Four Award-Winning Whiskies

Tasting Notes: Aberlour Full Line

On a recent visit to Aberlour distillery smack dab in the middle of the famed Speyside region, our task at hand was to gain an appreciation for the distiller's unique malting, mashing, blending and maturation processes, and of course, the tasting.

A Prime Spot in Scotland's Scotch Valley

Photo Essay: Walking the Grounds at Aberlour Distillery

Among the big names of the central Speyside region -- Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Ardmore -- Aberlour garners less recognition than most. And yet it's consistently produced one of the most decorated single malt whiskies, with more than 185 awards since the mid-1980s. We walked the grounds of their distillery, which has continuously produced since 1879.

A Floating Oasis Within the Wild

Stay: Aqua Expeditions

This riverboat expedition along the Amazon River pairs supreme luxury with raw rainforest adventure.

Expect the Unexpected

Photo Essay: Traveling the Amazon by Riverboat

In much of the Amazon, traveling by riverboat is the best form of transportation. So we set off from Iquitos, Peru, fondly dubbed the Capital of the Peruvian Amazon, aboard the Aqua Aria, a luxurious river boat that would take us roughly 100 miles up and down the Amazon River.

On the 'cue trail in Texas

The Lone Star Smokeshow: 6 Must-Eats on the Texas BBQ Trail

Texas is home to the original cowboys, the gunslingers and trailblazers. They pushed 20 million head of cattle through Dustbowl territory during the historic cattle drives. Beef is in their blood. And their barbecue is the best there is. We sought out the legendary joints in the heart of the Lone Star state.

The Road is Life

Kit: Road Trip

From the Archives: With age comes the ability to do a long highway cruise better than we ever could as a youngster. Summer's right around the corner, so we've compiled above all the gear you'll need to make new memories on the road. Get what you need and hit the road, Jack. Grab the wheel and point it west, take a buddy and leave the rest.

Stuff to fill his white space

12 Guys of Christmas: The Designer

If you’ve ever spent time around this next guy on our list, you’ve probably been exposed to one or more of the following: the name-that-font game; conversations on additive vs. subtractive color modes; mistaking Roy G. Biv for a close friend; wagers on the over/under lifespan of the flat design trend. What’s Gaelic to them is Greek to us; the designer's discerning eye can leave you feeling rudderless and depressed when it comes to gift buying. Suddenly you’re lost in the libraries of Hoefler & Frere-Jones, killing time by exploring the classified section of Architectural Digest. That’s a dark place, my friend. We’re here to help. Moral of this story: leave it to us. We know these people. We’ve sailed to the farthest corners of digital commerce to bring you the best selection of holiday gifts for The Designer.

Small Game, Big Gear

Kit: Upland Hunting

As the mercury drops, game enthusiasts from across the fruited plain trade in their drift boats and fly rods for double barreled breach-break shotguns, some blaze orange, and a Labrador, if they're lucky. Upland hunting takes many shapes and forms depending on where you call home: there's the cold Northeast, the prairies and cornfields of the Midwest, the Intermountain region on down to the South. Still, more unites these sportsmen than divides them; tall-tales, cold walks and fantastic wingshots are all par for the course. The gear, though, is probably our favorite part. So gather round -- we’ve hand selected the best of this year's gear to keep you covered from head to toe while you’re out on the hunt.

Lofty Goals

Kelty Ignite Dridown

We won’t all climb Everest. In fact, most of us won’t. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy a good weekend under the stars -- we certainly do. But, while there are sleeping bags made for extreme conditions (and even ones that hang from trees or that you can wear), you're probably after something more straightforward. You want something that’s built well, that’ll keep you warm on a cool night and that you can take anywhere: Kelty Ignite DriDown ($200). Hands down, the Ignite DriDown is the best of the best, a versatile, quality, bang-for-your-buck sleeping bag.

Like Mike

94Fifty Smart Basketball

It seems like everything is becoming quantified these days. Not to be left out, the data-mining 94Fifty Bluetooth Sensor has made its way into one of America's most popular sports. 94Fifty Bluetooth Sensor Basketballs ($300), made in partnership with Spalding, are the first digital sports products to be embedded with inertial motion sensors, serving up coaches and players with various metrics concerning ballhandling, shooting, jump-explosion, defensive foot-speed agility and athleticism.

Geometry and geography collide

Stay: Cube Guest House

When native Germans Dirk Engelmann and Patrick Gott uprooted their lives and moved to South Africa to start a lifelong dream, the Cube Guest House was born. The guesthouse embodies Engelmann and Gott’s approach towards modern European aesthetics that sharply contrast the surrounding dark outlines of Cape Town’s Table Mountain posturing in the background. Add...

