Welcome to DrinkInsider’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide!
For my fourth annual guide to giving during the holidays, I’m diversifying the lineup to include a variety of gifts—all under $100—for the drink lover in your life. Whether you’re looking for something for an occasional drink enthusiast or a serious aficionado, I think you’ll find something here to make them happy. Cheers!
A Great $30 Bourbon
If you’ve only got about $25-$30 to spare, but you want to buy someone a bottle of good whiskey, rest assured that there are a number of great options out there. However, there are also a lot of bad ones too, so make sure to shop smart. One of my favorite $30 bottles is Bowman Brothers Small Batch by A. Smith Bowman, a great Sazerac-owned distillery located in Fredericksburg, Virgina. Bowman Brothers is the perfect everyday whiskey for sipping or for mixing, and will look great as part of a whiskey collection.
Bowman Brothers is available in many markets around the country for about $30.
Read more about A. Smith bowman here!
The Best New Tequila This Year
Patron launched their Roca line earlier this year, adding a very unique offering to an already impressive lineup. Although these tequila’s look a lot like Patron’s regular line, they’re completely different and truly on another level of excellence. My favorite of the Roca series is the Roca Anejo, an 88 proof monster of a tequila that will make any tequila lover in your life happy as hell.
Roca Patron Anejo is available in quality liquor stores nationwide for about $90.
Read more about Roca Patron here!
A Basket of Bourbon County
I don’t know any beer lover that doesn’t love Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout. They’re barrel aged, black beer goodness, and seeing that they just got released around the country on Black Friday, you may be able to find some left in your market (I’m still seeing a lot left in the Boston-area). So, hurry up and go find a four-pack for your best beer-loving bud. Make it extra special by putting the bottles in a basket along with an official Bourbon County Brand Stout snifter glass.
Available in limited supply at good bottle shops around the country for $20-$25 per 4-pack
Some Bad Ass Bitters
Seven Stills is a relatively new craft distillery out of San Francisco that’s doing some really cool bitter collections in the most bad ass packaging I’ve ever seen. You can find Seven Stills Bitters on their Kickstarter page where they’re currently in the process of raising dollars for the project. The company is offering a few different product lines including their Prickly Pear bitters, Cranberry bitters, and Cocktail bitters. They also have box sets featuring all of their products and lithograph artwork of their labels (which, as I mentioned, are bad ass). The company promises that all backers of their kickstarter will get their bitters in time for Christmas, so get on it!
Available on Seven Stills Kickstarter Page starting at $16
One of the Best New Rye Whiskeys
Park City, Utah’s High West Distillery has been an influential player in craft whiskey since 2007. Which makes them a pretty early comer in this young industry. But in just seven years, High West has put out some great products, and some highly memorable limited edition releases. Their newest limited edition release to see national distribution is A Midwinter Nights Dram, a delicious whiskey made by aging their Rendezvous Rye in Port and French oak barrels. As the distillery notes on their website, “this is a very unique rye whiskey that tastes like the flavors of Christmas.” So, not only is it a fantastic product, but it’s also perfect for the season.
A Midwinter Nights Dram can be found at select liquor stores for $75-$85
A Brand New Book About Whiskey
A whiskey book is perfect for the aspiring whiskey geek in your life, and Lew Bryson’s latest release, Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits, is a great choice for both novices and connoisseur’s alike. So, why this book over all of the others on the market? Well, first of all, it’s brand new—as of October. Also, Lew Bryson, the author, is one of the definitive experts on whiskey in the world today. He’s the Managing Editor of Whisky Advocate magazine, and has been writing about beer and spirits since the mid 90s. He’s also a really cool guy, so you should support him.
Tasting Whiskey is available on Amazon for $14
The Most Amazing Wine Glasses, Ever
There’s nothing wrong with your Reidel’s. They’re great glasses. But once you drink nice wine from a Zalto wine glass, your wine drinking life will be changed. Zalto glasses are hand-blown by highly skilled glassblowers in Neunagelberg, Austria. They’re delicate–you get the feeling that you may break them–but they’re not fragile. They’re lead-free, and their angles are designed to mimic the tilt of the Earth (according to Zalto). There’s something very special about these wine glasses, and when you drink from them, wine seems to express all of its inner secrets. The Zalto Denk’Art Universal Glass is a glass for any occasion, and a sure bet for a great gift for the wine lover in your life. But Zalto also offers a host of specialized glasses, including the big bowl Burgundy glasses (of which I have a pair), and, a very sleek and sexy beer glass (though I’ve never tried that one).
Zalto glasses are available on WineEnthusiast.com and run $60 and up per glass.
A Whiskey Gift Pack/Taster Pack
A number of spirits makers offer up 3-packs of small bottles for the holidays. I’ve bought St. George’s Gin 3-pack for a number of people over the last few years. But the one on my radar this year is Koval’s 3x200ml Whiskey Gift Pack. Koval is a Chicago-based craft distiller that has been around since 2008–they were the first distillery to open in Chicago since the mid-1800s. I’ve become a fan of their unique grain bills, like their Oat Whiskey and their Millet Whiskey. This 3-pack gift set that’s available for the holidays this year features their Rye, Bourbon and 4-Grain whiskeys.
Available nationwide where Koval is distributed (or online) for about $50
A Personal Touch on a Great Whisky Glass
I’ve been really enjoying the wide-bowl, or Canadian, Glencairn glasses this year for my whisky drinking. That’s not to say that I don’t have a host of other options to drink my whisky out of, but the Canadian Glencairn has a uniquely relaxed feel while still providing a top-notch nosing and tasting experience. I’ve also found that while most events and stores are offering the regular Glencairn these days, not many are offering this alternate glass. Which makes it more unique for the whisky lover in your life. There are a number of online retailers that offer custom engraving on these glasses–some who let you get creative with your own design, and others that let you personalize with a letter or text. Either way, a personalized four-pack could make a really nice gift for years to come.
Available at numerous online retailers for about $60 and up (4-pack, engraved)
Sunglasses With a Flair
For anyone who has ever looked too long to find a bottle opener, Brewsees has a solution for you—bottle openers on your glasses. Perhaps not the most serious of drink-related gifts, Brewsees offers an extensive line of cool sunglasses, all with their signature bottle opening powers. These glasses are stylish and fun, a perfect combination for the beer lover in your life. Because what says “I love beer” more than bottle openers on your eyewear?
Available on Brewsees.com for $30 and up
That’s it for this year. Make sure to check out previous gift guides from DrinkInsider:
– A Handy Guide To Giving Good Whisky, Holiday 2013 Edition
– 2012 American Whiskey Holiday Gift Guide
– 2011 Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Scotch Whisky Recommendations