that has been matured in oak foeders for two years. Fresh, softly acidic and sweet, at 5.2 percent ABV it’s as good as it gets.

Three More:
New Belgium La Folie
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales La Roja

Saison

One to Try: Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
Ah, saisons. Where a Flemish red ale might be a bit more sour, a saison can be more citrusy, spicy and carry a earthy, hoppy bitterness. This wildly fermented style relies on lactobacillus (or Brettanomyces) yeast strains but come out with a much more pale, amber color.

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont is the saison all other saisons are compared against. It brings a little more sweetness than others, but remains as complex an any. It clocks in at 6.5 percent ABV and thanks to refermentation that happens in the bottle.

Three More:
Oxbow Brewing Company Farmhouse Pale Ale
Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
Hill Farmstead Brewery Arthur

ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

One to Try: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Moondog Ale
ESB once had a promising presence in America, but for hop-related reasons (we’re looking at you New England-style IPAs) has fallen out of graces along with its American cousin amber ales. But the English-style beer is essentially an ode to fall: malty, mellow and easy drinking. They tend to not be very bitter compared to hop-forward IPAs, and they share a lot in common with fuller amber ales that can be enjoyed on cooler evenings.

Moondog Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co. is a three-time gold medal winner at the World Beer Championships and is one of the best American versions of ESB. A little hoppier than the standard ESB, it brings along those floral hop scents to pair well with crisp, sweet malts and comes through at 5.5 percent ABV.

Three More:
Fuller’s ESB
Red Hook Brewery ESB
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Harvest Ale

Schwarzbier (Black Lager)

One to Try: Uinta Baba Black Lager
Schwarzbiers, German for “black beers,” are even lighter in body than porters and present another great opportunity for giving a go at dark beers. Good black lagers balance roasty malts and chocolates with hoppy crispness for a dry finish.

Produced year-round at Uinta Brewing’s Utah brewery, Baba Black Lager is one of the most readily available in the category. It’s light in body, low in alcohol (4 percent ABV) and offers notes of dark coffee and chocolate. This blends incredibly well with the hop count (38 IBUs) for a smooth dark beer that doesn’t necessarily taste like one.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Bones Shirt
New Belgium 1554 Black Lager
Cigar City Ligero Black Lager

Rauchbier

One to Try: Alaskan Brewing Co. Smoked Porter
While black lagers are arguably the most accessible dark beer, Rauchbiers (also called smoked beers) are going to challenge you. A rauchbier presents a distinct smokey flavor that comes from the drying of the malts over an open fire. Modern day versions recreate this historical style and blend it with modern brewing flavors to dial up (or down) smokiness in a myriad of different approaches.

That’s why Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter remains one of America’s greatest versions of rauchbier. For over 30 years, Alaskan Brewing Co. has utilized direct heat from local alder wood to malt its barley — the same technique used for smoked salmon. This limited release seasonal comes in at 6.5 percent ABV and offers a dark, robust body that pairs perfect with cooking dinner over a fire on a cool fall evening.

Three More:
Suarez Family Brewery Stands to Reason
Fort Point Beer Co. Manzanita
Fox Farm Brewery The Cabin

One of the Best IPAs in America Now Comes as a Double

Every month, a huge amount of booze moves through the Gear Patrol offices — beer, wine and a whole lot of whiskey. Here are a few of our favorites.

Bell’s Double Two Hearted Ale

When nearly every brewery continues to double down on hazy and fruity New England IPAs, Bell’s decided it was time to double down on its flagship beer. Double Two Hearted Ale is a beefed-up, double IPA varietal of the standard Two Hearted Ale. Brewed with 100 percent Centennial hops (just two-and-a-half times more than normal), clocking in at 11 percent ABV (compared to 7 percent) and 91 IBUs (compared to 55 IBUs), it’s more like old school West Coast IPAs than what most other brewers are making. Be warned: the heightened bitterness will challenge your palate. That challenge is worth the reward for one of these, though.

Maker’s Mark Limited Release RC6 Bourbon

For decades, Maker’s Mark remained devoted to being a one-bottle brand. Then, about five or so years back, it decided to hell with that and started releasing what Maker’s loyalists wanted. The brand released barrel proof bottles, smaller experimental expressions and expanded its barrel reserve program. Then, last month, it announced the release of its first annual, limited edition release, and it’s a doozy. Maker’s Mark RC6 is a $60 bottle of 108 Makers that spends the last nine weeks of aging with a number of very specific wood staves shoves in the barrel. The staves, developed by Independent Stave Company, were designed to bring out the fruity notes in Maker’s Mark’s base yeast. It worked. This whiskey tastes like apple pie in the best way possible.

Creature Comforts Dayspring

If you’re not drinking grisettes, take this as your notice that you should be. While there are plenty of regional breweries making attainable options of this old world beer, Creature Comforts has been perfectly Dayspring for four years. This 5.3 percent ABV cousin to saison is light, snappy and made with local Athens, Georgia wheat. Available in 750ml bottles at select locations where Creature Comforts can be found, it’s the ideal summer sendoff beer.

Tozai Night Swim Sake

I wouldn’t blame anyone for hesitating before picking up a sixer of canned sake. But Night Swim is legitimately satisfying, so long as you like your sake. It tastes a bit like banana and pear with a very slight hint of citrus, and it goes down easy despite its 14 percent ABV. Tozai’s Night Swim is not something I’d want to stock an entire fridge with, but it may be the perfect salve for those nights when you don’t really want a beer, wine or liquor.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

One of Kentucky’s Most Storied Bourbons Will Hit Shelves for the First Time Since Prohibition

In June, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company released its first new bourbon in 102 years.

Kentucky Peerless halted whiskey-making after the beginning of World War I with the ratification of the 18th Amendment. The second-largest whiskey distillery in Kentucky at the time of its closure, it was revived in 2015 by the original founder’s great-grandson, Corky Taylor, and re-debuted with a rye.

The bourbon is another addition to the non-chill filtered bourbon space. It’s also technically cask strength, despite clocking in at a comparatively low 107 proof. This is due to a low barrel entry proof, a distilling style used by the likes of Wild Turkey and Michter’s. Also notable is the use of a sweet mash in place of the more typical sour mash — a switch many newer whiskey distillers have gone with of late.

Starting now, the former Kentucky-exclusive bourbon will be found on shelves in New York, Florida, Texas, California, Illinois and Georgia as well, with nationwide availability to follow. Suggested retail price for bottles of the four-year-old bourbon is set at $70.

This Is the Tailgating Cocktail to End All Tailgating Cocktails

Those familiar with cocktails, whiskey, beer, spirits or really anything with alcohol in it have probably read Aaron Goldfarb’s work. He’s written on everything from the only whiskey more hyped than Pappy Van Winkle to the deep-cut cool of green bottles of beer. But Goldfarb interests don’t stop at high-minded boozing — he is equally capable of crafting a cocktail that’s made in the Igloo coolers you put Gatorade in.

Behold what Goldfarb aptly calls “The Igloo Cooler… Cooler” in his new book, Gather Around Cocktails, a collection of drinks to celebrate “usual and unusual holidays.” It serves north of 60 cocktails and it includes such ingredient requirements as 60 limes and 25 cucumbers, and it will be your go-to tailgating fix this fall. This is how to make it.

The Igloo Cooler… Cooler

Makes 60 to 80 cocktails
8 (750-milliliter) bottles of gin
25 cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus extra slices for garnish
12½ cupes lime juice (about 60 limes), plus extra wedges for garnish
12½ cups classic simple syrup
Soda water or tonic (optional)

1. Puree the cucumbers in a food processor or a juicer until you get a pulpy juice. Strain through a mesh colander.

2. In an Igloo cooler, combine the cucumber juice, gin, lime juice and syrup, and stir. Top the cooler with ice.

3. Guests can serve themselves directly from the spigot, then top with soda water for a lighter drink, and garnish with the cucumber slices and lime wedges.

“Craft Whiskey” Sucks. Here’s Why

A version of this article originally appeared in Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “Message on a Bottle.” Subscribe today

In early 2014, Templeton Rye was one of the country’s most exciting young whiskey brands. It had a handsome bottle, an old-fashioned label and a great hook: its amber-colored rye was made using a “Prohibition-era recipe” favored by famous mobster Al Capone. It was especially disappointing, then, when all that turned out to be bogus: Templeton was buying aged rye whiskey from MGP, an Indiana-based industrial spirits supplier, blending it with “alcohol flavoring formulation,” cutting it with water, and then labeling it “Small Batch” in big black letters on the label.