Canadianisms not included

Stay: The Wickaninnish Inn

Canada is widely known for its maple syrup, hockey, Mike Meyers and Canadian bacon -- all perfectly excellent things. But beyond the typical clichés, our northern neighbor's rugged landscape is full of intrigue and adventure. Few places capture this Canadian beauty as well as the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, which provides a relaxing environment and one of the best spots in the world from which to cast your luxuriating gaze.

Next Level

Mac Pro

As young men, we thought by the year 2000 we’d all be zipping around in Jetsons-style tubes from one place to the next. We don’t see any tubes, but Apple’s newest Mac Pro ($3000+) at least gives us hope that we may get there yet. This sneak peek into the future of the pro desktop has roused plenty of curiosity as the most powerful and smallest Mac Pro to date. With brains, beauty and brawn, this Mac might just be the best forward-thinking tech device around. Sorry, Rosie.

More beautiful beasts of burden

Bigger is Better: 5 Best Full-Size Pickups

Baseball, apple pie and trucks: all iconic, savory slices of Americana. The urban cowboy may have given the pickup a bad rap, but don't let that sour the segment. These ain't your granddad's haulers. No sir, the trucks of today have taken fuel efficiency to an all-time high in the segment, for starters, and have added touches of interior and exterior class that leave little to be desired, even when compared against luxury makers. Yes, the beloved truck has changed, but it remains grounded in its roots as a tree-stump-puller. Indeed, the core functionality of the pickup truck has remained nearly unchanged through the years -- that is, it still has the ability to blast copious amounts of diesel exhaust over smug, hybrid drivers. We found time to drive and rate the five best full-sized models on the market. Which one you choose is between you and your payload.

Paradise, Defined

Stay: Rosewood Mayakoba

When vacationing south of the border, choosing where to stay among endless resorts, hotels and inns can be somewhat overwhelming. But for a truly singular experience -- one laid seamlessly among placid lagoons, thick mangrove forests and pristine white Caribbean sand -- allow your wearied eyes to rest upon Rosewood Mayakoba. This swanky, 1600-acre Riviera Maya getaway has your tropical beach dreams trumped.

Tar Heel paradise

Stay: Old Edwards Inn

Considering its home holds title as one of the original thirteen colonies, "old" has a fitting place in the name of Old Edwards Inn & Spa. This top-tier Euro-chic luxury resort rests comfortably amid the mystical Blue Ridge Mountains in Highlands, North Carolina. 2013 has been a banner year for Old Edwards -- awarded a spot on Conde Nast's Gold List, second place on Travel + Leisure's list of best resorts in the continental U.S., and fourteenth on TripAdvisor's U.S. list.

Unclean and loving it

The Road Less Traveled: Taking On the Trans-America Trail in the Land Rover LR4

When you’re looking to travel from coast to coast, you’ve got several options; planes are the fastest, trains are probably the cheapest, the interstate is a good DIY choice. But for the adventurer, the Trans-America Trail (TAT) is one of the best. The TAT is a westbound dual-sport motorcycle trail across America on unpaved roads. Sam Corerro, original founder of the TAT, spent years passionately pursuing his goal of charting a coast-to-coast, off-pavement motorcycle adventure. After studying reams of maps and personally surveying thousands of miles of unpaved roadway, Corerro finalized this 5,000-mile route across America in 1999. Over a year ago, Land Rover, too, had the idea to travel across the continental United States completely off road, and we recently joined them for a long leg of the trip.

Back to the homestead

Stay: Arkaba Station

Australia is, fairly or unfairly, characterized by a lot of things: didgeridoos, Bloomin' onions, kangaroos, boomerangs, a land full of Steve Irwins (RIP), but it also makes the list for one of our most coveted vacation spots. The craggy mountains of the Australian Outback meet unpredictable luxury at Arkaba Station, an 1850s homestead turned hotel.

Vee Dub-steppin' it up

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line

Wikipedia astutely defines a dark horse as, "a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort". There's a dark horse in every race: Abraham Lincoln in politics, Mark Cuban in everything, and that one Nickelback album in music. The VW CC ($31,795+), we believe, fits that bill in the upscale midsize automobile realm. We got behind the wheel for a week-long driving review.

Two wheels to greatness

Photo Essay: MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas

Though the riders participating in MotoGP races are the best in the world, it's taken a while for this style of racing to gain traction in the United States. After having the chance to see the MotoGP World Championship at The Circuit of the Americas thanks to Ducati, we easily count ourselves among its growing fan base. Read on to see our photo essay of the insane speed on two wheels.

