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.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B519
A beefier, older version of classic Elijah Craig Small Batch, the barrel proof bottle releases thrice-yearly, and, by way of its competitors continuously ratcheting up prices, has become one of the best values in whiskey. This is a 12-year-old uncut bourbon that retails for $50 (expect something closer to $65 or $70). This particular batch, the final release of 2019, is one of the best in recent memory. Its proof (122) is noticeably lower than previous iterations, and it shows — the whiskey retains its heavy, fatty feel but doesn’t light the palate aflame quite like its siblings. It’s vanilla-heavy on the tongue and smells like bananas. I’d drink it slow with a little water added.
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion No. 14
Every 120 days, the masterminds at Firestone Walker rotate their ongoing Luponic Distortion IPA Series with a different blend of hops to showcase what can be achieved using only hops for flavoring. Luponic Distortion No. 14 is dry-hopped with a concoction of seven different hops from four different continents (South Africa, Australia, Germany and the Pacific Northwest). The result is a tropical fruit bomb with tasting notes of Sauvignon Blanc-like white grapes, mandarin orange and passionfruit for a totally unique IPA. At 5.9 percent ABV it will cure that never-ending desire for juicy IPAs despite the cooler fall weather.
El Tesoro Extra Añejo Tequila
El Tesoro is one of the best tequila brands widely available across the US. Helmed by tequila legend Carlos Camarena, whose closest equal in spirits making is Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell, El Tesoro attracts awards with a tractor beam. Its new Extra Añejo release, which hit shelves in the US late October, will win many more. It’s El Tesoro’s standard 100 percent blue agave agave base tequila, but it’s aged in ex-bourbon casks for four to five years. Pour it over a few ice cubes and enjoy.
Sierra Nevada Big Chico Kriek
We don’t like highlighting beers you probably can’t get your hands on, but sometimes there is a beer that’s so special you have to still recognize it. That’s the case for Sierra Nevada’s Big Chico Kriek. At the end of the summer, the Northern California brewery released an extremely limited run of sour beer that was stocked away in red-wine barrels for more than a year. It was then given a secondary fermentation with pureed sweet cherries and bottle-conditioned with champagne yeast. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on this pucker-heavy sour that clocks in a 7.8 percent ABV. If you happen to come across it ever in the wild, do yourself a favor and grab it.
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