by Jacob Brower, Wine & Spirits Professional
Holiday shopping is in full swing, and chances are there’s someone on your list with a well-stocked home bar and an interest in spirits or mixology. It can be difficult to know what to buy for an enthusiast—especially if you’re not a big Scotch or Cognac drinker yourself—but our holiday gift guide is here to help guide you down the final stretch!
What to Buy the High-End Collector
Whether you’re shopping for a friend, family member, or the client who really hooked you up this year, most of us have someone on the list who loves really old Scotch, rare and incredible Cognac, or extra-special bourbon. For that picky, high-end spirits enthusiast, I recommend:
Rare Single Cask Scotch
Some of the rarest Scotch in the world doesn’t come from the giant brands everyone’s heard of, but rather from independent bottlers and small, traditional distilleries that offer ‘single cask’ bottlings—meaning the number of bottles is limited to the yield from only one barrel, as opposed to blending and vatting many barrels into a more mainstream product. Some of the extra-special options in stock right now include:
An Elegant Older Brandy
Brandies like Cognac and Armagnac really come into their own after many years of careful aging in underground cellars, when the alcoholic harshness fades and layers of dessert-like fruit, oak, and rancio—the mushroomy, leathery, earthy quality possible only after decades—come to the fore. Thankfully, I love brandy, so we have some perfect gift-worthy bottles even for the most discerning enthusiast:
A Rare Craft Bourbon
Bourbon collectors are finally starting to realize that price-gouged big-brand whiskeys like Pappy and Weller just aren’t worth the finder’s fee. We pride ourselves on a carefully curated selection of actual craft bourbon, made by small, family-owned distilleries. Some current favorites:
The Ultimate Aged Tequila
Agave grower Enrique Fonseca traveled all the way to Scotland to learn the art of distilling once big tequila brands broke their contracts with him. Distilling and aging his agave much the same way Scotch is produced, he began experimenting with terroir and cellaring techniques to release some of the world's longeset-aged tequila. In fact, the 'Extra Añejo' designation came about largely because of the way he changed everyone's perception of tequila as a high-end sipping spirit. No other producer comes close to his Fuenteseca range...it's that good.
What to Buy Someone Who Has Everything
Truthfully, no one has everything. Even the most thorough collector has new areas to explore, and since I spend every week tasting and sampling whatever I can find, we have a wide selection of less-common, experimental, and unusual spirits that will surprise and delight anyone who gets to try them!
American Single (and Blended) Malts
There’s more to American whiskey than just bourbon and rye! Inspired by Scotland and Ireland, many craft producers offer stunning single malts and blended whiskeys that offer a variety of different flavor and aroma profiles to your run-of-the-mill bourbon. These are unlikely to behind most home bars…until now!
Something Really Different
The world of distilled spirits is much broader than most people realize, with a wide range of raw materials, aging techniques, experimental ideas, and regional styles contributing to almost endless variety. Here are some of our favorite oddball options:
You don’t necessarily have to buy a full-sized bottle to get a great gift for your favorite spirits drinker! From whiskey to gin and much more, we have mini-bottles that make for perfect stocking stuffers:
Whatever strikes your fancy, browse the items mentioned above below—and remember, this represents only a tiny portion of our spirits section, so if you’re shopping for a different category or at a different price point, come into the store or get in touch for an expert recommendation!