Fall for Fest Beer


Just like your autumn wardrobe autumn beer is best when laden with toasty layers… of delicious roasted malt flavor. Tastings.com delivers the run-down on the best beers to drink this fall and details 4 classic fall beer styles.

Dopplebock Party Rock

Ayinger brings the party with their 95-point Celebrator Dopplebock. Dopplebocks are higher-ABV, rich, weighty lagers. They're excellent fall beers because of their malty sweetness and mellow balanced hop bitterness. Ayinger's Celebrator is an exceptional example of the style offering instantly appealing roasty flavors.

Photo Credit: www.ayinger.de

Flavor Bridge

Sam Adams Black Lager is the perfect transition beer for late fall that serves as a bridge between a lager and a stout. Dark roasted chestnut flavors mesh with pumpernickel and orange to create a delicious chewy beer that's a natural match for hearty shepherd's pie.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

Toasty tongue twister

Oachkatzischwoaf! Try saying that three times fast! It may have a funny name but Urban Chestnut's Oktoberfest Lager is a knockout savory Märzen-style beer to drink right now. Historically brewed by Bavarian brewers in March to last through the fall, US craft brewers have adopted the style for seasonal releases. Oachkatzischwoaf has award-winning malty-smooth flavor, and it's no wonder, Urban Chestnut's head brewer is Bavarian-born.

Photo Credit: Urban Chestnut

Viennese Remix

Hinterland's Oktoberfest Vienna Style Lager is a great fruity, hoppy take on the classic Vienna style. This example offers a tropical, American twist on the typically malt-heavy, toasty character of a Vienna Lager. Equally at home with Chinese take out and imported Gruyere, this versatile and intriguing beer is one of our new favorite Fall Vienna Lagers.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

Rosé Now in Bloom Year ‘Round

Many say that America hit “peak rosé” in 2017. You may remember when everything seemed to take on a rosé hue, from gummy candies and cupcakes to fun runs (Run for the Rosé!), fashion accessories and of course frosé – the sippable, slushy drink that was the rosé rage at smart restaurants and bars.

Since that blooming of attention, rosé wines have wilted a little bit, instead becoming a wine that people drink year-round, and not just in the summertime. Still, though, spring is when the newest vintages of rosés debut, so let’s take a stroll down the pink path and see how rosé has settled into its place on store shelves and wine lists.

A Brief History

Rosé has been around for millennia, and first entered the American consciousness in the 1950s in the form of Mateus and Lancers. These were sweeter “gateway” wines that enjoyed some popularity for a decade or two.

But over time, Americans got more savvy about wine, and these brands were rejected for being of poor quality, when compared to the Italian and French wines that were being poured at dinner parties and restaurants throughout the 1960s and ‘70s.

But watch out – here comes 1972, and Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel, famously created after a stuck fermentation resulted in a pink wine with high sugar levels. All of a sudden, pink wine took on a new level of popularity. It was sweet, light, pink and people went mad for it.

Fast forward to 2010: White Zin was in our collective rearview mirrors (though it hadn’t entirely disappeared), as a flood of high-quality rosé wines started coming in from Europe – especially Provence, rosé’s global HQ. Today, rosé wines are about 10% of still wine consumption, so when added with white wines this is more than half of all wine consumed globally. Rosé wines are being made in virtually every wine region around the world – and people are drinking them practically all the time.

See Right Through

BevTest is back at it with our World Spirits Championships, as well as our World Cocktail Championships, kicking the year off with our Vodka call. With so many applications, ingredients to be distilled from, and flavors to be made, Vodka is incredibly versatile. Let’s jump right into the deep end with our eyes open and see right through to the clear winners, mmmkay?

Pop Off

Oh, RTD’s… they’re like the snack pack of cocktails! No shame here; we’ve all had chips for dinner at some point, right? So let’s pop into the easy-peasy world of pulling a tab back or twisting a cap open and dive right in!

Fine Wine

For our On Demand wine tasting this month, we saw quite a few wines that piqued the judges’ palates, but these BevTest Gold medals stood out from the rest of the crowd.

Wonderful World of Washington Wines

Washington State is the second largest wine producer in the United States, with a yearly volume of more than 17 million cases of wine; and much of that generated by one winery, the state’s oldest existing: Chateau Ste. Michelle. In fact, Chateau Ste. Michelle produces more wine than the entire neighboring state of Oregon. But before we dig into “the Chateau,” let’s review the industry’s history in this Pacific Northwest state.

