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The Edit December 11th, 2023

The Ultimate Gift Guide For The Whiskey Lover In Your Life

The Edit December 11th, 2023
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Best Whiskey Gifts For The Holidays

Before we get to what I consider to be the best whiskey gifts, let me just be honest about something. Okay, I haven’t counted — probably because I would be embarrassed by the number — but I’d wager there’s probably over 100 bottles of whiskey in my house. (To provide some context, my job working for Beam Suntory for over a decade is a major reason I’ve been fortunate enough to amass such a collection.)

With all this exceptional whiskey at hand, I’ve come to understand over the years the essentials helpful to best enjoy a beautiful whisky. So, this holiday season when you’re shopping for the whiskey lover in your life – even if that’s yourself – here are some suggestions for the best whiskey gifts I think will make that individual’s holiday merry and bright!

Nice Glassware

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Aside from the bottle, the most important element for a whiskey lover is a good set of glassware. The perfect glassware is really up to the individual. For the traditionalist, you can’t go wrong with a heavy-bottomed, rocks glass with a bit of pattern. (And I recommend opting for something crystal that will have more heft to it, although options from Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel are decent and a bit more budget friendly.) 

For a minimalist, go for something understated like a delicate, European-styled water glass with a minimal base. And for the more artistically inclined, browsing good vintage shops and coming up with an eclectic mix of different styles is a great option. 

For me, my go-to glassware is a set of diamond-patterned, crystal glasses like these from Fortnum & Mason which toe the line between delicate and masculine and provide an incredible refraction of the amber-colored whisky onto the tabletop through the glassware.

A Beautiful Decanter

Because this must-have is meant to be left out on display, it also can double a piece of art – so choose wisely! Similar to glassware, there are a bevy of incredibly beautiful decanters across different styles and price points to choose based on who you’re giving this to. That said, if you can spring for crystal, I would; pouring from a crystal decanter makes one feel like Winston Churchill, refined and powerful.

The only mandatory I have is to please – PLEASE – avoid any decanters that have that cheap, garish plastic coating on the closure which unforgivably destroys that magic tinkling of glass on glass as the decanter top is replaced. (You usually find this “cheap” variety as a suggestion for personalized groomsman gifts – if it’s under $20, trust me, your buddy deserves more!)

My favorite decanter that I use was actually a vintage piece gifted to me by a family friend (and, like all great vintage pieces, it has a wonderful story – one that’s so juicy, I can’t publish it here!). One that’s very similar is this the striking Remy Decanter from Ralph Lauren – the perfect start to a story of your own!

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A Proper Ice Mold

The only thing that can ruin a fantastic whisky in gorgeous glassware is sub-par ice. With the gift of a proper ice mold – one that allows you to produce crystal clear ice at home vs. those silicone trays of large cubes that just reproduce bigger cloudy freezer ice – you’ll guarantee your friend’s or loved one’s drinks will always be photogenic.

Whether you opt for cubes or spheres, just make sure they’re at least 1.5” or larger. Wintersmiths has some good options, but I’ve found True Cubes molds to be just as reliable, less expensive, and easier to use.

Cocktail Tools

While sipping whiskey neat or over one of those beautiful cubes from the mold you gave your friend is great, any true whiskey lover will also enjoy mixing it up (no pun intended) with whiskey-based cocktails. To craft these expertly at home, there are a handful of go-to tools and no better place to procure them than Cocktail Kingdom, which sells the same high-quality, well-crafted tools preferred by the country’s best bartenders to consumers as well. To make the most popular whiskey cocktails – usually stirred in a mixing glass and then served up (strained, no ice) or down (strained over ice) – here’s a good list of must-haves:

Yarai Mixing Glass

The subtle ornamentation on the glass provides a nice aesthetic touch, especially as the cocktail is being built in the glass and stirred.

Japanese-Style or Leopold Jigger

Both options are stunning and equally ergonomic to use – the toughest decision will be what finish to choose!

Teardrop Barspoon

The weighted “teardrop” end of the spoon provides a great counterbalance as you’re stirring down your cocktails and is beautiful to use, especially if you opt for the extra-long version that will make the recipient look like a true expert – just be sure to match the same tone of finish that you choose for the jigger!

Hawthorne Strainer

Purists will say that you should use a julep strainer with a mixing glass, but frankly I find a julep strainer hard to use one-handed whereas the Hawthorne strainer, with its flexible wire coil that provides a snug fit onto the mixing glass, is a breeze to use one-handed.

