What better gift is there than a bottle of booze? Not only will your giftee think you’re incredibly sophisticated, chances are he’ll let you drink a good amount of it before he realizes his terrible mistake. What’s the best booze to put under the tree this Christmas season? Of course you want to offer something a little unusual — something that your buddy couldn’t pick up himself on a routine trip to the grocery store, at least — but above all it has to be good. Here are my picks for the absolute best booze to give for 2008, split up by type (and with at least a few good, affordable options for the budget-conscious).
Bourbon – Eagle Rare 17 Year Old (2008 Edition) – $65 – An awesomely sweet bourbon that’s just the right age. Jump on this near-perfect spirit for yourself, too. For a bit more check out Four Roses Mariage Collection, though it can be tough to find. At just $40, Basil Hayden’s is always a worthy present that won’t break the bank and is on just about every liquor store shelf.
Scotch – Highland Park 18 Year Old – $100 – Yeah, it’s expensive, but the quality is second to none — and other top picks released this year, like Glenlivet XXV, run twice as much money or more. HP18 is generally accessible in the market, and it’s sure to liven up any holiday gathering.
Absinthe – Obsello – $54 – The best absinthe on the market today is also one of the cheapest. This Spanish number is suitable for absinthe newcomers and veterans alike; it goes down easy while still offering complex, intricate herbal flavors. The new Pernod is also worth a look.
Gin – Whitley Neill – $30 – Some good gin to be found in 2008, but I like the African genesis story behind this unusual gin from Whitley Neill the best. Bluecoat‘s also good. Both are pretty widely available and will make any G&T fan perk up.
Vodka – Xellent – $40 – If you must give someone vodka this year (and really, I beg you to think a little more creatively), try this strikingly-bottled vodka from Switzerland.
Rum – Rhum Clement Cuvee Homere – $85 – So many good rums out this year, but the Cuvee Homere Clement is too good not to recommend, and the bottle design alone makes it absolutely perfect for gift-giving. Hard to go wrong in this category though, with Zacapa, Oronoco, and Atlantico all good alternatives. Click the “rum” button at right for even more ideas.
Brandy – Delamain Extra de Grande Champagne – $399 – Didn’t try many brandies this year, but this number from Delamain was easily the best of them, among the top spirits I’ve ever had. Delamain also has a gift box of three of its cognacs in mini-bottles that would be a great gift.
Liqueur – Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur – $32 – Many iffy liqueurs came out this year, but Canton is an exception, by far the most intriguing of the category. You can add a few drops to just about any cocktail recipe and discover something new, and giftees will absolutely adore the packaging even if they never open it. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is another winning concoction that everyone totally loves.