Washington Wine History

Washington wine dates back to 1825, when the first grape vines were planted by the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Vancouver. Pioneer William B. Bridgman later introduced vinifera vines to Yakima Valley in the early 1900s and in the 1930s, Dr. Walter Clore, recognized as the father of the Washington wine industry, researched what varieties would grow well in the state. These early innovations, research, and pioneers later gave way to the significant growth of the industry in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, and Walla Walla Valley emerged as prominent wine regions, cultivating varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Riesling. The industry’s growth continued through the late 20th century, marked by the establishment of numerous wineries and a focus on producing high-quality wines that reflected the unique terroir of Washington. Today the industry is thriving with more than 1,000 wineries and 80 different varieties planted across 20 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

Why Washington

Although there are 60,000 acres of wine grapes across Washington, the majority are located within the Columbia Valley AVA in the eastern part of the state. Here, the Cascade Mountains block the wet weather from the Pacific Ocean and create dry, warm conditions. In other words, it’s a high desert with as much as 17-hours of sun during the growing season and very hot days followed by very cool nights. That diurnal temperature swing (sometimes as much as 50-degrees between day and night) is key for maintaining acidity in the grapes. As for the soils, throughout the Columbia Valley you’ll find a basalt foundation resulting from old lava flows, glacial slack water deposits from the Missoula floods, loess, and free draining, nutrient-poor composites making up the majority. These porous and well-draining soils are ideal for growing grapes and they provide a source of minerals to help the vines thrive.

With only one AVA west of the Cascades, the Puget Sound AVA, the majority of the regions across Washington are similar in climate to the Columbia Valley, but with varied soils, micro-climates, and elevations. It’s largely an arid to semi-arid region, geologically and geographically advantageous for growing a variety of grapes with balanced levels of acid, sugars, and structure.

The Chateau

Dry Wave

Oh, January. Is there a sadder month? Well let’s make it officially the saddest by not drinking, some people said. Yeah, yeah, health, well-being, blah blah blah. If you are insistent on starting off 2024 in torment for your greater good, then who is BevTest to stop you? Instead, we’d rather support your choices and offer up some of our favorite N/A options for you to enjoy while you wait for February, the second saddest month of the year.

BevTest's Top 5 of 2023

It’s December, which for most means it’s time to think back on the year as it closes out and ponder about choices, decisions, and memories; here at BevTest we’re sitting back and reflecting on… our favorite alcoholic beverages of the year! Just us? We hope not because we have a highly curated Top 5 list of our best and brightest from our little corner of The Lab!

Last Call

For our World Spirits Championships’ Last Call competition, we saw an all-encompassing group of products from across the major categories. From these entrants, we awarded BevTest Platinum medals to some really special standouts, including Bhakta Spirits 1990 Armagnac Cask-Finished Jamaican Rum, Kuleana Rum Works Hokulei Aged Rum Batch No. 12, Bhakta Spirits 1928 Blended Straight Rye Whiskey, Calvados, and Armagnac, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch No. C923, Larceny Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch No. C923 and Old Potrero 6 Year Old Copper Pot Still Straight Rye Whiskey, all of whom are sitting pretty at 96 points. Not to be left on the shelf, check out some of the other impressive offerings we flighted up and put through their paces.

Scary Sips The Sequel

Ah, Halloween. The scariest, most ghastly holiday of the year, and while most people think of New Year’s as the most reflective holiday, here at BevTest, we’ve found that Halloween gives us pause to take a backwards glance at some of the products we tasted that we really could have done without in 2023 (or forever for that matter). Come along my pretties, down the deep, dark pit that is our most terrifying sips (thus far).

Armagnac Attack

For the Brandy and Liqueurs review in our World Spirits Championships this year, we saw some very good to excellent examples throughout the two categories, but there were a few standouts in the Luxury Armagnac category that truly deserve a special shoutout. Bhakta Spirits took our judges' collective breaths away with most of their selections, yet the following three were the BTI Platinum medal winners, and for many, many delicious reasons. Lets see why!

World War Whisk(e)y

Whiskies of the World, unite! For our World Whisky competition this year, the fight was fierce. We saw incredible Whisky from all over the globe, including contenders from Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, India, France, Poland, and Iceland. With so much exceptionalism to go around, we had our top Whisky judges on the case to help evaluate and decide who and what really rose to the top. We’ve picked some of our favorites to highlight, so let’s do a deep dive into some barrels, shall we?


For this year’s Gin cocktail in our World Cocktail Championships competition we had some seriously delicious contenders throw their hats in the ring and see who made the top four best Gin Martinis. We kept the recipe simple to highlight the Gins’ distinct flavor profiles and really let each product shine through: 2 oz Gin plus ¼ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth stirred, and an optional lemon peel for garnish. The judges’ number one pick was Prohibition Liquor Co Original Gin which was praised for its attractive aroma and nicely dry finish that ticked all the right boxes for a silky smooth Martini. Finishing in second place was Atian Rose Gin; its subtle pink hue and beautiful balance of botanicals and citrus made it really standout, as well as its melody of sweet citrus and spices. Beattie’s Distillers Navy Strength Gin rightfully won third place as its pleasant and tasty anise forward aromas and hints of pine with a bone dry finish deftly integrated with the vermouth. The fourth place spot was taken by Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin, which made for a Martini that would please any crowd by showcasing harmony between the Gin’s floral and fruity notes and the vermouth. Four cheers for everyone involved!

Neutral No More

Vodka as the Switzerland of the spirit world seems to be the status quo no longer. We evaluated Vodkas from all over the globe that highlighted how different this neutral grain spirit can taste depending on many factors, including where it’s from and how it’s distilled. In addition to our yearly Vodka review for our World Spirits Championships, we also hosted our World Cocktail Championships for Vodka. This year, in the midst of a resurgence of classic cocktails, there is one that is always on trend: the Cosmopolitan. And what a perfect showcase it makes to let Vodkas shine, whether flavored or unflavored. We judged our cocktail contestants amongst their peers and found that clean and simple does the trick. While there is no wrong way to enjoy this mix of Vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry and fresh squeezed lime juice, there are four very right Vodkas to enhance your trip to outer space. So strap in and let’s head for the stars, shall we?

