Rated B+

Reviews of spirits, wine, and beer (and various errata like mixers and garnishes) comprise more than 80% of the content at Drinkhacker, and the B+ rating is used for solid products that we don’t exactly love, but which we still heartily recommend. On a five-star scale, these products would score 3.5 stars. On the traditional 100-point scale popular with many wine and spirits graders, these products would merit scores of 87 to 89 points.

Review: 2020 Zuccardi Serie A Malbec

By Rob Theakston | November 17, 2022 |

Highlighting various microclimates and soils throughout Argentina’s Uco Valley region, Zuccardi’s Serie A serves as an entry point to its extensive line of malbecs. Dense and lively, this 100% malbec wastes no time presenting itself in classic Mendoza malbec fashion, offering dark fruit, chocolate, and baking spice mixed with a touch of pepper on initial…

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Review: Contraluz Mezcal Cristalino

By Christopher Null | November 16, 2022 |

Aged mezcal is hard enough to find. Now Contraluz has dropped a first for us: cristalino mezcal (in this case a reposado that’s been filtered to clear). The innocuous looking spirit — which is not quite clear but rather a very pale yellow — offers plenty of surprises in the glass. The nose sees plenty…

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Review: Gary Farrell 2020 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Russian River Selection

By Christopher Null | November 13, 2022 |

Gary Farrell’s 2020 vintage wines from its widely available Russian River Selection series have arrived, and we’re ready to put them through their paces. Here we go. 2020 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River Selection – Another pretty, highly floral chardonnay from Gary Farrell, loaded up with notes of green apple, caramel, and baking spice. The…

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Review: Bruichladdich Octomore 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3

By Christopher Null | November 12, 2022 |

It’s lucky round 13 for Octomore — the undisputed most heavily peated whisky in regular production — with again three varieties in release. Like 12.2, the sherry-aged Octomore 13.2 will be in general retail instead of duty free only, so feel free to hop down to your local merchant to ask for an allocation. We…

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Review: Epic Western La Paloma, Chispa Rita, and Ranch Water

By Christopher Null | November 11, 2022 |

Epic Western is situated just a few miles from my home in Austin, where it produces a trilogy of Texas-themed canned cocktails, all made with 100% agave tequila, sparkling water, and — as you’ll soon see — salt. Ready to give them a taste? Let’s crack open some cans and dive in. All are served…

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Review: Maddalena 2020 Merlot and 2021 Rose

By Rob Theakston | November 8, 2022 |

This wallet-friendly extension of Paso Robles-based San Antonio wines is named after its founder, Maddalena Riboli. Now in her mid-nineties, she remains actively involved as an advisor to day-to-day operations with no signs of slowing down. Here’s a look at two of the more recent bottlings in the company’s extensive portfolio of offerings: 2020 Maddalena…

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Review: Catedral de Mi Padre Mezcal Espadín

By Robert Lublin | November 7, 2022 |

Catedral is a California-based brand started by father-daughter duo Jeff and Sydney Block. For each of the six varieties of mezcal they offer, they partner with a different Master Mezcalero. The Espadín we are trying today was made by Jorge Octavio Cardaz Cualtamirano in the mountains outside Oaxaca City, Mexico. Let’s give it a try.…

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Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye

Review: Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye (2022)

By David Tao | November 6, 2022 |

Long an under the radar producer for much of North America’s sourced rye (at least for U.S. consumers), Beam Suntory-owned Alberta Distillers has been leaning into their house brands under the Alberta Premium banner since 2020. That year marked the first American release of Alberta Premium Cask strength, and in 2022, the brand’s 80 proof…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022 Edition

By Christopher Null | November 4, 2022 |

Stagg is back, baby! With the latest release of one of the most highly coveted whiskey collections produced anywhere, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection returns to its full complement of five whiskeys, including the big daddy Bruiser, George T. Stagg. Details follow for each of the offerings, but if you’d like to read some past…

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Review: Southern Star Paragon Bourbon, Bottled-in-Bond, and Cask Strength Single Barrel

By Drew Beard | November 1, 2022 |

Over the summer, we took a look at a bourbon and rye from North Carolina-based Southern Star Distillery, each of which included a portion of whiskey distilled at Ross & Squibb (formerly MGP). We mentioned then that the distillery had recently launched a line of entirely house-distilled bourbon dubbed Paragon and promised that we’d get…

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