Junior Johnson Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine, $16
We know what you’re thinking … moonshine??? But this is not the white lightening you may be thinking of. This is a smooth, delicious creation made with real fruit that’s great for sipping or mixing. The cinnamon stick floating in it is a nice touch. Lily’s Bistro in particular loves this farm-to-table moonshine and has made a Harvest Moon Cocktail with it on their current menu. This is a great stocking stuffer, hostess gift and something to use to make a simple cocktail at a party that will impress your guests. You can’t beat the price.
Absolut Grapefruit, $16
Fresh fruity and light, mix this with some cranberry and a spicy gingerly and you’ll be in business. One major reason to include this on the list is it has a special sequined holiday packaging that sparkles from head to toe for the holidays and will look great on any bar and impress any gift recipient. It’s showy and flashy just like the holiday season.
New Riff Bourbon, $40
If you have a bourbon lover in your life, get this bottle. It’s a brand new item to the Ohio market and odds are they won’t have a bottle of this yet. New Riff, founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis, owner of The Party Source in Kentucky, has committed itself to quality of the highest order with this bourbon. For perhaps the first time since the inception of the Bottled in Bond Act in 1897, a Kentucky sour mash whiskey distillery has committed itself exclusively to that quality standard, the world’s highest. This is a new riff on an old tradition that comes in a very attractive bottle. If you want to be on top of one of the best new bourbons, this is a must buy.
Templeton Rye 6-year, $36
One of the very first rye whiskies ever made in the States started in a small town in Iowa. It has a long history and has just released a 6-year rye. In 2010, they set aside a few select barrels for extra aging. The release of Templeton Rye 6 marks their first new product in over a decade. Rye is the fastest growing whiskey category right now, so you’ll be on trend with this purchase.
High West Whiskey American Prairie Bourbon, $36
Park City, Utah, was the last state to allow distilled spirits. Thankfully they decided to make a change or we wouldn’t have all the wonderful products from Whiskey Advocate’s 2016 Distiller of the Year. At the time they wrote, “their success is not the reason for our recognition, but just one more result of what whiskey enthusiasts know to be true: High West delivers innovative and delicious whiskeys, expands the definition of what it is to be a distiller, and pioneered a successful new paradigm for craft distilling.” The cool thing about this particular bottle is that 10 percent of all bottle sales from American Prairie Bourbon go to the American Prairie Reserve, making this the perfect gift for the environmental whiskey drinker in your life.
Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur, $20
Want to look like a genius this holiday season or anytime really? Get a bottle of Ancho Reyes, a liqueur based on a 1927 recipe from Puebla, a town in Mexico known for its ancho chiles, which are dried and smoked poblanos. This is a super tasty addition to classic cocktails like the margarita, daiquiri or Paloma, or it can be used in a Manhattan or Old-Fashioned. You can pair it with a beer or use it as a cordial. It will provide warmth to any cocktail you decide to use it in this holiday season.
Cantera Negra Tequila Reposado, $60
Cantera Negra Tequila is made in small-batch quantities from hand-selected blue agaves grown in the valley regions of Jalisco, Mexico. This is a smooth, rich tequila. The Reposado is mid-priced and a very good way to go. There are certainly more inexpensive options out there, but in this case you get what you pay for.
Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, $40
In May, Food & Wine Magazine wrote about this gin, “there’s a reason that bartenders go nuts for the stuff. The array of botanicals is unmatched — from traditional juniper and lavender, to fresh citrus peel and lingonberry, to wildly unusual ingredients like spruce shoots and bramble leaves foraged from the Black Forest, where the distillery is located. The result is a gin that’s almost unbelievably complex, evolving over and over on the tongue, moving from bright citrus to delicate florals to gently spiced pepper.” It comes in a petite bottle that doesn’t look like it should warrant the price tag, but this is a bold, complicated and fabulous gin that’s worth considering.
Glenfiddich Fire and Cane, $50
The world’s most awarded single malt scotch whiskey has created a new smoky scotch whisky finished in rum barrels for a sweet finish. The fourth and newest concept in Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series is a bold option that’s a great value packaged in a gorgeous bottle. The smoky sweet combination is a winner. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select, $45
This is Jack Daniels like you’ve not tasted before. Single barrels are selected by the master distiller and a small team from barrels on the upper floors of select warehouses. Each Single Barrel bottle will display the rick number, barrel number, and bottling date. As is the nature of single barrel releases, expect variations in flavor. The one we tried was a smooth stand out.
This enticing blend of Italian Brandy, Mediterranean citrus and vanilla spice has been around for a long time, but don’t overlook this — especially during the holiday season. It has a storied history with a recipe that remains much the same as when it helped fuel the Italian Renaissance. This is a terrific mixer at the bar for the holidays and goes well with spirits as well as mixers like root beer or cream soda and even a spiked coffee.
Fernet Branca Menta, $24
Branca Menta is a digestif amaro invented in the mid 1960s, when young drinkers began asking for mint syrup in their Fernet Branca. When opera singer Maria Callas did this, Fernet Branca noticed and set out to create a mint version. This can be sipped on as a digestif, can be mixed with Coca-Cola or can be used in a cocktail. Right now it’s one of the ingredients in Wheat Penny’s winter cocktail “Yes Virginia” giving it a fresh, minty taste.
Extra Christmas Credit:
Calumet Farm 12-year Single Rack Black, $99
The price tag means this is only for the most special person on your list. That or you are one heck of a gift giver. This is a great bourbon in a gorgeous bottle. Distilled by the owner of Churchill Downs and plucked from barrels in the best spot in the rack house, this is a small batch bourbon that is a very special find. The extra Christmas Credit applies whether you buy this for yourself or someone else. After all, sometimes the best gifts are the ones we keep to enjoy.
Contact this reporter at email@example.com