The holidays, as you are likely aware, can be extremely expensive. One place you can save, while in no way skimping on quality, is in your choice of whisk(e)y to bring to your holiday party. We’ve chosen five bottles, all of them under $50, that we would be proud to bring to any gathering at any time of year. From Scotch and bourbon to Irish and rye…whatever your preference, we’ve got you covered.
In partnership with Tullibardine
A great, crowd-pleasing Scotch under $50? It can be done. If your guests are unfamiliar with Tullibardine, wow them with this: The distillery’s history dates back to 1488 when King James IV stopped by on his return from his coronation in 1488 to buy beer. That’s the first public purchase of beer ever recorded in Scotland, and hence the “1488” on the bottle. Fast forward to 1947 and that brewery was turned into a distillery, and today you have this affordably delicious single malt, matured in first-fill, ex-bourbon barrels. Tullibardine is one of a small number of distillers in Scotland where all processing involved in the production of their single malt whisky takes place on-site, bar malting, to ensure each whisky created meets certain quality standards. Featuring a golden hue, you’ll find plenty of malt, vanilla and chocolate on the nose. Those notes continue on the palate, where a wonderful fruitiness (think baked apples), caramel, honey, some modest wood spice and sweeter marmalade notes take hold. Bonus: This one’s a U.S. exclusive.
When it comes to bourbon, you’ve got a whole lot of really great options under $50, from old standbys like Buffalo Trace and Four Roses Small Batch to relative newcomers like Pinhook and Penelope. Right now, though, we’re particularly fond of Heaven Hill’s Bottled in Bond offering, which comes in right at $50 (here in NYC, anyway). Like many of Heaven Hill’s products, it’s got the signature nutty note that is admittedly an acquired taste, but it’s also got an unmistakable blast of baking spices (heavy on cinnamon) that feels right for the season. It’s a handsome bottle, not super high-proof, and it’s not gonna break the bank. We say get one to bring to the party and one to keep on your shelf at home.
First, there are no cigars or tobacco in the making of Wheel Horse’s excellent new release. “Cigar cut” or “cigar blend” are historical but not officially defined terms that tend to mean a combination of different barrel finishes. For this Western Kentucky distillery, that means bourbon aged over four years in its original oak barrels and then finished in a combination of Sherry, Port and Armagnac casks for approximately six to eight months. The barrels were then married and the whiskey was bottled at 101 proof, non-chill filtered. It’s delicious and complex … and if it’s too complex for you or you can’t find it online or in stores, the distillery also makes a 101-proof bourbon that’s equally great and under $40.
One of the great tragedies of drinking culture is that far too many people have made the mistake of only drinking Irish whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day. To be fair, things have been improving in this regard for the past few years, as brands in the space have gone to great lengths to get their messaging out, but there’s still a ways to go. So do your part and pick up a bottle of Sexton Single Malt, a longtime InsideHook favorite that comes in an absolutely show-stopping bottle and brings an extremely pleasant blend of chocolate and citrus on both the nose and the palate. That it can be found easily for right around $30 is just wild.
Not to be confused with its ubiquitous little brother, the classic Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, which we hope you have not consumed since college, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye is a sophisticated and complex pour that maintains some of No. 7’s characteristic banana notes, you also get a good deal of caramel and some general rye spiciness. We like it neat or with a little bit of water, but if you wanted to mix this into an Old Fashioned, we think you’d be pleased as well.
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