Late autumn is the time of year when producers debut their latest spirits. F&W finds the best of the bunch and shares other must-have unique gifts for dedicated amateur mixologists.
Unique Gift Ideas: Winter Whiskeys
The Glenrothes Alba Reserve. Photo courtesy of BB&R Spirits Limited.
We narrowed more than a dozen new whiskeys down to these four great choices. To learn more about the distilleries that made them, check out Dave Broom's terrific new World Atlas of Whisky ($30; amazon.com).
The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask ($60)
Aged in rum casks, this new Balvenie expression stands out for its mellow texture and toffee-malt notes.
The Glenrothes Alba Reserve ($63)
This appealingly sweet single-malt Scotch is rich without being weighty. And it's certified kosher.
Compass Box Whisky Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary ($100)
A blend of French oakfinished Highland and peaty Islay single malts.
The Black Grouse ($27)
Makers of The Famous Grouse give their traditional spice-inflected style a distinctly smoky, peaty edge.
Unique Gift Ideas: 5 Spirits
© Frank Walsh.
Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka ($32) This small-batch spirit is handmade in custom German pot stills, a more artisanal method than the column stills typically used for vodka. The potatoes come from a Pennsylvania farm.
Courtesy of the Bitter Truth.
Gran Classico Bitter ($30) Mixologists are creating smart riffs on the Negroni using this newly imported, Campari-like Swiss aperitivo. It's a bittersweet infusion of bitter orange peel, gentian, rhubarb, herbs and roots.
Courtesy of Banks 5 Island Rum.
Banks 5 Island Rum ($28) Named after the explorer Sir Joseph Banks, this crisp, fragrant white rum is a blend from distilleries in five Caribbean locations: Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica, plus a "secret" one.
Courtesy of Last Exit LLC.
Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 ($35) Baker's-grade rye is used in this smooth, lightly peppery vodka, the latest in Belvedere's "intense" series. Its flavor fits its name, so serve it neat and icy cold.
Courtesy of EWG Spirits & Wine.
Excellia Añejo Tequila ($75) Noted tequila distiller Carlos Camarena and master Cognac distiller Jean Sebastien Robicquet teamed up for this peppery añejo that's aged in Cognac and Sauternes barrels.
Unique Gift Ideas: Mixologist's Favorites
© Noah Kalina.
As managing partner of New York's PDT and deputy editor of F&W Cocktails 2010, Jim Meehan test-drives every new mixology ingredient and tool. Here, his new favorites.
Averell Damson Gin ($33)
"Damson plum gin is an English classic, but it's often very sweet. Averell keeps the gin flavor instead of burying it in sugary fruit." drinkupny.com.
Japanese-style Jigger ($11)
"These measuring tools are functional and beautiful, like Japanese jiggers, but they have US increments." cocktailkingdom.com.
Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters ($18)
"I love this brand of chocolate bitters for tequila cocktails, but it also works well with rum and whiskey drinks." cocktailkingdom.com.
Unique Gift Ideas: Itty Bitty Bitters
Courtesy of The Bitter Truth.
The Bitter Truth founders Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck made cocktail news a few years back with their exceptional bitters in flavors like celery and orange. Now they've released a travel pack of five mini bottles of their top blends in a nifty retro-styled box. $20; the-bitter-truth.com.