The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are lists to be made and gifts to buy. If you have a whiskey lover in your life that you’re buying for, things can get even more stressful since there are so many choices out there!
Fear not though, whiskey shopping doesn’t need to add additional stress to your holiday season! We’ve got you covered with a few different options to make every whiskey lover on your list a happy camper. The whiskeys featured below are not a bunch of limited editions that would make anyone happy, but would be near impossible to easily find (at an affordable price). Instead, they’re broken out into various categories to try to help cover as much ground as possible for you no matter what type of whiskey drinker you’re shopping for.
Do you have someone on your list who always likes to try something new or easily gets bored with the same old same old? If so, the current market is full of whiskeys that will certainly push their palate to new limits and expose them to new and different flavors:
Fun fact, you can also distill whiskey from grains that have already been turned into alcohol. This is often seen with beer, and a distillery leading the way is Charbay out in California. Lot 5 is one of the more complex and intriguing whiskeys on the market and will be a very unique gift.
Mellow Corn is considered corn whiskey and is made with 100% corn grain. This easy-to-find bottle won’t break the bank and is a nice entry into American Whiskeys other than bourbon or rye.
A hot trending area is finishing a whiskey in rum barrels. We recently did a deep dive into this category, but one of the more well known rum finished whiskeys is Angel’s Envy Rye. Angel’s Envy Rye is a unique, premium quality experience in barrel finished whiskey that’s geared towards a drinker with a sweet tooth. If whiskey could be a dessert, this would be it.
Barrel finished whiskeys come in many forms. The most straightforward of the group are products that are double oaked. Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Finish is a sweet, unique tasting bourbon that results from this straightforward yet not-so-common finishing process.
Woodinville out of Washington state is making a name for themselves with their port finished bourbon. Their port finished bourbon introduces a darker fruit element to the whiskey that adds a lot of dimension to the sip.
When you really want to impress, seek out a bottle of Barrell Dovetail. Barrell Craft Spirits includes whiskey in not one, but three finishing barrels that includes cabernet, rum, and port barrels! Dovetail delivers a layered and rich flavor profile that errs on sweeter side.
When people hear the words malt whiskey, they often think of scotch. But distilleries overseas aren’t the only ones having fun with this grain. Malted barley is an area that is having a moment right now is the category of American malt whiskeys. If you’re buying for a scotch lover or want to expose a long time whiskey drinker to something new, think about exposing them to American malt whiskey:
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey - For years now, Stranahans out of Colorado has been producing malt whiskey and exposing Americans to what it means to drink an American malt. It’s an easy entry into this area and helps showcase a flavor profile that is tremendously different from your typical bourbon or rye.
Chattanooga is trying to push the concept of Tennessee Hight Malt Whiskey with the end result being a whiskey that is rich in flavor. They’re constantly innovating and should be on everyone’s radar.
Balcones is helping put Texas whiskey on the map. It’s easy drinking for the proof, and provides an experience that will intrigue many. This is Texas in a glass.
Breuckelen Distilling Company in New York recently released an age stated malt that is really delicious and showcases what American Malts taste like when they have a few years to rest in the barrel. The sweeter flavors play well, yet there is enough oak influence, especially in the finish, to please most. For those who are used to bourbon or rye, Brownstone is a nice gateway into the world of malts.
Woodford is one of the few larger distilleries playing in the malt space. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey is an enjoyable whiskey not so much for any individual piece, but for what the product delivers as a whole. With the exception of the hotness of the palate, the rest of sip is well balanced. It’s priced right, will be readily available, and it stands out from Woodford’s other products.
If you’re buying for a first time whiskey drinker and you want to expose them to a few classics, there are a few staples that everyone should try out. The nice part about the whiskeys listed below is that you don’t need to limit yourself to buying just one. If you want to really blow someone away, consider buying several of the below in smaller sizes such as 50ml, 100ml, or 200ml bottles. These not only make for nice stocking stuffers, but allow you to provide a broad exposure to an array of bourbons:
Its iconic red dripped wax is known around the world. The combination of rotating aging barrels and a wheated mashbill with an above average amount of malted barley creates a very sweet palate that stands out from other bourbons on the market.
Its simple flavor profile offers a way to dive into bourbon without being overwhelmed by worrying about trying to pick out exotic flavor characteristics.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a solid bourbon that will appeal to any level of whiskey drinker. For someone new to bourbon, it’s extremely accessible with its sweet nose and palate, and a finish that introduces a perfect mix of oak and spice.
A bourbon that deserves to be in everyone’s collection. It provides a nice mix of sweet and spicy flavors with a slightly dry, medium-length finish.
Classic bourbon flavors of sweet vanilla and mellowed oak with a welcoming amount of heat are the quintessential bourbon characteristics. It’s an inoffensive, well-rounded bourbon that doesn’t try to wow, but instead simply offers a good bourbon at a good price.
A bourbon with a flavor profile is classic yet enticing. Its proof plays well in a bold cocktail, yet also provides for a full-flavored sip when drinking it neat.
Cocktails have been a staple of Americana for decades on end. While part of the allure is being able to go to a bar and watch a bartender swirl all of your ingredients together, COVID has made that a little bit harder for many this year. That’s where the concept of quick cocktails at homes come in. If you have a cocktail lover in your life that you’re buying for, these are sure to hit the spot.
For a few years now, brands have been putting out cocktail mixers that just required the alcohol. For example, Elijah Craig makes an Old Fashioned Syrup which only requires you to add bourbon. These can be a great way to pick your favorite bourbon at whatever proofpoint you may crave in the moment and make a quick cocktail.
Now for some, even that step may seem inconvenient. If you fall into that camp like I do, you’re going to be more interested in pre-batched cocktails. Prior to 2020 only a handful of distilleries were making available pre-batched cocktails. However due to COVID, 2020 has seen an explosion of pre-batched cocktails hitting the market.
What you see now are a lot of local craft distilleries all over the nation pre-batching and bottling cocktails using their distilled spirits. One example is Wigle Whiskey out of Pittsburgh which makes ready to drink cocktails that produce a tasty cocktail in the amount of time it takes to pour it from bottle to glass.
If you don’t have a local distillery that you frequent or if you don’t have one near you, you can also check out an option like a Hochstadter's Slow & Low Rock & Rye which works great in a pinch.
We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re reading this the day before Christmas (or maybe even Christmas morning), and you realized that you forgot to buy for that whiskey lover on your list. Thankfully Breaking Bourbon has you covered! Our membership in our award winning Single Barrel Club makes a great gift! Membership in our club gets your recipient the opportunity to access single barrel picks that have been personally selected by us at Breaking Bourbon. While we’re biased in thinking they’re great, we did also have this confirmed by winning Gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition earlier in 2020! Not only that, but depending on the level you choose, we’ll also send along some pretty snazzy rewards too. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! You can read more and sign up here.