Whether you’re looking for a perfect gift for that whisky-loving booze-hound in your life, an escape plan from too much family time or just a bottle of exceptional hooch to keep you warm – we’ve got you covered this holiday season. Below you’ll find 6 exceptional whisky options to keep you warm this holiday season. Over the past year we’ve had the joy of tasting each of these fine whiskys ourselves and found them to be ideal choices for sipping and mixing as the temps drop and family exposure ramps up. Happy holidays… and cheers!
Revered as the first Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey ever commercially sold, Blanton’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey dates back almost 30 years – to 1984. Before which it was NFS (not for sale) and exclusively reserved for ambassadors, dignitaries, VIPs and the Master Distiller himself – Col. Albert B. Blanton.
- Proof: 93 (46.5% ABV)
- Age: Unknown – White Oak Barrels
- Nose: Citrus, Toffee and Vanilla
- Flavors: Caramel, Oak, Vanilla, Citrus, Honey
- Taste: 9.3 out of 10
- Finish: 9.2 out of 10
- Mix–ability: 7.7 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 9 out of 10
Overall: Scoring an 8.8 out of 10, Blanton’s Single Barrel is a truly complex bourbon that is well balanced and powerful. Our tasting panel enjoyed Blanton’s best as the distiller intended it – sipped neat. In this fashion you can truly appreciate its subtle nuances and elegant finish. Expect distinct flavors of rye, vanilla and oak and subtle hints of citrus and honey. At 93 proof Blanton’s starts out with a bite, but mellows nicely as you begin to swallow. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate gift or to feed your bourbon addiction… Blanton’s Single Barrel is home run!
MIX IT UP… “Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky”
Ingredients: 1 oz Blanton’s Single Barrel, 1 oz Southern Comfort, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1 oz mandarin juice, 1 oz pineapple juice, 1/4 oz lime juice, 1 oz peach puree.
Directions: Blend briefly in a wine goblet filled with crushed ice, and serve with a straw.
First released only in limited edition back in 2011 and exclusively to the US market – today my friends the The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve is back by popular demand.
- Proof: 88 (44% ABV)
- Age: Blended
- Appearance: Vibrant amber
- Nose: Cinnamon, vanilla, citrus and tobacco
- Flavors: Vanilla, citrus, caramel, hints of oak and spice
- Taste: 9 out of 10
- Finish: 9.8 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 8.6 out of 10
Overall: Scoring an impressive 9.1 out of 10, this robust highland scotch whisky isn’t reserved only for cigar smokers, though we did discover quickly that a puffing on a fresh Macanudo did enhance the sipping experience undoubtedly. If you’re looking for a budget brand scotch to kick your feet up and pretend to be Don Draper, this simply ins’t it. At nearly $130 a bottle The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve is something for special occasions or quite possibly the finest gift you could give a man. If you’re given the opportunity, trust us, don’t pass up this complex and smooth finishing scotch. It’s simply outstanding!
MIX IT UP… “Wet Willy”
Ingredients: 1 part tap water (distilled if you like) and 4 parts The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve.
Directions: Combine ingredients in a low-ball glass, swirl, kick your feet back, lite up that stogie and enjoy!
Deriving the vast majority of its flavoring and color from the charred-oak barrels from which it is aged in, Jefferson’s Bourbon matures in the heart of metal clad warehouses to accentuate the extreme temperatures that Kentucky is blessed with, forcing the bourbon to expand deep into the barrel and pull out the prevalent flavors of the wood.
- Proof: 82.3 (41.15% ABV)
- Age: Blended 8-12 years
- Appearance: Light golden amber
- Nose: Oak, vanilla, corn and spice
- Flavors: Toasted caramel, vanilla, oak, cinnamon
- Taste: 8 out of 10
- Finish: 9.2 out of 10
- Mix-ability: 8.6 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 8.2 out of 10
Overall: Scoring an 8.5 out of 10, make no mistake, this bourbon is bold, though its modest proof might have you believe otherwise. On the nose we discovered strong aromas of oak and vanilla while the predominate flavors that struck our palettes were that of caramel, honey and unmistakable notes of vanilla and spice with a sharp, if only momentary, initial burn (which mellowed nicely) to remind you that yes, this is after all Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Unanimously our tasting panel enjoyed this bourbon best as the master distiller intended it… neat. In this fashion its many complexities, balance and skillful blending process can be appreciated fully. But if you like to mix it we found Jefferson’s to be a dangerously tasty base for mixing cocktails as well. Making it idea for… well, almost anyone!
MIX IT UP… “Harvest Highball”
Ingredients: 1.5 oz Jefferson’s Bourbon, 1 oz ginger liqueur, Apple cider and Cinnamon to garnish.
Directions: In a cocktail shaker, shake the bourbon and ginger liqueur together with ice. Strain into a glass with ice in it. Fill the glass with apple cider and sprinkle fresh cinnamon on top.
