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Shopping for a whiskey enthusiast can prove challenging—they’ve likely got it all, from Glencairn tasting glasses to fancy ice molds, coffee table books, cocktail accessories, and everything in between. Luckily, we’ve asked a handful of industry experts to share their go-to whiskey-themed gifts, sparing you from the inevitable online shopping rabbit hole. Here are the best gifts for whiskey lovers, according to whiskey lovers.
Best Overall: Aroma Academy Whisky Aroma Kit
Whiskey enthusiasts of all levels enjoy not only drinking the stuff but also talking about it. However, the jargon can get a bit esoteric sometimes...who among us hasn't found themselves feeling a little lost when experts and reviewers make liberal use of terms like "grassy," "peaty," and "phenolic?" An aroma kit specifically geared toward whiskey lovers is the perfect gift for the beginner or novice enthusiast who wants to keep up with the conversation.
The aroma kit from Aroma Academy contains 24 aroma samples that cover the spectrum of aromas typically found in whiskey, an explanatory spiral bound booklet guide, blank aroma strips, and nosing and tasting record sheets—all packaged in an attractive presentation box.
Best Cocktail: High West Barreled Boulevardier
There are few cocktails easier to make than a cocktail that’s, well, already made for you. Beloved Utah whiskey brand High West offers excellent ready-to-drink cocktails, including this barrel-aged Boulevardier. It's available in both standard 750-milliliter bottles and half-sized 375-milliliter bottles, which serve 12 and six cocktails respectively.
“We mix two parts bourbon, one part Vya sweet vermouth, and one part Gran Classico (a bitter amaro) and then age the cocktail in a whiskey barrel for four months,” says High West owner David Perkins. “The barrel aging adds a rich mouthfeel and mellows the ingredients. This Boulevardier is a real delight served over ice with a twist of orange or lemon peel.”
Most Unique: MITBAK Cocktail Smoker with Dome Lid and Woodchips
It's hard to imagine a bartending flourish that's more visually impressive than smoking a cocktail. Give your favorite whiskey fan the gift of smoky flair with this versatile cocktail smoker from MITBAK.
The kit includes a smoking gun that fires up with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, a domed cloche, wood chips, and a detachable hose, as well as a charging cable and a tweezer to help remove debris from the burn chamber. You'll spend a little more on this kit than on the little smoking trays that sit right on top of the glass... but who wants butane in their bourbon? (As a bonus, this smoking kit isn't just for whiskey or for cocktails, but is also ideal for adding a smoky finish to a perfectly-cooked meal. Instant barbecue, anyone?)
Best Bottle: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
The story behind Tennessee distillery Nearest Green––that of Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African-American master distiller––is one that went largely untold before tech entrepreneur and best-selling author Fawn Weaver put the pieces together. For Weaver, what began as a literary venture (followed up by a film and a commemorative bottle) evolved into a full-blown distillery honoring Green’s legacy.
Today, Weaver is the CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which currently offers three different expressions. As a gift, any one of them is a safe bet, but the award-winning flagship bottle is a great place to start.
Read Next: The Best Whiskeys
Best Barrel: Red Head Barrels Charred American Oak Aging Barrel
Justus Benjamin, wine curator and co-owner of San Diego wine shop Boutique Vino, has a creative gift idea for any whiskey lover, regardless of expertise level. “I love mini oak barrels,” he says, noting that these small casks can be used to further age a spirit at home or as a means of aging a batched cocktail. Benjamin offers a few tips: “Mix up a (batch) of Old Fashioneds, drop it in the barrel for 60 days, and let the Thanksgiving fights ensue!”
Red Head Barrels' 3-liter charred American oak barrel comes with a cocktail recipe book for inspiration, and there are endless opportunities for experimentation (for example, finishing a single malt after having rested, say, a port or red wine in the barrel).
Best for Irish Coffee: Kilbeggan Traditional Irish Whiskey
The ingredients that make up a great Irish Coffee are sacred––one must use quality coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream as a baseline. But that’s not to say they all have to be in traditional form. Try gifting or serving a bottle of Kilbeggan’s flagship whiskey with a side of Irish Coffee ice cream, either separately or combined. Or, try your hand at a frozen Irish Coffee (add some chocolate for a coffee mudslide riff). The whiskey’s soft notes of vanilla, sea salt, caramel, malt, and oak bring out the best in an already delicious creamy coffee ice cream, no matter how they come together.
Read Next: The Best Irish Whiskeys
Best Personalized: Oakhill Personalized Carson Decanter Gift Set
“Just like wine, whiskey should also be able to breathe,” says Cesar Sandoval, National U.S. Ambassador for Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky in Mexico. “A beautiful glass whiskey decanter is always a great gift for those of us who want to see our whiskey open up without a label in the way.”
Sandoval’s decanter of choice is this customizable set complete with a monogrammed wooden box and a pouch of nine whiskey stones (which also work well for any chilled wine), plus a pair of tongs for good measure.