The perfect hangout

Big Swingers: Five Best Hammocks

It's far from news that summer’s here; the dog days, as it were. From grilling on your resealed deck to some mighty fine vacations, your calendar should be packed with great seasonal activities. You're not one to take it for granted, are you? Of course, there are those tiny slivers of respite between tackling rapids on your SUP board and trucking along some of the best mountain biking single track in the country, and you are feeling mighty pooped, what with all the adventure and bravado. Sounds like it's time to catch some suspended reprieve: you're in desperate need of a hammock, partner.

Drop shot, meet cross-court winner

Tested: 2013 Head Speed Pro

Finessing things is something we take a lot of pride in, times ten when it involves catgut. Even so, the 2013 Head YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro introduced a new level of speed and power to our game without damaging our clever style of play. Read on to see hear more about its on-court performance.

Bolster your photo app-titude

Hot Shot: Five Apps to Help You Shoot Like a Pro

Whether you're trying to capture the grandeur of the Grand Canyon or just snapping a selfie of your abs (not again, Anthony Weiner!), utilizing a set of great photo apps is key. Give the Earlybird Instagram filter a break and read up on our five favorite photo apps.

Still doesn't cure tennis elbow

Tested: Wilson Rush Pro

To quote some guy in a movie, “My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they're going, where they've been”. Although that guy may have been more into table-tennis than tennis-tennis, he was right. In a game where footwork is key, Wilson's Rush Pro ($120) has a hard job. We got our hands on a pair and made 'em squeak between the white lines (mostly).

The Road is Life

Kit: Road Trip

With age comes the ability to do a long highway cruise better than we ever could as a youngster. Summer's right around the corner, so we've compiled above all the gear you'll need to make new memories on the road. Get what you need and hit the road, Jack. Grab the wheel and point it west, take a buddy and leave the rest.

Call for backup

Five Alive: 5 Best iPhone 5 Battery Cases

Doubling battery life is a no-brainer. Options run the gamut for solutions to Apple's latest quick-to-die wonder -- and we really mean run the gamut. It's a bit of the Wild West in the battery case world at the moment, so start here with our five best selections, then do your homework and make sure what you choose will get you what you want.

Trusty Steeds

Fully Loaded: 5 Best All-In-One Desktops

It wasn’t so long ago that 10-key calculators and instant messenger were the most exciting things happening to technology. But nowadays, tech moves fast -- new computer segments are born and buried quicker with each passing year. Don't let that scare you away from the good ole desktop, though. All-in-ones have more to offer than ever: effective touchscreens with the UI to back them up (Windows 8), high-def displays that can easily double as TV screens (thanks to HDMI and built-in TV tuners), and slimmer profiles for fitting just about anywhere. Sure, it’s tough explaining to grandma where to put the floppy disc, but we'll leave that to you. Before choosing which one is right for you, though, figure out just what it is you need. Whether that means sexy looks, entertainment nirvana or a gamer's sweaty-palmed fantasy, our five picks for the best all-in-one desktops are awaiting below to help out.

A Sip of Summer

Frigid Brew: 5 Best Cold Brew Coffees

Some like it hot, but for the cold brew enthusiast, there really is no substitute. Steeped for a minimum of 12 hours, cold brew coffee is known for its naturally sweet flavor due to a a cold-water seeping process that results in lower acidity. Not to be confused with iced coffee (brewed hot, then cooled), cold brew has a cleaner flavor, can taste chocolaty with a velvet texture and even tames the boldest of beans. That said, it's not boring -- just different. Some have a difficult time swallowing the two-week shelf life and the fact that the bean per brew ratio makes it expensive, but the it's the flavor that wins them over, every time. And so, your loyal bean scouts are once again here, reporting for duty. After numerous taste tests, what some might consider cruel and unusual job hazards and sleepless nights in and out of caffeine delirium, we bring you the five best cold brews around. Each is ready-to-drink poured over ice, or can be diluted with water, cream and sugar, or your favorite other social lubricant. Undergoing the rigors of journalism calls for self-sacrifice, occasionally. But, for you fine folks, we did it. No sweat.

Slick moisture sucker

BRNO Dri+Cap Dehumidifying Lens Cap

We would like to reiterate the fact that photography is an expensive hobby. Most photographers are poor. They can't afford to be spending precious Ramen money on replacing camera bodies. Once you obtain that coveted high quality camera body, you want to keep it in tip-top shape; to do so we recommend the BRNO Dri+Cap ($70), which guards against fungus, mold and other camera-destroying agents that spawn from humidity changes.

