Best Winter Whiskeys to Gift and Drink This Season

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
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Swaddling yourself in a blanket in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night after a crazy day of work is all well and good—but what’s missing from this almost-perfect scene? Winter whiskeys. Add an incomparable single malt, bourbon, rye, Japanese whisky, or Irish whiskey into the works, and now we’re talking. When the temperatures drop, the best winter whiskeys to gift and drink offer a particularly resonating nose-to-palate warmth.

Early winter is the right time to stock up on the best cold-season whiskeys—which run the gamut from sweet bourbons and sherry-centric single malts to spicy ryes and everything in between. Here are 20 of the best winter whiskeys to gift and drink between now and spring.

Best Winter Whiskeys to Gift and Drink This Season

A bottle of J. Rieger Straight Rye Whiskey Bottled in Bond
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1. J. Rieger Straight Rye Whiskey Bottled in Bond

This bottled-in-bond rye whiskey was one of the pre-prohibition-style whiskeys brought back when the historic distillery was re-founded back in 2014. Distilled, aged for a minimum of six years, and bottled on-site at the Kansas City distillery, it’s known for its bold flavor profile of toasted vanilla beans, chocolate fudge, dried fruits, and wintry spices. At 100-proof, it’s a bold sipper sure to warm you up this winter season.

[$46 for a 750ml bottle; jriegerco.com]

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A bottle of Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon
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2. Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon

A few years ago, this was one of the most hyped whiskeys in the world and fairly difficult to find. It’s much easier to locate today, but the quality that made it so popular remains. Named for an Irish immigrant turned whiskey maker, it’s 100 proof and matured for a full 10 years in new charred American oak barrels. This results in a complex, nuanced whiskey with notes of clover honey, toasted vanilla beans, caramelized sugar, dried fruits, and oaky wood.

[$99.99 for a 750ml bottle; heavenhilldistillery.com]

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A bottle of Knappogue Castle 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey
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3. Knappogue Castle 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Named for an actual castle that was built in the 1400s, this highly complex Irish whiskey was first aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to sherry butts for the remaining two years. The different barrels impart various complex flavors including dried fruits, candied orange peels, dark chocolate, vanilla beans, butterscotch, and rich oak.

[$105 for a 750ml bottle; knappoguewhiskey.com]

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A bottle of Lagavulin 16 Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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4. Lagavulin 16 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

When it comes to flagship single malt Scotch whiskies, there are few as legendary as Lagavulin 16. Instead of opting for a 10- or 12-year-old single malt, the folks at the Islay-based distillery make this peat bomb. Matured for at least 16 years, this iconic whisky is known for its flavors of sea salt, toffee, vanilla, oak, dried orange peels, and robust peat smoke.

[$85 for a 750ml bottle; malts.com]

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A bottle of Great Jones Straight Bourbon
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5. Great Jones Straight Bourbon

If you’ve never heard of Great Jones Straight Bourbon, now’s the time to change that. This under-the-radar whiskey was matured for a minimum of four years in charred American oak casks. It’s made in small batches using corn, malted barley, and rye, all sourced from the distillery’s home state of New York. It’s loaded with warming sweet corn, vanilla, toffee, dried fruit, and gentle white pepper that’ll leave you craving more.

[$40 for a 750ml bottle; greatjonesdistillingco.com]

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A bottle of Aberlour A'Bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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6. Aberlour A’Bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Sherry matured (and finished) whisky is a big deal in Scotland, and one of the best is Aberlour A’Bunadh. This cask-strength single malt whisky was matured exclusively in ex-oloroso sherry casks. This results in a truly spectacular high-proof whisky with notes of candied orange peels, dried cherries, sweet sherry, vanilla, and oak. It’s warming, sweet, and highly memorable.

[$115 for a 750ml bottle; aberlour.com]

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A bottle of Tattersall Straight Rye Whiskey
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7. Tattersall Straight Rye Whiskey

This 100-proof straight rye whiskey is Minnesota through and through. The mash bill is 85% AC Hazlet rye and 15% malted rye, and both grains are sourced from the distiller’s friend’s farm in Cambridge, MN. This pot-still distilled rye whiskey was aged for at least two years and carries a flavor palate of maple candy, toasted vanilla beans, dried cherries, toffee, and cracked black pepper.