Read Next: The Best Whiskey Decanters
Best Ice Mold: W&P Design Peak Sphere Ice Tray
“When it comes to whiskey, all the work has been done by the distiller, so all I need is the proper glassware and a nice large ice cube,” says Steven Brewer, general manager of Wolf Restaurant in NYC. With an approach like Brewer’s, all you’ll need is a quality ice mold and a great set of glasses. The Peak Sphere Ice Tray from W&P Design is Brewer’s go-to, and for good reason––this mold makes perfectly spherical ice that fits most standard rocks glasses.
Read Next: The Best Ice Cube Trays
Best Glassware: Huckberry’s Whiskey Peaks Rocks Glasses
Take your favorite whiskey lover on a brown spirits-fueled trip around the world with these stunning Huckberry rocks glasses, each one featuring a raised, crystal-clear topographic impression of a different international mountain range within its walls. From the brand’s Whiskey Peaks collection, the International Mountains set of four hand-blown glasses is designed in San Francisco and features the following iconic mountains: Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji, the Matterhorn, and Mount Everest, all fashioned from lightweight lead-free glass. Packed neatly in a rectangular gift box, the Whiskey Peaks International Mountains set is ideal for whiskey lovers who drink their pours neat.
Best Book: Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson
Anyone who begins to get into whiskey will invariably soon come to wonder what's so special about the super-rare, super-expensive, impossible-to-find expressions from the Pappy Van Winkle brand. The truth is that the keys to understanding the contemporary mystique surrounding this venerated bourbon could fill a book—and, fortunately, someone has written one.
Longtime sportswriter Wright Thompson traveled to Kentucky to spend time with Julian P. Van Winkle III, the grandson of Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., and to pick his brain about what makes this cult whiskey of his so enduringly culty. The resulting tome is a melange of family history, philosophical meanderings, and deep-dive bourbon nerd-lit which will delight any fan of aged spirits, esoteric Americana, or the well-trodden overlap between the two.
Best Sampler: Glenmorangie Pioneering Collection
Calling all Scotch whisky lovers: this Glenmorangie sampler pack is a real treat, even for the drinker who has (or has tasted) it all. The Original expression, aged for a decade in ex-bourbon casks, is comforting and familiar with notes of orange blossom, clotted cream, and honeyed vanilla; next in line is the LaSanta 12, which is known for its deep chocolate, baking spice, butterscotch, and ultra-juicy and dried fruit notes thanks to its years spent in both bourbon and sherry casks. Quinta Ruban 12 and Nectar d’Or 12 follow, with respective woodsy, minty, orangey chocolate notes and borderline-tropical baking spice unctuousness. In other words, a dreamy, boozy journey through Scotland perfect for a quiet night cozied up at home.
Best Budget: W&P Peak Extra-Large Ice Cube Tray
We’ve tried a ton of different ice cube trays, and Peak is hands-down one of the absolute best out there. Unlike other silicone ice trays, this collection is extremely sturdy, which is handy for the often-precarious tiptoe to the freezer after filling—on top of that, each of the Peak trays features a matching silicone lid, making them perfect for safekeeping and stacking. But where the W&P Peak tray really shines is once the ice is frozen, there’s no wrestling to remove your cubes, which is usually the case with other silicone ice trays. This one allows for easy and consistent cube removal sans the stress of worrying about whether or not you’re going to tear a hole in each compartment. In terms of cube size for whiskeys, a large cube is ideal, thanks to its slower melting time.
As a wise man once said, "there's no greater gift than the gift of knowledge," so make sure there's an Aroma Academy Whisky Aroma Kit (view on Amazon) on your gift list for your favorite whiskey fan this year. That same wise man, however, made it clear that the second greatest gift was a nice bottle of booze, so the Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey (view on Drizly) certainly fits that bill.
How much lead time do you need to order gifts around the holidays?
Typically, most domestic shipping services recommend getting your holiday gift orders in no later than early-to-mid-December in order to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve. With the supply chain issues currently plaguing all economic sectors, however, you may want to play it safe and get your ordering done even a couple of weeks earlier than that.
Can you ship alcohol from state to state?
Laws governing alcohol distribution in the US are notoriously convoluted, especially when shipping from state to state. If you're someone with the proper licenses to sell and distribute alcohol, then interstate shipping via FedEx or UPS may be possible (although you must advise the carrier your package contains alcohol, a surcharge will be applied to the shipment, and an adult must sign for it). If you're an unlicensed individual, your best bet is to check with your preferred local or online merchant about their shipping policies. Certain states don't allow the receipt of packages containing alcohol from other states, so you may find yourself looking up merchants based in your desired destination state, and ordering over the phone. Good luck!
Why Trust Liquor.com?
This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, a spirits writer who's been the happy recipient of numerous booze-themed gifts over the years, and who's proud to say that he's only ever re-gifted two or three of them.
Longtime wine and spirits writer Céline Bossart has tested countless products over the years—between her picks and a handful of ideas from fellow industry pros, these products are sure to cover all of your shopping needs for the whiskey lover in your life.