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Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Bourbon

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Thanksgiving celebration, your feast isn’t complete without a glass of American whiskey. We got Rachel Cutler, general manager of acclaimed Louisville restaurant Proof on Main (which offers a list of more than 60 bourbons) to pick five great bottlings that should go well with your turkey and trimmings. (They also make great holiday presents.) Cheers!

Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old ($25):

“This small-batch bourbon is one of the best on the market,” says Cutler, “and is a fantastic value.” Its flavor is a “delicate balance of sweet and spicy, with notes of honey and butterscotch.”

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Johnny Drum Private Stock ($35):

Take a whiff and you get lots of oak and maple, while a sip yields honey and spicy rye. And “the long finish and 101 proof make it ideal for a classic Manhattan,” Cutler says.

Kentucky Vintage ($30):

Impress your friends and relatives with this relatively rare spirit. “Clove, smoke and dried herbs on the nose,” Cutler says, “with a buttery texture and a slight bite that lasts throughout its long finish.”

Van Winkle Special Reserve ($60):

Cutler calls this whiskey “smooth and elegant” with an aroma that has hints of caramel and vanilla. “Generous oak rounds out the honey and toasted almond on the palate with a slightly citrus note on the finish.”

Woodford Reserve ($33):

“A complex bourbon, with a nose of cream-toffee, vanilla and oak with subtle spices that warm the palate,” Cutler says. She recommends it neat or on the rocks. Perfect for after, say, a large festive meal.

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