The 2022 Whisky Advocate Gift Guide
December 13, 2022 –––––– Ted Simmons
Shopping for your favorite whisky lover can be a tough mission even when you know their personal whisky preferences—especially if you’re looking to surprise them. Thus every year, we scour the planet to bring you some fun gift options to suit the whisky fan in your life.
We’ve included a few special bottles on this year’s list, but note that we recommend whiskies all year long, topped by our annual Top 20 list, which weighs quality, affordability, accessibility, and x-factor. You can also check out the magazine and website, where the Buying Guide offers scores and reviews. Each issue also our includes our Best Value, Editors’ Choice, and Collectible picks.
It’s a big whisky world out there. If you want to gift something other than whisky, or if your special someone keeps the whisky bar well-stocked on their own, consider these items and experiences this holiday season.
Whisky Gifts to Suit the Season
The 2022 Woodford Reserve Holiday Bottle
One fun route when picking out a whisky gift is to focus on holiday releases like this Woodford Reserve bottle ($50/1L). You don’t need to impress with your bottle hunting skills by tracking down something rare and expensive. Instead, stick to what works, but with a little holiday cheer tossed in. It’s the flagship Distiller’s Select bourbon, but wrapped in a seasonal bow. Or, create your own holiday label courtesy of Heaven Hill.
Mint Julep Tours Gift Certificate
This year, give the gift of an unforgettable Kentucky experience courtesy of Mint Julep Tours. Gift certificates can carry any value, though the 13 different experiences offered range in price from $85 to $299. There’s the Boozy Brunch & Bourbon Sunday, which includes a breakfast cocktail, and a tour and tasting at Kentucky Artisan Distillery–home of Jefferson’s bourbon–and Bulleit ($179 before tax). Or the Derby Week Best of Kentucky Tour ($299 before tax), which includes a visit to a horse farm, lunch, and a distillery tour.
If your whisky lover is the type to gather with friends for games and drams, why not combine the two as a gift idea? These whisky-themed games will let them test their whisky knowledge or simply feel closer to their favorite spirit. Prices range from $7 for a set of cards to $5,500 for a bourbon barrel chess set. Whisky is always more enjoyable when you share it, and these table games make having a good time a group effort.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lunar New Year Limited Edition Design
Brands often add artistry to their labels and bottle designs, and few are as beautiful as the annual Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lunar New Year Limited Edition ($275). This year’s celebrates the Year of the Rabbit, with a design by Shanghai-based designer Angel Chen. It’s still the same Blue Label blend, but if you know a Johnnie fan or somebody who appreciates both art and whisky, this bottle will look great on the home bar and make for great toasts.
Whisky Lover's 500-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
For puzzle fans, Ridley’s Games offers this 500-piece set ($18). The full image features a collection of whisky regions, cocktails, and ingredients, and doubles as a primer on distillation, cask types, and common whisky flavors. The finished puzzle fits a standard 22” x 28” frame and makes perfect art for a home whisky room or bar area.Photo by Jeff Harris
Whiskey Hot Sauce
Picking up one of these hot sauces ($5.25-$15) is a fun way to introduce a little whiskey flavor to any meal. Barrel-aging adds a sense of depth to these sauces from Elijah Craig, A. Smith Bowman, and Pappy Van Winkle. The Uncle Nearest Whiskey Smoked Ghost ($11) meanwhile, combines onions that have been roasted in whiskey and apple cider vinegar with dates and dried ghost peppers that were likewise soaked. All the sauces are quite different, so if your whiskey drinker is a hot sauce fanatic, consider grabbing a few and seeing which they like best.
Bourbon Barrel Jewelry
There’s no better way to keep whiskey close to your heart than with a necklace made from a bourbon barrel. The Mountain Range Bourbon Barrel Wood with Turquoise Stone Necklace ($120) is one of a few jewelry pieces including a charm bracelet and rings that are perfect for any whisky lover. For those who always look forward to whiskey time, you can’t go wrong with a bourbon barrel watch which we’ve suggested in a previous gift guide.Photo by Josh Ritchie
A Ticket to Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest
This year’s WhiskyFest calendar has come to a close, but we’re already looking ahead to the next Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest in Hollywood, Florida on Saturday, March 4. It’s a can’t-miss event for any cigar and whisky lover with a lineup of seminars, pairings, distillers and cigar makers, and more. Tickets range from $350 to $675 for the All-Access package, with an evening full of great cigars, whisky, food, and conversation.
Spirit of Speyside Gift Voucher
While we enjoy the comfort of a whisky at home, or even venturing out to a local distillery, there is true excitement for any whisky lover able to travel and taste. The 2023 Spirit of Speyside Festival will be held from April 26 to May 1 this year and takes place throughout Speyside, the largest whisky-producing region in Scotland. Tickets go live on January 27, though gift vouchers are available now.
Christmas Colored Glencairn Gift Set of 6
Glassware can seem like an obvious gift for the whisky drinker in your life, and we certainly appreciate engraved vessels that commemorate a special occasion or time, but as for basic bar needs, most dedicated sippers have their share of nosing and rocks glasses. What they likely don’t have is a holiday-themed set for festive flights and tastings. This 6-glass collection ($68) from Glencairn comes in opaque red, green, and white, hiding the color of the dram to make for a blind and more objective experience. When dinner wraps up and dessert comes out, they’ll reach for these to lift the holiday cheer even higher.
Whiskey-Infused Cakes and Pies
Red Truck Rural Bakery in Marshall, Virginia offers a variety of baked goods made with whiskey, all available to ship nationwide through Goldbelly. The Lexington Bourbon Cake ($46, pictured) is made with “top-shelf bourbon” and finished with a bourbon-honey glaze infused with ghost peppers. They also have the Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie ($40) and a new Applejack Butter Pecan Bundt Cake ($46) made with apple brandy from nearby Catoctin Creek Distillery. If the whisky lover in your life has a sweet tooth, send them one of these treats, or purchase a gift certificate and let them choose one for themselves.
Redbreast Bird Feeder Bottle
For the whiskey-loving bird watcher, Redbreast is offering the third edition of its bird feeder bottle ($125 including shipping to the U.S.), now in a red copper finish. Each bottle of Redbreast 12 year old comes with a casing that slides off and can be filled with bird food. There’s a charitable component, too, with proceeds from each sale going toward BirdLife International, a non-profit that protects birds and their habitats.
Bourbon Balls From Your Favorite Kentucky Distillery
Bourbon balls, the delicious treats made with chocolate, nuts, and whiskey, are the perfect pairing snack and you can make them yourself, or pick up ones featuring your favorite whiskey brand. Boxes from Buffalo Trace and Evan Williams range in size, from 4 to 32 pieces, and price, while Maker’s Mark offers chocolates of their own, including mint julep bourbon truffles and others made with its 46 bourbon. If you’re looking for additional chocolate ideas, last year we featured a few different sweets made with luxury whiskies like Macallan and Dalmore.
Maker’s Mark x The Endery Holiday Sweaters
Looking for the perfect gift for the sharp-dressed whisky liver in your life who embodies the holiday spirit? Thankfully, Maker’s Mark and knitwear brand The Endery have delivered three festive designs ($250). Sustainably made from 100% deadstock alpaca wool, each sweater features an embroidered Maker’s Mark SIV logo on the inside cuff. Help take this collaboration, and their holiday imbibing, to the next level by letting the whiskey dress the part as well. Maker’s has released some limited edition holiday packaging featuring similar patterns.