We'll Drink to That: Three Fine Bourbons (and a Texas Whiskey) for Holiday Giving

Courtesy of Tuthilltown Distillery

Of all the great spirits of the world, there is something special about bourbon—it’s gritty, raw, yet so smooth and caressing on the palate that like a cloudless, starry sky over a campfire at night, it simultaneously comforts the body and stimulates the senses. Bourbon often comes at a much better value than its Celtic cousin and is available in a multitude of intriguing bottlings thanks to the diversity of bourbon distilleries in the United States and the resurgence of the spirit’s popularity. For a fantastic gift that will stimulate the intellect, the palate, and the emotions, consider one of the following exciting options.

For a drinker who’s relatively new to high-end bourbon, I recommend starting with the Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel (100 proof; $39), a special bottling of this popular brand that boasts surprising depth for the price tag. Soft cinnamon, vanilla, honey, and fruit notes alongside the bold swoosh of alcohol make for a great all-around gift.

Southern bourbon lovers may throw me out of the bar for suggesting a New York example, but Tuthilltown’s Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey (92 proof; $50) is perhaps the most exciting product in this excellent distillery’s lineup. Sweet, smooth, and sultry, this bourbon is made up of sixty percent corn plus wheat, rye, and malted barley; the blend lends a chewy, bread-like character for a satisfying sip and an oaky finish.

Veering slightly off the bourbon track but remaining in the heart of the South, Balcones Single Malt Texas Whisky (105 proof; $87) is a wallop of a whiskey from a Waco distillery quickly rising to fame thanks to its outstanding and distinctive spirits. This single-malt whiskey (100 percent barley) packs an incredible nose; caramel, bacon, and french toast come first, while the accompanying fruit notes create the effect of jam on paté.

When you only want the very best for that special someone (and I do hope it’s someone very, very special), Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20-year (90 proof; $110) is the undisputed king of bourbons. It’s not easy to track down, nor is it easy on the wallet, but each sip feels like a lifetime. A huge, fruit-forward nose and a rich, buttery palate give way to a long and intense finish. This is a gift that will bring lasting pleasure to both the recipient and the giver—for the lucky person to get this bottle is sure to invite you to share some.       



Julia Burke writes about beer, wine, and spirits for Spree.

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