You know that bottle that doesn’t come out very often, but when it does, people fondle it like a first-edition Hemingway and groan demonstratively when it first hits their lips?
That bottle is not the product of some random choice. It’s logical. The fruit of much careful research and possibly more ducats than you typically like to spend on a 750ml of hooch. But because you are a gracious and slightly vain host, you break it out come the holidays.
We like to call it the PDM bottle: Please Don’t Mix. Just unscrew, sniff and pour.
Below, five bottles at a range of price points that call for just that.
Lost Spirits Navy Strength Rum
Lost Spirits is up to some groundbreaking work in California. In a nutshell: these guys are using science to amplify the flavors of rum and drastically cut down the aging process. Navy Strength is a powerful, overproofed rum made from Grade A molasses, evaporated cane juice and water, then aged in American oak casks seasoned with Oloroso Sherry. The result is an intense but sippable 136-proof rum with intense wood and caramel notes followed by tropical fruit.
Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio Cask Finish Series
Mezcal. Also known as tequila’s scruffy little brother. Del Maguey’s special-edition, single-village mezcal from San Luis Del Rio was aged for approximately four months in Stitzel Weller Wheated Bourbon barrels that previously held Pappy Van Winkle for 20 years. The final product is all smoke on smoke, with subtle woody notes that shine through for a mezcal meant to be sipped, not shot.
Amaro’s much better on its own — don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. This is especially true after a heavy meal. Cynar 70 is basically the original Cynar formula, doubled. The spirit is energetically bitter as one would with expect, with lots of focus on cocoa and earthy botanicals.
Laphroaig 15 Year Old
Guess who’s turning 200 this year? The venerable Scottish distillery will celebrate by bringing back its beloved 15-year-old malt scotch whisky, an ideal solo sipper for warm evenings indoors. Smoother and robust than Laphroaig’s 10-year expression, the 15 is marked by a body of caramel and honey rounded out with hints of smoke and tobacco.
Russell’s Reserve 1998
Wild Turkey’s most expensive and rarest bottle to date is aged 15 years. Only 2,070 bottles released, so this one will be a bit harder to find, but if you’re able to get your paws on some, you’ll be rewarded with a cask-strength yet approachable bourbon that delivers heavy notes of smoked fruit and cedar. If you’re looking for something more attainable, stick to Russell’s Reserve line and pick up a bottle of the Single Barrel Rye.