“Sourcing,” as the practice is called, is not itself a sin in whiskey making. Some brands practice it to great effect: beloved labels like Willett Distillery, in Kentucky, have built sound reputations on buying other people’s juice and adjusting it, either through aging or blending or both. But being less than truthful about sourcing is blasphemy in the whiskey world. Templeton Rye faced three class-action lawsuits, and as a result, it was forced to remove “small batch” and “Prohibition-era recipe” from its labels, as well as refund buyers three dollars a bottle for up to six bottles.

Templeton’s story is extreme, but it’s also just one footnote in a wider debate about what constitutes a “craft” spirit at a time when that designation is increasingly attractive to a liquor industry with over $3 billion in annual sales. One would imagine that, in the wake of the scandal, whiskey makers would have rushed to set a definition of “craft whiskey” — for self-preservation if nothing else. Instead, five years on, no one can seem to agree what those words mean, or should mean. For distillers and those in the spirits industry, it’s been cause for frustration, division and distrust; for consumers, who are inclined to pay a premium for something they think is made with extra care, it can be damn confusing, and, in its worst cases, outright misleading.
“You can tell these words mean different things to different people, but you’re not sure what they mean and why,” says Chip Tate, the founder and former head distiller at the award-winning Balcones Distilling, who now heads his own brand, Tate & Co
Thomas Mooney, inaugural president of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and founder of Westward Whiskey, likens the debate to “talking religion.”

The ACSA tried, in 2014, to set a sort of definition for a “craft spirit” by limiting voting memberships to labels that adhered to certain volume limits (750,000 proof-gallons per year) and ownership restrictions, including signing an ethics document committing to transparency. The problem came when, in an attempt not to stifle future growth, the association set the production limits so high as to be effectively meaningless.

“In the room that day, when we decided what size thresholds should be, the decision we made was: big enough that we wouldn’t have to up the volume ceiling as everyone got bigger,” Mooney says. “In hindsight, we aimed laughably high.”
The ACSA wasn’t attempting to be a governing body; it just wanted to create an organization for the small(er) guys. But this optimism created a massive umbrella under which even the largest commercial-grade distillers (that is: Jack Daniels, Beam-Suntory, Heaven Hill and Four Roses) can lay some claim to the “craft” designation. Most don’t waste the opportunity.

Adam Harris, American whiskey ambassador of Beam-Suntory, which owns Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and a handful of Scotch and Japanese whisky brands, including Laphroaig and Yamazaki: “We practice the craft every day with everything that we do.”

Conor O’Driscoll, head distiller of Heaven Hill: “At Heaven Hill Distillery you will often hear people say we were ‘craft’ before craft was cool.”

Part of the conundrum stems from the fact that the term carries a lot of weight in other food and drink circles — especially beer.

“The lines are very stark between craft beer and not-craft beer,” says James Montero, the general manager for Dogfish Head Brewery’s growing spirits line. But whiskey is not like beer, where “small” can often be treated as a synonym for “good,” or at least “considered;” even the largest whiskey distillers are among the most respected practitioners in the world, consistently releasing great products, largely at affordable prices, including the occasional gems that win major awards.

Medium-sized distilleries seem to be running from the term. Dogfish is an active member of ACSA and refers to itself as a “craft distillery,” but Montero avoids the term “craft” to describe his spirits (he prefers another made-up term, “scratch-made-goodness,” to describe Dogfish expressions). Michter’s, a popular new brand that both sources and distills its own whiskey, similarly does not call itself craft. Founder Joe Magliocco considers the term empty and wants people to focus instead on the specific whiskey-making process.


Then there’s the small guys, the ones who round out the bottom-end of ACSA’s definition. For some, being a craft distiller is about the freedom to experiment, to take risks the big companies won’t, and to work hands-on with small batches.
“What’s essential to ‘craft’ has mostly to do with a frame of mind,” says Chip Tate. In his mind, that means whiskey that is artistically and creatively motivated, rather than driven by market research or consumer studies. “What’s the difference between a fine-arts painter and a person who does really nice interior work? One person asks the client what they want, and then paints to please them. The artist is making the art for themselves — and then, maybe, it pleases the client.”

There are of course small distillers who could profit from using the “craft” label but can’t be bothered with all the noise. “I’m not worried about this ‘craft’ business, which has become mostly nonsense,” says Jedd Haas, founder and distiller at New Orleans-based Atelier Vie; his distillery clearly falls under the ACSA definition but he says he “punts” on the craftsmanship label. “I just try and create art.”

And where are consumers in all this? The general whiskey-drinking public doesn’t know or doesn’t care; Templeton, which now distills its own whiskey, only grew further after settling its lawsuits, and in 2018 opened a $35 million distillery complete with a museum. Meanwhile, enthusiasts continue to be asked by the industry to define “craft whiskey” for themselves. This is the industry punting on the term; it’s a tacit erosion of the definition of craftsmanship for short-term profit-chasing.

Across the country, fantastic whiskey (along with mediocre and poor stuff) is being made by both large and small distillers. Whether “craft” is on the label is mostly moot. For the time being, the term belongs right where we put our empty bottles: in the trash.

The Best Barrel-Finished Bourbons, Ryes and Scotches You Can Buy

Beyond Oak

The Best Barrel-Finished Bourbons, Ryes and Scotches You Can Buy


Making whiskey is closer to designing clothes than building the new iPhone. The whiskey of today is more varied, more plentiful and likely of a higher quality than it has ever been, but it is still whiskey. The years-long process required to create whiskey means innovation comes slow, but when distilleries latch on to something new, they go all-in.

In recent years, that something new is barrel finishing, the practice of dumping mature whiskey into new barrels for a short period of time with the intent of imbuing the whiskey with touches of something different. The technique is not unique to one type of whiskey or one type of distiller (though it is somewhat more popular with craft distillers) and mashbill, maturation and barrel type matching is essentially endless. But, like any experiment, not all turn out for the better. From rum to Syrah to orange curaçao, here are recent examples that hit the mark.

Chivas Regal Mizunara

Mizunara oak grows at half the pace and covers much less ground than its American or French counterparts, and it’s much more porous (and therefore prone to leaking). This adds up to an extremely expensive barrel (in 2018, Wine Enthusiast reported a single barrel costs more than $6,000). Chivas’ scotch finished for a few months in Mizunara is still predominantly scotch, but its hints of coconut and sandalwood only come from one place.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay

High West makes weird whiskey. The Utah distillery uses rye whiskeys from two to 16 years of age in this blend, and finished the whole batch in former vermouth and Syrah barrels. There is nothing on the liquor store shelf to compare it to.

Bellemeade Honey Cask Bourbon

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s “Best Special Barrel-Finished Bourbon” of 2019 is a pun. In distilling patois, the honey barrel is a cask of whiskey so perfectly balanced in age and location in a rickhouse that it is the platonic ideal of a whiskey barrel. Bellemeade’s Honey Cask Bourbon takes it literally, finishing its barrel strength bourbon in casks used to store honey.

Blood Oath Pact No. 5

Created by a food scientist with more than 20 years of whiskey blending experience, Blood Oath releases, called “Pacts,” are all different and all put a premium on barrel finishing. The fifth pact is a blend of 13-year-old bourbon, 11-year-old wheated bourbon and 8-year-old bourbon finished in Caribbean rum barrels. Expect something a bit sweeter than you’re used to.

Sagamore Spirit Port Finish Rye Whiskey

Port-finished whiskeys are more common than most barrel finishes, but this one is easily the most talked about of late. Winner of a few “Best Rye Whiskey” awards, Sagamore Spirit’s ported rye leans heavily into the jam, plum-like qualities of a good port while its spicy rye base still cuts through.

WhistlePig The Boss Hog, Spirit of Mauve

WhistlePig’s Boss Hog series is the Canadian rye whiskey sourcing masters highest-end whiskey. A 13-year-old straight rye finished in ex-Calvados barrels. Calvados, a pear or apple brandy distilled from cider, is best known for its flavors attachment to the land it’s produced on. The result in this case is a mature, easy-sipping rye with a swell of apple on the nose.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition

This won’t be easy to find. Heaven Hill Distillery’s Parker’s whiskey releases annually and usually sells out shortly after, but if you’re able to track down last year’s release, you’re in for a treat. Classic Kentucky bourbon finished in former Orange Curaçao barrels, this is about as strange a barrel finish as you’ll find. Expect an enormous citrusy pop with a slightly bitter followthrough.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

What Is Barrel Finished Whiskey and Why Is Everybody Making It?

