It's a long standing tradition to gift a bottle to the guys we work with, the guys we share a family tree with, the guys who take care of whatever we need all year, and any other guys who have earned inclusion on our gift list.
But there's an art to gifting with booze. Sure, you can simply give his favorite scotch, but giving one in a limited edition bottle, or one with an unusual back story, goes that much farther and shows way more thought. And the two dozen spirits that follow were chosen because they fill those requirements.
But remember, when it comes to giving the gift of booze, always be aware to give bottles in the appropriate price range. Giving your new girlfriend's father a 15-year-old single malt says you've got class. Giving him a 30-year-old single malt says you got his daughter pregnant.
(From what I'm seeing, it seems like tequila is not only this year's hot spirit, but is also big for gifting. A great alternative to scotch or whisky.)
VooDoo Tiki Private Family Collection
This is one of my personal favorite tequilas (if you haven't had one of their flavored tequilas, you're missing out), and once a year they produce a very limited Private Family Collection, reserved exclusively for family and friends, and a few lucky tequila lovers.
It comes in a handcrafted Tiki box that's a replica of an original Voodoo Tiki, and is nearly two feet tall. Inside, the lighted interior illuminates the etched bottle of premium 100% Blue Agave tequila and four hand-blown glass tiki shot glasses. Only 1,000 are made each year. Get your hands on one.
Price ranges from $899 - $1,099
Platinum Silver - $45
Reposado - $50
Anejo - $64
Flavored Infusions - $29.99
Don Julio 1492 and Real
Don Julio 1942 is not your every day tequila. It's a fantastic sipping tequila that tastes similar to a cognac, recently released in a new bottle that has a sleek, modern design that'll look great on any recipient's home bar.
If you really want to impress, Don Julio Real comes in a decanter-shaped bottle adorned with metal agave leaves, and agave stopper. Something your boss might keep in his office, to share during those post-client-signing celebrations.
$125 - 1942
$350 - Real
Peligroso means "dangerous." And this tequila aims to
live up to its name. New to the market, it's a 100% Blue Agave tequila that comes in Anejo, Reposado and Silver. And for the holidays, you can get it in a wooden gift box, for the adventure seeker on your list.
Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia (2009 Limited Edition)
Since 1795, the Jose Cuervo family has descended into their private cellar to share their finest tequila reserves with a select group of family and friends. In 1995, to celebrate their 200-year anniversary, the family decided to share their reserves with the rest of the world, and began issuing Reserva de la Familia in limited-edition bottles each year.
This is not your frat boy shooting Cuervo. The dark amber Reserva has a full, mellow taste with floral, agave, vanilla, nut and Cognac-like flavors. It's meant to be sipped, not shot or mixed. And as part of their support of young Mexican artists, each year Cuervo commissions a local artist to design original artwork for the handcrafted wooden box. The 2009 box was designed by Marco Arce.
If you watched HBO's Entourage
this past season, you're familiar with Tequila Avión as the brand Turtle tried to import from Mexico. Well, it's not a figment of a TV writer's imagination, it's real. And a great gift for the entertainment fan on your list.
Not a novelty spirit, it's an exceptionally smooth tequila, the result of slow roasting 100% Blue Weber Agave in traditional brick ovens, a unique small batch distillation process, and a proprietary "ultra slow filtration" method. (Turtle's Yankees hat not included.)
Hornitos Holiday Gift Set
Who says the naughty shouldn't get gifts at the holidays? This gift set from Hornitos makes the perfect gift for the bad girl on your list. Besides the bottle of premium Reposado tequila, she'll also get a pair of horn-shaped shot glasses, exactly what you need to toast to another year of her misdeeds.
Price not available
Crafted from the very best blue agave and aged 36-40 months in American Oak, Partida Elegante is an Extra Anejo Tequila that makes a great gift for collectors of single malt scotches, bourbons and cognac.
