Sunday, November 25, 2012
Holiday Whiskey Gifts
Happy holidays! Here are some gift ideas for that loved one who loves whiskey. There were a number of good new releases this year which would make excellent gifts for the booze lover in your life.
For single malt Scotch, my pick of the year is definitely the Balvenie Tun 1401 ($250), a vatting of whiskies aged in bourbon and sherry casks that is a wonderfully balanced sherried malt. There are two distinct batches of this that have been released in the US, batch 3 and batch 6, and while both are excellent, batch 3 is a bit better, so grab it if you can.
For bourbon, the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2012 ($87) is an easy pick. It's a big, complex bourbon bottled at barrel strength with notes of briny rye, tobacco and even some fruit. If you know someone who drools at the thought of George T. Stagg or Pappy Van Winkle, get them a bottle of this. It's probably the best bourbon I had all year. Apparently, though, it's become hard to find in California, so you may have to dig a little.
If you know someone who likes their whiskey smoky, you might want to get something a bit out of the ordinary instead of that usual bottle of Ardbeg or Laphroaig. Two of my favorite smoky whiskeys of the year were fun and off the beaten Islay path. High West's Campfire ($55) is a blend of bourbon, rye and peated Scotch. It's unlike anything else around with a flavor that is at once sweet, spicy and smoky. Balcones Brimstone ($50) is a corn whiskey smoked with Texas scrub oak. It's deeply smoky with a sweet edge, and it's unlike any other smoky whiskey I've tasted.
If you're looking for a less pricey gift, there are several good options. Trader Joe's Single Malt Irish Whiskey ($20) was probably the best Irish Whiskey I had all year, with a nice combination of peat and sherried sweetness. Distilled at the Cooley distillery, it still seems to be readily available, and the price is right.
One of my favorite new bourbons of the year was Hooker's House ($36), a high-rye Kentucky bourbon finished in pinot noir barrels. It has a nice, fruity disposition and is a pleasure to sip for a reasonable price.
If you know someone who loves Canadiant Whisky, you could get them one of the excellent ten year old Canadian straight ryes, WhistlePig ($70), Masterson's ($65) or Jefferson's ($40), but what you really should get them is Davin de Kergommeaux's excellent book Canadian Whisky, the Portable Expert ($15) which answers any question anyone has ever had about Canadian Whisky, its history, style and production.
Lastly, for those of you who might be looking for a whiskey alternative, look no further than the Famille Esteve Selection Coup de Coeur Cognac ($90), part of K&L's exclusive selection of Cognacs. Equal parts sweet and spicy, this is a wonderful Cognac to sip anytime and better than some Cognacs that go for nearly double the price.