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: Mountain Dew's Baja Blast, some juicy hard kombucha and more.
Facia Brutto Centerbe
The first thing I thought of when I saw Centerbe, a bright green liqueur, was Midori, the even brighter green liqueur that tastes of sweet melon. But Centerbe is nothing like that. Derived from 20 botanicals, the green spirit is an herbal liqueur with roots in Italy's Abruzzo region. It's got a bit of a medicine-like taste to it that's offset by a bright freshness that makes this a wonderful digestif. Imagine this as a tastier Chartreuse, and enjoy it in pretty much the same way.
Crown Royal Aged 18 Years
You know Crown Royal, the purple cloth-wrapped bottle of Canadian whisky. Its new 18-year-old expression is its oldest to date, and yes, it's still swathed in purple. The 40-percent ABV whisky is a blend of three of Crown Royal's whiskies meshed together to offer up notes of oak, caramel and nougat.
This is a new experience that I got to try from someone I know who is working behind the scenes to help Mexico stand up on its own in the spirits community. Corn whisky from Mexico. It's fascinating to even write that out. It's priced and vectoring like Bulleit, but I think it's smoother. Probably needs to age another half dozen years, but I still admire their first expression. Packaging is handsome too. — Eric Yang, Founder and CEO
Heaven's Door Bootleg Vol. III
Heaven's Door is owned by Bob Dylan, and just the idea makes the whiskey more fun to drink — it's totally on-brand for the singer. This pricey 13-year-old Kentucky bourbon called Bootleg Vol. III hits strong on the pallet and burns like a harmonica solo, in a good way. The finish, however, has a hint of sweetness and complexity that may or may not be due to the orange wine casks it was aged in. Can I say there are notes of "I and I?" Yes, I totally drank this while listening to the album "Infidels." — Zen Love, Associate Editor
Tip Top Margarita
Unlike some other canned margaritas that I've tried — or canned cocktails in general, for that matter — Tip Top's canned Margarita doesn't try to compensate for being canned with distracting syrupy or sugary flavors. Instead, it's just the right bit salty, tart and refreshing over a healthy pouring of ice. — Caitlyn Shaw, Associate Director, Product and Marketing
Firestone Walker Hopnosis
Most new IPAs aren't anything groundbreaking, but that's never the case for what comes out of Firestone Walker's tanks. This time the Paso Robles juggernauts have taken Cryo Hops pellets (the highly-concentrated lupulin from whole-leaf hops) and created a new take on the West Coast IPA. It's almost a blend of the tropical flavors of a New England IPA along with the bitterness and resin flavors of a West Coaster. At 6.7 percent ABV, it's something old school IPA fans can love and an entry-point for hazy bois to broaden their palates. — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor
Tröegs Double Nugget Nectar
The yearly release of Nugget Nectar from Pennsylvania's Tröegs is something I and my beer-loving relatives look forward to each late winter. It takes the classic amber ale style and turns it on its head by dry-hopping in fresh hops from the most recent harvest. The result is an amber ale that drinks like an IPA and single-handily keeps the style relevant to today's hazy crazies.
Well, Tröegs dropped a Double Nugget Nectar on us this February and it more than lives up to the hype. It's boozy as hell at 9 percent ABV and drinks exactly like that. But it's something I've seen beer nerds confuse it for a Double IPA on social media. If you can still get your hands on this rarity, do so immediately — just make sure you're not driving anywhere that evening. — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor
The Seed x Troon as simple as signals?
In my exodus last year from Brooklyn (and living across one of the best breweries in the City), I have not had the absurd access to amazing craft beer like I used to. But New Jersey has some great breweries, and one of those is The Seed down in Atlantic City. They recently did this collab with Troon (the rarest of the rare breweries in New Jersey) and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some.
It's an 8.2 percent doppelbock that is dangerously sweet (with a hint of woody flavor) thanks to aging on Amurana wood. Dopplebocks are a great heading-into-spring beer and this one fits the bill (and then some). — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor
Angel's Envy Rye Whiskey Finished in Ice Cider Casks
I've only recently discovered how much I like rye: quite a bit. Now, I already feel like my taste is going to be spoiled by high-end examples like this Angel's Envy. Like other ryes, it goes down easy and has a pleasant sweetness, but there's also all kinds of complexity, and it's extremely well balanced. I'm not sure I can name all the notes and undertones, but "buttery brown sugar" is one that comes to the surface, though not in an overly sweet or heavy way. — Zen Love, Associate Editor
Hard Mtn Dew Baja Blast
The Dew made a splash as the first mainstream soda to produce a booze-riddled "Hard" version of their core beverage, and maybe the best thing I can say is that it is what it says it is. After downing the four launch flavors (Original, Black Cherry, Watermelon and citrusy Baja Blast) over the course of a single Florida Georgia Line album, the latter is definitely the play. It tastes just like Baja Blast. It is the most electrically blue-green shade known to man and at 5% ABV and 100 calories, you can be content taking down a sixer on a lazy river somewhere. Throw in a couple Chalupa Supremes and you're in business.
Juneshine Passion Orange Guava
As someone who grew up on the west coast (best coast) and had the fortune of visiting Hawaii from time to time, the islands' juice of choice, passion orange guava, aka P.O.G., was something I looked forward to when leaving the mainland. I've always enjoyed Juneshine hard kombucha so when they dropped its P.O.G. flavor I knew I had to get my hands on some. It definitely delivered all of the sweet, tart goodness I expected. Plus, it's a collab with skater-model-actor-Hawaii native Evan Mock, who seems to be a cool dude, so that makes this flavor all the more enticing. — Will Porter, Commerce Writer