Holiday Shopping Guide: Small-Batch Whiskeys
There really isn't any way you can go wrong with gifting whiskey. There are, however, several ways to elevate the act from the merely perfunctory to the thoroughly distinguished. One of our favorites is by going with a small-batch whiskey, those limited stocks that are the result of special releases, forgotten styles or craft producers. These are our selections, sure to win you "most favored" status.
Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Manhattan Rye
Gardiner, NY's Tuthilltown Spirits has a lot going for it: the first whiskey distillery to open in New York State since Prohibition, Tuthilltown has become a critical darling due to their local, hand-crafted appeal and "little distillery that could" backstory. Also, the whiskey is fantastic. Their Hudson Manhattan Rye ($40) celebrates the state's longstanding relationship with this spirit, the foundation of a Manhattan cocktail, with a whole grain rye bite that's rounded off with sweet fruit and floral notes. Each bottle is hand-numbered and dated, which adds just the extra bit of artisan allure.
Glen Garioch 1991
For the last two or so centuries, Highland distillery Glen Garioch peated its own barley to create a Scotch with an earthy smokiness typically found in Islay malts. But in 1995 that all came to an end, in favor of a sweeter, spicier profile. The Glen Garioch 1991 ($100) could be called a throwback vintage, as it was drawn from the remaining stock of those 19-year-old barrels and bottled at cask strength. Peated Scotch fans on your list will covet the classic medium-body style and considerable smoke on the nose and palate, along with the fact that just 120 bottles are available in the US.
WhistlePig Straight Rye
Another great craft rye comes from Vermont's WhistlePig Farm Distillery. The latest project from former Maker's Mark distiller Dave Pickerell, their recently released WhistlePig Straight Rye ($69.99) scored impressively right out the gate. Aged for ten years, the spirit shows the usual vanilla and caramel expressions, but also comes with an intriguingly out-sized rye profile.
The Scottish island of Islay may now be swelled with whiskey distilleries, but Bowmore was there first. Since 1779, Bowmore has been producing malts with that characteristic Islay peat, and the second Tempest ($100) release, the first to be sold in the US, is no different. Smoke and briney salt greet your lips, but the 10 years this release spent in bourbon barrels also adds citrus and body. The US's allotment of 200 cases have just make their way to our shores.
Hailing from the Speyside region of Scotland, this 21-year-old release from Cragganmore ($205) is the third, and oldest, release in their Special Reserve series. A lovely shade of pale amber with light fruit and mineral qualities that will evoke marzipan.
The Dalmore EOS
Suitable for bosses you want to impress and mistresses you want to keep quiet, The Dalmore's EOS comes with a limited run (30 bottles total, 20 for the US), some serious age (59 years) and a hefty price tag ($20,000). The crystal decanter enshrines richly complex flavors of citrus, chocolate and winter spice.