I’m just going to be straight up honest here, I really don’t feel like combing the interwebs for cool whisky/booze stuff. Whisky/booze is very popular at the moment, which means there’s a lot of whisky/booze related stuff out there. Most of it is of the pretty dull/seen-it-before variety and I just don’t have the patience to weed through all that crap to get to one or two interesting/affordable items I can add to this post. Alack, what to do? I’m sure there are at least two maybe even four people who look forward to this list every year, I don’t want to disappoint them do I? No, no I do not.
So, in the interest of both self-preservation and the preservation of what I guess has become a holiday tradition for this blog, here’s a greatest hits sort of look at some of my favorite whisky/booze items from years past, and some of my favorite whisky/booze items (books, mainly) that never made a holiday list but are whisky/booze items I find rather essential and therefore think would make rather fine gifts for that whisky/booze person in your life. As I was taught that it was improper to write a paragraph consisting of only one sentence, (and what a sentence!) here’s some filler.
Ok, I mentioned books right? Here’s a bunch that I’ve found indispensable over the years…
- The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. A fascinating, far more entertaining than you’d might think look at all the plants, herbs, weeds, seeds, roots, botanicals, etc. that have been used to create to create alcoholic beverages. I love this book.
- The Malt Whisky Yearbook is a near perfect yearly guide to keeping up with all things malt whisky. While much of it carries over year to year, the info is always updated and current, and there’s always a lot of fresh content to make every year worth having.
- Peat Smoke and Spirit by Andrew Jefford. Yes, this was written 14 years ago, but this tome manages to capture Islay and its distilleries in such depth, detail, and beauty, you’ll be hard pressed to not reach for a glass while reading it.
- The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace by Tristan Stephenson. Gin’s made a big comeback in my house. There’s really not too many gin books out there. This one’s my favorite at the moment.
- Whiskey Women by Fred Minnick. An important and beautiful book that tells some of the long-disregarded stories of the women who helped shape the whisk(e)y world.
- Regarding Cocktails: Sasha Petraske, Georgette Moger-Petraske. Yes, this book is full of excellent and accessible cocktail recipes, but it’s so much more than that. It can at times be a little pretentious, but mostly, even with a bit of pretentiousness, it’s an almost profound and poignant musing on hospitality. I have a few great cocktail books, this is the one I return to most often.
(As always, yes…you can buy many of these from Amazon, but wouldn’t you rather support your local booksellers? Of course you would.)
If you want to give the gift of whisky or whiskey, but don’t just want to run out and buy any old bottle that your giftee could go out and buy themselves, I’m always happy to recommend Master of Malt. Once again, out of sheer laziness, I’m cutting and pasting their entry from last year’s Stocking Stuffer list. 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. See? One stop shopping if you want a unique twist on the gift of booze.
If you’re looking for glassware for that special person in your life who can’t seem to move past the dixie cup/mason jar phase, might I suggest the ubiquitous-for-damn-good-reason Glencairn glass? Or these weighty, cut-crystal tumblers? Or if you’re looking for something a bit more elegant and stem-y, perhaps the Perfect Measure Whisky Glass. If you’re looking for a beautiful glass that looks like it would be easy to break while cleaning, then the 1920’s Blender’s Glass is for you.
If you’d rather not support someone’s drinking habit and have all to often noticed that while their cabinets are full, their walls are empty. Then some booze related prints from Pop Chart always makes a nice gift. Or if you’re feeling extra creative and have more patience than I do, I’ve always thought this cross stitch pattern from Andwabisabi was pretty adorable.
And then there’s all those whisky/booze-related accoutrements and appurtenances, the day-to-day drinking paraphernalia, apparatus, and tackle that no self-respecting person should be without. There’s flasks, bottle openers, tasting journals, chairs, even bicycles. Well, no, hold on. That company that was making really expensive bike frames out of Glenmorangie barrels? Yeah, they’re not around anymore.
If you know someone who likes to wear whisky, and I don’t mean purposely dumping a glass down their front and then going out on a stroll in public, there are more than a few options out there from earrings to rings to cufflinks to necklaces to belt buckles to t-shirts to socks. Definitely the socks. Those are not my legs, by the way, Christmas is definitely not coming that early this year.
And lastly, since it seems like people really, really like to eat and drink around this time of year, here’s a few fun whisky-infused or at least whisky-related items to make all that eating and drinking even more special than it already was. How about this terrific Vermont maple syrup that Smuggler’s Notch Distillery has aged in their own used bourbon barrels? Or this Bourbon Smoked Sugar that makes fantastic hot toddies? Or these exquisite chocolate, smoked-honey bon-bons infused with Laphroig from St. Paul’s Mademoiselle Miel? If you’re looking for something less festive and carb-y and more bitter, how about one of the wonderful small batch bitters from The Bitter Housewife? Or one from the impressive line of creatively crafted elixirs from Dashfire Bitters?
All right, that’s all I’ve got. Be good to each other.