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The Best Expensive Bottles Of Whiskey To Give As Gifts In 2019

There are a lot of great whiskeys out there, that fact is pretty much undeniable. When you widen your view of whiskey beyond bourbon to include Irish whiskey, scotch, Canadian expressions, and multiple styles made in the U.S., you get a long list of great bottles of the brown stuff.

In all honesty, that can be a bit overwhelming. Especially when you’re talking about spending a lot of money. Any time you’re dropping $100 or more on a bottle of anything, you want to be sure you’re spending that money well. Value is of the utmost importance. And considering that we’re talking about an ephemeral product that you drink (rather than a collector’s item that you keep), you want to get this purchase right.

The twelve bottles of expensive whisk(e)y below cover a range that brings high-levels of refinement without full-on crazy prices. Yes, we could make a list of $5,000 bottles of elite whiskey. But at the end of the day, very few people will ever drink those bottles in the real world. These bottles — mostly in the $85-200 range — are relatively accessible in price, easily sippable, and fairly easy to find, nationwide.

BALCONES HECHICEROS SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Price: $89.99

The Story:

Balcones Distilling down in Waco, Texas, is leading the American single malt game. Their Hechicheros Texas Single Malt is a refinement of their standard expression. The malted barley spirit is finished in port casks, adding an extra depth to the sip.

Tasting Notes:

Honeysuckles, saltwater taffy, eucalyptus, grape juice, and freshly fried sourdough doughnuts lead the way. The fruity juice draws the taste to bread pudding and tres leches cake vibes. Finally, a mix of black tea with sweet and sour Pop Rocks draws out the warm finish.

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YELLOW SPOT IRISH WHISKEY AGED 12 YEARS

Price: $99.99

The Story:

The “Spot” line of Irish whiskeys from the Mitchell Brothers is one of the finest Irish whiskeys you can find these days. Yellow Spot is aged 12 years in ex-bourbon and ex-Malaga casks, giving this sip a unique edge.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey opens with rushes of freshly stacked bales of hay next to a cracked black pepper spiciness. There’s a sense of honey that maintains a presence throughout the taste as notes of crème brûlée spiced with nutmeg and cloves sit next to dark chocolate and freshly brewed coffee. Finally, the sweet and fruity edge from the Malaga kicks in for a dry and cooling finish.

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BELLE MEADE SINGLE BARREL BOURBON

Price: $99.99

The Story:

Belle Meade Single Barrel is worth every penny of that 100 dollar price tag. This particular single barrel expression isn’t going to ever be bottled again, meaning this is a truly unique bottle of bourbon that’ll make the perfect gift for a bourbon aficionado.

Tasting Notes:

Expect classic notes of rich vanilla, charred oak, and caramel to open this sip up. Popcorn, cinnamon, honey, oak, dark chocolate, and a little note of black pepper drive the expression towards a warming finish that highlights the high rye content of the mash bill.

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GARRISON BROTHERS SINGLE BARREL TEXAS STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY

Price: $119.99

The Story:

This is a single barrel expression of Texan bourbon that demands your attention. The barrels are hand-selected from the Garrison Bros. rickhouse to embody the beauty of the Texan expression and offer any whiskey lover a once-in-a-lifetime pour. Oh, and if one bottle isn’t enough, you can buy a whole barrel for around $5,000.

Tasting Notes:

The tastes of these bottles will vary to a degree — since this is a single barrel expression. Expect notes of butterscotch, oak, vanilla, and nutmeg. Those moments will lead towards a clear charred oak depth with hints of leather and classic bourbon caramel. The end is a subtle nod to the great bourbons of Kentucky that’ll linger with that famous, warming hug.

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JACK DANIEL’S SINATRA SELECT

Price: $119.99

The Story:

Jack Daniel’s was Ol’ Blue Eyes’ favorite tipple. Frank Sinatra’s love of the Tennessee whiskey has created an indelible mark on the brand. Jack Daniel’s uses bespoke “Sinatra barrels” with extra deep grooves in the staves to create more room for the juice to mingle with the toasted oak. This creates and deeply oak-forward expression of a classic whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

The sip opens subtly with hints of peach, apple brandy, and rich honey. High-flying notes of toasted oak dominate as tinges of vanilla, caramel, and peppery spice lead towards a wisp of smoke. The sip mellows into a fruity base with complex hints of that smoke and oak coming in late to bring a big finish.

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MICHTER’S 10 YEAR SINGLE BARREL BOURBON

Price: $124.99

The Story:

This single barrel bourbon has been named the best bourbon in America. That should tell you all you need to know. The other nuance to remember is that this is a single barrel. So there’s never going to be anything quite like it again. This is a special bottle that’ll make for one hell of a gift. A fantastic value for the price.

Tasting Notes:

Dark toffee smothering apples open this expression. Caramel popcorn, vanilla beans, and fresh maple syrup drive towards a subtle and slightly fruity finish with an easy warming end. Wisps of smoke, echoes of leather, and hints of char linger as the sip fades from your senses.

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THE MACALLAN CLASSIC CUT

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It's hard to beat the classics, especially from The Macallan.

