What Whiskeys Bourbon Review Writers Actually Want for the Holidays

Holiday Gift Wishes
Holiday Gift Wishes

The holidays are nearing a close, and after weeks of writing, reading, and editing gift guides, we were curious what our writers really wanted for the holidays.

Whiskey writers get free booze year round—one of the few perks of the job—and so sometimes their lists don’t look like everyone else’s.

Here’s a compendium of the whiskey wishlist holiday hopes for some of The Bourbon Review’s best writers and longtime contributors, in case you want to thank them for all their hard work.

Steve Coomes: William Heavenhill 13

For bourbon and ham expert Steve Coomes, there’s one simple answer: William Heavenhill 13-Year-Old BIB. “It’s everything I want a bourbon to be: mature, full-bodied with balanced fruit and oak and delivered at a solid, spicy proof,” says Coomes. “Its lone drawback is the $179.99 price—it’s a steep ask.”

Maggie Kimberl: Take Me on an Adventure

Louisville-based writer and editor Maggie Kimberl took her ask in a different direction this year. Rather than put specific names of bottles on a list, she wants a personal touch. “For a gift this year, I want something you, the gifter, is excited about. I want to hear why you are excited about it,” Kimberl explains, “the journey that got you excited about it, and why you think I would like it. Is it a bottle from a distillery near you that I might not have heard of yet? Is it a private barrel selection that your group or organization did? Instead of coveting particular bottles, I want to see someone’s face light up when they tell me about their own whiskey journey. But if you have it laying around,” she concedes, she’ll settle for “a 12 year Van Winkle Rye—not even I can get those.”

Kate Dingwall Stranahan’s Sherry Cask

Canadian correspondent Kate Dingwall went beyond corn for her American whiskey pick. She’s all about Stranahan’s Sherry Cask. “For backstory, the brand has been noticeably absent from this side of the [Canadian] border for as long as I can remember. I finally got my hands on my first Stranahan’s bottle, and well, now I’m a Canadian wishing for snowflakes. I’m aware of how tough it is to catch some of their releases, so I’d settle for the Sherry Cask: 4-year-old American single malt aged in 40-year-old Oloroso casks. Pretty please?”

Brad Japhe: Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat

Brad Japhe is hoping to end the holidays with a yet-off-the-radar Buffalo Trace gem. “We all know full well about Buffalo Trace’s wheated mash bill,” he explains, “But the very same juice that launched a 1,000 percent markup on all things Pappy and Weller went relatively unnoticed when it first appeared this spring wearing a ‘kosher’ label. Beyond the grain, this one hits a sweet spot in terms of age (around 7-8 years) and proof (94), equalling a genuine steal at $40 a bottle. The fact that it’s now regularly fetching $100 above SRP, however, is nothing short of a shanda.”

Aaron Goldfarb: Your Local Craft Distiller

Representing the “has tried everything” club is Aaron Goldfarb. He has a couple of strategies this time of year. “I’ll tell people “get me a barrel pick from your local store.” That’s always appreciated.” Goldfarb, who also mentioned that he’s not going to turn down Old Forester 150th, says, “Specifically though, I will take your favorite local craft whiskey. Even though it’ll often be bad, it’s still good to learn what’s out there.”

Jared Ranahan: Whistle Pig Boss Hog Samurai Scientist

In all caps, travel and drinks writer Jared Ranahan said what he wants for the holidays is Whistle Pig’s “THE BOSS HOG 六: THE SAMURAI SCIENTIST,” last year’s Boss Hog release. “It has this earthy and rich sweetness on the nose,” explains Ranahan, “and the Japanese Umeshu cask finish imparts some great plum notes that linger on the palate. Also,” he adds, “the bottle stopper is so beautifully crafted. They’re really doing New England proud!”

Gabrielle Nicole Pharms: Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year

Going for the big bottle this year, whiskey writer Gabrielle Pharms wants to see that familiar Van Winkle label with a bow tied around it. “Complex, elegant, and rich are the words used to describe this bourbon,” she explains, adding that “apparently, the perfect dram does exist. In fact, starting at over $2,200, I could own this bottle of beloved bourbon. However, I’ll settle for a tasting of it neat to celebrate life and surviving one wild ride of a year! Hint, hint.”

Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.