Every month, a huge amount of booze comes across our desks — beer, wine and a whole lot of whiskey. We taste it all, and we only share the best of the best. This month: a cider that’s made with a natural wine legend, a non-alcoholic wine alternative for the summer and more.

Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea Rye

jefferson’s ocean aged at sea rye


Jefferson’s has a line of whiskey that it calls its Ocean portfolio, in which barrels of bourbon are placed on ships that sail around the world. The theory is that the motion of the sea helps to churn the whiskey, while extreme temperature fluctuations age the whiskey faster than any other method. While usually done with bourbons, for its 26th voyage Jefferson brought rye out to sea. The Ocean Aged at Sea Rye starts off as fully mature rye whiskey that’s double barreled in charred barrels and toasted barrels. After its voyage, the rye tastes of toffee, marshmallow and leather, before finishing off with notes of baking spices and sea salt. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor

Price: $87


Starward Octave Barrels

starward octave barrels bottle


Australian whiskey brand Starward’s latest release, Octave Barrels, is a winner — for real. It won Double Gold at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and if you get a chance to try it, you’ll see why. Starward is known for its red wine barrel-matured whiskies. Octave Barrels is matured in specialty sized barrels that previously held the iconic Shiraz wine, Yalumba The Octavius. The result is a rich and full-bodied whiskey with a long finish, giving off notes of dried stone fruit, red fruit and sweet oak. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor

Price: $80


Brooklyn Brewery Pilsner

brooklyn brewery pilsner can


My go-to summer beer has always been Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager. Now it might just have to be its new pilsner. The classic golden lager is based on a classic German pilsner, making for a crisp, light and slightly hoppy brew. The pilsner is a reworking of the brewery’s old take on the same beer style, and this one will be grill-side all summer long for me. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor


Madre Mezcal Desert Water

madre mezcal desert water can


If beer isn’t your thing this summer, Desert Water will be. New from mezcal brand Madre, these new ready-to-drink canned cocktails are a mix of Madre Espadin mezcal, sparkling water, fruit, plants and herbs. Desert Water currently comes in four flavors: Original; Mushroom, Sage and Honey; Grapefruit and Yerba Santa; and Prickly Pear and Lemon, the latter of which is my favorite. Desert Water is a take on Texas ranch water, which is a tequila highball. These Desert Waters swap the tequila for some sweet smoky mezcal, and we think you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor

Price: $41 for two four-packs


Acid League Proxies AHM

acid league proxies ahm bottle


Acid League’s Proxies are not non-alcoholic wines. They are, however, an excellent non-alcoholic alternative to wine. Don’t believe us? Acid League tapped André Houston Mack, sommelier extraordinaire and founder of Maison Noir Wines for a new bottle of Proxies that highlights Mack’s Oregonian roots. Bottled as AHM, the Proxies is a mix of pinot noir grapes, cherries, rhubarb, cranberry, pu-erh tea and kola nut. The highlight of the AHM is its addition of marionberries, which is a type of blackberry developed at Oregon State University, and dubbed “the king of blackberries.” It’s tart, slightly sweet and juicy, and while it’s definitely not wine, it won’t make you wish you were drinking wine.

AHM is only available as part of Acid League’s monthly subscription, with this month’s box including the white Blanc Sheep and red Mouton Rouge. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor

Price: $60


Tequila Zarpado Reposado

tequila zarpado reposado bottle


This reposado from Tequila Zarpado might be one of the best values in the tequila market. Last year we called Tequila Zarpado’s Blanco a crazy deal, because at $25 it doesn’t compromise on flavor, and it’s made better than stuff that costs double or triple the price. For a couple bucks more, try the new reposado. Tequila is rested for three to four months in ex-bourbon barrels, imparting oak and vanilla notes. If you’re just taking shots of tequila, you’re missing out on some wonderful sipping experiences — which is exactly what Tequila Zarpado’s reposado brings.

Price: $27


Shacksbury Rosa

shacksbury rosa bottle


Shacksbury is making some damn good ciders in Vermont. Its core collection is exceptional, but sometimes it puts out something as part of its Cellar Releases that deserves a shoutout (actually, all Cellar Releases deserve a shoutout). For its Rosa bottling, Shacksbury worked with the legendary Martha Stoumen, who’s known for her delicious California natural wines. Rosa combines local Vermont apples and some of Stoumen’s recycled Nero d’Avola grape skins to create a brew that’s decidedly a cider and wine hybrid. The sweet, juicy and bubbly concoction is lively and expressive, and it’s sort of like a boozy Capri Sun. Luckily they’re sold in packs of two because one bottle is just a gateway into opening another. — Tyler Chin, Associate Editor

Price: $65 for 2 bottles


Penelope Architect

penelope architect


Simply an excellent balance of sweetness and burn and just the right amount of each. I’m told that the flavor derived from French Oak staves as used in the Architect series can be polarizing, but I found it incredibly smooth and easy to sip. — Zen Love, Associate Editor


Dewar’s 19 Year Old

dewar's 19 year old


This particular Dewar’s was bottled to celebrate the 121st US Open. But I’d venture to say that you don’t have to follow or know anything about tennis to appreciate this highly drinkable blended Scotch. Just on its own, it’s rich, caramelly, and so pleasant that it made me think it almost tastes like bourbon. Turns out, it’s aged in bourbon barrels. — Zen Love, Associate Editor


Ardbeg Ardcore

ardbeg ardcore


It’s called “Ardcore,” so you think it’s going to be one of those Scotches that tries to knock you out with an overwhelmingly peaty pallet — and it’s strong, for sure, but with all the balance and complexity you expect from Ardbeg. It was a pleasure to drink, but maybe that’s because I’m just ‘ardcore, myself. — Zen Love, Associate Editor


Firestone Walker Primal Elements Batch #2

firestone walker primal elements batch 2

Firestone Walker

The trend of fruited kettle sours (and cans literally exploding) is not something Firestone Walker prescribes to. But that does not mean they don’t see the interest from craft beer drinkers in a fruited canned sour beer. Hence, Primal Elements Batch #2 from the brand’s Barrelworks program. Instead of “souring” the beer in steel, Firestone opted to age this beer in oak barrels for 24 to 36 months, giving it a proper aging. The result is a sour ale with mango, pineapple, nectarine and tangerine that has a bit of a pucker but a thick mouthfeel that borders on an IPA citrus taste. — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor


Dogfish Head x Gastro Obscura Fermentation Engastration

fermentation engastration by dogfish head x gastro obscura

Give Them Beer

Leave it to the mad scientist at Dogfish Head Sam Calagione yet again to give us something we haven’t come across before in the beer world. Together with Gastro Obscura, DFH multiple types of alcohol fermentation and blended them altogether for a delicately balanced 10-percent ABV beer that has a constantly evolving finish. It has a little bit of carbonation and can offer anywhere from a sweet, honey note with a malty expression to that typical Saison pepper/crackery yeast notes. Essentially, the following processes were fermented independently of each other anywhere from two and a half weeks to three and a half months and then blended together: a rose-scented sake, a Mid-Atlantic honey and date mead, a bittersweet hard cider, a fruity Muscat wine and a rustic farmhouse ale. While it was limited to only 1,000 bottles, Fermentation Engastration sold out pretty quick. But if we’re lucky, DFH might resurrect this one in time for a Thanksgiving release. — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor


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