Whiskey Gifts for the Holidays

Greg Horton, ReserveBar Contributor


The holidays serve as a signal for many to slow down and enjoy friends and family. The decadent food spanning from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is highly anticipated, but still it's a high-stress season, amplified by the annual gift list. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to give the people what they want, and for a few people on your list, that means whiskey, be it Bourbon, American whiskey, or Scotch. 


Image of two Jefferson's releases

For an over-the-top gift, consider Jefferson's Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Duo, a two-bottle pack that includes Jefferson’s Reserve Twin Oak and Pritchard Hill Cabernet Cask Finish, one of Napa Valley’s premier Cabernet Sauvignon producers. The 10-year-old Twin Oak utilizes Jefferson Reserve’s custom-designed wave barrel that allows more of the whiskey to come in contact with oak, leading to a richer, more balanced mouthfeel. The palate is cinnamon, clove, orchard fruit, and toasted nuts. 

The Pritchard Hill comes from their stock of 15-20-year-old Bourbons, and it’s finished for 12-15 months in Pritchard Hill’s Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The result is a very mature, very smooth whiskey with notes of cassis, black cherry, and peach, with more subtle, darker notes of earth and oak. It’s made for sipping, but it works well in cocktails that showcase the base spirit, too.

Image of a bottle of Rabbit Hole Cavehill

Taking its name from Cavehill Cemetery in Louisville, Rabbit Hole Cavehill: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is an homage to the distillers who made Kentucky Bourbon an American icon.

Rabbit Hole changed hands in 2019, but the commitment to quality lives on in an obvious way in this four-grain Bourbon. 

The mash is 70 percent corn, with wheat, honey-malted barley, and malted barley adding layers of sweetness, complexity, and toastiness to this well-balanced whiskey.

Cavehill’s malted secondary grains and toasted American oak barrels give the three-year-old whiskey a much more mature mouthfeel, leading to a burst of apple, citrus, and mint. 

Four Roses Small Batch Select is a masterful, complex blend of at least six barrels, each based on a different recipe. Master Distiller Brent Elliott selects barrels from his six-year stock with specific flavor profiles: rye, orchard fruit, caramel, mint, and baking spices. The 104 proof is just high enough to give the Bourbon a little heft without being hot. The blend of savory, spicy, fruity, and herbal is extremely well balanced with red berries, spearmint, and vanilla on the palate. 


An image of the Crystal Head range

One of the standout brands in American whiskey for two decades — they turn 20 next year — is Colorado-based Stranahan's Original. Perhaps it’s the water, much like the Highlands of Scotland, that makes the difference.

Just, and just like its European cousin, Stranahan’s is a single malt, the first in Colorado from the first distillery in the state post Prohibition.

Stranahan’s Original is always a blend of four barrels, aged four, five, six, and seven years, and the 94 proof ABV means you get a smooth, approachable whiskey that’s easy to enjoy neat or in a spicy, oaky Old Fashioned.

On the palate, it’s cinnamon, orchard fruit, brown sugar, and leather — a lovely, complex blend that finishes with a pop of pear and tobacco. 

A bottle of Uncle Nearest 1856

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey. One of the great stories to emerge in whiskey over the past decade has been the story of Nathan “Nearest” Green, or Uncle Nearest, the first Black distiller in the United States and the pioneer of Jack Daniel’s signature flavor profile. Fawn Weaver founded the distillery in 2017 after a year-long quest to unearth the story of America’s first Black master distiller, all of which would only be a great story if the whiskey wasn’t good. 

Fortunately, Uncle Nearest’s inaugural whiskey is balanced, delicious, and easy to love. The blend of 8-year and 14-year barrels gives the Tennessee whiskey a depth and seriousness without losing its vibrancy. The tasting notes from the distillery contain the best description of the flavor profile we’ve found; it’s like biting into an oatmeal raisin cookie.

A bottle of Angel's Envy

The uber-popular Angel’s Envy line contains so many winners that picking one is tough, but we love what the port wine notes do for Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Tawny Port Casks.

Angel’s Envy ages 10-year old Bourbon for 10 months in tawny port casks to make an already smooth, quaffable spirit even smoother, but the complexity from the barrels adds layers of interesting notes to the sweet whiskey. 

The rare black pepper notes in this selection are prominent thanks to the port barrels, but so are baking spices, almonds, hazelnuts, and subtle fruitiness from orchard fruit. The raisinated fruit common in port notes doesn’t create a cloying sweetness; instead, the whiskey is well-rounded and slightly sweet, making for a lovely Old Fashioned with Angostura bitters. 


The Macallan 12 Double Cask

The combination of American and European oak seasoned with Oloroso Sherry is the recipe for round, rich, and warm Scotch whisky in The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old. The palate dances with honey, butterscotch, apricot, and caramel, with raisinated but not cloying fruits taking center stage. The whole is balanced by the earthiness of the malted barley, leading to a sweet, oaky finish that lingers.

Glenmorangie 18 Years Old is a double-gold winning (San Francisco World Spirits Competition) Highland Scotch with one of the most recognizable names in the world of whisky. The 15-year-old whisky is split into two batches, with roughly 30 percent transferred to Oloroso Sherry casks for the remaining three years, and the rest staying in the American white oak casks until both batches are 18. 

The result is a beautiful pour of amber liquid that flares gold in the light. At 18, whiskeys tend to lean toward dried fruits and floral notes, losing some of the sharp edges of younger styles. The Glenmorangie 18 is rife with orange marmalade, fig, raisinated fruits, and a bouquet of flowers. It’s meant to be enjoyed neat or over a single sphere. 

The above list is a compilation of some of our favorite spirits, but it’s much like picking a favorite child. Ultimately, your palate drives your preferences, so we invite you to explore our entire selection of whiskey from all over the world.