We Asked Bartenders For The One Bottle Of Whiskey They’re Giving As A Gift This Year

The holidays are definitely a time for giving (and, if you’re lucky, receiving) gifts. Isn’t that the only reason we work so hard to stay on Santa or Hanukkah Harry’s good lists? We don’t do that out of the goodness of our hearts (since, like the Grinch, they’re likely two-sizes two small). We give a great present and (hopefully) get an equally great present in return.

As with so many things in life, at UPROXX our go-to gift ideas often revolve around booze. Specifically, whiskey. Drew Hairston, beverage manager at Dirty Habit in Washington, DC agrees with us on this count. He also has a specific brand that he likes to gift to friends and family.

“I love to give Blanton’s as a gift during the holidays, especially if the recipient is already a fan of the whiskey,” he says. “It’s a highly sought-after bottle and is pretty collectible due to the metal horses on the tops with different letters spelling out Blanton’s.”

As we’ve shared all month, there are many different whiskey offerings perfectly suited for holiday-themed gift giving. We couldn’t possibly pick one ourselves though. That’s why we enlisted the help of some of our favorite bartenders.

Michter’s Straight Bourbon

Scott Kollig, beverage director of Rye Street Tavern in Baltimore

I have always found that Michter’s provides such a tremendous value across their entry-level whiskies, which is a stellar gift for someone who is just breaking into the world of grain spirits.

On the higher end of their product line, they have ethereal and captivating drams worthy of anyone who calls themselves an enthusiast. The “toasted barrel” editions are some of the finest on the market.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition Scotch

Rebecca Edwards, bar manager at Tavola in Charlottesville, Virginia

Lagavulin Distillers Edition. When it comes to gifting whiskey, go big or go home. This scotch is so delicious it will change the minds of even the most avid amber spirits haters. This is partially due to its finish in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks—its adds a hint of sweetness to the Lagavulin we all know and love.

Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

Brian Krux, mixologist and bartender at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont

Elmer T. Lee from the Buffalo Trace distillery is a perfect holiday gift. This 94 proof single barrel bourbon is a steal at $30. This price can make it tough to find but with a little searching you should be able to locate this gem.

Mic.Drop Bourbon

Nick Detrich, co-owner of Jewel of the South in New Orleans

Mic Drop from Nic Palazzi. The guy that finds some of the coolest stuff abroad managed to score something great from a bulk distiller in Indiana. MGP – the biggest distillery you’ve had juice from but never heard of – churns out hectoliters of great stuff, but not often for the little guys. Palazzi has picked out some amazing barrels that are high rye and big in bouquet and flavor.

About as hard to score as a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle, but way more worth it.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Scotch

Mike Raymond, owner of The Cottonmouth Club in Houston

If I really like the person, I would give them the new Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year. They made some minor changes to the original 12-year-old recipe that makes this a great whisky at any price.

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey

Hector Acevedo, owner/operator of Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar + Kitchen in Miami

I’m a huge fight fan, so there’s only one whiskey I’d give as a gift, Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey. Smooth, rich, and the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter night.

Glenlivet 15-Year-Old Scotch

Amy Wong, bartender at King Tide Fish & Shell in Portland, Oregon

If I chose one whiskey to give as a holiday gift, I would choose Glenlivet 15 Year. It’s French oak cask finished and most people aren’t familiar with it and won’t purchase it for themselves.

Booker’s Bourbon

Ron Manlapid, bartender at Menlo Tavern in Menlo Park, California

Booker’s. Rich in flavors of caramel and molasses, it’s like dessert in a glass. But at 126 proof, that dessert packs a punch. It’s a small batch bourbon so it can be hard to find, but that just makes it even more special to give as a gift.

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky

Cameron Lang, bartender at Center Hub in Irvine, California

I would gift Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky. This ultra-light and smooth whisky can be anybody’s favorite to throw over ice, or in a highball glass with club soda and an orange peel. Toki is a very easy drinking whiskey that would wow many.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon

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Jay Oakley, bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore

Angel’s Envy bourbon all day. Not only do I think it’s a superior quality whiskey, the bottle is aesthetically pleasing with sexy wings. The perfect holiday gift.

Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey

Michelle Hamo, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia

Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey is a wonderful whiskey and the bottle presentation is gorgeous. It is small-batch, 100% malted barley, and locally sourced from Denver, Colorado. It’s a relatively rare example of an American Single Malt with very unique balance of vanilla, apple, and oats. There’s a distinct, earthy, multigrain personality on the nose. The palate brings dried fruit and honey with a heavy and satisfying mouthfeel along with one heck of a burn (94 proof).

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

One of my favorite whiskies to gift is Basil Hayden’s bourbon. Its caramel notes make it an all-around nice whiskey for any palate, and the bottle stands out on any bar cart.

GlenDronach 21 Parliament

Daniel Burns, manager and bar lead at Elixir in San Francisco

How dear to me is the recipient of this gift? If I’m really trying to impress someone, I’d go with The GlenDronach 21 Parliament. My mom used to give us little candied oranges when we were little, and this is almost the grown-up version of that flavor profile.

Sagamore Cognac Finish Straight Rye

Paul Sanchez, general manager at Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore

Holiday gifts are tough, but giving someone a bottle of whiskey shouldn’t be. Maryland was once a powerhouse for distilling rye whiskeys and I couldn’t think of a better gift than a bottle of Sagamore Cognac Finish Straight Rye Whiskey from my hometown here in Baltimore.

Starward Solera Whisky

Rob Boyd, bartender at Dusek’s Board and Beer in Chicago

For a perfect holiday gift, I would go with Starward Solera. It’s an elegant single malt whisky (released in limited quantities in the US), aged in Apera (Australian Sherry) casks that can hold its own with any Scotch you’d probably think to gift first. The Australian origins will make it feel like a special gift, but it won’t break your bank like some other Australian whiskies.