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  • Writer's pictureEmily Duke Hargan

Merry Bourbon Holiday

What’s not to love about the quintessential American whiskey? Bourbon is an enduring favorite, a spirit that survived the years of Prohibition; survived the decades when most drinkers opted for Cosmos and tequila shots over classic whiskey; and has recently exploded in popularity, to such an extent that many distillers can’t keep up with the demand.

And because Bourbon is so popular, everyone nowadays seems to have an opinion about what brand is America’s favorite brown spirit. My best friend from home enjoys her summers in Charlevoix, MI sitting on the porch drinking Buffalo Trace with Vernors Ginger Soda. My husband prefers Maker’s Mark for its dependable consistency, and my boss’ go-to is either Buffalo Trace or Templeton Rye.

For me, I prefer Knob Creek Small Batch for everyday drinking or Angel’s Envy for a special occasion. And to make my favorite drink, the Old Fashioned, I like to use Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey.

So, everyone seems to have a favorite—but I like to think that there is an unlimited amount of fun to be had in finding your next "go-to" bottle. With the holidays just around the corner, now is a good time as any to stock up the bar with some new bottles. Here are some recommendations on finding your next “go-to” and making your holiday more merry:

Hudson Baby Bourbon—This hard-to-find bourbon is the first New York—aged whiskey to be made since the Prohibition. Made by the Tuthilltown Distillery, it’s a young bourbon (only aged 4 months) and it has a smokey caramel taste and is 100% corn.

Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea—This is a very interesting bourbon made in barrels that were put on a container ship and sent around the world to over 30 ports and crossed the equator 4 times. The idea being that as the contents of those barrels swirled and sloshed with the rocking waves, more liquid would come in contact with the sides of the casks. More contact, more character and depth of flavor.

John J. Bowman Single Barrel—One of the great

non-Kentucky bourbons, this Virginia native is a secret award-winner from A.Smith Bowman distillery in Fredericksburg. It has a hints of toffee, figs and almonds. Come visit us in DC and we’ll head down for a tour of the distillery!

Widow Jane 10 Year Straight Bourbon—Another New York bourbon, this time from Red Hook. This bourbon is proofed with pure limestone mineral water from the legendary Rosendale Mines (where half the cement used in the US came from).

And since it is the holidays, why not treat yourself to a real, honest-to-good bottle of hooch? Try one of these if you want to treat yourself to something special:

Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon—This bourbon is special even down to the bottle and is best drunk neat or on the rocks. You won’t regret adding this bottle to your collection.

Pappy Van Winkle Family ReserveConsidered by many to be the world’s finest Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle is so rare and so popular that there’s even a term for finding a bottle: “Pappy hunting”. But the challenge of sourcing a bottle—or paying around $100 for a pour in a bar—is worth the hype. I was lucky enough to enjoy a glass or two with friends a while back and it was literally the best few drinks I have ever had.

W.L. Weller 12 YearWhere many other bourbons use rye, W.L. Weller uses wheat. Weller himself developed this recipe, believing wheat produced a softer, sweeter flavor profile than rye’s typically spicy one. Weller 12 Year is another unique offering, as it is aged far longer than most wheated bourbons, making it especially smooth.

For your continued holiday drinking pleasure, I asked my good friend, Paul Pribaz, the co-author of Drinking with Patriots, for his favorite bourbon cocktail recipe. This craft cocktail is easy to mix and will make bourbon drinkers out of all your holiday guests.

Drinking with Patriots Holiday Cocktail

1.5 ounces bourbon (Paul recommends Larceny Bourbon)

1 ounce dry vermouth

.25 ounces amaro

.25 ounces maraschino liqueur

2 dashes angostura bitters

Garnish with cherry

Stay tuned for more ideas and free giveaways in future posts from “Drinking with Patriots”.


Still need some gift ideas for your favorite bourbon enthusiast?

Here's our top 5 favorite bourbon-inspired gifts any whiskey enthusiast would love:

The Bourbon Bible— A worthy addition to any bourbon lover's library, and honestly, I absolutely love this book. This guide explores the top 100 bourbons in the world, features classic cocktails, and has chapters on the history of bourbon.

Terrapin Ridge Farms Blueberry Bourbon Pecan Jam—This is is the kind of jam you just want to eat straight from the jar—or on your vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Bourbon and Whiskey Barrel Aged Coffee—Get your bourbon/coffee lover this awesome boxed set of Cooper's Cask coffee beans paired with Sons Of Liberty’s award winning whiskey and Thomas Tew Rum.

Mash & Grape's 3-Month Bourbon Subscription—Give the gift of a subscription to the world's best bourbons. Just like a wine club but BETTER because it is world class BOURBON.

Custom Private Tour of KY Bourbon CountryI can't personally vouch for Kentucky Bourbon Boys but a friend has recommended them. You can customize your location and choice of distilleries and this includes your own private coach and driver. In my opinion, this is the only way to experience Bourbon Country!

Enjoy finding your new "go-to" and have a Merry Bourbon Holiday!


Be Merry! Tune in now to our 'Tis the Season Playlist on Spotify.

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