The 6 Best Whiskeys for Holiday Drinking
The holidays are a stressful season filled with questions like, “How should I decorate the house?” “Who should I invite to dinner?” “What should I buy everyone?” “Why did I wait until the very last minute to buy these plane tickets?” “Did the dog just eat the entire turkey?” and “Where do I get another turkey at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day?” But there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, and that’s what you should be drinking. Because we have an answer for you: whiskey. It brings the warmth, fills everyone with a little more holiday cheer and, unlike many spirits, is excellent on its own, making for an easy cocktail hour after a long day of chasing after your turkey-stealing dog.
Here, our favorite whiskeys to drink during the holiday season.
Basil Hayden’s, $40
This 8 year-old Kentucky bourbon is the perfect gift to bring to a holiday party as a post-dinner sipper. Light and crisp, this bourbon has notes of honeysuckle, burnt brown sugar and baking spices. We like to drink ours neat, but it’s also great with one giant ice cube and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters.
Made with 100 percent malted rye and aged for three and a half years in charred oak barrels, this whiskey is a wonderful accompaniment for heavy, hearty meals. Its rich flavors of honey, toffee, leather and tobacco are bolstered by a sharp spiciness (thanks to the rye).
Part of Willet Bourbon’s artisanal line of spirits, this Kentucky bourbon is aged for 12 years in American oak and bottled at a respectable 100.1 proof. There’s a sharp ethanol heat at the forefront, which fades into a rich, full-bodied bourbon with lots of vanilla, wood and molasses. A touch of smoke from the prolonged contact with the barrel’s char lingers on the finish. The extra punch from the alcohol makes for a party-starting Manhattan.
Made in Brooklyn, this small batch whiskey uses malted barley—traditionally used in scotch—which gives it a barnyard funkiness. With hints of anise, clove, buttered toast and sweet corn, this whiskey is a conversation starter, or something to mull over on your own after all the guests have left.
Made in Oregon, this whiskey is a collaboration between Ransom’s distiller/owner Tad Seestedt and cocktail historian David Wondrich. In an attempt to recreate the first American whiskeys distilled by Irish immigrants, Wondrich and Seestedt based their whiskey on a recovered mash bill from 1865. Aged for three years in American and French oak, this whiskey is malty sweet, with complex depth and flavors of cinnamon, clove and menthol. This is not your everyday whiskey, so share with only your closest friends and family members this holiday season.
Few Rye Whiskey, $60
Distilled in a copper still and aged in American oak barrels, this rye whiskey is super spicy and earthy. At first sip you taste allspice and green peppercorn, which are then followed by notes of caramel, spiced and candied nuts, and a hint of cayenne. This piquant rye works perfectly in a Sazerac or Vieux Carre.