Winter is here, and that means two things: it’s soup season, and it’s time to drink whiskey. Whether you enjoy your whiskey neat or warmed up as a toddy, the best whiskeys are comforting and warming on a cold winter’s day. And as we all know, a low price doesn’t mean one whiskey is worth less than an expensive whiskey. In fact, most distilleries want to make the best product they can for an affordable price point, whether it be through small batch releases or otherwise.
They also make excellent gifts for the booze lover in your life, and they don’t have to break the bank, either! Here are our favorite whiskeys that make the best gifts this holiday season.
1. Highland Park Whisky 12-Year-Old Viking Honour
The Highland Park Whisky 12-Year Aged Viking Honour is a classic single malt Scotch whisky. It’s one of two distilleries located on the northeastern coast of Scotland, specifically on the Orkney Islands. Long ago, this island once belonged to the Vikings, and Highland Park is honoring the spirit and exacting standards of their Viking heritage.
They’re producing a lightly-peated whisky that makes a great introduction to the smoky, complex flavor of scotches. Since the spirit is finished in sherry casks, it gains a lightly dried-fruit flavor and a certain nuttiness that’s hard to hate. This is a great addition to the connoisseur’s bar but also perfect for the beginner enthusiast. Available for $39.99, it won’t break your bank, either.
2. Four Roses Single Barrel
If you’re looking for an award-winning single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, then look no further than Four Roses Single Barrel. Four Roses is one of the only American distilleries to survive Prohibition, and their experience shows in this robust whiskey.
The mash bill contains more rye than most Kentucky bourbons (60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley), which gives you pleasantly spicy notes while still giving you plenty of that maple-caramel forward flavor you’ve come to know and love in bourbon. It’s smooth, it’s complex, and it has a long, delicate finish that is surprisingly mellow with an oaky finish. For $40, this bottle certainly gives you plenty of value for your money.
3. Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
There are very few single pot still whiskeys left in the world, and Redbreast 12-Year-Old is considered on the of the best. Single pot stills contain un-malted barley and undergo three distillations (instead of the normal two). This makes them incredibly balanced, with spicy notes and a rich texture. It’s no wonder that Jim Murray named this the second best whisky of 2017.
Surprise the Jameson lover in your life with this upgrade. At $49.99, you can’t find a better Irish whiskey.
4. Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
If super sweet-and-spicy rye is your thing, then Maryland’s original brand Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey should be in your shopping cart. Like so many other Maryland rye distilleries, Pikesville was shuttered by Prohibition. When it reemerged, it became the last standing Maryland rye. They may have moved their distillery to Kentucky with the other Heaven Hills brands, but their spirit remains fully intact.
This $49.99 rye is full of spicy rye and cloves, but it’s nicely balanced with a chocolatey aroma and a hint of vanilla on the finish. And don’t worry about the high 110 proof – it carries the flavors while helping this bottle last for a long time!
5. Nikka Whisky From the Barrel
If you’re looking for a well-known Japanese whisky, you can’t look much further than Nikka. They’re also infamous for pulling in a high price tag, too! Nikka Whisky From The Barrel is a blend of Japanese single malts and grain whiskies that have been married in used casks for three to six months. The result is a fruit-forward whisky filled with orange, clove, and cinnamon notes.
Well balanced and smooth, this Japanese whisky is one of the greatest values for the price. At a nicely approachable price tag of $43, this makes a perfect gift for the Japanese connoisseur.
6. Bib & Tucker White Whiskey
If the whiskey lover in your life is tired of the brown spirits, give them a taste of white lightning! Bib & Tucker makes Kentucky whiskey that is completely clear in the glass. Their simple mash bill of 72% corn and 28% “small grains” (malt and rye) really lets the corn sweetness and honeysuckle notes shine through. It’s aged in white oak for one day only before moving to the bottling line.
This $40 bottle makes a perfect mixing whiskey for those enthusiasts looking to take a step back from whiskey while moving up in flavor from vodka.
7. Glenlivet 12-Year-Old
Glenlivet 12 is perhaps the most iconic scotch whisky in the world – it’s so well known, spell-check just autocorrected my incorrect spelling! The distillery has been around for over 200 years, and this bottle has become something of a staple at every bar you visit. Smooth and balanced, this scotch is complex and sophisticated enough to drink like it’s an expensive bottle.
You might think such a classic scotch whisky would break the bank, but it’s only $33. That makes this scotch a great gift for anyone with a home bar.
8. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
I have fond memories of Crown Royal and its iconic purple bag. This was one of the first Canadian whiskies I’ve ever sampled. Not too long ago, Crown branched out and created Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. It makes a perfect introduction to rye for those who aren’t sure if spicy is their thing. It drinks a lot like bourbon, with sweet fruit and honied notes, but finishes with an earthy, toasted spice flavor.
This rye comes in at $30, making it a comfortable purchase for anyone looking to expand their whiskey cabinet.
9. Johnnie Walker Double Black
You can’t think of high-end, super expensive blended scotch whiskies without thinking of Johnnie Walker. The Johnnie Walker Double Black is inspired by the flavors of the famous Black label but made more approachable and affordable. Lovers of Islay single malts will appreciate the smoldering smokiness and spice blended together with charred fruit flavors. It is generally agreed that a splash of water will bring out the best flavors in this scotch.
Pick up a bottle of this iconic scotch whisky for $40. The label will make it feel like a much more expensive gift!
10. Michter’s US*1 American Whiskey
Looking for something new? Michter’s American Whiskey isn’t bourbon and it isn’t rye because it isn’t aged in new oak barrels. Instead, they take their 50% corn mash whiskey and age it in bourbon-soaked barrels, giving it a completely different, rich flavor profile. This is an approachable, easy drinking whiskey that has creamy edges and an orchard-fruit presence.
If you’re looking for a gift for someone who has all the best bourbons, go for this $42 American whiskey. It will be completely unique, and its flavor makes it worth it!
Now that you’ve picked out the best whiskeys for gifts, make yourself a cocktail! These 17 whiskey drinks are totally worth making at home.