Whiskey Raiders’ 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
Christmas and New Years are practically on top of us. If you still need to shop for the whiskey lover in your life, look no further! Whiskey Raiders has hand picked some great bottles for your holiday gifting based on our rating system which takes into account thousands of reviews from around the internet and awards one average score. Read on for the best bottles for every kind of drinker you know. Or, maybe you’re looking for yourself. Look no further:
For the high proof aficionados:
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof comes to whiskey enthusiasts three times a year – each with a different batch designator. C920 is the third batch, released in the fall, and delivers a complex, powerful, dessert forward and unrelenting profile that will please regardless of audience, assuming the proof doesn’t get them first.
For the peat king (or queen):
Released once annually, the last couple years in Cairdeas’ entries have been only fine. Until 2020, though. Shaking off the woes of the year, Laphroaig stepped up to deliver a powerhouse of peat, wine, dessert and maritime delight that will drive any peat fan in the family wild. Jammy fruits and complex wine influence ensure this peaty bottling is approachable, but never boring.
The Best in Craft:
Hailing from a region not typically lauded for whiskey, VA Distillery in Virginia dishes out heaps of single malt complexity with Courage & Conviction – an American Single Malt that features maturation in a variety of casks, from sherry to bourbon. Unwitting drinkers will swear they’re tasting the fruits of Scotland until the reveal comes to light.
When the other ryes aren’t rye enough:
Fans of the gobble didn’t beg for a barrel proof rye for years purely out of boredom. Wild Turkey in Kentucky gave fans the ultimate celebration when Rare Breed Rye came to market – following in the foot steps of the popular Rare Breed Bourbon. Expertly blended, Rare Breed Rye may take a little work to find but it’s worth the hunt and delivers unbeatable value. For the cocktail lovers at your holiday party, it makes a fine Manhattan.
For all lovers of fancy:
At first look, there’s no surprise a bottle this beautiful can’t be found in the bargain bin at your local liquor store. That said, few other bottles have this much attractive packaging. Designed in the likeness of old time decanters, Old Fitzgerald 15yr bears a wheated mashbill and the bottled in bond designation so shoppers know it’s top notch – not just easy on the eyes.
Novel new peat:
Budget and top notch Islay rarely go hand in hand, but for a sub $50 bottling, Ardbeg knows they they’re doing. Wee Beastie is a 5 year expression seeking to put a young, peated malt squarely in the spotlight. For fans of bottlings like Octomore, Laphroaig 10 or Kilchoman, Ardbeg’s Wee Beastie can duke it out with ease, while delivering an interesting and new profile.
It’s hard to argue with success. For years Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve has been an unstoppable freight train of value and proof – while delivering well aged bourbon better than perhaps anyone else. Always at least 9 years old (and sometimes up to 16 years if you get a selection), there’s no better value in bourbon, especially as special editions and novelty barrel picks push the envelope on over pricing and under delivering. Perfect for neat drinking or a cocktail, there is no job that Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve can’t tackle.
Out of left field:
We know. There’s always that pesky argument about Jack Daniels and bourbon, but this bourbon whiskey packs a punch few others can in a profile that’s nothing short of unique. Easily a sleeper bourbon for the ages, Jack Daniels Single Barrel Barrel Proof is hotly awarded and now coveted by many drinkers, thankfully abundantly available in stores. If you’re ready for a profile that screams “bananas foster on fire” then look no further.
There’s a budget, ok?:
Champion of camping trips, tailgates, cocktail competitions, barbecues, spirits competitions and more – Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is the perfect 25 dollar Bottled in Bond product. For no frills gifting, Evan Williams is confident it’s ready for the task. We never leave home without it, and it’s been making weddings more fun for decades.
Money’s no object:
Fanatically prized, 14,000 bottles of Masters Keep roll out across the country each fall. 2020’s release in Wild Turkey’s Master’s Keep line reveals a 17 year old bottled in bond release, in a bottle that can only be described as elegant. Complex, bold, sippable – enthusiasts know to prize it and newcomers have no reaction but to respect it. The cork may way a couple of pounds, but the work it takes to open the bottle is immediately rewarded with one of the most rewarding releases of the year. It’s spendy, but not a dollar goes wasted.
For more ideas, check out Whiskey Raider’s full archive of reviews.