Christmas is almost here, and I thought I would spend some time writing about a few spirits I think would either make great holiday gifts or beverages worth enjoying with family and friends during this holiday season. Personally, I love brown spirits during the cold winter months. Scotch, bourbon and cognac make wonderful gifts or are simply great as after dinner drinks.
One of my favorite new scotches is Kilchoman. It is made in an Islay distillery that was established in 2005. In fact, it was the first distillery built on Islay in 124 years. Even though their whisky is young, it is of exceptional quality and impeccably balanced. This whisky is so skillfully distilled and blended you would never know that the whisky in the malt is only 4 to 6 years old. I am generally not an Islay fan because most are so smoke and peat driven they become too overbearing for my pallet. However, Kilchoman is so well balanced that the smoke or peat doesn’t dominate the flavor profile. If you are seeking a more traditional Islay, I recommend Bruichladdich 12 year or Arbeg 10 year; they offer excellent cost to quality ratio.
Another exciting new scotch that has recently been released is Johnnie Walker Double Black. Double Black starts with the Black Label template, and then peatier and smokier malts are added to the blend. While Double Black is certainly no substitute for a traditional Islay scotch, it is a good alternative for a blend drinker looking for a scotch that carries a bit more smoke and peat than a traditional blended scotch whisky. This whisky is different enough from Johnnie Black to warrant a sampling, but not different enough to alienate any fans of the original recipe. Personally, I think this limited edition blend is fantastic! The peatier malts help round the blend , creating a richer, fuller bodied blend that is still extremely well balanced. But then again, I am more biased towards scotches that keep their smoke and peat more in check.
However, if you are looking for a gift for someone whose preferences don’t reside towards the smokier and peatier side of scotches, we have some great items on sale right now. The Balvenie DoubleWood is on sale for only $43.99, marked down from $62.99. Balvenie is a fantastic producer and one of the few producers to grow their barley and utilize their own malting floors. The DoubleWood undergoes a dual aging process. It is first laid to rest in oak and then the malt is finished off in a sherry cask to add a brighter, sweeter, more complex character to the whisky. In addition, our price can not be beaten, even by New Hampshire where the current sale price is $46.99. Another fantastic scotch at a fantastic price is the Macallan 12 year, which we currently have on sale for $39.99. In fact, our price crushes New Hampshire’s sale price of $46.99. We also have Glenfiddich on sale for amazingly low price of $35.99, which is the same price that New Hampshire has right now. Any of the aforementioned scotches would make a wonderful Christmas present for any scotch lover.
In the world of brown spirits, nothing is hotter than bourbon right now. Unfortunately, all the really sought after bourbons, like Pappy Van Winkle, are virtually impossible to get. Although I have a couple of wonderful alternatives for you to give any bourbon fan out there. Rock Hill Farms is a fantastic bourbon produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace is world renowned for their small batch whiskies such as Sazerac, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, W.L. Weller and Van Winkle. Rock Hill Farms is one of their hidden jewels. The nose offers seductive aromas of toasted walnut, red fruits, marzipan, pepper, cocoa and marshmallow. The palate is zesty, fruity and candied, bursting with flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, tobacco and caramel. The finish is smooth and silky. Eagle Rare 10 year is also another fantastic bourbon produced by the Buffalo Trace distillery. It is a perennial staff favorite and no bourbon lover would turn a blind eye to it. We also have some incredible sales on bourbon right now. Knob Creek (750mL) is on sale for $25.99, Maker’s Mark (1.75L) for $41.99, Jim Beam 1.75L and Jack Daniel’s (Yes I know it is a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon) is $37.99, which beats New Hampshire’s sale price of $39.99.
Cognac is the last genre of brown spirits that I want to touch on for this blog. It makes a wonderful after dinner drink or companion to a fine cigar. Everyone has heard of Hennessy, Courvoisier and Remy Martin, but I will tell you about some lesser known cognacs out there that just blow name brands out of the water in their respective price points. Park V.S. Cognac is only $31.99 and it is handcrafted in small batches, which is something the big brands cannot claim. Their small batch production leads to a cognac of great character and depth for its youthful age. However, my favorite Cognac producer is Pierre Ferrand. They only produce XO cognacs from the Grand Champagne region, which is considered to be the best sector within Cognac. Based on those qualities, one would imagine that Pierre Ferrand would carry a high price tag, but surprisingly it doesn’t. We currently have two great sales running on their products right now. The 10 year Ambre is only $31.99. This price blows New Hampshire’s sale price of $44.99 out of the water. We also have the 25 year Reserve des Dieux on sale for $69.99, which was designed to be extremely bold and makes a wonderful partner to a fine cigar.