When they said Covid was over, we didn’t think we’d be summarily dropped into a new financial crisis to replace the one we just got out of. The good news is that the holidays have arrived just in time to provide a welcome (if brief) break from yet another year of chaos. At Drinkhacker, we had even more insanity than usual, having picked up stakes from our California HQ, where we launched the website, relocating to Texas in June.
So what does 2023 have in store for us? We’re hoping for the best for everyone and everything, but while we bite our nails over that, there’s some holiday gift-giving to get finished. Once again our goal is to help you out with something both unique and delicious, if shopping for a loved one means a bottle in their stocking or under the tree. Sure, while everyone goes gaga over $1000 whiskeys, we’ve tried hard to keep price firmly in mind this year, with none of our selections coming in at more than $135 — and most of them much cheaper. As always, all prices listed below have been updated with current, representative costs — but these are always subject to market fluctuations and can change at any time.
You’ll find most of these products available from our retail partners at Caskers, Drizly, Frootbat, and Wine.com. You can also search multiple stores at wine-searcher to find the best prices on all these products and more. If you can’t find something — or want a bespoke recommendation for a special someone that isn’t well-represented by our list — please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or drop us a line.
Happy holidays to all of you. As always, don’t forget to don your DH colors with the official Drinkhacker t-shirt, and we’d love to engage with you on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or all three.
Finally, don’t forget that previous picks are still out there and make great gifts. For more top gift ideas check out the archives and read our 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 holiday guides.
Bourbon – Hardin’s Creek Jacob’s Well Bourbon ($135) – Color us impressed. Unlike many a recent year, there are plenty of shockingly affordable and available bourbons on the market, including this A+ rating recipient, which is now selling below its original $150 list price. If that’s too much, other top selections include Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C922 ($80), Barrell Vantage ($95), and Blood Oath Bourbon Whiskey Pact 8, which we’ve found for as little as $90 online. For a real bargain, grab the solid Nelson Bros. Whiskey Classic Blend of Straight Bourbons for just $39. And keep an eye open for our big top 10 whiskeys of the year list, which hits in mid-December.
Scotch – Dewar’s The Champions Edition 19 Years Old (2022) ($80) – You won’t find the same deals in Scotch that you’ll find in Bourbon this year — or the quality, to be honest — but there are some affordable, giftable bottlings to be had, starting with this 2nd edition of Dewar’s 19 Years Old expression, a steal at just $80 or even less. Bonus points if your giftee is into golf, which this celebrates. Other top picks — these ones single malts, not blends — in the near-$100 range include Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate 15 Years Old 2021 ($80) and Cragganmore Distillers Edition 2021 – Distilled 2009 ($116) — both of which hit in early 2022 but which are still widely available. Pay close attention to vintage dates on all three of these, by the way.
Other Whiskey – Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey ($75) – Ready to get off the beaten path? You’ll make new friends with this peated Irish from Teeling (actually a late 2021 release). If that doesn’t sound like their jam, try one of these excellent ryes: Rossville Union Straight Rye Barrel Proof ($60) or Sagamore Spirit Rye 8 Years Old ($80), both solid deals. Or travel further afield with English whisky — Bimber Distillery Ex-Bourbon Oak Cask Batch No. 3 ($120) or Oregon single malt — McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt 6 Years Old ($100).
Gin – Procera Red Dot Gin ($100) – Gin from Kenya? You better believe it, and this new expression (the third we’ve seen from Procera) is one of our favorites to date. We also recommend the new Gin Mare Capri ($50) from Spain, homegrown Chemist Navy Strength Gin ($47), and Italy’s Portofino Dry Gin ($60), which are all highly giftable. For more thoughts, check out our most recent top 10 gins list.
Vodka – Hanson of Sonoma Pink Grapefruit Vodka ($25) – Our only top-rated vodka of the year was this bright, citrusy edition from the always on-point Hanson. Also solid are Belvedere Organic Infusions Vodka Lemon & Basil ($35), Hope Town Lime Vodka ($26), and — if you want something unflavored — One Eight Distilling District Made Vodka ($28).
Rum – Foursquare Mark XI “Sagacity” Single Blended Rum ($70) – So much good rum hitting the market now, much of it at manageable prices, like this exquisite blend from Barbados’s Foursquare. We also highly recommend Hampden “The Younger” Rum 5 Years Old 2021 ($61), Equiano Rum Light ($40), and Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Belize 2006 ($98). For more solid picks, see our most recent top 10 rums list.
Brandy – Drouet Cognac Fine Mélina 7 Years Old ($77) – Perhaps harder to find, but in the sub-$100 range, you won’t find a better brandy (outside of the traditional offerings). More solid, affordable offerings include the exotic Gran Duque d’Alba Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva ($46), Germain-Robin California Alambic Brandy 7 Years Old ($70), and Brandy Sainte Louise ($35) — none of which are Cognac.
Tequila – Expresiones del Corazon Barrel-Aged Tequila George T. Stagg Anejo 2021 ($99) – This series of special editions from Corazon are aged in high-end whiskey barrels; this bottling which spends months in a George T. Stagg barrel isn’t just delish, it’s a unique and perfect gift for any tequila lover. For a lighter choice, try Calirosa Tequila Rosa Blanco ($50) or Tequila Gran Diamante Reposado ($62). Of course, our sparkly new top 10 tequilas and mezcals list has plenty more options, too.
Liqueur – Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueur ($30) – This is the best cherry liqueur you’ll find on the market right now — and it doesn’t drip when you pour it. Also, while it’s not new, Barrow’s Intense Ginger ($29) has been reformulated and showcases how perfectly balanced a ginger liqueur can and should be.
Books – Get up to speed on the drinking world by pairing a bottle with a book. Some of our favorites: The Wine Bible (3rd Edition), A Sense of Place: A Journey Around Scotland’s Whisky, Doctors and Distillers, Claridge’s The Cocktail Book, World Atlas of Beer, and The Art of Whisky: The Vanishing Spirits of Single Malt Scotch.
Remember: If you need another custom gift idea (or have a different budget), drop us a line or leave a comment here and we’ll offer our best advice!
Looking to buy any of the above? Give our retail partners at Flaviar, Caskers, Drizly, Frootbat, and Wine.com a try! Remember you can search multiple stores at wine-searcher for hard-to-find products. And Flaviar’s spirits subscription kits are a great way to try dozens of spirits each year for a reasonable price.
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