Drinkhacker’s 2012 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

Drinkhacker’s 2012 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

You’re full of meat and pie and perhaps meat pie. Now it’s time to think of your loved ones. Were they naughty? Nice? Do they deserve a fancy tipple when the giving season arrives?

For your most favored loved ones, Drinkhacker offers this collection of our favorite spirits from 2012, just a small sampling of the most worthy products on the market. Dig through the category of your choice for other ideas, and please chime in with your own gift ideas!

Also check out our 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 holiday guides.

Want our gift guide in glorious, full-color, printable-magazine style, complete with the original reviews for all of these products? YOU GOT IT!

four roses 2012 small batch limited editionBourbon – Four Roses Small Batch 2012 ($90) – This bad boy’s been topping “best of” lists all season, and for good reason. Perhaps the best Small Batch from 4R since the distillery re-entered the U.S. market, it’s a huge crowd pleaser. Can’t find it (don’t be surprised…), try Elijah Craig Single Barrel 20 Years Old ($130), Woodford Reserve’s unique Four Wood ($100), or Smooth Ambler Yearling ($62), straight outta West Virginia.

Scotch – The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year Old ($130) – I’d love to pick Glenfiddich 1974 or Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 3 here, but both are long gone from the market and were absurdly expensive, to boot. You’ll have better luck with the new, older DoubleWood — which, by the way, is replacing the highly-beloved Balvenie Peated Cask on the market — which is in wide distribution now. More ideas? I love Arran Malt’s The Devil’s Punch Bowl ($130) and Ardbeg Galileo ($95). But my real connoisseur’s pick is a stealthy one: Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood Cote Rotie Finish 1991 ($80).

greenhook ginGinGreenhook Gin ($33) – No knockouts this year, unlike 2011. Greenhook’s elderflower kick makes it a lot of fun. Cardinal ($29) is also a creamy, delicious gin. Update: And due to a tragic oversight, I failed to note the quality of The Botanist ($33).

VodkaSquare One Vodka ($33) – Rock solid, though hardly new to the market. Other excellent choices: Belvedere Intense Unfiltered ($40) or Bully Boy Vodka ($28).

Rum – Rhum J.M Rhum Vieux Agricole 1997 ($130) – My pick for the most exciting rum of 2012 isn’t sold in the country, but this vintage agricole from Rhum J.M makes an exquisite gift, too. Lots of great options out there for lower budgets, too, including Blackwell ($30), Ron Fortuna ($22), and Plantation 3 Stars ($24).

Brandy – Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac XO Imperial ($130) – There’s never much new brandy coming out in any given year, and the good stuff costs a pretty penny. At the top of the list for 2012 is this Armagnac, with Camus’ Extra Elegance ($395) close behind. For more affordable selections, check out Camus’ Ile de Re series.

Tequila – t1 Tequila Blanco Ultra-Fino ($40) – In a year of top tequila and absurdly expensive bottlings, these two affordable blancos stood out. t1 looks a little snazzier, if you’re giving a gift. The amazingly balanced Z Tequila Blanco ($30) will save you 10 bucks. Many excellent choices out there this year, as usual.

Liqueur – Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Ancienne Method ($25) – Turn the Grand Marnier fan in your household on to this, the best orange liqueur on the market and a pittance at just $25 a bottle. For a different fruit effect, check out Germain-Robin Pear de Pear ($24, 375ml), a spirit that will quickly make you forget about lackluster Poire Williams.

Need another custom gift idea? Drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll offer my best advice!

Looking to buy any of the above? Give our retail partners at Flaviar, Caskers, Total WineFrootbat, and Wine.com a try!

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Ed O'Connor on November 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for another year of great blogging, Chris.

  2. Zac on November 25, 2012 at 5:34 am

    What happened to the botanists gin? It’s both incredible and been reviewed this year (if I’m not mistaken it is also your highest rated gin of the year)

    Oh well, more for me I guess.

  3. Christopher Null on November 25, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Zac – absolutely busted. Botanist is indeed the highest-rated gin of the year. We checked it out in January and my search through the archives didn’t go back that far. Will amend!

  4. Aaron a.k.a. The Gin is In on November 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I mean, it was hard to compare to 2011’s gin crop where seemingly every week had another top notch gin coming out, I think that you overlooked New York Distilling’s Perry Tot and Captive Spirits’ Big Gin as among 2012’s best. Both are outstanding gins, but more of the traditional style than Greenhook and Cardinal [which I might just add, I agree are both great gins as well].

    Cheers, and as always, I enjoy your blog. Happy holidays and New year!

  5. Christopher Null on November 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Aaron – thanks for the note. I haven’t had either of those gins and will have to correct that! Thanks for the tips.

  6. Edoc on November 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

    The Botanist is my current favorite gin. With Remy-Cointreau’s recent acquisition of Bruichladdich (the distiller of The Botanist), I sure hope they don’t drop it from their list of spirits.

  7. Ed Fontein on December 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Drinkhacker is missing the boat on White Gold Russian vodka. Better than Hammer & Sickle! Please check out this very smooth & reasonably priced outstanding Russian vodka.

  8. Ed Fontein on December 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    How about a review on Third Shift Lager from MillerCoors? A very interesting new lager not bitter and brewed in San Antone.

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