Giving bourbon as a gift? Here are 3 of the best, according to an expert

A glass of bourbon in a holiday setting

A good bourbon speaks to the holiday spirit.

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For a spirit that dates to the 1700s, bourbon is sure having a moment.

Sales are soaring. Production is surging. And travelers are flocking to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which this year expects to draw more than 2.1 million visitors, surpassing the record the destination set in 2022.

Not bad for a beverage that began its life as humble moonshine. These days, bourbon is spirit of a thousand faces, with a profile and price point fit for almost everyone.

Maybe you’ve got a bourbon-lover in your life. Perhaps you’re looking for a seasonal gift.

Here are three of my favorites, one per category — affordable, mid-priced, and splurge — just in time for the holidays.


Buffalo Trace, $36.99

This Frankfort, KY-based distillery has been producing top-notch bourbon for more than 200 years. A blend of corn, rye and malted barley in charred American oak makes it as easy on the palate as it is on the wallet.

glass of bourbon
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Savage & Cooke’s “Guero” Reserve 17 year, $189.99 

Owner Dave Phinney and master distiller Jordan Via come out swinging with this 108-proof bourbon, which is complex and rich with lots of baking spices on the nose. The 17 year is a slam dunk, but everything in their portfolio is worth a look.


Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year, $299 

By now, even non-spirit drinkers have heard of Pappy Van Winkle, the white whale of bourbons — with a cult following and a price to match. What’s the big deal? Enchanting notes of caramel and cream, for starters, along with traces of leather and oak. If you pick up hints of vanilla, maple and honey, I wouldn’t call you crazy, either. If you can find a bottle at retail, though, I would call you very lucky.

The bottle retails for $299, though on the secondary market, the price can rise to $2,500 and higher. 

(Shaun Lewis is a chef and sommelier who has created unique craft cocktails and culinary experiences for PGA Tour events and the Presidents Cup.)

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