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Launch Someone’s Bourbon Whiskey Journey With This Gift Guide

Everyone seems to love bourbon these days. The old Kentucky spirit, famously refined by a preacher named Elijah Craig over 200 years ago, has taken the drinking world by storm, yet again. With this new boom comes even more options when actually choosing which bourbons to drink. It also brings with it the need for equipment — glasses, cocktail kits, bitters, a bar spoon, ice trays, etc. — to ensure you can enjoy your whiskey the way you like it (and to geek out a little, which is half the fun).

With so many people diving deep into this new passion, it’s very likely that someone you care about wants to get into bourbon, too. But maybe they don’t know where to start and need a few key gifts to get the ball rolling. That’s why we teamed up with Elijah Craig (the premium spirits brand, not the 18th-century preacher) to help you figure out which bottles and accessories make great holiday gifts.

Scroll down to explore.

Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Elijah-Craig
Elijah Craig

Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

As an entry point into the category, you can’t go wrong with the gift of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon. It’s traditional, it’s consistent, and it’s accessible at 94 proof. New drinkers will learn to appreciate bourbon’s classic flavors, while also training their palates to pick up some of Elijah Craig’s more nuanced notes.

Tasting Notes To Look For:

Hints of apples, dark winter spices, caramel, and lush vanilla mingle throughout the sip. There are signature warm spice and subtle smoke notes deep in this bourbon that are enticing and familiar.

Bottom Line:

This classic bourbon is rich and versatile. It works as a sipper, in a highball, or as the base for any whiskey cocktail. The bottle itself is sturdy and iconic in its own right, making a great bar cart centerpiece. It’s a perfect gift for Bourbon connoisseurs and casual whiskey fans alike.

Find a bottle of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon here.

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail Shaker
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Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

A stainless shaker gets the job done when someone is learning the cocktail game. It’s classic and sturdy (which is crucial for a tool that takes a beating from the ice shaking around inside of it).

The use of stainless steel also provides a non-reactive surface that’ll last a very long time. Trust us, those tin shakers you find for five bucks at the register at a liquor store will break sooner than anyone would expect. So make sure to get a proper, stainless steel shaker that will actually last. It’ll also look good on their bar and show that they’re serious about making real cocktails.

Find a stainless steel shaker here.

Cocktail Mixing Glass

EC Mixing Glass
Elijah Craig

Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

A great mixing glass is essential to learning how to stir up cocktails like the Sazerac, Manhattan, or Old Fashioned. This comes down to quality. You want to look for a crystal mixing glass since crystal is non-reactive. This will allow the gift recipient to mix, dilute, and chill their cocktails without imparting unwanted flavors from inferior glass. Plus, a crystal mixing glass always looks great as the centerpiece of any home bar.

Find a crystal cocktail mixing glass here.

Large Cube Ice Trays

Large Ice Cube
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Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

Ice is used for diluting and cooling bourbon pours and cocktails. If someone is pouring some Elijah Craig or an Elijah Craig cocktail into a rocks glass, they’ll want the ice to cool the drink without over-diluting it. For that, a lot less surface area is needed.

This is where large cubes come in (and why you see them at great whiskey bars these days). To make these large cubes at home, a silicone ice cube tray is necessary. Silicone will allow you to actually pop the ice from the tray without breaking it, making the whole process much easier.

Tovolo makes great silicone trays that are readily available.

Bar Tools

Bar Tools
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Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

Bar spoons, strainers, jiggers, juicers, muddlers, and bar knives are all tools someone will need to elevate their mixing game. The right tools help make cocktails look and taste better.

An actual bar spoon helps with both measuring smaller amounts (it’s a real measurement for cocktails) and stirring (obviously). A bar knife is a paring knife with two little prongs at the end of the blade which allows the mixer to spear pieces of fruit and place them in a glass without touching them. A hand juicer is clutch when you want to juice a lemon right into a bourbon sour. You see where we’re going here.

OXO makes a great line of stainless steel bar tools that’ll help any budding mixologist up their game.

Glasses

Cocktail Glass
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Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

The beauty of a good rocks glass is that it works for pretty much anything. You can chill it and pour a Manhattan into it if you don’t have cocktail glasses. You can load it with one of those big ice cubes and pour some bourbon right over it. You can top that up with a little fizzy water to make a bourbon highball (in a lowball glass). You can pour a small measure and nose it and taste it like a pro. It’s a universal glass and a welcome addition to any home bar.

Still, you don’t want anything too ostentatious. About ten to eleven ounces is ideal with a sturdy base and a thin bowl. Consider gifting a set of four glasses (or more if you think they’ll need them).

There are a lot of options out there but Reidel and Waterford are the top of the line.

Cocktail Mixers

EC Cocktail Mixer
Elijah Craig

Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

It takes time and repetition to master the art of crafting cocktails at home. It’s a truly enriching and valuable journey of discovery, and one of the best ways to start is with a cocktail kit or mix.

Mixes generally come with the bitters and sweeteners pre-measured so that all anyone has to do is follow some easy instructions to enjoy a delicious cocktail. A classic Old Fashioned mix or a Manhattan mix is a great gift for someone who wants to serve up a tasty cocktail but is only just starting.

Find some cocktail mixers here.

Change It Up: Rye Whiskey

Elijah Craig Rye
Elijah Craig

Why This Is Perfect For A Bourbon Beginner:

This is the perfect gateway rye for the bourbon drinker who’s looking for what’s next. The mash bill (recipe) has a very low rye grain component with plenty of corn. That means it will expand the bourbon drinker’s palate without feeling completely foreign. Rye, like bourbon, is pretty strict on its rules. The main difference is that rye has to be made with at least 51 percent rye grains in the mash bill, whereas bourbon needs at least 51 percent corn. With lots of corn in this rye’s mash, Elijah Craig Straight Rye feels like a real stepping stone between the two styles.

Tasting Notes To Look For:

There’s a clear spice that leans into dried chilis and hot cinnamon, which is tempered by the smoother and sweeter notes from the corn and wood. You’ll find vanilla and sweet honey mellowing all that spice pretty quickly.

Bottom Line:

While this whiskey has slightly limited availability, it’s still widely available and very well priced. It’s a great “next-step” whiskey for anyone really getting into mixing their own cocktails at home. Urge them to try it in a Manhattan! Just make sure that they make you one too. After all, a well-selected gift deserves to be shared this season.

Find a bottle of Elijah Craig Rye here.

Elijah Craig® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Bardstown, KY 47% Alc./Vol. © 2021. Think Wisely. Drink Wisely.

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