Ready Set Go

Backyard BBQ, beach, golf course, pool party; there’s nowhere that Ready-To-Drink (RTD) beverages don’t go. And with so many flavor options and styles of RTDs, consumer choices are, well, an open bar. When you need convenience, whether due to lack of proper ingredients, your location, or simply because you just want to pop and pour one out, RTDs have you covered. From a simple Whiskey and Ginger, to a multi-ingredient Bloody Mary, or a favorite old school cocktail that’s having a moment (we see you Espresso Martini), we saw and evaluated the gamut of types, styles, and flavor profiles to make your choices as easy as cracking open a can or bottle. We also saw some incredibly well-executed mixers for when you feel like you can handle at least two ingredients, so let’s pop the top off, shall we?

Tastings Rum is More Than Fun

For many of us Rum is a drink first associated with fun; beach vacations with a Pina Colada or Daiquiri, a Hurricane at Mardi Gras, rum and cokes at a college party, or Mai Tais and Painkillers keeping the winter blues away while you dream of beautiful Polynesian islands. Rum more than any other beverage is associated with fun. But don’t let the fun fool you, in the finest examples, such as El Dorado 15 Year or Zacapa Centenario, rum is as fine a sipping spirit as Single Malt Scotch, Cognac, and Bourbon, with connoisseurs taking the spirit just as seriously. What rum lacks in reaching true premium status is the regulatory regiment of a single country enforcing production methods.

BTI's 2023 World Beer Championships - Splendor In The Glass

Samples flew in from around the country and around the world, and we drove through the sun-soaked mountains and valleys of Napa and Sonoma all the way to the snowy mountains of Vermont to make sure that fresh samples of top benchmark beers were represented. Though we would be remiss to not point out that some world-class beer is made and easily available right here in Midwest as well. Having these exemplary options on our panels and to share with friends, colleagues, and fans at the World Beer Championships award ceremony held this January at Chicago’s The Beer Temple was worth the efforts. Tip of the cap there to Toppling Goliath and Revolution Brewing for not only being outstanding, but also so close that they could have walked these amazing beers to our sensory lab.

2023 BTI Packaging Competition Winners

Click here to see the winners of BTI's 2023 Packaging Design Competition.

Rise To The Top

Even though sparkling wine is always welcome at our table any time of year, there is something extra special about those tiny bubbles come the holiday season. Whether it comes from a more traditional part of the world (looking at you, France, Italy and Spain), or somewhere a little more out of the ordinary (we see you, Germany, England, South Africa, USA, and Tasmania), this year we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight some of the less commonly known styles and grapes that make delicious bubbles for any occasion. Let us help you choose your perfect finely carbonated bottle, from Pinot Noir to Corpinnat, Methode Traditionelle to Prosecco, we’ve got you covered! 

Wassail While You Work

With the weather beginning to turn cold and gloomy, people’s minds start to turn to drinks that will warm the body, delight the senses, and fortify their constitution. Whether it’s the cozy embrace of a hot toddy, a nip of Scotch on a blustery day, or the aroma of mulled wine wafting throughout the house, winter makes us crave comfort and warmth. 

Repeal Day and Holiday Classic Cocktails

Repeal day (December 5th) remembers the end of the Prohibition Era in American history and serves as a kind of unofficial start to the holiday drinking season (December 5 also happens to be Krampusnacht for anyone else that enjoys a spicy dram with St. Nick’s devilishly handsome Alpine counterpart). As an homage to the classics as well as looking forward to the holidays here are some delicious cocktails that will cut through the cold, take you to warmer climates, or help enliven you to keep the party going another day.

World Value Wine Challenge + Stellar Cellar Picks

As we plan ahead for the holiday season, thinking about what wines to serve to friends and family rises to the top of the to do list (see our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide here for all your beverage options!). Our panelists recently sat down with a plethora of white, rosé, and red wines that fall into the $20 and under category (our World Value Wine Challenge) and wines that are $20 and above for our Stellar Cellar review, so roll up your sleeves and pour yourself a glass of your favorite ‘for now’ wine as we head down into the cellar and see what stood out to the experts’ palates.

Craft Beer Trends

The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, more commonly known as FoBAB is about to celebrate their 20th anniversary here in Chicago. So, with beer on the mind and pint glasses in hand, we sat down with long-time friend, beer market savant, and local brewery employee, Mark Mesrobian, to discuss some of the current and emerging market trends, as well as BTI’s upcoming 2023 World Beer Championships.

