No doubt, as we travel deeper into the holidays, you are on the hunt for a few last-minute gifts. Speaking for those bourbon drinkers on your gift list, why not show a little bourbon love? In that spirit – the spirit of giving and drinking whiskey, of course – we’ve assembled a few last-minute gift ideas for that bourbon sipper in your life.
Although thoughtfulness and quality were key elements in our equation for making these picks, accessibility was also a factor. No point in suggesting something you can’t find, right? On the other hand, we believe a holiday gift should be special. Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but a gift should define the thought that went into it.
In this case, we are assuming the heavy lifting by doing some of the thinking for you. So, here are a few eleventh-hour ideas to help you channel your inner Santa. Cheers!
Serious whiskey, and whisky, drinkers appreciate unique glasses for specific roles. No whiskey drinker worth his or her salt wants to pour a favorite spirit into a jelly glass. Despite Jethro Gibbs often serving friends bourbon in repurposed baby-food jars, having an appropriate glass for that special whiskey is central to the experience of enjoying it.
Those sipping their whiskey straight, or even with a drop or two of water, will appreciate it more from a Glencairn glass. This is the tulip-shaped glass offered by many upscale whisk(e)y bars for those sipping their spirit straight (without ice or mixer). Only in production since 2001, the original Glencairin glass was designed for sipping Scotch by Scotland’s Glencairn Crystal, LTD. The mythology holds that the managing director of the company penned the first design, which was then fine tuned by the master blenders from several Scotch distillers. The U.S. bourbon world has since adopted it, as well.
Holding approximately six ounces of spirits, it’s the ideal vessel for sipping or tasting. Available on Amazon, a single Glencairin glass retails for $8-$11, and makes a great stocking stuffer. However, more is always better (and cheaper). You can buy a set of four ($26) or six ($35).
Nosing/Tasting Training System
Following the maxim “go big or go home,” here is that special gift for a bourbon drinker on your list who has everything: Aroma Academy’s Bourbon Aroma Training Kit. Marketed as more of tutorial on training your nose to discern the many possible flavors when “nosing” a glass of bourbon, this system will also help train your palate to the various flavors most associated with bourbon. Taste is very much related to smell; consequently, training your sense of smell also benefits your sense of taste.
In the box are 24 aroma samples, blank aroma strips, a record for keeping track of nosing and tasting, as well as a 40-page instruction book. Whether your favorite bourbon fan has been into bourbon for years or is fresh on the bourbon scene, becoming more adept at recognizing aromas and tastes will enhance the experience. Amazon’s cost plus shipping is $149.99. There are also similar kits from Aroma Academy for Scotch and Gin.
What would a gift guide for bourbon drinkers be without bourbon? We’ve picked two bourbons that are relatively available. By that we mean, they are distributed throughout most of the United States. You may not always be able to find them everywhere all the time, but they are fairly accessible.
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon is surrounded by bourbon lore. Each bottle comes with a key attached, representing the Five Keys that once hung outside the doors of the historic and revered Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. “Blade and Bow” refers to the two elements of a key. Although it discontinued distilling in 1992, there are still barrels of Stitzel-Weller bourbon aging in the distillery’s rickhouses. Having said that, this is a blended whiskey and each bottle probably contains very little of the original bourbon. Be that as it may, at 96 proof it is still a very sippable, well-balanced bourbon and is a terrific cocktail bourbon. Standing out in its flavor profile is vanilla, oak and grain. It retails around $50 a bottle.
Weller Antique 107 Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a product of Buffalo Trace Distillery near Frankfort, Kentucky. Weller markets itself as the “original wheated bourbon.” Indeed, the Weller name enjoys a lot of cachet. Its close ties with the Van Winkle brand have elevated its reputation and demand. You’ll never go wrong choosing one of the four Weller labels: Special Reserve, Antique, 12 Year and William Larue (Weller). The Antique 107 is not as easy to find as the Special Reserve, but much more accessible than either of the other two. There is nothing fancy about the Antique 107. It’s even packaged with a screw top. The 107 refers to the proof; so, it has a bit of a kick to it. Surprisingly, however, it’s quite sippable. Weller states no age, but the current opinion is seven years. The flavor profile is vanilla, honey and Cinnamon with a bit of fruit. Pricing is all over the map. You may find it anywhere from $25 to well over $100.
Russ is a long-time bourbon drinker who also produces the BEER2WHISKEY channel on YouTube.