Each Elegante bottle comes with an individually numbered gift box, a crystal topper that can serve as a decanter once the tequila is finished, and a genuine leather and sterling silver wrap that hugs the bottle's neck.
Casa Noble brings back the craft to making a fine tequila. Made from carefully selected, 100% certified organic blue agave, that must meet strict requirements for water and sugar content, it is slow-cooked for 38 hours in stone ovens. Then, using only the core and hearts of the agaves, they extract their sweet nectar for the all-natural fermentation process in French white oak barrels, followed by a triple distillation.
Casa Noble is premium tequila, in a gift ready bottle, at an affordable price. They'll think you spent triple what you did.
This is a super-premium 100% Blue Agave tequila created in Jalisco, where it is cooked and distilled longer than most other tequila makers. The result is an exceptionally smooth, gold-medal winning tequila, with a just the right amount of spiciness.
But the real story, is the label's story. Espolón's Blanco and Reposado wear labels that wrap them in classic 19th century Mexican artwork, each depicting a different important step in the country's development. And both featuring the iconic rooster, a symbol of national pride. Drinkable artwork for under $20. ¡Viva México!
What bottle of vodka do you get when you need to say Happy Holidays? How about a bottle that says Happy Holidays for you.
The world's first interactive bottle, its programmable LED display can store up to six personalized messages of up to 255 characters each. Oh, and the vodka itself is ultra-premium and imported from Holland. At around $40, you can get a bottle for everyone on your list.
Crystal Head Vodka
I know, nothing says Merry Christmas like a crystal skull filled with vodka. But this vodka not only comes in a very cool, unique and striking bottle, but it has back story to spare...
One of the founders of Crystal Head is the legendary Dan Aykroyd of SNL
fame, and the vodka itself is quadruple distilled, triple charcoal filtered, then filtered another three times through Herkimer diamonds. Yes. Filtered through diamonds. Why the skull? Aykroyd says it's a symbol of life. And when you need a gift this year, who ya gonna call?
Not all gins are created equal. While technically gin is made primarily from juniper berries, this bold gin adds a host of botanicals like natural poppy, Dragon Eye, and lotus leaves. For more bite.
Bulldog comes in a sleek, smoke tinted bottle, complete with its own spiked collar. It'll stand guard over any bar.
Smooth Ambler Artisanal
Founded just last year, Smooth Ambler uses the natural resources of the rural Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia: "high-valley mountain air, natural waters, ideal temperature variations and friendly folks." Every batch is handcrafted, and every bottle is personally hand signed and dated by its bottler.
The Macallan 18- and 25-Years-Old
The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old is a classic favorite that’s dressed up for the holidays in a new holiday gift pack. And the liquid itself is peerless for a reason: deep, rich flavors of dried fruits, spice, dark chocolate and orange.
Recently named in the top 15 of spirits in the Scotch Whisky category, Highland Park 25 Years Old is a phenomenal single malt whisky that also pairs beautifully (and unexpectedly), with ice cream. An excellent, and elegant, way to celebrate the holidays.
$139.99 - 18 Years Old
$274.99 - 25 Years Old
Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition
Four Roses is the only distillery that gently ages 10 distinct Bourbon recipes. From time to time, their Master Distiller selects a few exceptional barrels, and marries them by hand to create an exquisite, soft oak and caramel tasting, limited edition small batch bourbon. And when they are gone, they are gone. Don't miss out.
Custom Engraved Johnnie Walker Blue
There's no more classic bottle to gift than Johnnie Walker. With their five iconic labels - Red ($23), Black ($34), Green ($60), Gold ($85), and the top-of-the-line Blue ($225) - you can find one suitable for everyone on your list.
But for the lucky few worthy of the Blue label, Johnnie Walker will custom engrave the bottle for them. Simply go to the website below, and they'll personalize your 750mL or 1.75L ($550) bottle with up to three lines of 15 character per line text. The holidays don't get any happier. Or classier.
