December is our time for Whiskey Gifts. There is a lot of good stuff out there at all price ranges, particularly in American whiskey.
My number one holiday pick: One of the best whiskeys I had all year was the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rye 'n Barrel, bottled specially for The Party Source. They take Sazerac Rye Whiskey and finish it in Sauternes-style dessert wine casks. There is a sweet/spicy interplay that is just beautiful. This stuff if so good that I'm shocked there is any left, but it's still for sale on The Party Source website at $60 for a 375 ml bottle. Get some of this while you can!
Other American whiskeys: Of the flurry of this year's new American whiskey releases, two of my favorites were Parker's Heritage Ten Year Old Wheated Bourbon and WhistlePig Rye. The Parker's is a bold, wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill. WhistlePig is a Canadian rye done in an American style but made with 100% rye. Both hover around the $80 range. Oh, and if you're still looking for some George T. Stagg, try Cap 'n Cork on Hillhurst; last time I was there they had a whole row of them. If you're interested in something a bit lighter on the wallet, don't forget to check my reviews of budget whiskeys.
Single Malts: For your Scotch loving friends, there are plenty of options, but why not try something different. Amrut, a Scotch-style single malt whisky from India, recently released its line in the US. There is a range of options and prices, but my favorite was the cask strength, non-peated malt which goes for $75.
Books: There were a number of great booze-related books that came out this year. Max Watman's Chasing the White Dog is an entertaining romp through the world of illicit stills and mason jars full of moonshine. Watman is an engaging writer who keeps you turning those pages. If you are more interested in the historical side of illegal liquor production, Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a fascinating history of the "noble experiment," covering the politics, crime and culture of prohibition.
If you're looking for a book that's a bit less academic in nature but equally impressive for your whisky loving friends, I would highly recommend Dave Broom's The World Atlas of Whisky. Impressive in both scope and presentation, this lovely coffee table tome has informative text to accompany the lovely photos. I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet, but it's a book that just shouts "holiday gift."