Making whiskey is closer to designing clothes than building the new iPhone. The whiskey of today is more varied, more plentiful and likely of a higher quality than it has ever been, but it is still whiskey. The years-long process required to create whiskey means innovation comes slow, but when distilleries latch on to something new, they go all-in. In recent years, that something new is barrel finishing, the practice of dumping mature whiskey into new barrels for a short period of time with the intent of imbuing the whiskey with touches of something different. The technique is not unique to one type of whiskey or one type of distiller (though it is somewhat more popular with craft distillers) and mashbill, maturation and barrel type matching is essentially endless. But, like any experiment, not all turn out for the better. From rum to Syrah to orange curaçao, here are recent examples that hit the mark.

Chivas Regal Mizunara

Mizunara oak grows at half the pace and covers much less ground than its American or French counterparts, and it’s much more porous (and therefore prone to leaking). This adds up to an extremely expensive barrel (in 2018, Wine Enthusiast reported a single barrel costs more than $6,000). Chivas’ scotch finished for a few months in Mizunara is still predominantly scotch, but its hints of coconut and sandalwood only come from one place.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay

High West makes weird whiskey. The Utah distillery uses rye whiskeys from two to 16 years of age in this blend, and finished the whole batch in former vermouth and Syrah barrels. There is nothing on the liquor store shelf to compare it to.

Bellemeade Honey Cask Bourbon

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s “Best Special Barrel-Finished Bourbon” of 2019 is a pun. In distilling patois, the honey barrel is a cask of whiskey so perfectly balanced in age and location in a rickhouse that it is the platonic ideal of a whiskey barrel. Bellemeade’s Honey Cask Bourbon takes it literally, finishing its barrel strength bourbon in casks used to store honey.

Blood Oath Pact No. 5

Created by a food scientist with more than 20 years of whiskey blending experience, Blood Oath releases, called “Pacts,” are all different and all put a premium on barrel finishing. The fifth pact is a blend of 13-year-old bourbon, 11-year-old wheated bourbon and 8-year-old bourbon finished in Caribbean rum barrels. Expect something a bit sweeter than you’re used to.

Sagamore Spirit Port Finish Rye Whiskey

Port-finished whiskeys are more common than most barrel finishes, but this one is easily the most talked about of late. Winner of a few “Best Rye Whiskey” awards, Sagamore Spirit’s ported rye leans heavily into the jam, plum-like qualities of a good port while its spicy rye base still cuts through.

WhistlePig The Boss Hog, Spirit of Mauve

WhistlePig’s Boss Hog series is the Canadian rye whiskey sourcing masters highest-end whiskey. A 13-year-old straight rye finished in ex-Calvados barrels. Calvados, a pear or apple brandy distilled from cider, is best known for its flavors attachment to the land it’s produced on. The result in this case is a mature, easy-sipping rye with a swell of apple on the nose.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition

This won’t be easy to find. Heaven Hill Distillery’s Parker’s whiskey releases annually and usually sells out shortly after, but if you’re able to track down last year’s release, you’re in for a treat. Classic Kentucky bourbon finished in former Orange Curaçao barrels, this is about as strange a barrel finish as you’ll find. Expect an enormous citrusy pop with a slightly bitter followthrough.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

10 Beers That Prove Women Are Killing the Beer Game

Hop Culture’s Beer With(out) Beards Festival is an event that celebrates women in the beer world. The biggest takeaway from the August event? There are a lot of women making a lot of killer beer out there. Here’s your starter’s guide to some of the best beers made by female brewers or at female-run breweries in the US.

Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery Bases Loaded Kolsch

Beer Style: Kolsch
ABV: 5.3%
Brewery Location: Denver, CO
Distribution: Local

Head Brewer Alyssa Thorpe was featured on the cover of the Brewers Association’s The New Brewer Magazine for a reason. This Kolsch is crisp, delicate and totally crushable. Enjoy it catching a ballgame at Coors Field down the street.

Fifth Hammer Brewing POGlodyte

Beer Style: Fruited Sour
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery Location: Long Island City, NY
Distribution: Local

Geographically speaking, Long Island City is nowhere near Hawaii. But that hasn’t stopped co-owner Mary Izett from making a fruited sour inspired by Hawaiian POG juice (passion fruit, orange, guava). It’s exactly what a fruited sour should be: exotic, funky and just a bit weird.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery Blonde

Beer Style: American Lager
ABV: 5%
Brewery Location: Baltimore, MD
Distribution: National

While you may have thought that any Guinness other than the company’s classic Extra Stout or Draught Stout was foolhardy, head brewer Hollie Stephenson of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore has proven otherwise. Named Imbibe’s 2019 Beer Person of the Year, the experimental taproom staple Guinness Blonde is a total rethink of a Guinness while fermented with the same yeast as Draught Stout. Mosaic and Citra hops are used to give a gentle hop taste and aroma that finishes crisp and pleasantly bitter.

New Belgium La Folie

Beer Style: Sour Brown Ale
ABV: 7%
Brewery Location: Fort Collins, CO
Distribution: National

La Folie is the epitome of what a Sour Ale should be. That’s thanks to New Belgium’s Wood Cellar Director and Blender Lauren Limbach, who earlier this year received the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing from the Brewers Association. La Folie spends one to three years in foeders (enormous vats used to age wine) and comes out a deep red to brown color.

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Saison Bernice

Beer Style: Saison
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery Location: Capitola, CA
Distribution: Local

Saison Bernice is a prime example of the possibilities of farmhouse ales, a trend that Adair Paterno was well ahead of the wild on. A protracted aging process begets simple yet exquisite citrus flavors. It’s a bottle worth saving for a special occasion.

Three Weavers Brewing Company Expatriate West Coast IPA

Beer Style: West Coast IPA
ABV: 6.9%
Brewery Location: Los Angeles, CA
Distribution: Regional

Seeing as Three Weavers brewmaster Alexandra Nowell started her brewing career at Sierra Nevada, she knows a thing or two about the West Coast IPA. Expatriate balances the bitterness of new age American hops and fruity notes flawlessly. If Three Weavers isn’t on your radar, it should be.

Harlem Brewing Company Renaissance Wit

Beer Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.8%
Brewery Location: Harlem, NY
Distribution: Local

Celeste Beatty has essentially operated Harlem Brewing Company as a one-woman operation since 2001. Most breweries these days shy away from brewing a Witbier, but Beatty’s achieves a wicked balance of fruit and spices with the perfect level of crispness. It’s a summer day crusher.

Stone Brewing x Pink Boots Society Pomma Said Knock You Out

Beer Style: Red IPA
ABV: 7.8%
Brewery Location: Escondido, CA
Distribution: Local

Pomma Said Knock You Out from Stone Brewing and Pink Boots Society is a unique take on an uncommon beer style. Where most Red IPAs are Rye IPAs don’t gravitate towards fruitiness, it’s brewed with pomegranates and presents a tropical taste.

Talea Beer Co. Lunch Date Pale Ale

Beer Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery Location: New York, NY
Distribution: Local

Talea Beer Co. may be fairly new, but the cofounder duo of Tara Hankinson and LeAnn Darland have already made a name for themselves in the New York City beer scene with floral-forward beers that have made waves this summer. Lunch Date makes use of five hops (Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, Eukanot and El Dorado) to produce an easy-drinking citrusy pale ale.

The Hopewell Brewing Company Lil Buddy

Beer Style: Helles Lager
ABV: 4.7%
Brewery Location: Chicago, IL
Distribution: Local

Samantha Lee has built something entirely different with The Hopewell Brewing Company. Her brewery’s chic taproom aims to be a “welcoming to all and provides a rewarding work environment for our employees.” She also wants to make beer accessible for the beer nerd to the first-time craft drinker. Hopewell’s Lil Buddy is the perfect example of that — it’s an anti-fancy, crisp, perfectly executed Helles Lager in 8-ounce pony cans. In other words, it’s the ideal mix of simple and exceptional.

It’s Whiskey Hunting Season. These Are the Five Bottles Everyone Is Looking For

Fall is whiskey season. Not just for drinking, but for new whiskey releases, too. From September to November, the biggest bourbon makers in the world have made fall whiskey’s unofficial drop season. Here’s what you need to know about Autumn’s five most hunted-down bourbons.

How to Score Bottles

Short of paying inflated secondary market prices, there are no sure things in the search for any of the whiskeys below. These methods are used to increase odds, not guarantee you a bottle.

Get on the List: Many liquor stores receiving higher-end, allocated whiskeys dole out the bottles they get using a raffle method. It may not be as exciting as finding a choice bottle collecting dust at the back of a shelf, but a score is a score.