Founded in 1870 in the small town of Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, George Dickel is a small-batch whisky brand that has grown over the past 140 some-odd years to produce five whisky variations, including George Dickel Cascade Hollow, Old No. 8 Brand, Superior No. 12 Brand, Barrel Select Tennessee whiskies, and now George Dickel Rye.
- Proof: 90 (45% ABV)
- Age: Blended
- Nose: Rye, smokey oak and caramel.
- Flavors: Vanilla, rye, cinnamon, caramel.
- Taste: 7.8 out of 10
- Finish: 8 out of 10
- Mix–ability: 9.3 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 9 out of 10
Overall: Scoring 8.5 out of 10 with our tasting panel, this rye whisky registered a tad-bit “hot” for sipping at 90 proof, though we found that this rye whisky was best enjoyed mixed in an icy cocktail anyways. That being said, it doesn’t take much to prep Dickel Rye cocktails. George Dickel Rye delivers an unmistakable oak flavor and subtle sweetness that is easily complemented by simple ingredients for making a cocktail. Grab a highball glass, fist full of ice and add some soda. Then give it a stir and enjoy. That’s all it takes! There are more than 50 rye whiskies on the market to choose from these days, if you’re looking for one that packs a punch while remaining exceptionally mixable, we suggest you give George Dickel are whirl… literally!
MIX IT UP… “High-Ryes”
Ingredients: 2 oz. George Dickel Rye Whisky and Ginger Ale. (sometimes the best drinks are simple)
Directions: Build with whisky in a highball glass and fill with Ginger Ale. Garnish a lemon peel twist.
Skillfully blended with a trifecta of malted barley, un-malted barley and pot-still whiskeys, Tullamore Dew is a distinctly Irish whiskey dating back to 1829 where it was first distilled in the heart of Ireland… aka Tullamore, County Offaly.
- Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
- Age: 12 to 15 yrs. Blened
- Appearance: Rich bronze tones
- Nose: Vanilla, caramel, oak, subtle traces of fruit
- Flavors: Sweet vanilla, spice, citrus and oak
- Taste: 9.2 out of 10
- Finish: 9.4 out of 10
- Mix–ability: 8.5 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 8 out of 10
Overall: Scoring an 8.8 out of 10, Tullamore Dew is an Irish whiskey for the ages! Our panel absolutely fell in love with its truly sip-able profile, which is mystifyingly bold yet smooth simultaneously. Way-back-when, Daniel E. Williams knew what he was doing with this whole triple distillation/triple blend process. Who knew? And unlike the more popular names in the game (looking at you Bushmills and Jameson), Tullarmore Dew takes the bite out of sipping Irish whiskey for a truly enjoyable experience, and best of all without the inflated expense.
Don’t fancy yourself sipper of whiskey? No fear, Tullamore Dew does one thing better than getting poured neat… and that’s served up mixed in a iced-fill cocktail. Tullamore’s smooth profile and sweet complexities make it an
dangerous ideal option for simple concoctions like whiskey and coke… or this tasty diddy we worked up below.
MIX IT UP… “Apple D.E.W.”
Ingredients: 2 oz. Tullamore Dew, 6 oz apple juice, dash of bitters and a lemon wedge.
Directions: Into a tall ice-filled glass, add the Tullamore Dew, top with apple juice, garnish with a lemon wedge and enjoy. Bottoms up!
Maker’s 46 is the bourbon that nearly didn’t happened… you see, after more than a year and 120 trial batches the bourbon experts over at Maker’s Mark almost called it quits on the 3rd whisky variation to carry the “Maker’s” namesake since 1954. Never one to give up, Rob Samuels and his crew pushed on until they finally stumbled upon the unique process of re-aging their original Marker’s Mark formula in barrels outfitted with French oak staves (No. 46 French Oak staves to be exact… hence the label “Maker’s 46“)
- Proof: 94 (47% ABV)
- Age: 6 to 7 yrs
- Appearance: Deep amber
- Nose: Vanilla, oak and cinnamon
- Flavors: Honey , vanilla, caramel and nutmeg
- Taste: 9.5 out of 10
- Finish: 9 out of 10
- Mix–ability: 8.7 out of 10
- Buzz Factor: 9 out of 10
Overall: Receiving 9.1 out of 10 points, this is an exceptional bourbon that is wildly tasty however you take it. Mixed, neat or on the rocks… we simply did’t find a way this bourbon was’t enjoyable. Holding Makers Mark’s original formula in such high regard we were a bit leery that Maker’s 46 might fall short of our expectations, but all our fears were quickly squashed after taking that first sip. Maker’s 46 is undeniably Maker’s Mark, but it’s also much more. The additional French stave aging gives this whisky a more complex and rich overall profile that delivers a perfect balance of boldness and smoothness. If you like whisky 46 is worth picking up for yourself.
MIX IT UP… “Autumn-Yum”
Ingredients: 2 oz. Maker’s 46, 1 oz. boiled cider or cider syrup and a strip of lemon zest.
Directions:Combine Maker’s 46 and cider syrup over ice and stir gently. Twist lemon zest and drop into drink, stir again, and enjoy!