The holidays are upon us, and after one hellacious year, we could all use a drink. And how great is it to give (or receive) a great bottle of booze during the holidays? While we may prefer to give (and receive) a bottle of whiskey, we also recognize there are other spirits worth drinking on occasion. Whether you’re looking for something special for yourself or the discerning drinker(s) in your life, we’ve put together a list of our ten favorite spirits to gift this year. Oh, and remember that affinity for whiskey we mentioned? You’ll see that reflected in our choices—cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season.
Foursquare Détente Single Blended Rum
Foursquare Distillery has been called the “Pappy Van Winkle” of rum due to its highly sought after Exceptional Cask Selection releases. The distillery ages these releases in casks that once held other spirits. Détente is a blend of two rums that are both 10-years-old. One rum was aged the entire time in ex-Bourbon barrels, the other rum was double-matured … 4 years in ex-Bourbon barrels and 6 years in ex-Port casks. The result of this aging and final blending together is a bold, spicy, and fruity spirit with hints of coconut, strawberry, and black pepper. This is a wonderfully complex but still approachable bottle for a variety of tastes. Gift this bottle to the rum-curious whiskey or wine drinker.
Corazón Tequila Expresiones Collection
Corazón has been distilling tequila in the Jalisco, Mexico highlands for 130 years, so they understand what makes a great spirit. They are also at the forefront of innovation when it comes to aging their tequila. For their Expresiones Collection, Corazón has partnered with the Sazerac Company to age their tequila in barrels that once held George T. Stagg Bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Rye, William Larue Weller Bourbon, and other whiskey expressions. Combining the ex-whiskey casks with the tequila produces a lineup of the most exclusive tequilas in the market. Gift any bottle from this collection to a loyal tequila or whiskey drinker to expand their palate in a whole new direction.
Koval Barreled Gin
Koval is Chicago’s craft distilling pioneer. In 2008 they became the first distillery in the city since the mid-1800s. Everything they produce is 100% organic and certified Kosher. The Koval barreled gin is their original dry gin recipe that has been matured in their own whiskey casks. The barrel aging imparts sweeter butterscotch and brown sugar flavors to compliment the grassy and floral notes of the dry gin. Try this in a classic Negroni to add some extra depth. Gift this bottle to the gin drinker with a high sense of taste and style. (Bonus, the label on the bottle is so attractive it doesn’t even require wrapping.)
Rey Camperó Mexicano Mezcal
Mezcal is tequila’s dapper, more sophisticated cousin … it had to be said. Mezcal is derived from agave, but it can be made from many different varietals, unlike tequila, which can only be made from blue agave. Mezcal is traditionally cooked in pits over wood, which imparts complexity and smokey flavors to the end product. Rey Camperó Mexicano is an herbaceous, grassy, spicy, savory mezcal with a subtle hint of smoke. This is a mezcal that could easily substitute for a rye whiskey in cocktails. Try it in an Old Fashioned and let its flavors radiate. Gift this bottle to a rye whiskey drinker and watch them nod with approval once they taste it.
Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake
The wizard of whiskey creation and blending at Glenmorangie, Dr. Bill Lumsden, dreamt up this whimsical single malt whiskey after realizing some of his favorite memories involved … well, cake. We can all probably relate to great memories involving cake, but we didn’t think to make a whiskey that tried to capture those moments and flavor memories. Dr. Bill did. And not only did he dream it … he brought it to life. A Tale of Cake is a single malt, finished in Tokaji dessert wine casks. The whiskey explodes with sweet fruit flavors from the wine cask; apricot, orange, lemon, and peaches, followed by creamy white chocolate, honey, pine, and chocolate-covered nuts. This would probably work really well in a Scotch & Soda, but we’re just going to pair it with the first piece of cake we can find. Gift this bottle to any tippler with a serious sweet tooth.
Wild Turkey Master's Keep 17-year Bottled-in-Bond
Pretty much any new release from Wild Turkey is going to get us excited. Put a 17-year age statement on it and release it as part of the Master’s Keep collection … take our money. When a Bourbon starts approaching 20 years in the barrel, you never know if it will just begin tasting like the wood it has been sitting in or develop a rich flavor complexity. This Bourbon is definitely the latter, complex and layered with luscious aromas and flavors of cherries, oak, and leather. Drinking it is a sublime experience. This is a Bourbon most definitely meant to be enjoyed neat. Gift this bottle to a long-time Bourbon drinker that deserves to have an extraordinary whiskey in their collection.
Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye
Jack Daniel’s is the best-selling whiskey brand on the planet, mainly due to the ubiquitous Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Whiskey. But Jack is way way more than that black label with an impressive lineup of single barrel options at various proof points and some outstanding limited releases. This year Jack Daniel’s released its first-ever barrel proof rye, and it is a game-changer for rye drinkers. Aromas of smoke, dried plum, and creamy caramel with flavors of molasses, fresh-cut oak, and peppery rye spice. This will take a Sazerac cocktail to a whole new level. Gift this bottle to a dedicated rye drinker to immediately upgrade their collection.
Pinhook Tiz Rye Time 4-year Vertical Series
Pinhook has created a rye whiskey Vertical Series that will follow a group of barrels, all filled within months of each other, as they age over the next 9 years. Every year they will select 50 barrels from the group to be blended and proofed to create a unique vintage. It begins with this 4-year-old vintage and will culminate with a 12-year-old release in 2028. This first release is already quite stunning with citrus and cinnamon aroma, and flavors of molasses, green herbs, along with sharp clove, and nutmeg. This rye would shine in a Man O’ War cocktail. Gift this bottle to a serious collector that will be dedicated to following the journey of the series.
Knob Creek 12-year Bourbon
This is Jim Beam in its glory. At 12-years-old and 100 proof, it shows how rich and complex Bourbon from Beam can be. It has deep flavors of oak, leather, and peanuts, balanced with sweet vanilla, marshmallow, toasted sugar, and a sprinkle of black pepper. 100 proof just seems to work perfectly to allow the flavors to shine through in this small batch. Try this with just a couple drops of water, and the sweeter flavors will bloom. Gift this to a whiskey drinker that enjoys really traditional Kentucky Bourbon flavors; it won’t last long in their bar.
Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series No. 3
Bardstown Bourbon Company is a massive producer of whiskey for themselves and dozens of other brands. But they only started making whiskey in 2016. So, while they wait for their own distillate to fully mature for release on its own, they have focused a lot of their attention on blending sourced whiskey. This release showcases their blending expertise by combining two Kentucky Bourbons and one Indiana Bourbon, ranging from 10 to 13 years old, to create an intricate whiskey. Pears, maple syrup, and tanned leather on the nose give way to baked fruit, spiced caramel, bitter toasted oak, and a long warm finish. Try this in a Maple Old Fashioned. Gift this to an amateur blender that likes to experiment with mixing up their own custom whiskey concoctions at home.