Location, Location, Location: Liquor stores in population centers are more likely to get both coveted whiskey and huge crowds. Stores out in the boonies have less foot traffic and are allocated less of the good stuff in turn. In whiskey hunting, the edge of suburbia is fertile ground — where stores receive the bottles you’re looking for, and the odds you’re the only person on the premise who knows what to look for improve (marginally).

Buy More Whiskey: Being a good customer is the simple and sagely advice of all experienced whiskey collectors. You give your business to a store over a period of time, befriending managers and employees, and the odds of a store clerk throwing you a bone increase exponentially.

The Bottles

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Release Date: September 2
Retail Price: $100
Street Price $500+
Birthday Bourbon marks the beginning of bourbon hunting season. According to Campbell Brown, it was launched in 2002 as a means for the brand to re-establish itself as a premier whiskey making operation. Its timing couldn’t have been better. In the coming years, the bourbon market erupted, and Birthday Bourbon became a flagbearer for the ultra-premiumization of the category. It has continued to fly off shelves since.

Backup Bottle: Birthday Bourbon is higher proof and more mature than standard Old Forester’s, but it’s still made with the brand’s standard mashbill. That description could just as easily apply to Old Forester’s well-reviewed, widely available Prohibition Style. You can find Prohibition Style for $60 to $70 in liquor stores nationwide.

Parker’s Heritage Collection

Release Date: September
Retail Price: $150
Street Price Varies by release, $350+
Named after the late, legendary Master Distiller Parker Beam, Parker’s Heritage Collection is Heaven Hill’s most experimental line of whiskey. Released annually, the only consistency from year-to-year is that there is no consistency. Past bottles have been filled with straight wheat whiskey, 24-year-old Bottled-in-Bond whiskey, curaçao-finished bourbon and other weirdness. Each release is hunted to retail extinction.

This year’s Parker’s sticks to the status quo of not having any semblance of a status quo. It’s a rye whiskey aged for eight years and nine months made with Heaven Hill’s standard rye mashbill — the same it uses to make its Rittenhouse and Pikesville ryes — and it will retail at its usual $150. But where most Heaven Hill products (and most whiskey in general) is aged in Level 3 char barrels, the new Parker’s rests in Level 5 char barrels. Expect a spicy, woody, smokey, vanilla-heavy whiskey.

Backup Bottle: Get one of Heaven Hill Distillery’s other ryes. Pikesville is a couple of years younger, proofed a little higher and made with the same mashbill. Bonus points for those who get both and drink side-by-side.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Release Date: October
Retail Price: $99 a bottle
Street Price $300 to $1,000
The dream haul. Its hype levels exceeded only by only the likes of Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace’s annual bottle drop is perhaps the most-awarded collection of booze in the world. Comprised of the staggeringly high proof George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller (which shares a mashbill with another whiskey on this list), Eagle Rare 17-Year and a pair of older Sazerac ryes. Finding bottles in stores in hard enough; finding bottles at retail prices is virtually impossible. The most valuable of the lot are generally the George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller.

Backup Bottle: Seeing as the Antique Collection houses a number of bottles, there are a few backups. Stagg Jr. is a worthy alternative to George T. Stagg and isn’t too much of a chore in most states. William Larue Weller’s legendary wheated mashbill can be found in any bottle of Weller, but Weller 12-year is probably the closest (or the newly released Weller Full Proof). Sazerac’s standard, slept-on rye remains one of the best values in all of whiskey.

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

Release Date: September
Retail Price: $140
Street Price $300+
It gets less mainstream coverage than others on the list, but it’s no less revered by those in the know. Every bottle is a little different, with Master Distiller Brent Elliot and team tinkering with aging and Four Roses’ trademark dual-mashbill, variable yeast whiskey making process (it’s not as confusing as it sounds). It’s particularly popular with Four Roses completionists for very obvious reasons.

Backup Bottle: Released this year, Four Roses Small Batch Select mirrors many of the Limited Edition’s charm. It’s higher proof than most of the brand’s offerings, it’s non-chill filtered and it shares much of the same recipe. Find it for $55 to $65 in most states.

Pappy Van Winkle Collection

Release Date: October
Retail Price: $60 to $270
Street Price $1,000 to $3,000
What more is there to say? The poster bottles for the most ridiculous parts of the bourbon boom are, perhaps more than any other whiskey, known within and without bourbon collecting circles. Every piece and parcel of Van Winkle mythology has been dissected and analyzed, but one truth remains: finding any of the bottle in the Van Winkle lineup at or near retail price necessitates purchasing. Its price, while painful, is reflective of its status as the sole über-limited bourbon to break into the mainstream. Pappy is a grail for more than just whiskey nerds.

Backup Bottle: Those who fail to find it in the wild often opt for a whiskey made with the same exact recipe — Weller. Both made with the same wheated mashbill at Buffalo Trace’s Frankfort, Kentucky distillery, Weller’s rise to prominence is one of Pappy’s aftershocks. Weller 12’s lower proofing makes it the best candidate to replicate the sweet, low-burn of the most sought after whiskey in the US.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Everything You Need to Know About Fall’s Most Hyped Bourbon Releases

Fall is whiskey season. Not just for drinking, but for new whiskey releases, too. From September to November, the biggest bourbon makers in the world have made fall whiskey’s unofficial drop season. Here’s what you need to know about Autumn’s five most hunted-down bourbons.

How to Score Bottles

Short of paying inflated secondary market prices, there are no sure things in the search for any of the whiskeys below. These methods are used to increase odds, not guarantee you a bottle.

Get on the List: Many liquor stores receiving higher-end, allocated whiskeys dole out the bottles they get using a raffle method. It may not be as exciting as finding a choice bottle collecting dust at the back of a shelf, but a score is a score.

Location, Location, Location: Liquor stores in population centers are more likely to get both coveted whiskey and huge crowds. Stores out in the boonies have less foot traffic and are allocated less of the good stuff in turn. In whiskey hunting, the edge of suburbia is fertile ground — where stores receive the bottles you’re looking for, and the odds you’re the only person on the premise who knows what to look for improve (marginally).

Buy More Whiskey: Being a good customer is the simple and sagely advice of all experienced whiskey collectors. You give your business to a store over a period of time, befriending managers and employees, and the odds of a store clerk throwing you a bone increase exponentially.

The Bottles

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Release Date: September 2
Retail Price: $100
Street Price $500+

Birthday Bourbon marks the beginning of bourbon hunting season. According to Campbell Brown, it was launched in 2002 as a means for the brand to re-establish itself as a premier whiskey making operation. Its timing couldn’t have been better. In the coming years, the bourbon market erupted, and Birthday Bourbon became a flagbearer for the ultra-premiumization of the category. It has continued to fly off shelves since.

The Backup Bottle: Old Forester Prohibition Style
Birthday Bourbon is higher proof and more mature than standard Old Forester’s, but it’s still made with the brand’s standard mashbill. That description could just as easily apply to Old Forester’s well-reviewed, widely available Prohibition Style. You can find Prohibition Style for $60 to $70 in liquor stores nationwide.

Parker’s Heritage Collection

Release Date: September
Retail Price: $150
Street Price Varies by release, $350+
Named after the late, legendary Master Distiller Parker Beam, Parker’s Heritage Collection is Heaven Hill’s most experimental line of whiskey. Released annually, the only consistency from year-to-year is that there is no consistency. Past bottles have been filled with straight wheat whiskey, 24-year-old Bottled-in-Bond whiskey, curaçao-finished bourbon and other weirdness. Each release is hunted to retail extinction.

This year’s Parker’s sticks to the status quo of not having any semblance of a status quo. It’s a rye whiskey aged for eight years and nine months made with Heaven Hill’s standard rye mashbill — the same it uses to make its Rittenhouse and Pikesville ryes — and it will retail at its usual $150. But where most Heaven Hill products (and most whiskey in general) is aged in Level 3 char barrels, the new Parker’s rests in Level 5 char barrels. Expect a spicy, woody, smokey, vanilla-heavy whiskey.

The Backup Bottle: Heaven Hill Pikesville Rye
Get one of Heaven Hill Distillery’s other ryes. Pikesville is a couple of years younger, proofed a little higher and made with the same mashbill. Bonus points for those who get both and drink side-by-side.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Release Date: October
Retail Price: $99 a bottle
Street Price $300 to $1,000
The dream haul. Its hype levels exceeded only by only the likes of Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace’s annual bottle drop is perhaps the most-awarded collection of booze in the world. Comprised of the staggeringly high proof George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller (which shares a mashbill with another whiskey on this list), Eagle Rare 17-Year and a pair of older Sazerac ryes. Finding bottles in stores in hard enough; finding bottles at retail prices is virtually impossible. The most valuable of the lot are generally the George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller.

