Here are four great ideas for holiday gifts when good spirits are on the list, from American to Irish whiskeys, with an Italian mixed drink thrown in for good measure.
Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey
Three Swallow is a new variation from a venerable name in Irish whiskey. I am mostly a bourbon drinker, and have usually experienced Irish whiskey only as part of an Irish coffee. However, on first taste, I was completely hooked by Powers Three Swallow. The accessibility likely comes from the fact that Three Swallow is aged in barrels previously used for bourbon and then finished in sherry casks, adding an exciting character to the fruit and nut notes. I was delighted by the spicy sweetness that pervades, and the delicately rich finish from the sherry. This would make a great gift for any bourbon drinker who wants to try something that is at once new, yet familiar. I fully intend to seek out more.
This is a new product, and may be in limited availability. I found it at one Total Wine store here in the Bay Area for $38, or available to ship to at least 20 states, for $52 at Reserve Bar; so with a little diligence, you can probably find it near you as well.
Few Spirits American Whiskey
So, for the next two items, GeekDad Darren and I had a little impromptu tasting at a recent game night. We started with this new offering from the passionate distillers from Evanston, Illinois. Few’s American Whiskey is actually a blend of their bourbon and rye offerings, with a little extra special single malt thrown in. Both Darren and I were impressed with the spice and smoke. You can definitely get the aggressiveness of the rye, but there are layers of sweet and smokey flavor under that which can be savored for a long moment, before the pepper leaves you wanting more. If you, or someone you love, is a fan of spicier ryes and bourbons, or wants something special to make their Manhattans or boulevardiers out of, this would be a treat.
This is also a new product, so you might have to do some looking, or see if you can get it shipped to you. I found it available for shipping to NY, and IL, at Reserve Bar for $50.
Heaven’s Door 10-Year Bourbon
GeekDad Darren and I moved on to this sample, from the distillery that has partnered with legendary artist Bob Dylan. We sipped. Our eyes lost focus for a moment or three. Then we looked at each other, and went “whoa.” For my part, it felt like I was being lifted up on a dark wave of rich, complex flavors, like molasses and vanilla. After the bright daylight of the rye-forward Few, this was like drinking the night at a sultry club all done up in dark wood. Many times in my life, I’ve had a hard time finding the real payoff for paying more than the $30–$45 range for nice sipping bourbon; this is one of those times. This bourbon is a special experience, and would make a very special gift for a very special person.
Again, this is a relatively-recent offering, but seems to have good distribution. I was able to find it at my local Total Wine store for $120. That’s a big price, but I can honestly say it’s worth it. Wow.
St. Agrestis Negroni
This is an interesting change of pace from reviewing whiskeys. I’ve been a fan of bitters like Campari for a while, enjoying it mixed as in the negroni or boulevardier, or even just with club soda, as a very refreshing sip. Capitalizing on the popularity of the small-batch bitters coming out, St. Agrestis has taken their own version, the Inferno bitter, and paired it up with Greenhook American Dry Gin, and sweet vermouth, and bottled their own pre-mixed, ready-to-drink negronis. Bartles & James can eat their hearts out. If we could see a nationwide rage on bottled mixed cocktails like this, we’d all be in a better place. This is an excellent negroni, with the right parts of sweet and bitter that make for lots of “mmms” and “ahhs.”
As it’s coming from a smaller creator in NY, YMMV, but I was able to find them here in CA in a 4-pack for $24. Not cheap, but made with quality ingredients, and tremendously tasty and convenient.
Note: I received review samples of all these. Sometimes, running a blog has its rewards.