You can’t go wrong giving a whiskey lover a bottle for Christmas, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to find something nice. These five whiskeys under $50 will show that you didn’t just give booze because you couldn’t think of anything better. I included an array of styles to try to ensure there’s something for everyone. Keep in mind these are prices in Chicago, not MSRP, so your mileage may vary.
Ravenswood Rye Whiskey – $45
Journeyman Distillery Ravenswood Rye Whiskey
Rye whiskey is all the rage right now, and most people only know a few fingers worth of brands. Expand their horizons with this awesome rye whiskey from the small, craft Journeyman Distillery. They mill everything on site and make all organic spirits, if you’re into that sort of thing. More importantly, it’s delicious. The standard rye spiciness is a little more subtle in Ravenswood Rye, but it packs a ton of flavor making it perfect for sipping straight or mixing cocktails. $45
Knob Creek 9 Year Old – $25
Knob Creek 9 Year Old Small Batch
Some people just want to keep it simple, so why seek out a $50 adventure when they won’t appreciate it any more than a great bourbon that costs $25? Knob Creek is perfect for this guy. It remains my house bourbon, and I give it to people every year at this time. To make yourself feel better about being boring, you can order your own custom label online for free. There’s even a specially designed one from Chef Michael Symon if they like to cook with bourbon. $25
Jameson 12 Year Old – $50
Jameson 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
On the other end of the creatures of habit spectrum, you have people that know what they like but still want something special once in awhile. Luckily everyone likes Jameson and most forget that they make amazing older spirits. Jameson 12-year-old is a huge upgrade from the standard blend you’re accustom to shooting at the bar. It isn’t as light and packs a lot more flavor but still retains that overall profile people know and love. It’s a great way to keep it familiar but give someone an Irish whiskey that’s truly special. $50
Jura 10 Year – $40
Jura 10 Year
People often turn to Scotland for whisky gifts, but don’t go off the deep end if you aren’t sure the recipient drinks a lot of scotch. Peat can be a big turn off for some, and there’s nothing worse than an undrunk bottle. Jura 10 Year Single Malt is perfect for beginners and vets alike. It’s unpeated and has fruit up front and honey on the back, making it smooth and easy to drink. It’s aged in used-bourbon barrels so it will have a bit of familiarity to your average whiskey drinker here in the States. $45
Laphroaig 10 Year Old – $45
Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Malt
This scotch is for the guy who loves peat and smoke because there’s a ton of it. Islay is notorious for their campfiresque whiskys and no one does it better than Laphroaig. The peat in the 10-Year hits right up front and lasts for days. This is no one trick pony though. There’s a ton of different flavors in the bottle, meaning this never becomes a boring dram. Tell whatever lucky person is receiving this masterpiece that they should try it then add a few drops of water and try it again. BAM! It’s like you gave them two entirely different yet equally amazing spirits.