The Backup Bottles: Stagg Jr., Weller 12, Sazerac Rye
Seeing as the Antique Collection houses a number of bottles, there are a few backups. Stagg Jr. is a worthy alternative to George T. Stagg and isn’t too much of a chore in most states. William Larue Weller’s legendary wheated mashbill can be found in any bottle of Weller, but Weller 12-year is probably the closest (or the newly released Weller Full Proof). Sazerac’s standard, slept-on rye remains one of the best values in all of whiskey.

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

Release Date: September
Retail Price: $140
Street Price $300+
It gets less mainstream coverage than others on the list, but it’s no less revered by those in the know. Every bottle is a little different, with Master Distiller Brent Elliott and team tinkering with aging and Four Roses’ trademark dual-mashbill, variable yeast whiskey making process (it’s not as confusing as it sounds). It’s particularly popular with Four Roses completionists for very obvious reasons.

The Backup Bottle: Four Roses Small Batch Select
Released this year, Four Roses Small Batch Select mirrors many of the Limited Edition’s charm. It’s higher proof than most of the brand’s offerings, it’s non-chill filtered and it shares much of the same recipe. Find it for $55 to $65 in most states.

Pappy Van Winkle Collection

Release Date: October
Retail Price: $60 to $270
Street Price $1,000 to $3,000
What more is there to say? The poster bottles for the most ridiculous parts of the bourbon boom are, perhaps more than any other whiskey, known within and without bourbon collecting circles. Every piece and parcel of Van Winkle mythology has been dissected and analyzed, but one truth remains: finding any of the bottle in the Van Winkle lineup at or near retail price necessitates purchasing. Its price, while painful, is reflective of its status as the sole über-limited bourbon to break into the mainstream. Pappy is a grail for more than just whiskey nerds.

The Backup Bottle: Weller 12
Those who fail to find it in the wild often opt for a whiskey made with the same exact recipe — Weller. Both made with the same wheated mashbill at Buffalo Trace’s Frankfort, Kentucky distillery, Weller’s rise to prominence is one of Pappy’s aftershocks. Weller 12’s lower proofing makes it the best candidate to replicate the sweet, low-burn of the most sought after whiskey in the US.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Beer and Whiskey Experts Will Be Drinking This Labor Day

Having the right alcohol on hand for a holiday weekend is part of being prepared. Whether you’re a beer or whiskey drinker, we’ve collected our favorite reads and guides for making your Labor Day weekend a bit smoother when it comes to figuring out what to drink.

7 Brewers Name the Beers They’ll Be Drinking This Labor Day

7 Brewers Name the Beers They’ll Be Drinking This Labor Day

Not sure what beer to drink over Labor Day weekend? Let some of America’s best brewers decide for you.

The 25 Best Scotch Whiskies You Can Buy in 2019

The 25 Best Scotch Whiskies You Can Buy in 2019

Everything you need to know about Scotland’s favorite brown spirit, including important terminology and a cheat sheet to the best bottles across all price points.

Why You Should Care About Igloo’s New $10 Cooler

Why You Should Care About Igloo’s New $10 Cooler

Igloo’s new cooler isn’t indestructible and it won’t keep ice frozen for days on end. What it can do might be more important though.

The Best High-Proof Bourbon You Can Buy in 2019

The Best High-Proof Bourbon You Can Buy in 2019

Don’t buy high-proof bourbon for high proof’s sake, but prospect carefully and you’ll unlock liquid pleasures beyond the vale.

Non-Chill Filtered Bourbon Is the Natural Wine of the Whiskey World

Non-Chill Filtered Bourbon Is the Natural Wine of the Whiskey World

From indie distillers to bourbon behemoths, skipping chill filtration is in. Here’s what that means.

The 17 Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy in 2019

The 17 Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy in 2019

Everything you ever wanted to know about America’s favorite brown spirit, including, of course, the best bottles you can actually buy.

10 Modern American Whiskey Brands Everyone Should Know

10 Modern American Whiskey Brands Everyone Should Know

The best of the best from the next generation of whiskey makers.

The Best Everyday Bourbon Whiskeys Are Affordable and Easy to Find

The Best Everyday Bourbon Whiskeys Are Affordable and Easy to Find

The best bourbon isn’t the stuff flipped for hundreds of dollars on your local Facebook group.

Are Electrolyte Beers the New Recovery Drink?

Are Electrolyte Beers the New Recovery Drink?

Breweries keep dropping electrolyte-filled beers, and we tested a handful of them to see what they really taste like.

The Right Way to Drink Rare Craft Beer at Your Next Bottle Share

The Right Way to Drink Rare Craft Beer at Your Next Bottle Share

Bottle shares can be a great opportunity for people to try beer they’ve never tasted. We talked with Ben Pratt of As Is for his expert tips.

4 Brewers Name Their Favorite After-Work Beers

4 Brewers Name Their Favorite After-Work Beers

We asked some of our favorite brewers whose beer they reach for when they get home from work.

7 Brewers Name the Beers They’ll Be Drinking This Labor Day

We reached out to hardworking craft brewers from Folksbier, TRVE, Guiness and more to ask a very simple question — what’s the ideal Labor Day beer? Their answers were crisp, light, flavorful and diverse. These are the beers some of America’s best craft brewers will be drinking over the long weekend.

Fair State Brewing Cooperative Pils

Beer Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.9%
Brewery Location: Minneapolis, MN
Distribution: Regional

“Labor Day is all about relaxing and drinking easy clean beers, so I’m going to be drinking Pils from Fair State Brewing Cooperative. This is one of my favorite breweries from my home state of Minnesota and this beer is a classic pils in my book. The Fair State crew gets a lot of attention for the great hoppy beers they make, but this is one of their secret weapons!” — Tony Bellis, Kings County Brewers Collective

Enegren Brewing Co. Lagertha

Beer Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5%
Brewery Location: Moorpark, CA
Distribution: Local

“Labor Day is all about rest, relaxation and beer. On holidays I’m typically reaching into the cooler for something crisp, refreshing and with a lower ABV. Lagertha from our buds at Enegren Brewing Co. is a great beer for the beach, boat or BBQ. It’s got a clean body and just enough hop character to keep things interesting. I’m sure to be cracking a few of these this Labor Day weekend.” — Jack Dyer, Topa Topa Brewing Co.

Bellwoods Brewery Bellweiser

Beer Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.8%
Brewery Location: Toronto, Canada
Distribution: Regional

“I crushed a Bellweiser from Bellwoods this past weekend at Forever Summer Fest and could easily polish off a case of that singlehandedly over Labor Day weekend. Assertively hopped without going too far into hoppy lager territory. Just a nice, crisp, I’d-like-to-drink-a-f—ton-of-these kind of beers.” — Nick Nunns, TRVE Brewing Co.

Diamondback Brewing Company Green Machine

Beer Style: IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery Location: Baltimore, MD
Distribution: Local

“I pick up my weekly vegetable CSA every Wednesday from Diamondback Brewing. Drinking their flagship Green Machine IPA signifies making it to the middle of the week, and feel-good participation in supporting local agriculture and brewing. They have been friends of our Guinness team from the start through pints shared together and through collaboration. It is by far one of my favorite spots in Baltimore and Green Machine is a consistent, hoppy, fruity go-to IPA with a soft mouthfeel and drinkability. I am sure I’ll spend part of Labor Day weekend on their patio drinking this beer.” — Hollie Stephenson, Guinness Open Gate Brewery

Forest & Main Brewing Co Solaire Reserve

Beer Style: Saison
ABV: 5%
Brewery Location: Ambler, PA
Distribution: Regional

“This Labor Day weekend I’ll be drinking some Solaire Reserve from Forest & Main Brewing. Daniel Endicott and Gerard Olson started making wonderful saison and English-style ales back in 2012 in a 19th century Victorian house and more recently have expanded their production in order to can more of their offerings. Solaire Reserve is a crisp and delicate saison that’s fermented with foraged yeast that they restart every year. It’s a staple that’s really evolved with the brewery as they’ve grown and something everyone can enjoy.” — Joey Pepper, Folksbier Braueri

Schneider Weisse Original

Beer Style: Weissbier
ABV: 5.4%
Brewery Location: Bavaria, Germany
Distribution: International

“I’ll be drinking a Schneider Weisse Original Labor Day weekend. The notes of banana and clove and the orange hue perfectly match the waning days of summer and the anticipation of the coming fall.” — Gordon Schuck, Funkwerks

Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty

Beer Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4%
Brewery Location: Milton, DE
Distribution: National

“This Labor Day I’ll be enjoying Slightly Mighty by Dogfish Head on my deck. I had my doubts about a ‘low cal’ IPA, but Slightly Mighty is deliciously crushable. It’s crisp and fruity — the perfect summer BBQ, porch or boat beer.” — Megan Stone, DuClaw Brewing Co.