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Price: $129.99

The Story:

The Macallan’s head whisky maker Ian Morrison hand-selected this whiskey from sherry oak casks. The process was all about finding a cut of perfection amongst the iconic The Macallan rickhouses. This is the bottle to sample if you really want to get a sense of the heights that single malt scotch can reach.

Tasting Notes:

Oak lingers with orange and lemon zest, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. That ginger and nutmeg refine with vanilla and orange riding low in the sip. Finally, the oak resurfaces as the sip fades into your memory.

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WHISTLEPIG RYE OLD WORLD CASK FINISHED BESPOKE BLEND

Price: $129.99

The Story:

WhistlePig’s Old World Cask Finished takes the ideas of a great single malt scotch and applies them to a rye. The expression is a combination of new American oak barreled rye with rye finished in port, French Sauternes, and Madeira casks. There’s nothing quite like this rye out there.

Tasting Notes:

Stark winter fruits mingle with bourbon vanilla and rich caramel. Dried fruits, apricots, meaty dates, and honey sit next to a clear rye spiciness. Those winter fruits return and dance with a bitter dark chocolate edge that gives way to a finish of more vanilla and caramel.

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JAMESON BOW STREET 18 YEAR IRISH WHISKEY

Price: $169.99

The Story:

This once-a-year released from Jameson is the history of the Irish whiskey in a single bottle. The juice of pot stilled and grain Irish whiskeys from Midleton are aged for nearly 20 years, blended, and finished in the Bow Street Dublin tiny and special rickhouse.

Tasting Notes:

Rich toffee and oak with a dose of spice open this one up. That toffee and oak form a foundation that supports hints of worn leather, bourbon vanilla, and roasted almonds. The toffee and oak fade towards a spicy, warm end with echoes of an old library.

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JIM BEAM MASTER DISTILLERS

Price: $199.99

The Story:

Jim Beam is one of the oldest Kentucky bourbons in America. This very rare expression is selected from the reserve sections of Jim Beam’s rickhouses as the best of the best. The juice is then transferred to Pedro Ximénez sherry casks for finishing before the rare expression is bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Marzipan gives way to rye spice and maple syrup. Notes of burnt sugar and spicy stewed fruits are cut by bright fruits and a classic vanilla presence. Finally, that spice and vanilla lead towards an oaky warming finish that lingers just the right amount of time.

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EDITOR’S PICK: WOLVES WINTER RUN

Price: $185.00

The Story:

WOLVES is on the opposite end of the “heritage whiskey made in the same pot still since 1670” spectrum. It’s a young brand, with an approach to “drops” that mimics the world of streetwear. This should come as no surprise, the brand’s founders are James Bond of Undefeated and Jon Buscemi of Buscemi, Truff, and Oliver Peoples.

The whiskey itself is distilled in California — with the actual bottles coming from and blended by Marko Karakasevic of Charbay distillery. Their first drop, First Run, sold out completely and Winter Run is poised to do the same. Like it’s predecessor, Winter Run is a blend of whiskies distilled in an Alambic still, imported from Cognac, France. According to the notes, the blend consists of, “whiskey distilled from craft Stout beer, aged in French Oak for 8 years, whiskey distilled from craft Pilsner beer, aged in New American Oak for 5 years, a Rye selected for its spice, and a single malt whiskey, distilled from two-row malted barley, aged in used French Oak for 9 years.”

Tasting Notes:

This one starts out with a bakery on the day they make the sweet cakes. Behind the vanilla and warm bread notes, you get some deep, red stone fruit — cherry or maybe plum. Some of the promised beer influence translates too, with a touch of malt and hops. On the palate, you get some oak right away (and carried through) with light citrus (orange or blood orange) and a nice hit of marzipan. The hops come on stronger on the back end, cutting the rich notes with a little bitterness and ending on a very warming (this is 52% abv) note.

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EDITOR’S PICK FOR A SERIOUS SPLURGE: HEAVEN’S DOOR BOOTLEG VOL. 001

Price: $499.99

The Story:

We’ve stanned for Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskeys for awhile now. The reason is simple: This is a brand-celeb collab that actually seems to care. Dylan is highly involved and the results speak for themselves. The craft aspect is definitely in place too, and the various expressions are smooth and intensely sippable.

Still, we know you’re not going to want in on the new Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series unless you have a serious passion for Dylan. Which I do. Outlaws, renegades, and troubadours are right in my wheelhouse. Plus the expression that goes with the lovely packaging — which includes a Dylan painting on a handmade ceramic bottle and an individually-numbered leather journal — is very, very special. It’s a 26-year aged whiskey finished in Japanese oak, a combo of aging and oak that is rarely found on the current marketplace.

Tasting Notes:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The nose is browned butter and vanilla to the max, rich and full with some alcohol heat (this is a whopping 55.75ABV!) but absolutely no ethanol burn. On the palate, you get that mature oaky smoothness you’d expect from a bourbon this old, but also some nice tropical fruit notes like a coconut-papaya spice cake (a little bit of clove definitely plays). The finish is long and oaky, with the Japanese oak and style definitely being noticeable on the long back end.

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