When you come in from the cold this time of year, nothing beats a roaring fireplace for thawing your frosty countenance. Well, nothing but lovingly crafted brown spirits, that is. We’ve spent the past month sampling several bottles to determine what you should stock your bar with/bring to holiday parties. And we can heartily recommend these 16 warm, wonderful whiskeys.
Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey The world’s oldest distillery has been at it for 255 years. And this smooth, smoky blend goes over bloody good by itself, with a drop of water or as the active ingredient in a cocktail or Irish coffee.
TAP 357 Canadian Maple Rye Whisky Some of the best maple syrup hails from Quebec, especially when it’s infused in TAP 357. This stuff tastes like a hot breakfast and is perfect for that flask you pass around on chilly ski lifts.
Knob Creek Aged a long nine years, this woody, full-bodied small-batch Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey regularly cleans up at the San Francisco World Spirits Competitions. Drink it from a snifter or lowball glass with no ice.
The Dalmore 15 When this humble scribe handed his father a glass at Thanksgiving, the old man said, “I think Scotch is an acquired taste.” Then he took a sip and said, “And I think I just acquired it.” Yes, The Dalmore 15 is that good.
Tullamore D.E.W. 10-Year-Old Single Malt There’s a reason it just won Best Irish Whiskey at the New York International Spirits Competition. It’s the only Irish single malt to be matured in four different casks: bourbon, sherry, port and Madeira wine. Mmm…
Booker’s Created by Jim Beam grandson Booker Noe, this 128.5-proof beast of a bourbon whiskey isn’t for the weak. To appreciate its straight-from-the-barrel power, drink it neat, slow and far away from any candles.
Wild Turkey 101 We realize this strong spirit has been around for a while. But we kinda dig those Give ’em the Bird ads, its countless pop-culture cameos and the way it makes us feel like a Southern-fried badass.
George Dickel Rye Whisky You don’t have to own a fedora and worship Mad Men to reserve space in your liquor locker for Dickel’s new chilled-then-charcoal-filtered rye, but it doesn’t hurt. The fruity, spicy release makes for a damn good Manhattan.
Redbreast 12 Cask Strength Redbreast 12 Cask Strength kicked off 2012 by winning Whisky Advocate’s “Irish Whiskey of the Year.” With its bold, almost Scotch-like flavor, it deserves to end the year in your sipping glass.
Crown Royal Maple When we first tried Crown Royal Maple, we honestly had to resist the urge to pour it on some hot buttered waffles. Sweet yet spicy, it’s a superb shot for you and that snow bunny whose slopes you’re hoping to explore.
Alibi American Whiskey Introduced early this year, Alibi American Whiskey doesn’t mess around. It’s peppery on the front end, evaporates nicely on the throat and, as the name suggests, you can blame ill-advised actions on it. Need we say more?
Nikka Single Malt Yoichi 15 Years We must confess, we had our doubts about a whiskey hailing from a Japanese island (Hokkaido). But this single malt is smooth, smoky and spicy in equal parts. And now we must confess, we want more of it.
Johnnie Walker Double Black After a limited release last year, this blended Scotch got a wider U.S. release in 2012 due to popular demand. No wonder. DB is edgy, toasty, supremely satisfying. And when we brought it to a recent housewarming party, let’s just say it got the job done.
The Glenrothes 1995 Imagine spicy butterscotch in alcohol form and you’ll get close to the rich flavor of this 17-year-old spirit. It’s sweet enough to serve after dinner, when you’re already saying things you shouldn’t.
Gentleman Jack If you like Jack Daniel’s but are looking for something a little more refined, this is your Jack. It’s charcoal-mellowed twice for a silky finish that’ll get you where you need to go.
Dewar’s 12 Year Old Dewar’s embraces double-barrel aging, returning their Scotch to vintage oak casks after blending to further mature it. That’s a fun fact to drop on your friends while enjoying this award winner’s festive caramel taste.