The immediate future is a bit hazy, pun intended, but the biggest trend in beer right now seems to be the creativity of continuous change and giving the consumer something new—maybe not perfectly executed, but very high quality overall. As Mark puts it, “To a degree the taproom and regular releases are a bit like collecting Pokemon. This equates to small and frequent recipe tweaks rotating through to see what people respond most to, while new recipes take a bit longer to develop and capture flavors that appeal to the current trends. The challenge, other than maintaining the attention of consumers, is margins. The beer market was retracting before the pandemic, and we were already seeing bigger brands buying up craft brands for market consolidation. Once you toss in the growth of seltzers and RTDs, as well as supply chain shortages and price increases on supplies— well let’s just say that it’s not easy to be a small brewer unless you are innovating and responding to immediate consumer interests.”

Scary Sips

Happy Halloween, fellow tasters! In honor of one of our favorite holidays, we thought we’d head deep down into our spooky annals and share with you a few of the ickiest, most ghoulish beverages we’ve tasted this year. So grab a flashlight and come down to the basement archives with us to dig up some dead bottles.

Americana Cup

This year, we wanted to spotlight some of the lesser known winemaking regions of the United States, so we held the first annual Americana Cup, and the US of A really delivered. We evaluated scores of unique and regional wines from Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin to see what they had to offer, and it turned out to be quite a bit! Let’s take a look and see who were some of the standouts from this exciting new review.

Conscious Spirits

Even as we look forward to the holiday cheer, there is always time to reflect on the year coming to a close. Being clearheaded for that reflection can sometimes be challenging with all the imbibing going on at various parties and events. It can also be challenging to find N/As and Spirits alike that can make you feel good about imbibing them, whether or not they come with a buzz. Our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide has you covered for all your mindful non-alcoholic (and alcoholic, no judgment here!) needs.

Holiday Gift Guide 2022

Holiday gifting is just around the corner and the team here at the Beverage Testing Institute has you covered on suggestions that will guide you and pair with any festive fair on your table. Our gift choices might also be more fun than other stocking stuffers, and potentially make that once a year chat with Aunt Kathy easier. Of course, we have the repeat Best of the Year Ginamazing Whiskies, and sumptuous Wine featured. Yet for those of you looking beyond the Best of Year, we also have cocktail suggestions with just the right bottles for your chosen elixir that fit within every budget to bring a bit more mirth and cheer. If you enjoy some brief heartfelt stories and guilty pleasures, we have those in the mix too. Even some low alcohol and no alcohol options to gift yourself and others, should you be ahead on the dry January plans. So please peruse our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide for all your beverage needs. 


We here at BTI wish you a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous holiday season. 

2022 Best of Year

WOW!! What an exciting year of tasting and reviewing Spirits, Wines, RTDs, Beer and everything else with our amazing panelists! Some incredible gems in our list of the Best of the Year selections that you don’t want to miss, but even the quasi-stellar sips were highly educational, memorable, and a great reminder that making some of these incredible products is a work of passion mixed with science, artistry, and often a bit of good fortune. Take a look and hopefully discover a few new favorites for your 2022!

Stellar Sidecars

The Sidecar is a much beloved drink that has stood the test of time; the simplicity of its build belies its depth of flavor (see here for a deeper dive into the history of this beloved cocktail). We had some colossal Cognacs and Brandies to come through this year, giving our panel of stellar judges some tough decisions to make for our World Cocktail Championships' Best Brandy in a Sidecar competition. We stuck to a popular iteration of the classic Sidecar build: 2 ounces of base spirit, 1 ounce of Cointreau, and ¾ ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, with the option to add an orange swath after the cocktail was tasted on its own. Let’s see who made the top four!

History of the Sidecar

In art as well as life the stunning beauty that can be found in simplicity is sometimes striking. Such is the case with the Sidecar cocktail. Three basic ingredients Brandy (typically VSOP Cognac or older), Cointreau (or similar quality orange liqueur), and fresh lemon juice shaken over ice in a 2:1:1 ratio create a breathtaking cocktail that needs no improvement more than a century later.

While the cocktail is simple and delicious, its origin story is rather convoluted—like those for many classic drinks tend to be. Was the Sidecar first introduced at Buck’s Club in London, at the Ritz-Carlton in Paris, or somewhere else entirely? Was the cocktail in truth made for an American army captain who responsibly made sure to regularly have a compatriot drive him home in a motorcycle sidecar? While the who and where are up for debate, many cocktail historians agree that the drink was first crafted in 1920 or ‘21 and then appeared in Harry MacElhone’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire’s Cocktails and How to Mix Them come 1922.

American Single Malt Updates

Almost a month has passed since the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposed to adopt the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission’s (ASMWC) standards for American Single Malt Whiskey. For producers of American Single Malt (ASM), establishing a government-regulated Single Malt category has seemed like a slow process—centuries behind the Celtic nations they would argue. However, now things are moving fairly quickly with official adoption of the ASM standard likely in early 2023, after the required public comment period.

Manhattan Masters

Once again, our esteemed panel of Chicago area bartenders and buyers got together to evaluate and decide the winners of our 2022 North American Whiskey Manhattan Cocktail Competition, and as usual it was no easy feat with such delicious competitors entering the ring. Wanting to showcase the Whiskey itself as much as possible, the cocktail build was classic, using the 2-1-2 recipe: 2 ounces of base spirit, 1 ounce of Carpano Antica, and 2 (hard) dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Whisk-(e)y Me Away

Temperatures and humidity have been soaring but don’t worry, no summer breaks here as we’ve stayed tucked away in the air-conditioned lab letting the whiskies transport us to winter in Australia, the rolling hills of Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, and the unthinkably even hotter high plains of India and the mountains of Taiwan. Of course, as these whiskies warmed the soul and filled us with wanderlust, we also made sure to keep our mavericks of malted distillates cool and busy appointing their favorite classic Highball.

