Hang those stockings with care, people! Adorn that tannenbaum! Fire up that minora! Light those kinaras! Unsheath that Festivus Pole! Break out the lutefisk, the tangyuan, the latkes, the roast beast, the bûche de Noël, the vánoční rybí polévka, the Dundee cake, and the pasteles de hojas. Pour the gløgg, the cola de mono, the jiuniang, the ponche, and the whisk(e)y! And for the love of Krampus, fix up that dilapidated pfefferkuchenhaus! Whether you care to admit it or not, the holidays are upon us, and your loved ones are expecting very expensive or at least very expensive-looking presents. As an annual (dis)service to readers, here’s a haphazard list of whisky-related gifts for that special whisky-besotted person in your life. Shop til’ you drop, you crazed consumers…
Two books top the list: Fred Minnick’s Bourbon Curious, and Charles MacLean’s Spirit of Place: Scotland’s Great Whisky Distilleries. Bourbon Curious is an excellent, unflinching, no-holds-barred look at the good, bad, and ugly about “America’s native spirit.” It serves as an approachable guide to lead one through the murky historical and marketer-infested waters of Bourbon-dom. Spirit of Place, by comparison, is just a very nice bit of eye-candy for your coffee (whisky) table. With over 250 commissioned photos of picturesque distilleries, this one will send you running to either refill your glass or buy a seat on the next flight to Scotland. (As always, yes…you can buy these both from Amazon, but wouldn’t you rather support your local booksellers? Of course you would.)
It’s not often that you find cheese in a whisky-related gift guide. Sure, there are cheeses that pair well with cheese, but cheese made with whisky? How about locally produced cheese made with locally distilled whisky? Minneapolis cheesemaker The Lone Grazer washes his delicious semi-soft, slightly earthy Grazier’s Edge with young rye whiskey from St. Paul’s 11 Wells distillery. Additionally, The Lone Grazer produces Hansom Cab, a similarly soft and earthy cheese washed with Two Gingers Irish Whisky, which while not local, was a brand originally conceived by a transplanted Irish local who also, coincidently, founded a restaurant called The Local.
Admittedly, The Oak Bottle strikes me as a little gimmicky, and perhaps a little expensive for something that strikes me as gimmicky. Not to mention that, in the whisky world at least, “oak” is becoming perhaps a little bit too prevalent a flavor…but what the hell, a bottle made out of oak looks pretty cool. And if you’re fooling around with aging your own whisky/cocktails/gin/bitters/cheddar-coffee liqueur, this 750ml bottle is certainly less of a commitment than a larger barrel.
If you’ve grown tired of drinking whisky and staring at a blank wall, your mind flooding with unanswered questions about whisky (or maybe beer, or wine, or cocktails, etc.,) perhaps it’s time you put something up on your wall to help answer all those unanswered questions. Pop Chart Lab has great infographic-type prints on a variety of subjects, but for the sake of this list, check out this vast array of excellently designed, fairly accurate booze-related prints.
Along the same lines, if for some reason, you’ve grown tired of staring at your blank wall AND you’ve grown tired of not having any interesting glassware to drink whisky out of, Pop Chart Lab has you covered there as well: They’ve spread their taxonomic whisky info over four good-looking tumblers, with a glass each covering Scotch, single malt Scotch, Bourbon, and Irish whiskey. Just don’t try to read them and drink from them at the same time…trust me on this one.
Being something of a cycling fan (a gross understatement) and, obviously, a whisky fan (kind of gross on occasion,) this beautiful carbon fiber and whisky barrel ring from OriginHG is enough to make me a jewelry fan as well. Hell, all the rings here are worth a look whether they’re made from whisky oak and carbon fiber or not.
UK online retailer Master of Malt gets included in my gift-giving list every year because they have some of the best whisky gifts to be given. Along with their now-famous whisky advent calendars, they also have advent calendars featuring gin, bourbon, cognac, armagnac, tequila, mezcal, rum, vodka, and absinthe. They have a wide array of carefully curated (and rather affordable) tasting sets as well as blend-yer-own whisky kits, and personalized bottles. One stop shopping if you want a unique twist on the gift of booze.
This one may seem a little obvious, but if you’re looking for a gift for someone just developing an
obsession interest in whisky, the sturdy-yet-elegant Glencairn Glass is the perfect vessel for their newfound passion. To even further sweeten the deal, Glencairn also makes nice rocks and beer glasses as well.
I think this one falls under the “if you have to ask, it’s probably too expensive” category. Still, if you’re looking to spend big, this is a fairly incredible looking piece of furniture. The Bilge Lounge chair from Uhuru Design is made from reclaimed bourbon barrel staves and leaf springs from New York City fire trucks. If you’re wondering, yes, I need two. I have no room for them at the moment, but I need two of them.
If you need to breath new life into all those tired whisky cocktails, this holiday season look no further than The Bitter Housewife. Handmade in Portland Oregon with cherries, walnuts, ginger and baking spices, the Bitter Housewife’s aromatic bitters are made to go with whisky. If you need to breathe new life into your bitter housewife…I don’t know what to tell you, you’re on your own there. Perhaps you’re spending too much time reading whisky blogs?