The 25 Best Scotch Whiskies You Can Buy in 2019

This definitive guide to the best Scotch whiskies of 2019 explores everything you need to know about Scotland’s favorite brown spirit, including important terminology, a cheat sheet for each distilling region, and, of course, a list of the best bottles for sale at your local liquor store, and beyond.

Prefer to skip directly to the picks? Click here.

The Short List

Old Pulteney 12 Years Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Best Scotch Whisky Under $50: Far at the northern end of the Highlands region is Old Pulteney, a distillery that popped up to satiate local fishing villages. This 12-year-old expression, which took home the gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, is the perfect intersection of price and quality. It’s aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels, sp expect it to be sweet and briny, with vanilla from the wood.

ABV: 40%
Price: $40 – $50

Lagavulin 16 Years Old

Best Scotch Whisky Under $100: Need a crowd pleaser? Here’s your go-to bottle. Popularized by the character Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, this legendary bottle merges peat with campfire smoke. It’s aggressive and mouth-wateringly savory, like brisket on a hot summer day.

ABV: 43%
Price: $65 – $75

Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride

Best Scotch Whisky Under $200: Highland Park Distillery is based on the largest of the wild, peat-filled islands off of the northern tip of Scotland. Its brightly peated whisky sits in sherry-seasoned European oak casks and ages in the extremely mild climate of the islands, for a gentle maturation that hits its stride at 18 years. Ignore the eccentric variants and go straight for Highland Park’s classic 18-year expression. This whisky has too many awards to name, including being named Best Spirit in the World in Spirit Journal, twice.

ABV: 43%
Price: $145 – $160

How to Buy Scotch Whisky

Peated or unpeated? Sherry-cask aged, ex-bourbon cask aged or some combination of the two? The tweaks and variations that go into each bottle of Scotch are intimidating, especially for bourbon and rye drinkers who may not be accustomed to the price of a whiskey that’s been aged for 18 years or more.

We recommend thinking of each bottle of Scotch as falling somewhere along two spectrums: from light to rich; delicate to smoky. From there, it’s easy to move along those two spectrums to find bottles you like. Novices should start by exploring the regions of Scotland.

For starters, there are five Scotch regions: Speyside, Highlands, Islay, Lowlands and Campbeltown. While every distillery is unique, there are unofficial “regional styles” that can help cut out some of the noise when browsing a liquor store.

In general, bottles coming from Islay, such as Laphroaig and Ardbeg, are the smokiest. Whiskies from the Lowlands (like those from Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie) tend to be light and delicate. Speyside, to the east, with distilleries like The Macallan or The Balvenie, is known for whiskies with a delicate richness that doesn’t rely on peat — so, expect a lot of sherry and rum casks for aging. Meanwhile, distilleries from the Highlands, the largest region in Scotland, take cues from each of the other regions.

Scotch Terms You Should Know

Single Malt Scotch Whisky: This is whisky distilled at a single distillery using a pot still from a mash of malted barley. To be legally considered Scotch whisky, the whisky must be distilled in Scotland and aged in oak for at least three years on Scottish soil.

Single Grain Scotch Whisky: This is whisky distilled at a single distillery using a Coffey (or column) still from a mash of cereals, such as wheat, corn or rye, either malted or unmalted. The cereal mash and Coffey still produce light-bodied liquid using cost-efficient, industrial-scale distillation, meaning this whisky is most commonly used in blended scotch.

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky: This is whisky made by blending single malt Scotch whiskies from two or more distilleries.

Blended Grain Scotch Whisky: This is whisky made by blending single grain Scotch whiskies from two or more distilleries.

Blended Scotch Whisky: This is whisky made by blending one or more single malt Scotch whiskies and one or more single grain Scotch whiskies. While there is no standard ratio to blends, typically grain whisky lends an inexpensive body while malt whisky imparts unique flavors.

Independent Blenders or Bottlers: This is a third-party operator who buys casks of Scotch from distilleries and blends them together, creating unique and sometimes superior flavors to the original distillery. Brands like Signatory, Gordon Mccail, and The Scotch Malt Whisky Society are all top tier examples.

Best Islay Scotch Whiskies

Islay is a small island that’s believed to have played a major role in distilling crossing the sea from Ireland to Scotland in the 13th century. So, despite its small size, the area carries an outsized distilling resume, with heavies like Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg residing there. Expect peaty drams of some of the best whisky in the world.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10

While Bruichladdich’s main lineup consists of unpeated Scotches, Port Charlotte is aggressively peated in a way that stinks up the room when you pour a dram. Bottled relatively young after spending 10 years in a mixture of first- and second-fill bourbon casks, and second-fill French wine casks, it’s an aggressive Scotch. And the 10 year statement is a huge upgrade from what was originally a no-age-statement offering.

ABV: 50%
Price: $65 – $75

Lagavulin 16 Years Old

Need a crowd pleaser? Here’s your go-to bottle. Popularized by the character Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, this legendary bottle merges peat with campfire smoke. It’s aggressive and mouth-wateringly savory, like brisket on a hot summer day.

ABV: 43%
Price: $65 – $75

Caol Ila Distillers Edition

Caol Ila, Islay’s largest distillery, is a go-to brand for easy, entry-level Scotch from the region. (It famously produces much of the Scotch for blending in Johnnie Walker expressions.) The story behind this edition is that the whisky was finished in barrels that once held Moscatel sherry wine, making for an extremely sweet barrel that balances the smoke and peat nicely.

ABV: 43%
Price: $70 – $80

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength

If widelu available, massively peated Scotch is what you desire, Laphroaig is your distillery. It’s the type of Scotch you can smell from across the bar. The 10-year expression bottled at cask strength is unadulterated Laphroaig and the best regular bottle in its lineup. Laphroaig’s Càirdeas series hits shelves every summer and it’s certainly worth checking out if you’re looking for a more-complex bottle.

ABV: ~58.5%
Price: $80 – $90

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Named for the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay and winner of The World’s Best Single Malt in 2010 by the World Whiskies Awards, Corryvreckan is intense, non-chill-filtered experience of peat and pepper aged in virgin French Limousin oak. If you’re looking for more fruitiness than spice, another fantastic Ardbeg is Uigeadail, which substitutes virgin French Limousin oak for ex-Sherry casks and was named ‘World Whisky of the Year’ by Jim Murray’s 2009 Whisky Bible.

ABV: 57.1%
Price: $90 – $100

Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was first founded at the mouth of Margadale Spring in 1881. Its 12-year-old expression premiered in 1979, and in 2006, as part of a rebrand, the 18 and 25 years were added to the lineup. The 18 is its most prefect bottle, having been upgraded from 40% to 46.3% ABV and bottled un-chillfiltered; it blends ex-sherry cask and ex-bourbon cask notes, with much, much less peat than other Islay examples.

ABV: 46.3%
Price: $120 – $130

Signatory Cask Strength Laphroaig

This will be nearly impossible to find, but this cask strength Signatory blend is included because any serious Scotch fan needs to explore the wonderful world of independent bottlers. This is 17-year-old Laphroaig juice blended in a limited run by Signatory, which, along with Gordon Mccail and The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, brings beautiful bottles of Scotch into the world, despite not distilling anything itself.

ABV: 51.3%

Best Campbeltown Scotch Whiskies

Campbeltown juts out toward Ireland from mainland Scotland; it’s a peninsula sandwiched between Islay to the west and the Lowlands to the east. Once home to 34 distilleries and considered the whisky capital of the world, a post-war economic downturn left the region with only a handful of active distilleries. In general, expect Campbeltown whiskey to be dry and pungent, with a peatiness that’s less smokey and meaty, like that found in Islay, and more earthy decay and fantastic funk.

Kilkerran 12 Year Old

The great-great nephew of William Mitchell, the founder of Glengyle Distillery, reopened his family’s distillery in 2004. The distillery had remained quiet since 1925, when it closed following an economic downturn, and August 2016 was the first time Glengyle’s new flagship hit shelves. Kilkerran 12 has since proved a worthy torchbearer, with light peat working off bright sherry and bourbon casks.