Highball Highlights

We invited a panel of our favorite bartenders and spirits professional to visit our BTI Sensory Lab with a mission to find the 2022 Best Tasting World Whisk(e)y in a Highball from a field of competing brands. Not only were these classic long drinks delicious, but the winning whiskies truly represent a diversity of global flavors and styles. Keeping things fair as well as straightforward, each blind-tasted Highball was made with the same recipe: 2 ounces of each brand’s whiskey mixed with 4 ounces of chilled Topo Chico with each panelist provided a side of clear ice and lemon wedges to apply at their discretion.

Agave Heaven

With summer in full swing, there’s nothing like an ice-cold glass filled with your favorite sweet nectar, and in our case it must be Agave-based this time of year. Our brave panels of experts evaluated over 90 products to help you narrow down your own must-have list, and then our top-tier Bartenders and Beverage Program Directors crowned the winners of our Margarita Cocktail Competition, so let’s get to it!

Summer Rummin’

Sun’s out, Rum’s out. Something about that warm breeze gets our hands reaching for a tropical beverage, and we all know Rum is the anchor to that refreshing ship. Not only did our panelists run through nearly 100 offerings, but they also awarded the winners of our annual Daiquiri competition. Plus: Beverage Testing Institute showed up strong at Chicago Rum Fest and helped crown the People’s Choice champion. We don’t know about you, but we’re already thirsty for the results, so here they are!

Swirling Sunshine

Sun’s out, stems out! Tis the season for patio parties, porch hangs, and picnics—none of which are complete without a chilled glass of wine in hand. We’re already thirsty just thinking about it (and we bet you are, too), so here are our experts’ picks for sunny sips.

Shaken and Stirred

While we know you have your go-to Vodka for Cosmopolitans and your beloved Gin for Martinis, the Tastings team believes that there is always room to improve on a classic, and this year’s top champions in each category just might have you switching up your happy hour routine...

These Gins Are IN!

There’s nothing that complements springtime weather (and gets us excited for summer) quite like a gin cocktail. We had an excellent showing this year, but here are our top faves to meet all your boozy botanical needs.

2022 World Beer Champs

Beers from across Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, Singapore, and the US convened in our Chicago tasting lab where our expert judges sniffed and sipped to find the best suds in the biz.

Fizzy Faves

Whether it’s a seltzer, a hard kombucha, or a malt-based cocktail, these bubbling beauties are a one stop shop for easy, delicious drinking.

Drinking for Good

Nothing lifts our spirits like sipping on something that’s tasty AND thoughtful. Whether it’s organic sourcing, community support, or health-focused practices, these are our standouts from the Conscious Spirits reviews.

Stellar Cellar Standouts

While thrifty shopping is crucial to our everyday wind-down wine, it’s just as crucial to siphon off some of those savings to put towards some spendy stunners! If you don’t have a special occasion on the calendar, you might want to consider penciling one in so that you can celebrate with these bottles in style.

World Value Wine Winners

Traveling the world through wine doesn’t have to drain your whole paycheck! We sipped and swirled offerings from across the globe and have assembled the standout stunners that provide top-tier quality at wallet-friendly prices.

Say Hello to Hybrids

Originally created as solutions to phylloxera (a catastrophic grapevine pest), hybrids are grapes that are bred from existing varietals (FYI these are not GMOs). Many come to us from either France or the minds at Cornell University and University of Minnesota, and they’re often cold-hardy and disease-resistant which means they’re coming to a wine glass near you sooner rather than later.

2021 World Whiskey

This year, BTI evaluated a myriad of whiskies from all around the globe. Here are the standouts and the first perfect score in nearly a decade.

Happy Hour Helpers

Summer sun sure does make us thirsty, which is why the Tastings.com team has whipped up a few delicious quenchers for you to sip and share.

Summer Wine

And the pairings are easy.

Rum in the Running

Fresh cane juice or molasses? Pot or column distilled? Aged a little or a lot or not at all? In case you haven’t checked into the rum category lately, there’s lots to catch up on, and we’re here to tell you that there is, in fact, a rum for everyone.

In Admiration of Agave

The sacred agave plant is at the heart of Mexico’s history, and its delicious distillate commands respect with every sip. Scroll through to learn a little more about summer’s favorite swig and find our top picks from this year’s agave spirit reviews.

Cider Insider

With over 10,000 varieties of apples, there’s a lot of room for variation in your favorite fizzy ferments. We’ll get into some fun facts on these fabulous fruits, and we’ll share some of our recent favorite pours as well!

2021 Martini Match

Whether you prefer an olive or a lemon twist as a garnish, we’ve got you covered when it comes to your martini’s most important ingredient: the gin.

