Eat, drink, be merry and drink! Here are some gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for uncle or an answer to what to bring to an approaching Christmas party. It is far from a comprehensive list of liquors, but these suggestions should be welcomed by anyone who is not on a temperance council, and they shouldn't empty the wallet.
Whiskey (blended): The so-called brown liquors are very popular right now, and not just because of the season. Any one of them would make a hipster present. Take the Tuthilltown New York Whiskey, for example. This is the distillery's house specialty. Each one-off batch is made from a blend of local grains and the barrels used are specifically chosen by the distiller. Each bottle is hand-capped and sealed, and the label comes with a handwritten date. This attention to detail in a present will make the recipient feel quite special.
Rum: Barbancourt five-star rum. Not only is this rum — distilled from pure cane sugar juice rather than molasses — one of the best tasting rums you can buy, but the purchase will also salve your social conscience. Barbancourt originates from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is no good reason for a country a one-hour flight from Miami to be in such poverty. Buy a bottle of their rum. If you are feeling especially beneficent this holiday season, spring for the Barbancourt Reserve du Domaine, aged for fifteen years. And with the gift, you can then rant about the inadequacies of U.S. foreign policy.
Bourbon: Bourbon is the most fashionable of the so-called cold weather spirits right now. Kentucky's Buffalo Trace is a good choice for a gift. Its distillery won Whiskey Magazine's Distillery of the Year for three years running — 2005 to 2007. Like the label. Love the taste.
Scotch: I'm not much of a Scotch drinker. I can't think of another beverage for which to be called medicinal is a good thing. As far as gestures go, I hesitate to go into an arena that encourages such fanaticism. It is hard to give the gift of Scotch to a Scotch drinker. There's such room for criticism. For example, you can never give a blended Scotch like Chivas Regal to a single malt collector. Some possibilities: you could find the scotch with the longest, most unpronounceable name. Or you could bring a bottle of Oban. It falls right in the middle between dry, peaty, smoky Scotch and the sweeter, milder sort. It comes from a tiny distillery in a tiny town so it's a little pricey, around $55 a bottle. It's for a favorite uncle. Or aunt. And it's pronounceable.