ABV: 46%
Price: $70 – $80

Springbank 12 Year Old

Springbank was founded in 1828 by Archibald Mitchell and today is owned by Mitchell’s great-great-great-grandson, making it one of the few independent distilleries trading blows with giants like Diageo. Beginning in 2010, the distillery releases it’s 12 year expression, which blends juice aged in bourbon and sherry cask, semi-annually at cask strength. It’s well worth grabbing a bottle when they hit shelves.

ABV: ~54%
Price: $80 – $90

Longrow 18 Year Old

Longrow has been distilling Islay-style single malt at Springbreak since 1973. This is double-distilled and aged in bourbon and sherry barrels. These bottles are hard to come by, and carry a high price tag, but are worth picking up to explore Campbeltown’s take on peated Scotch.

ABV: 46%
Price: $180 – $190

Best Speyside Scotch Whiskies

Bisected from north to south by the River Spey, Speyside is a little pocket of land in the northeast of Scotland, surrounded on three sides by the Highlands and the North Sea. It’s home to the highest number of distilleries in Scotland, with well over 60 at present, including Glenfiddich, the world’s best-selling single malt Scotch. The region falls on the opposite side of the flavor spectrum (and map) from the peatiness of Islay. Because of this, Scotches from the region make great entry-level offerings.

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old

The Balvenie is a great distillery. Like at Springbank, every phase of whisky production takes place at The Balvenie. Their core lineup is diverse enough to satisfy most palates, with bottles showcasing sherry, bourbon, port, and rum, and peat week releases that crank the smoke. And while other distilleries are removing age statements to cut corners, The Balvenie has been doubling down on incredible, aged offerings like Tun 1509, which releases yearly in small quantities and should be on your wishlist. The Balvenie DoubleWood is 12-year-old whisky that’s spent nine months in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and makes for a great intro to the distillery at a fabulous price.

ABV: 40%
Price: $50 – $60

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish

The Glenlivet is a name known everywhere. The Nàdurra line is named for the fact that it’s released non chill-filtered and at cask strength, or “natural.” While the rough cut Nàdurra is fantastic and the winner of Double Gold at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, those who want a little more refinement should look no further than The Glenlivet 18.

ABV: ~57.6%
Price: $80 – $90

Glenfarclas 17 Year Old

Glenfarclas is one of the few remaining family owned and operated distilleries in all of Scotland. Their core line-up is packaged without fuss or frills, making them a great value (Glenfarclas 12 is great for those on a budget) and the 17 year just gets it right. Matured exclusively in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, this has big butterscotch and sherried fruit, mix with a little peat smoke for an easy-drinking, reliable Scotch.

ABV: 43%
Price: $95 – $105

Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old

One of the newest Glenfiddich permanent releases, the 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve is aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to first-fill, heavily-charred American oak barrels from Louisville, bringing more wood. The 43% ABV, as opposed to their standard 40%, fixes the wateriness (or smoothness, depending on your preference) and helps tip this as our go-to Glendfiddich bottle.

ABV: 43%
Price: $60 – $70

Aberlour 18 Year Old

Aberlour keeps things simple. Their core line-up consists of bottles of their Scotch aged 10, 16 and 18 years old, with A’bunadh representing their cask strength offering and occasional releases of 12 or 15 year old Scotch keeping things interesting. For our money, the 18 hits the sweet spot for an occasional dram.

ABV: 43%
Price: $160 – $170

The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak Years Old

Great Scotch? Yes. Smooth? Ridiculously? Overpriced? Definitely. The Macallan 18 Sherry is the perfect Scotch for non-Scotch drinkers. It’s difficult not to love it, but as a luxury Scotch bottle it isn’t designed to challenge you, but rather to open the door for anyone to enjoy what 18 years can do to transform whisky. It makes for a (really) nice gift, and is a showcase of what 18-year-old sherry-bombs can taste like, but the more adventurous should look elsewhere.

ABV: 43%
Price: $300

Best Highlands Scotch Whiskies

Under the official Scotch Whisky Association guidelines, the Highlands region is made up of all Scottish islands (except Islay) and the mainland of northern Scotland (except Speyside). Some consider the Islands (and distilleries like Arran) as their own unofficial region. The flavors of the Highlands are too diverse to pin down with a single broad stroke; the region is so big that it’s home to distilleries that represent the entire flavor spectrum. But in general, the north brings rich body and sweetness; the west brings rich body and peatiness; the south brings delicate drams with light body; and the east brings similar lightness with a touch more fruit.

Old Pulteney 12

Far at the northern end of The Highlands region is Old Pulteney, a distillery that popped to satiate local fishing villages. This 12 year old expression, which took home the gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, is the perfect intersection of price and quality. Aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels, expect it to be sweet and briny, with vanilla from the wood.

ABV: 40%
Price: $40 – $50

Ledaig 10

Ledaig comes from the Tobermory distillery in the northwest corner of the Isle of Mull, just a short hop across the water from the mainland Highlands. In contrast to Tobermory single malts, Ledaig is heavily peated and made in small batches. This un-chillfiltered bottle is a standout for the price, and a better value than the distillers more expensive, and more refined, Ledaig 18.

ABV: 46.3%
Price: $50 – $60

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or

With few exceptions, since 1983 Glenmorangie has been the best selling single malt Scotch in the world. And for our money, the Nectar D’Or and the 18 year expressions are the best of the lot. The Nectar d’Or is Glenmorangie Original finished in Sauternes casks, a white dessert wine from Bordeaux, for an incredibly smooth and fruity Scotch at a great price. Pro tip: As of summer 2019, the Nectar D’Or swapped to a “no age statement” release. So if you see bottles with age statements (12 years), make sure to snap them up.

ABV: 46%
Price: $60 – $70

Talisker Distillers Edition

This yearly release is, for the price, among Talisker’s best. Of Highland’s distilleries, Talisker tends to bring high octane peat bombs, and if that’s where your heart lies I’d stick to Talisker 10, which is a fantastic, go-to bottle for entry-level smoke. But for those of us who want a bit more sherry sweetness, from the finishing months spent in Amoroso casks, this is a must.

ABV: 45.8%
Price: $75 – $85

Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride

Highland Park Distillery is based on the largest of the wild, peat-filled islands off of the northern tip of Scotland. Their brightly peated whisky sits in sherry seasoned European oak casks and ages in the extremely mild climate of the islands, for a gentle maturation that hits its stride at 18 years. Ignore the eccentric variants and go straight for Highland Park’s classic 18-year expression. This whisky has too many awards to name, including being named Best Spirit in the World in Spirit Journal, twice.

ABV: 43%
Price: $145 – $160

Oban 18 Years Old

Oban is a port city in central Scotland, and its namesake distillery borrows a little of this and a little of that to produce an extremely well balanced Scotch that displays all the extremes of Scotland flavor. The distillery uses some of the smallest stills in Scotland, meaning that the 18 year release is a hard to find, limited-release, despite being a flagship product. This is a perfect starting point for those first wading into Scottish waters.

ABV: 43%
Price: $150 – $160

The GlenDronach Parliament Aged 21 Years

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An early distillery founded in 1826, was one of the first licensed distilleries in Scotland and a pioneer of sherry cask maturation. While sticker shock might steer you toward their more economical and no less worthy 12-year-old bottle, the extra age on this bottle — 21 years in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks — is outstanding for special occasions. Located in the far east of Scotland, near the Ardmore Distillery, come expecting whisky that’s extremely rich, sweet, and fruit, but don’t expect much peat this far from Islay.

ABV: 48%
Price: $240+

Best Lowlands Scotch Whiskies

Large in land but small in output, the Lowlands is home to only a handful of distilleries, with Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie being the most well-known. Traditionally, Lowland Scotch was triple distilled using unpeated malt for a light, simple sweetness. This simplicity lends the region to provide the base to many blends, though a few distilleries have been kicking out some peated options recently.

Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

For much of its history, Glenkenchie was producing the light-bodied Scotch typical of the Lowlands for use in blending. But in 1998, after changing hands to Diageo, the brand was selected to represent the Lowlands and the 12 year old expression hit shelves. This is a super easy-going Scotch, with delicate sweetness and little in the way of smoke, oak, or complexity.

ABV: 43%
Price: $55 – $65

Auchentoshan Three Wood

Auchentoshan is the only distillery to triple distill their Scotch, making for an extremely smooth, and a bit muted, Scotch. The three wood variation gets a bit more complexity from being aged in bourbon casks and finished in Oloroso then Pedro Ximénez casks. Expect some more fruit than the Auchentoshan 12.