No cubes in this icebox

Black Diamond Ice Box

Guys like to climb stuff — trees, corporate ladders and, of course, icy mountains. The scarier, the better. The Black Diamond Ice Box ($80) is a great solution for storing lots of pointy gear that needs to be handy at a moment’s notice. The box holds four tools, a pair of crampons (stop giggling, dammit)...

Your view, starting at $1000

écurie25 Supercar Club

Entertaining fantastical pipe dreams has always been a fun diversion for us, like that time we thought it would be cool to go to law school because, “I don’t know what else to do with my life” (which is apparently what educational sadomasochists are apt to say). Or thinking we might one day have stacks...

Beast Mode

Dynafit Beast 16 Bindings

Much like the carpenter, a skier is often no better than his equipment. Fit matters, weight matters and material matters, which is why freeride pros Eric Hjorleifson and Fredrik Andersson combined their decades of ski experience as inspiration for the Dynafit Beast 16 Binding. Available only in a limited run of 2,500, these bindings employ...

What's Hawaiian for more water please?

Adoboloco Hot Sauce

Founded on the basic ingredients of love and salmonella, culinary amateurism can be downright frightening. Yet hot sauce producer Adoboloco ($8+) has managed to pull it off, thriving without a Kraft-sized bankroll. This Hawaiian family unit has turned cuisine curiosity, which started as a simple family garden project and a love of spiciness, into a...

A road map to the map

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

That we take technology for granted is a fact we take for granted. Unlock that flashy smartphone, navigate your bloated American thumb to the map app, and millennia of man’s navigation efforts appear before your very eyes. On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks ($17) by Simon Garfield (author of...

Don't carbonize these ones

Wondermade Marshmallows

Wondermade Marshmallows ($8) shatter the conventional s’mores mold with their diverse line of flavored addiction cubes sugary treats. Boasting a perfect spongy consistency, these handcrafted marshmallows challenge the pallet with a bouquet of unique flavors like gingerbread, peppermint, s’mores (s’mores inception?), pumpkin pie, Guinness and bourbon. A smartly designed box accomplishes the sole mission of...

Porsche's finally done it.

Quick Spin: 2013 Porsche Boxster

Previous Boxster owners were largely perceived as the type of people Ron Swanson might hate -- pastel wearing, shoulder sweater draping, Mediocre University Honors graduates who yearned for the 911 Cabrio but either couldn't afford it or couldn't muster the skills. Of course, it was a Porsche, so it drove well and handled well, but aside from the S model, it seemed to lack that Stuttgart Blitzkrieg-like power that Porsche drivers expect. So with this new generation of the German roadster, Porsche decided to make it worthy of her pedigree.

Carpe Vita!

1 Second Everyday App

If the world really does end on the 21st, this app will be useless. But if Zero Hour doesn’t hit, 1 Second Everyday could be a life changer. Using your iPhone camera, this personal hobby turned TED Talk turned funded Kickstarter project chronicles your life one second at a time. Its creation story is blessedly...

Wear your heart on your wrist

Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor

Beyond catering to the fitness obsessed, this wonder watch would have been useful during that little apoplexia-inducing turkey feast we like to call Thanksgiving. Known as the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor, this wristwatch on steroids “senses” the amount of blood under your skin and replies with a digital readout of your heart rate. Through...

Illumin-Aughty

LensLight Mini TAD Edition

You can tell a lot about a man by his EDC. Zippo, house keys, obligatory pocket knife, handgun, paracord, unspeakably cool shades — we’ve seen it all. The serious carrier, however, is sure to include a flashlight, and we recommend the LensLight Mini TAD Edition ($325) from Triple Aught Design. This miniature light is practical...

The fastest sailboat in the world

Design Spotlight: The Sailrocket 2

One look at the Sailrocket 2 shows that your teacher wasn’t full of s**t when he said physics can be fun. This 600-pound carbon sailing vessel is truly a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its British sailing team (and the badass sailor that steers it). Reaching a certified speed of 54.08 knots (62.2...

Make the best runs yours

Lifts and Bounds Ski Run Art

One of our many joys in life is taking the yearly hajj to our nearest ski Mecca. Days of fresh powder, nights of warm (or warming) beverages and dreamy broken-bone memories make this annual pilgrimage worthwhile. Luckily, even after the snow melts, there’s Lifts and Bounds Ski Run Art ($165) to add a dash of wall...