Face it: you have zero chance of scoring that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for your dad this Christmas. It’s not worth your time looking, and it’s embarrassing to try. Liquor-store owners will laugh in your face. (And why not? For decades the stuff has gone dusty on their shelves. Now, suddenly, everyone wants it? Screw everyone.)
If not Pappy, then what? Of course, you could go back to scotch, but that’s admitting defeat. There is so much more great bourbon and rye out there; if nothing quite reaches Pappy’s post at the pinnacle, it comes close, for a lot less tsuris.
Herewith are five great whiskeys to give away (and, if you’re lucky, receive) this holiday season:
1. Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon: Haters can hate on Michter’s for not making its own hooch. But neither does Pappy. And it doesn’t matter (and Michter’s is building its own distillery, to open in a few years). Both are genius at picking the best whiskeys available, and the 10 Year is a case in point. Chewy, tons of oak and vanilla goodness, but finely balanced. Plus, at about $90, it’s a steal.
2. Whistlepig Rye: Hyped, yes – but oh so worth it. Perhaps the best widely available rye on the market today. Astor Wines has it for $64 – not bad, given the demand.
3. Jefferson’s Reserve Presidential 18 Year Old: If you can find it, buy it. The current batch is reported to contain the last of Jefferson’s supply of Stitzel-Weller barrels, and it’s a damn fine bourbon – all the requisite woods and fruits, but with some pleasant buttery notes. BottleBuys has it for $99.
4. Elijah Craig 20 Year Old: A rare release, also worth snapping up; if you’re getting it for dad, get one for yourself, too – if they’ll let you. K&L, which has it for $130, puts a one-bottle-per-customer limit.
5. E.H. Taylor: Buffalo Trace has been churning out varieties of this estimable expression; the “Tornado” release, so-called because it was salvaged from a twister-ravaged warehouse, was close to the platonic ideal of bourbon. Subsequent releases, like the current barrel-strength, are mighty swell. K&L has the barrel-strength for $80; Astor has the single-barrel release for $64.