The lead up to Christmas always seems like the happiest time of year whether watching the magic of the season unfold in your children’s eyes or enjoying your share of baked goods that seem to be in constant supply whether you want them or not. For others, this time of year seems relatively happy simply on the promise of landing some allocated bourbon, especially as in the weeks ahead coveted bottles of brownwater such as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and the lineup of Pappy Van Winkles find their way to market…be that the retail market or the secondary bourbon market. As we look ahead to the holidays however, we’d like to highlight ten bourbon picks to make this Christmas extra special. We’ve divided the list into those you can readily find out on the shelf, and those that may take some extra effort and/or a connection or two to land. So, whether you’re looking for some bourbon on a budget or a premium pour, this list should have you covered and importantly, won’t break the bank!
The below list of bourbons can all be found out on the shelf, though, admittedly may be limited depending on your geographic location and the ebbs and flows of distribution. These are all great pours which your friends or family will certainly enjoy.
After Ezra Brooks 7 Year 101 proof kind of fizzled, Luxco the brand behind the label reinvigorated the offering by changing the name to Old Ezra 7 and upping the proof to 117. The addition of a bit more umph in proof took what was a so-so bourbon and gave it some gusto, resulting in a much more robust all-around great tasting bourbon. This is a quality bourbon at a decent price point, available on the shelf for sixty bucks out the door.
If you’ve got a twenty-dollar bill and some couch change, then you’ve probably got plenty to cover this cheap bourbon that drinks well above its price point. From the nose to the finish, this bourbon provides an all-around great experience. This is arguably one of the best high proof bourbons for the price! Put it on your radar if it’s not already.
Interestingly, Old Elk Distillery was founded by the same person who invented Otterbox. Random facts aside, this is a very smooth bourbon that is a great sipper and one that I’d recommend without an ounce of hesitation to folks who are looking for an easy going pour that’s a crowd pleaser. Expect to pay around fifty bucks for this stocking stuffer! No, reindeer were harmed in the making of this bottle.
Redwood Empire’s Pipe Dream is an awesome gift for folks who may be just getting into bourbon. I’d even argue that more experienced drinkers will enjoy this despite being straightforward relating to the flavor profile. At thirty-five bucks, it delivers a solid value for the money and is the type of white elephant gift that will quickly find its way out of circulation!
At just a smidge over fifty bucks, Old Forester’s 1920 Prohibition Style rounds out our “off the shelf” suggestions. As a part of Old Forester’s Whiskey Row Series, the 1920 bottling offers a very rich flavor profile and is somewhat akin to the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon series. Expect a rich, dark, chocolatey bourbon – who needs hot chocolate when you can pour some of this in your glass next to the fireplace!
The bourbons listed below aren’t going to be just sitting around most likely waiting for you to buy them (though could be) and so you may need to call in a favor or make some rounds and hope for the best. Giving one of these as a gift implies you’ve gone out of your way and the recipient deserves something well north of a lump of coal from Santa this year. Keep tabs on the pricing so you’re not overpaying by using the Bourbon Blue Book, our proprietary resource which is updated weekly.
Certainly, one of the most recognizable bourbons on the market today, it’s guaranteed to be a winner with most folks. These can occasionally be found out in the wilds for around seventy-five bucks and go for fifty over that on the secondary market all day long. Once designated for dignitaries, ambassadors, and the famous Colonel Blanton’s inner circle you can now enjoy the first ever single barrel bourbon bottled as such commercially.
This may be a stretch as a gift, but it’s one of the best wheated bourbons on the market IMO. The Weller line really needs no introduction and exists in a space all its own. The experience from this bottle is just short of the coveted Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, but much more affordable and obtainable. It’s unlikely you’ll see this in a retail situation, so expect that you’re looking at a smidge north of two hundred bucks to land one.
Described as a “once in a lifetime bourbon” by some, this release has now seen several runs as part of what has become an annual offering. Fred Minnick, apparently even noted that he’d “love to sip this every day for the rest of his life.” That seems a bit much, and by week two I’d probably be over it, but it certainly underscores the caliber of this pour. I bought this off the shelf not terribly long ago, much to my surprise for near retail which is about a hundred bucks. That’s an exception, and I don’t suspect many will be so fortunate; as such you likely should plan to double that number to pick it up off the secondary.
Having just written up a recent blog post on everything Blood Oath | Pricing, Backstory and More, there’s a good chance you might find this, much like I did a few weeks ago, out on a shelf for retail. It’s a super unique brand that often flies under the radar but has a lot of great things going with this year’s release, ninth in the overall series of annual releases. If you can find it, expect it to set you back a hundred bucks…double that number to buy it off the secondary market.
Double oaked bourbons are gaining some steam in the overall market and this offering from Peerless pushes the envelope on the oak-forward flavor profile without overdoing it resulting in a delicious pour. Higher in proof and ramping up the flavor intensity, this dram has a lot of complexity to unpackage and will make an awesome gift. Released each fall, they’re out on the shelf right now in some places but disappearing quickly. Retail is around a hundred bucks, with the secondary pricing not much worse at just thirty over that.
Sadly, Santa doesn’t deliver Weller Full Proof with Prime shipping. If you’re looking for some great ideas for the bourbon lover on your list, check out our Bourboneur 2023 Gift Guide with our Top 10 Bourbon Gifts for Christmas.
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