Every holiday season, I’m plagued with how to shop for my family and friends. In years past, I have made list upon list and gone through each person, thinking of a personable gift that shows our friendship and how much they mean to me. But with the pressure of finding the perfect gift, I end up going with either a gift card to a favorite store, or a home-cooked dinner by yours truly. However, as we’ve gotten older and our tastes have matured, I’ve realized that while a pretty piece of jewelry, a good book or even a good dinner is always a nice gesture, the heart wants what the heart wants.
This year, the heart wants liquor.
Liquor image via ShutterstockThis year, spirit brands have gone above and beyond to release some pretty fantastic expressions just in time for the holiday gifting and drinking season. Some of them are the standard liqueurs, full of sweet flavors like gingerbread and cinnamon. Others are a little more inventive, with a focus on smokey and spicy Scotches and bourbons. Toss in a couple of curveballs, like a flavored whiskey or a rare tequila, and you’ll be known as the best friend there ever was!
So as you brave the shopping malls and department stores, searching for the perfect gift for your friends and loved ones, consider browsing the aisles at the liquor store or on specific brands’ websites instead. Diamond necklaces show your love right now, but a bottle of good Scotch? That is everlasting love. Cheers, and happy gifting!
What spirited gifts are you hoping to get this holiday season?
Kahlua Gingerbread Liqueur- This is a perfect example of a timely holiday treat. Sweet and spiced, this gingerbread-flavored liqueur is great on the rocks or in a cup of hot coffee.
Baileys Hazelnut Liqueur- Baileys is a standard liqueur for this time of the year, and the new hazelnut expression is really enjoyable.
Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky- This new expression from Johnnie Walker is quite smokey, but makes for a great sipping whisky at a reasonable price point.
Don Julio Reposado Tequila- Tequila usually isn’t considered when thinking about cold weather spirits, but don’t leave this one out! Its rich complexity and deep, oaky flavors are perfect for a holiday punch or to sip over ice.
Grand Marnier Natural Cherry Liqueur- Cherry flavored anything is a pretty superb flavor for the winter time, and Grand Marnier, which is already known for its stellar orange flavor, makes an excellent product here as well. Enjoy over ice with a cherry and an orange wedge.
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur- Godiva is one of the best chocolate producers in the world, and as such, their chocolate liqueur is pretty extraordinary. It’s rich and creamy without being overly sweet, and also comes in a very attractive bottle. Friends who aren’t big hard liquor drinkers will very much enjoy this.
Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka- Van Gogh Vodka has some of the best flavored vodka that I’ve ever had, and they continue to produce fantastic new flavors every year. Van Gogh Pomegranate is definitely a vodka for the flavored vodka drinker as well as the non-flavored.
Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka- Just as with the Pomegranate, the Double Espresso vodka from Van Gogh is incredibly enjoyable, and one of the few vodkas that can be enjoyed on its own without any mixer. Give your friends the gift of good vodka this year with a vodka from Van Gogh.
Ron Abuelo Rum 7 and 12- Not many people appreciate a good dark rum, but people who do will appreciate Ron Abuelo. The 7 year is complex and has a very rounded taste, and is perfect straight up or on the rocks. The 12 year is similar in complexity but is noticeably smoother. Any sophisticated palate will appreciate this.
XXX Shine Salted Caramel Corn Whiskey- Flavored whiskey gets a kind of bad rap from brown spirit purists, and most of the time it’s with good reason. However, I found that the Shine Salted Caramel Corn Whiskey was not overly sweet or too powerful like other flavored whiskies. In fact, it is downright tasty. Your whiskey-loving friends may doubt you at first, but after a sip, they’ll be thanking you.
Bols Genever Barrel Aged- Genever? What is that, you ask? If you have any friends who are avid gin drinkers, genever is a fantastic gift for them. Bols Genever is a very unique spirit, and the new Bols Genever Barrel Aged is a perfect example of its greatness. This genever is a little creamier and has more body than the original.
Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch-The Major’s Reserve- Glen Grant is a high-end Scotch, and makes for a perfect gift for friends or family that are serious Scotch collectors. The Major’s Reserve is a real treat, and your friends will be thanking you for years to come.
Glen Garioch Single Malt Scotch Founders Reserve- Glen Garioch is one of my favorite Scotches on the market, so I may be a bit biased when I say that this is one of the best spirited gifts you can give someone. It's big and robust, and pairs perfectly with rich holiday meals.
Bowmore Islay 12 Single Malt Scotch- Bowmore has an incredibly distinct flavor that is different from any other Scotch I’ve ever had, which is why I gravitate towards it so often. The 12 year is really special, and your Scotch-loving friends are in for a real treat if you are their gift-giver.
Old Forester Signature Bourbon- Old Forester is an incredibly solid bourbon, and the Signature release is really the gift that keeps on giving. It’s got a whole lot of body and some great richness; perfect for sipping by a warm fire after a heavy holiday meal.
Chambord Flavored Vodka- Chambord, the black raspberry liqueur that is most notably known for it’s elegant and bulbous-like bottle, has branched out and created a vodka that tastes exactly like the liqueur. What is the benefit of this? This vodka is fantastic for mixing up quick and easy cocktails. Chambord Vodka, splash of soda, served over ice with a lime wedge? Perfection.
Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry- The “SoCo Lime” shot was one of the first shots that I ever consumed as a young drinker, and since then I’ve switched up my shots game. Luckily, Southern Comfort has too, by introducing Southern Comfort Cherry. While I probably wouldn't take this as a shot, I'd absolutely mix it with a coca-cola. Simple, classic, delicious.
Russell's Reserve Rye 6 Year Old- This is a fantastic gift for any and all kinds of rye lovers. It's sweet and smooth, with some really fabulous oaky notes as well. Pour a few shots of this into a steaming mug of black tea.
Early Times 354 Bourbon- This isn’t as well known of a bourbon as the bigger hitters out there, but Early Times 354 Bourbon is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to quality hooch. Introduce this new and delicious brown spirit to your bourbon-drinking friends.
Canadian Mist Black Diamond Whisky- Upon sipping on Canadian Mist Black Diamond, I immediately wanted to pour a shot of it into a cup of really good coffee. The flavor is fruity and slightly sweet, with a hint of graham cracker. Anyone who likes a spiked coffee will want this as the spike.
Auchentoshan Single Malt Scotch 12 Year Old- Auchentoshan is a fantastic Scotch, and the 12 Year Old is one of the best vintages that I have had. Smooth and rich, this makes for an excellent gift for any brown spirit lover.