A Holiday Bourbon Gift Guide from Phil Olson
Longman & Eagle‘s bar manager Phil Olson knows a thing or two (or a hundred) about whiskey. Phil was generous enough to share his expert knowledge to bring a little joy to the whiskey lover in your life this season.
“Every year around this time, I get asked for bourbon recommendations for gifts. I thought I’d put together my favorite picks or the whiskey fan in your life.”
For the person who missed their chance at Pappy:
Weller 12 Year
Often referred to as “Poor Man’s Pappy,” this wheated bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery is made from the same mash bill (or recipe) as current releases of Pappy Van Winkle. However, it is much more affordable and tends to be more readily available…although that is changing due to people writing about it, like I’m doing right now. (Whoops, sorry.)
For the person who thinks they have everything.
John E. Fitzgerald 20 Year
This extremely limited release is a bottling of some surviving Stitzel-Weller bourbon. Stitzel was the distillery operated by Pappy Van Winkle, and where he made the old Fitzgerald brand famous. This bottle is a 20 year old whiskey with heavy butterscotch, vanilla, and toffee notes. It’s an amazing whiskey in some pretty incredible packaging. If you can get ahold of it, this pick will blow away any whiskey collector.
For the office Secret Santa with a $25 limit:
Very Old Barton Bonded
One of the best bourbons available when it comes to quality versus price. Rich and full-flavored, it’s great in cocktails or as a sipper on it’s own.
For the person who thinks they know everything:
Recently re-released by Heaven Hill, this is essentially an older expression of Rittenhouse (already one of our faves), and has quickly become one of the staff favorites since it was released this past summer. Pikesville comes in at the agressive proof of 110 or 55% ABV. In spite of that high proof, it is surprisingly smooth. It has been stumping several of our best bartenders in blind tastings with it’s sweet profile and deceptively smooth finish.
For the person who maybe actually has or knows everything:
Instead of trying to impress them with a bottle of something they already have, why not find a way to help them enjoy their collection. They’d probably love to see some cool bar tools under the tree for their home bar. Cocktail Kingdom is a great resource for tools. Put together a kit for your whiskey fan to make a great old fashioned with a Yarai Mixing Glass, Teardrop Barspoon, Strainer and Bitters Bottle.
(Don’t forget: You can pop into the bar at Longman & Eagle anytime to try a pour of L&E’s vintage bottles – that would make for a nice holiday gift in and of itself!)