35th Annual NYWC Picks

The New York Wine Classic is the largest annual event honoring the very best wines the state has to offer, and Beverage Testing Institute was proud to partner with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to taste through the 607 entries from 96 different wineries in order to showcase these standouts from the Excelsior state.

Best in Show Cosmos 2021

The Cosmopolitan is a cocktail that never goes out of style, so it’s always important to check back in with your base spirits to make sure your pretty pink drink is shining as bright as it can. Our team of judges sipped through glass after glass and found their four fave cosmo-ready vodkas, and we’re sharing them with you!

2021 Packaging Picks

A lot goes on behind the scenes before a final beautiful bottle makes it to the shelves, and we’ve narrowed down this year’s best design submissions!

Booze Free Buzzing

Quarantinis have been the lifeline for many of us throughout the pandemic, but sometimes you want a sessionable beverage that won’t make you late for your Zoom meeting the next morning. Here you’ll find some of our favorite cocktailing options that have all of the fun and none of the hangover.

Time to Talk Arak

Love a little licorice in your liquor? This traditional Levantine beverage offers crisp, lovely flavors with a strong historic backbone and will be sure to serve your licorice longings.

2020 Best of Year Winners

After reviewing thousands of wines, beers, and spirits this year, Beverage Testing Institute is proud to present the 2020 Best of Year award winners! These products, representing the best in their categories, were evaluated blind by panels of trade buyers and category experts, generating reviews that have proven to be the most trustworthy and consistent in the industry.

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

We took the trouble of rounding up this year’s most excellent offerings. Inside our guide you’ll find the best of the best in each category we tasted, the best bangs for your hard-earned buck, and a few spendy stunners so you can treat yourself for making it through 2020.

Brandy is Dandy

Ferment any fruit, distill as you wish, and you’ve got yourself a brandy! Don’t have a still in your garage/bathtub? Scroll through these stunners to find your next favorite fruit-based friend.

Loveable Liqueurs

Whether you call it a liqueur or a cordial, you’re sure to love this selection of cocktail gems. Ranging from bright and bitter to fruity and creamy, this year’s picks are sure to shine in your next drink recipe.

2020 North American Whiskey Review

With the change of seasons comes the thirst for rich, golden drams. We tasted over 100 great grain-based offerings to determine your next whiskey picks!

Spotlight on Summer Whites

A glass of white wine is great any time of year, but pair it with some sunshine and you’ve got yourself a dream come true! We’ve rounded up some of this year’s domestic sippable stunners to make every al fresco meal a memorable one.

2020 Daiquiri Championship

There’s just enough summer left to enjoy a few more bright, citrusy cocktails, and we assembled a panel of top tier daiquiri palates to find the best rums to make the most of the waning sipping season.

Barreled Botanicals

Do you love gin and are thirsty for more? Are you a die-hard brown spirits fan that needs a push to the botanically influenced side of the spirits world? Barreled gins are the answer to the question you never knew needed asking, and these five are some of our favorites!

Informed Imbibing

In a world where every decision-making dollar counts, why not put your money where your values are? Whether bettering the environment, the community, or both, everything tastes better when ethics are part of the recipe, and these are some of our favorite conscious concoctions!

Seltzers for the Swelter

With the long-awaited arrival of sunny days comes the inevitable craving for sparkling sippers, and with so many options available, how can a person choose? Relax! We’ve done the seltzer-sifting for you, and we’ve found the best bubbles to keep on-hand.

Be Your Own Bartender

As we hunker down at home, gazing nostalgically at our coaster collections from our favorite bars (rest assured, they miss us too), we can use this quaran-time to elevate our personal refreshment repertoires. With high-quality, high-value, and high-versatility offerings, your stay-at-homebar can keep you creatively quenched until the curve is completely flattened.

Vegging Out With Bloodies

We’re three months into 2020 and winter is making brunch cocktails as necessary as ever, so to help you make the right decisions at your next encounter with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, we’ve found the finest vodkas for before-noon drinking. Much like your brunch buffet, our list has something for everyone.

2020 Mules That Rule

There’s something special about a Moscow Mule. It’s a simple enough drink--vodka, ginger beer, lime, and mint--but drinking one just feels…right. Maybe it’s the ritual of the gleaming copper cup or the fresh scent of the mint as you take your first sip. Whatever it is, it’s heaven in a glass, and a full year after our last Moscow Mule tasting, we’re back with a whole new lineup of outstanding vodka offerings to try.

Get Up to Speed with Mead

In its own category of alcoholic beverage, this combination of honey, water, and yeast is a tasty treat that’s been flying under the radar of modern imbibing—until now. Humankind’s oldest boozy beverage (dating back to 7000 BC!) is seeing a rise in popularity, and we’re here to give you everything you need to know before you grab a goblet.

War of the Whiskeys

Everyone has their own personal favorite style of whiskey, and North America has something for everyone. Whether you prefer the sweetness of Canadian whiskey, the spicy bite of American Rye, or the smooth sipping of real Kentucky Bourbon, the continent has it all. As great as having that variety is, it can make figuring out which whiskey you should pour in your drink an overwhelming task. Tastings.com has taken care of that task for you by testing dozens of whiskies to determine which ones mix best in two classic drinks: the Manhattan and the Sazerac. First up: the Manhattan.

