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.
Crown Royal Noble Collection (French Oak Finished)
As evidenced by a number of whiskey makers out there (including one later on this list), experimenting with oak types in aging and barrel finishing is the thing to do right now. And though Crown may not be the whiskey drinker’s whiskey, it can still turn out great bottles. The brand’s Noble Collection has rolled out banger after banger (each has earned at least a 90 from Whisky Advocate), and the French oak finished isn’t an exception. It’s got the lightness and vanilla bomb qualities associated with the brand, but the French oak, a denser, more tannin-heavy wood, shifts the structure of the whisky completely. It’s still light in proof and potency, but it carries a creaminess other Crown doesn’t. It’s retailing for $60. Hunt it down and pour it over ice.
Allagash Tiny House
The Maine brewery that introduced America to the joys of Belgian beer released a house beer. It’s 3.5 percent ABV, it’s dry hopped with Amarillo and it’s just a little malty. More importantly, it’s an incredibly crushable, flavorful, no-bullshit beer from one of America’s best breweries. If you can find Allagash at your local shop, Tiny House may be the ideal summer six-pack.
Old Charter Oak (Second Release)
Buffalo Trace’s new Old Charter Oak line is a study in wood. Releasing quarterly and in limited quantities, every drop will be a different experiment with oak. The second release is 12-year-old Mashbill #1 Buffalo Trace bourbon aged entirely in French oak barrels. Because French oak grows at a tighter grain than the usual American oak, the whiskey inside the barrel interacts differently with it. Like the Crown Royal French Oak finished whisky above, the most notable difference between this installment of Old Charter Oak and a regular bottle of Buffalo Trace is texture. It’s a more velvety bourbon that touches on different parts of the mouth, especially the back part of the jaw. This is to be sipped neat side-by-side with a similar bottle from Buffalo Trace’s line.
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