ABV: 43%
Price: $65 – $75

The Right Way to Drink Rare Craft Beer at Your Next Bottle Share

Good beer with good friends. That’s the goal of every bottle share, a small gathering to drink rare, unique or hard-to-acquire beers best saved for “that special occasion.” But bad manners and an eagerness to try too much, too quick, can make even the best beer taste off. Which is why we sat down with Benjamin Pratt, cofounder of As Is, one of New York City’s top craft beer bars, who shared his tips for hosting a bottle share, the right way. Here’s everything you need to know before you break out the bottle opener.

Keep the group small.

When coming up with the invite list, keep it under 10 people. “The goal should be a group small enough that the share can actually be conversational and educational,” Pratt says, “not just a free-for-all to try as many beers as possible. Some of the best shares I’ve been to have been with three or four other friends who have great taste and interest in beer.”

Less is more.

Ask every friend that’s attending to bring something, and be clear with the expectations. According to Pratt, two larger format bottles per person is the standard rule of thumb. “When we’ve had shares at the bar and people have shown up with too much beer, there is a superficial pressure to blow through bottles and not actually be able to appreciate the beers,” he says.

From Left to Right: Allagash Brewing Company Nancy, Grimm Ales Camoufleur, New Belgium La Folie Grand Reserve PX, Backacre Sour Golden Ale, American Solera House Couture, Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, Oxbow Brewing Co. First Fruits, Fermentery Form Fooz, Grimm Ales Eternal Now and Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio.

People want grails, not fails.

Part of the ethos of a bottle share is to share rare beer, so don’t just go down to your grocery store and buy whatever you can find on the shelf last-minute. Pratt says, “Bring bottles that you’ve either been holding onto for a special occasion or that are not normally available wherever you are.”

It’s not a bad idea to set a theme like, say, focusing on specific styles that age well — sours and dark beer. “The point is for people to be able to try something they have never heard of or have always wanted to try,” Pratt says.

Go slow. Stop early.

If each person brings two larger bottles, that means there are two larger bottles per person to drink. You shouldn’t feel pressured to finish everything or open every single bottle. “In my experience, these things are extended drinking sessions that usually result in a slow, creeping drunkenness,” Pratt says. “It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to drink every ounce of everything.” If someone doesn’t love a beer, it’s totally acceptable for them to take a few sips and move on — as a host, make sure they know that.

Sequence matters.

If you’re not armed with the knowledge, designate someone to facilitate the order things are being opened. “This way things can be tasted in series and comparisons can be drawn and maybe something can even be learned,” Pratt says. It also helps avoid multiple bottles being opened all at once. Just remember: never open someone’s bottle without their permission. How would you feel?

So does the glass.

Not everyone has two dozen tulip sampler glasses just sitting around for bottle shares, nor is it feasible in terms of storage if you’re a city-dweller in a small apartment. That being said, using full-size pint glasses is far from ideal, as everyone won’t be getting full pours and shaker pints are not “going to heighten your sensitivity to what is put in front of you,” Pratt says. If you don’t want to invest in reusable tasters, Tossware offers plastic cups used by top-notch festivals that won’t affect the taste or aroma of beer.

Food and water are musts.

Just like any other party, you want to give people food options and the ability to hydrate. As Pratt says, “Eat food, drink water, be an adult.” Just make sure whatever food you’re providing isn’t going to take away from everyone’s ability to taste the beers. Items like cheeses, bread, chips, pretzels and meats are all good middle-of-the-road choices.

The Right Way to Drink Rare Beer at Your Next Bottle Share

Good beer with good friends. That’s the goal of every bottle share, a small gathering to drink rare, unique or hard-to-acquire beers best saved for “that special occasion.” But bad manners and an eagerness to try too much, too quick, can make even the best beer taste off. Which is why we sat down with Benjamin Pratt, cofounder of As Is, one of New York City’s top craft beer bars, who shared his tips for hosting a bottle share, the right way. Here’s everything you need to know before you break out the bottle opener.

Keep the group small.

When coming up with the invite list, keep it under 10 people. “The goal should be a group small enough that the share can actually be conversational and educational,” Pratt says, “not just a free-for-all to try as many beers as possible. Some of the best shares I’ve been to have been with three or four other friends who have great taste and interest in beer.”

Less is more.

Ask every friend that’s attending to bring something, and be clear with the expectations. According to Pratt, two larger format bottles per person is the standard rule of thumb. “When we’ve had shares at the bar and people have shown up with too much beer, there is a superficial pressure to blow through bottles and not actually be able to appreciate the beers,” he says.

From Left to Right: Allagash Brewing Company Nancy, Grimm Ales Camoufleur, New Belgium La Folie Grand Reserve PX, Backacre Sour Golden Ale, American Solera House Couture, Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, Oxbow Brewing Co. First Fruits, Fermentery Form Fooz, Grimm Ales Eternal Now and Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio.

People want grails, not fails.

Part of the ethos of a bottle share is to share rare beer, so don’t just go down to your grocery store and buy whatever you can find on the shelf last-minute. Pratt says, “Bring bottles that you’ve either been holding onto for a special occasion or that are not normally available wherever you are.”

It’s not a bad idea to set a theme like, say, focusing on specific styles that age well — sours and dark beer. “The point is for people to be able to try something they have never heard of or have always wanted to try,” Pratt says.

Go slow. Stop early.

If each person brings two larger bottles, that means there are two larger bottles per person to drink. You shouldn’t feel pressured to finish everything or open every single bottle. “In my experience, these things are extended drinking sessions that usually result in a slow, creeping drunkenness,” Pratt says. “It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to drink every ounce of everything.” If someone doesn’t love a beer, it’s totally acceptable for them to take a few sips and move on — as a host, make sure they know that.

Sequence matters.

If you’re not armed with the knowledge, designate someone to facilitate the order things are being opened. “This way things can be tasted in series and comparisons can be drawn and maybe something can even be learned,” Pratt says. It also helps avoid multiple bottles being opened all at once. Just remember: never open someone’s bottle without their permission. How would you feel?

So does the glass.

Not everyone has two dozen tulip sampler glasses just sitting around for bottle shares, nor is it feasible in terms of storage if you’re a city-dweller in a small apartment. That being said, using full-size pint glasses is far from ideal, as everyone won’t be getting full pours and shaker pints are not “going to heighten your sensitivity to what is put in front of you,” Pratt says. If you don’t want to invest in reusable tasters, Tossware offers plastic cups used by top-notch festivals that won’t affect the taste or aroma of beer.

Food and water are musts.

Just like any other party, you want to give people food options and the ability to hydrate. As Pratt says, “Eat food, drink water, be an adult.” Just make sure whatever food you’re providing isn’t going to take away from everyone’s ability to taste the beers. Items like cheeses, bread, chips, pretzels and meats are all good middle-of-the-road choices.

It’s Time You Learned How to Make an Old Fashioned

Few recipes in the cocktail kingdom are as divisive as the Old Fashioned. Originating in the early 1800s, two centuries of experimentation have bred variations that include everything from burnt sugar to agave spirits. Among bartenders, common points of contention include the type of whiskey — bourbon or rye — the addition of club soda, or the presence of a cherry.

You could, of course, simply listen to Kai Parrott-Wolfe, a Brooklyn bartender who ran the menu at beloved Brooklyn bar Post Office: rye whiskey (he recommends Old Overholdt), no soda and no cherry. “There’s very little in this version of the drink that isn’t booze so you hardly ever get to a point where it becomes a watered-down cocktail,” he says. “Unless you’re simply not drinking it.” As a general rule, keep it simple, like the drink itself.

The Old Fashioned

Makes one cocktail

Ingredients
1 Demerara sugar cube
2 ounces of rye whiskey
Angostura bitters
Regan’s orange bitters
Lemon peel
Orange peel
Ice

Preparation:
1. Put 1 Demerara sugar cube in a rocks glass, add 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Muddle in the glass until the sugar has broken down to fine grains.

2. Add 2 ounces of a rye whiskey.

3. Stir without ice, then add your ice and stir again until glass is frosty, usually 20-30 seconds.

4. Cut the peel of both an orange and a lemon and squeeze them over the top of your cocktail. This releases the oils into your drink without overdoing it.

5. Garnish with orange peel.

Every Tool You Need to Outfit Your Home Bar

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The difference between a cocktail and a great cocktail lies in the details, the little tweaks only possible with the right tools. Read the Story