Whisky Highballs

A test so nice we did it twice – how else can you determine the best whiskies and waters for a highball cocktail unless you test both separately? Here’s how it worked: we took one control whisky and made 19 cocktails with 19 different waters, then we took a control water and did the same thing with over two dozen different whiskies to find out the best possible ingredients for this simple, classic beverage. Be sure to check out the full list of whiskies and waters we tested as well, because while we could only name a few winners in this particular matchup, we still did the hard work of reviewing each one. Who knows, your new favorite drink could be waiting there for you to discover!

Water Break

We know you come here for honest, expert ratings of alcoholic beverages, so rating water probably seems like a waste of time, right? Absolutely not. Throughout history, water was the original mixer. No respectable Roman would drink unwatered wine, and no pirate or sailor would drink straight rum without adding water to create grog. Even when drinking whisky neat, connoisseurs often add several drops of water to open up the flavors. Whisky and water is a timeless combination, so it’s our duty to inform you which water makes the perfect highball cocktail.

These Bubbles are Poppin

It’s warming up, and when it comes to a crisp, refreshing beverage, light beer and white wine don’t always cut it. Not long ago, you’d have to get up from your lawn chair to fix yourself a gin and tonic, or the perfect margarita, but recently the advent of hard sodas and waters gives summer drinkers new options that can be grabbed straight from the cooler. And despite the name, hard sodas aren’t only for the young at heart and young of palate - this new generation of infused drinks is anything but kid stuff.

Judged: 2019s Best Martinis

With hundreds of big name and artisan gins out there, it’s hard to choose the right base for a show-stopping martini. Luckily, Tastings.com has assembled an all star team from the finest cocktail bars in the country to guide you. Our expert judges rate the year’s best botanicals so you can mix the perfect martini for any occasion. The recipe is simple but the flavors are complex: 2.25 ounces of gin and .75 ounces of vermouth - sorry Mr. Bond, no vodka here.

Manhattans Mastered

Ever wanted to know the best whiskey to use in a Manhattan? Our World Cocktail Championships pit top brands against each other to determine which make the best cocktails. Here we lay out the whiskies that make the most delicious Manhattans and the vermouths that will make your cocktail-loving heart stir.

Autumn Sprits in Motion

With kaleidoscopic fall foliage in full display, it’s time to mix up these 4 cocktails that will leaf a smile on your face.

No Statement, No Problem

The whole world is catching on to Scotch whisky’s amazing quality and delicious taste. The result is a depletion of mature stock at many distilleries. Since age-stated whisky cannot legally contain any whisky younger than the age listed on the label, a risk is presented to the sustainability of age-stated whisky. One of the Scotch industry’s solutions has been to rely more heavily on no age statement (NAS) whiskies. These are marriages of many different whiskies, from very young to very old, that can have a profoundly delightful impact on your taste buds. Here we show you why you should eschew ageism and put stock in flavor over age when enjoying Scotch whisky.

Cider Stereotypes Smashed

This month we tasted piles of ciders with layers of complexity. Entries from both home and abroad did not disappoint and familiar names once again dazzled our taste buds. The showing was far from the expected and reinvigorated our love of cider. Check out the tried and tru and and the eye-openers showing that traditional dry cider is for everyone.

Winter Wine School

South Africa offers wines for every palate. From their flagship Chenin Blanc and Pinotage to crisp Colombar and internationally beloved Bordeaux-style blends, there’s a South African wine for you. Tastings.com brings you through the regions and grapes of South Africa. Discover your favorite with our handy guide.

Soul-Stirring Stouts

Roasty and toasty, stouts and porters are no longer just the workingman’s beverage— they run the gamut from historic and dry to sweet and flavored, and from session brews to barrel-aged warmers. Featured here are some of the best we have tasted for the winter months, ready for your exploration.

Our 2018 Cognac Guide

We share all the tools you need to order, discuss, sip, and savor France’s most famous brandy.

Giftable Liqueurs

Liqueurs are the perfect, versatile boozy gift. Neat or on the rocks? Sure. Mixed in classic cocktails? Even better! A simple and festive spritz? They’re the perfect party tipple. Tastings.com shares our candied, herbal, bittter-sweet and creamy liqueur picks for every type of holiday imbiber.

Napa: OPEN for Business

While most everyone in Napa and Sonoma has been affected by the recent wildfires in some way or another, damage isn’t widespread. The 2017 crop will make wine as spectacular as ever, and the best part? Tasting rooms are open and the wine is flowing! In fact, the biggest threat to Napa and Sonoma’s wine industry is the misperception that the fires devastated the region. The reality is that the Napa and Sonoma are thriving and their tasting rooms are open! Tastings.com shares three award-winning Napa wines to buy now.

Behind The Oak

Oak is no joke! Barrel aging can be used on just about any alcoholic beverage you can think of. Ever since oak replaced heavy, fragile clay amphorae as transportation vessels for wine around the age of the Roman Empire, its magnificent effects on beverages has been carefully studied and celebrated. Soak up the oak knowledge with Tastings.com.