“Perfect Pour” Pewter Flask

We conceived of our signature HSS flask to be able to hold and transport “the perfect pour” – two ounces of your very best stuff. Simple, classic and elegant. This is the flask you bring with you in your briefcase on a daylong business trip to the city. Take it out as you recline in your train seat during your commute home and reward yourself after a hard day’s work. And because it holds just two ounces, it’s TSA-friendly and can be easily be brought onto a plane.

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Smoking Cloche

While this may bend the definition of “essential,” you can’t beat the cocktail theater this smoking cloche provides – and what are the holidays without some theater? This bar addition is equal parts functional as it is emotional, imparting undeniable smoky aromatics to the stiff whiskey cocktail of your choice while providing an arresting presentation that verges on the experiential when the cloche is lifted and the smoke released (not to mention a built-in scent diffuser). 

It also seems to me that a smoked cocktail has more viscosity to it (like one that uses a milk-washed whiskey), as if the smoky vapors are able to permeate the surface of your cocktail. Whether this is scientifically possible or just a placebo of my imagination isn’t really a concern of mine – I just know the person on your list will be too busy enjoying the multi-sensory experience of a smoked cocktail to worry.

Obviously, Whiskey Is One Of The Best Whiskey Gifts

Amidst all these gift suggestions for your recipient, though, let’s not forget what they love in the first place – the whiskey. Across different taste buds and budgets, availability, regional whiskey preferences and preferred drinking styles, no single bottle will be right for everyone. Instead, here’s a list of some of my favorites across different categories and price points that I think will bring holiday cheer to anyone’s bar.

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Everyday Go-To

This amped up version of the distillery’s classic bourbon finished with French oak is the perfect “sweet spot” bottle to play well anywhere, with a long-enough finish that’s great for sipping neat and a strong-enough proof that stands up well in any classic bourbon cocktail.

Something Special

For something a little more unique and limited, I like this high-proof expression from Peerless that comes in a quirky bottle and that’s offers a contradiction of light floral and fruit notes offset by cedar and spiced oak.

A fine bottle of scotch makes is one of the best whiskey gifts.

Something Special From Across The Pond

As its name suggests, The Dalmore’s Cigar Malt Reserve is the perfect accompaniment to a fine cigar though you can certainly partake without a cigar as well. This is an exquisite Highland Single Malt that’s matured in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, Cabernet Sauvignon barriques, and Matusalem Oloroso Sherry Casks. Complex and satisfying, you’ll pick up notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and red fruits, on the nose; tropical fruits, banana toffee, and vanilla ice cream on the palate; finishing with notes of orange zest, dark chocolate, and crushed spices.

Something Special From Across The Other Pond

In today’s market obsessed with Japanese whisky, these expressions can be trickier to track down but well worth-it as the well-initiated know well. The Japanese are unrivaled at the artistry of crafting superbly-balanced yet complex whiskies and Hibiki Harmony – as the name suggests – is one of the best examples, not to mention one of the spirit industry’s most stunning bottles that features 24 facets to represent the 24 traditional seasons in Japan.

The Unicorn

Full disclosure: I am supremely biased with this choice as I was lucky enough to be a part of its inaugural launch earlier this year. That said, don’t take it from me. Take a look at Fred Minnick, arguably the nation’s most influential whisky critic, verge on the holy when he tastes this whiskey for the first time (cue up to the 14:07 mark) or the likes of Food & Wine or Robb Report. This whisky, simply put, is sublime. The problem is that you’re really going to have to love this recipient to justify springing for this bottle.

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The Bottom Line

As cheesy as it may be, I believe in the cliché (sometimes…in certain occasions…especially when the gift is well-chosen, ahem) that a gift giver can experience as much – if not more – joy than the gift receiver. So this holiday season, I’m hoping that if you have a friend or loved one that feels “some type of way” about whiskey, this best whiskey gifts list helps make both your holiday dreams come true.

Stylishly Yours,
David Reardon - He Spoke Style

David Reardon

Born and raised in Chicago, David is a romantic who is fulfilled by connecting with others on how amazing life can be. He is the Global Senior Brand Manager for Maker’s Mark which, is essentially, his dream job. His role allows him to work with the founding family to launch innovations and connect with consumers globally. Men’s style is his passion and the closest he feels to being an artist. The confidence that comes with dressing with style and thoughtfulness drives him. He still lives in Chicago with his incredible wife, Tara, and his two amazing children, Emma and Noah, who mean everything in the world to him.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Photography & Videography by Rob McIver

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