Canadian Club Holiday Gift Set
Damn right your dad drank it. He still does. And he'll love this CC gift box with embossed gold pinstriping over black gloss. Inside there is a mini MP3 case to hold "that thing that plays the music" for him. A classic. Just like dad himself.
Makers Mark Decanters
Maker's Mark is famous for its red, dripping wax seal on top of their bottle. But sometimes you want to pour their unparalleled bourbon from something a little more upscale. That's where the Ambassador Crystal Decanter (middle) and Crystal Barrel Decanter (right), come in. Pair one with a bottle of Maker's Mark and you've got the perfect gift for the bourbon aficionado on your list. Bonus: The Ambassador can be custom engraved. See the site for details.
$99.95 - Crystal Barrel Decanter
$149.95 - Ambassador Crystal Decanter
Hibiki Japanese Whisky
Hibiki means harmony in Japanese. And it'll bring holiday harmony to whoever you gift it to. A superior blend of over 30 handcrafted, specially aged whiskies, you may recognize Hibiki as Bill Murray’s drink of choice in the film, Lost in Translation
"For relaxing times, make it Suntory time..."
Available in 12-, 17-, 21- and 30-years old, the bottle has 24 facets, representing both the hours in a day and the ancient Japanese calendar, in which a year was divided into twenty four parts. The label is unique as well. The texture of the Echizen paper, or "Washi" in Japanese, is achieved through the careful application of traditional Japanese paper-making techniques. It's a work of art both inside and outside the bottle.
Starting at $55
THE BEST OF THE REST
Another spirit with a celeb pedigree, Conjure was conjured up by Chris Bridges. Better known for rocking the mic as Ludacris.
Made from the ugni blanc grape from blends that represent a variety of Cognac regions, including Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Borderie, Conjure is aged in fifty-year aged Limousin oak barrels. Its tasting notes include "crême brulée, new leather, soft Christmas spices, honey and fine cigar wrapper." I'll let you insert your own Christmas wrapping/rapping pun here.
Black and Gold Sake
Want to gift something unusual and outside the norm? Go with sake. This holiday season Black & Gold is offering a gift pack that includes their unique blend of two sakes bottled in a traditional "tokkuri" container (used when purchasing sake back in the old days), and a pair of cold sake glasses. Kampai!
For that very special person on your list, the venerable cognac Courvoisier, has added a new offering, L‘Essence de Courvoisier. It's a rare combination of blends from the most exclusive crus in the cognac region, packaged in a handmade Baccarat bottle reminiscent of the signature Courvoisier teardrop silhouette. It's topped with a crystal stopper inspired by the legend of Napoleon’s ten signet rings. And it'll set you back a cool $3,000.
If you can't swing the three Gs, select a bottle from their Connoisseur Collection. In a first for cognac, this pair boasts its age right on the bottle, 12 or 21 years old.
$3,000 - L‘Essence de Courvoisier (includes a display.)
$250 - Connoisseur Collection 21
$49.99 - Connoisseur Collection 12
Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad
Ok, so this isn't a spirit, it's a sparkling wine, but the bottle alone earns it a place on this list.
Segura Viudas has earned a reputation as one of the top producers of artisan sparkling wine in Spain, and their Reserva Heredad was originally reserved for members of the Segura family and their friends. When you show up at a holiday dinner with this graceful green, hand-blown bottle emblazoned with the pewter crest of Segura Viudas and resting on a pewter base inscribed with grapes, they'll think you spent way more than the $25 it retails for. (Call 1-888-706-2229 to locate an retailer near you.)
Gurkha Grand Reserve Cigars
This isn't a spirit either, so why the inclusion here? Because the Grand Reserve luxury cigar, besides being a great way to end a holiday meal with everyone on your gift giving list, and besides being the perfect compliment no matter your after-dinner drink of choice, it is also infused with the finest cognac. A cigar that has spirits inside definitely qualifies it for this list. Think of it as a smoke-able bottle.