Loveable Wines of Chile

Chilean wines are HOT! Our recent review of Chilean wines revealed big flavor and huge value in these smoky, intriguing wines. Immerse yourself in Chilean wine experiences with Tastings.com.

Part French, All-American

The coolest underdogs of wine are all-American. Hybrid wines are popping up in every corner of the USA. These are wines made from grape varieties that are a result of cross-breeding hearty indigenous American grapes with the familiar European varieties. As a result of cross-breeding these grapes are extra-resistant to disease and extra-tasty. Expect explosive fruit flavors with a unique floral and rustic aroma. Let Tastings.com introduce you to juicy hybrid wines that will leave you feeling foxy.

Sake Crash Course

Sharpen up your sake skills with the help of Tastings.com. We’ll teach you how to decode sake lingo, choose the sake that’s right for you, and even give you serving tips. Use Tastings.com to discover the world of Japanese Sake.

Trending: Agave Spirits

This month we tasted through the best agave sprits and chatted with leading producers to bring you the most up-to-date details on what’s trending in tequila and mezcal. Use our tips to find your new favorite spirit of Mexico!

Bitters On The Edge

We’ve outlined six unique ways to use the concentrated flavors of bitters in the kitchen and the bar- steering away from the typical cocktail flavoring application. From hair-of-the-dogs to gourmet cooking, we show you how to incorporate bitters into your everyday routines.

Summer Brew Camp

Evade the heat with refreshing summer wheats. We demystify wheat beer styles from trendy sour Berliners to classic Hefeweizens. Learn the history, brewing methods, and flavor profiles of the 5 styles you need to know.

Tales of the Cocktail

Look back on the good times had at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail and mark your calendar for this year’s event in New Orleans this July.

2017 Midwest Rum Fest

On Saturday April 8th, some of the biggest players in the Rum industry gathered to show off their latest and greatest sugarcane distillates at Chicago’s annual Midwest Rumfest. Micro and Boutique rums were the stars of the show and Tastings.com rated the best of them for you!

Delicious Daiquiris

Spend a day tasting daiquiris? It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! Check out what our judges picked as the 2017 World Cocktail Championships Best Daiquiris!

Savvy Savory Cocktails

Impress your guests! Learn the Art and Science of Creating and Pairing Savory Cocktails.

Elevate Dinner Tonight

Juicy and lush fruit flavors make Argentine wines the perfect choice for carnivorous pairings that tango on your palate.

A Taste of Japan

As a part of our 2016 trade initiative with Japan, our sales and marketing specialist Jaclyn Beazley toured around Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka in March. The month, which is typically wet and rainy, had a few sunny days she took advantage of discover all she could about Japanese Sake, Whiskey and even Wine!

Sour Beer is Hot

Is there anything more refreshing than a cold lemonade on a sizzling summer day? You bet there is: a chilled sour beer is the grown up version of lemonade. Mouth watering tartness, food-friendliness, and naturally low ABV that makes it easy to have more than one. We’ve been tasting some of the best sour beers out there, and now we want to share some of our favorites with you, just in time for the dog days of summer.

3 Expert Cocktail Recipes

See how the nation’s top bartenders use mixers and bitters from our 23rd International Review of Spirits to craft delicious cocktails. Featuring: Owl’s Brew Wicked Green Tea, Era Bitters, and Yogi’s Bloody Mary Mix.

Bacardi Tour

The Bacardi–More than a Tour, An Experience

Tastings lifestyle correspondent Camilla Llano visited the Bacardi ’Cathedral of Rum’ in Puerto Rico and liked what she found.

Mount Gay Rum

You wouldn’t know it, but the tiny island of Barbados is a dreamer’s paradise. Because its warmth, charm, and sophisticated people help make everyone’s dream come true. Tucked away on the northern tip in St. Lucy Parish, Mount Gay Rum has granted many a wish to everyone connected with it.

BroVo Spirits

Meet craft spirits maker, Mhairi Voelsgen. Her broVo spirits company in Seattle is revered by bartenders for its exceptional liqueur, vermouth and amaro. Catapulting itself into Michelin-rated restaurant cocktails, Mhairi’s brand excels with its refined recipe, batch after batch. Take it from the master herself and the lessons she gathered over the years from bartenders.

7 Steps To A Crab Boil

Have you ever wanted to treat your friends to a crab boil but it seems too complicated? We can show you how to create a crab boil in 7 easy steps! We can show you how to please your eyes and your stomach at the same time… rain or shine.

Do Reviews Matter?

Reviews at Tastings take a critical approach and mandatorily shut down any biases the judges have towards a product because of the controlled environment of the tasting room and blind samples.

The Basics of Brewing

Beer is an agricultural product beginning on a farm and ending in a glass. At its simplest, beer is a recipe of water, malt, hops and yeast. Brewing may be a simple process, but can be made very complicated with the application of scientific techniques to perfectly control the process.

From Garden to Glass

Tastings.com recently sat down with award-winning Chicago mixologist and spirited entrepreneur Adam Seger to talk about the ‘Garden to Glass’ movement sweeping the world of spirits and cocktails. As a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP), Adam offered an inside look at how the movement is zeroing in on freshness and seasonality and convincing consumers to drink like they eat.