[$45 for a 750ml bottle; tattersalldistilling.com]

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A bottle of Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
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8. Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey

There’s a reason Redbreast 12 is one of the most respected Irish whiskeys on the market. This pot-still produced whiskey was made with a mash of malted and unmalted barley and matured in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The two kinds of wood intermingle and create a complex, rich flavor profile featuring hints of dried cherries, sweet sherry, vanilla beans, sticky toffee, and toasted oak. It’s sweet, mellow, and warming.

[$57.99 for a 750ml bottle; redbreastwhiskey.com]

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A bottle of Knob Creek 15 Year Bourbon
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9. Knob Creek 15 Year Bourbon

Part of the appeal of Knob Creek 15 is the fact it’s a limited release and, if you find yourself with a bottle, you’re a very lucky bourbon fan (or the person you’re giving it to is). As you can imagine, it’s matured for at least 15 years in new charred American oak barrels. This extended aging gives this unique whiskey a complex, balanced palate of dried fruits, butterscotch candy, orange peels, candied pecans, fresh leather, and charred wood.

[$199.99 for a 750ml bottle; knobcreek.com]

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A bottle of Woodinville Bourbon Finished in Port Casks
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10. Woodinville Bourbon Finished in Port Casks

Woodinville Straight Bourbon is already an epic whiskey, but this expression takes it one step further. It begins as a fully mature five-year-old straight bourbon that’s finished in ruby port barrels for another six months. The mix of charred oak and port wine-seasoned wood gives this unique whiskey hints of dried cherries, plums, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, and gentle spices.

[$48 for a 750ml bottle; woodinvillewhiskeyco.com]

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Bottle of Kilbeggan Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
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11. Kilbeggan Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

You don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy a fine glass of Irish whiskey. Kilbeggan Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is an all-winter long captivator. Double distilled in pot stills, its mash bill of malted barley, raw barley, and oats offers hints of vanilla beans, orange peel, mint, cinnamon, and a nice warming flavor that’s every sip as exceptional in early winter as it is in March.

[$49.99; kilbegganwhiskey.com]

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A bottle of The Dalmore 12 Year Sherry Cask Select whisky.
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12. The Dalmore 12-Year Sherry Cask Select

Producing nothing but award winners, The Dalmore makes a slew of whiskies perfect for winter. Our favorite is its 12-Year-Old Sherry Cask Select with flavors of almond cookies, fudge, Christmas spices, and a fruity backbone. Its mix of sweetness and warmth is irresistible.

[$79.99; thedalmore.com]

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Bottle of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
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13. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

While it’s hard to pick a Four Roses favorite, the best winter sipper by a nose from the famed Lawrenceburg, KY, distillery is its Small Batch Bourbon. This blend of six Four Roses bourbon recipes is aged between six and seven years in new charred American oak barrels before being bottled at 90 proof. The result is a mellow sipping whiskey with hints of dried cherries, wood char, and toffee.

[$29.99; fourrosesbourbon.com]

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Bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
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14. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

There’s a reason why Wild Turkey 101 and Rare Breed are top picks among bartenders and drinkers alike. They’re both high-proof, reasonably priced, high-quality whiskeys. While picking the better of the two is an endless debate, we’ll opt for the Rare Breed during the winter months. This 112.8-proof whiskey is a blend of bourbons aged between six and 12 years. The result is a bold, brash sipper with flavors of clover honey, vanilla beans, cinnamon sugar, butterscotch, and peppery spice.

[$45; wildturkeybourbon.com]

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Bottle of Michter’s US-1 Rye Whiskey
Michter’s US-1 Rye Whiskey Courtesy Image

15. Michter’s US-1 Rye Whiskey

Michter’s is such a legendary name in the bourbon world that it can be easy to overlook its superb rye offerings during the winter months. US-1 Rye Whiskey is made with sheared select rye before maturing in charred American oak barrels. The result is a spicy bold whiskey with hints of cinnamon, ginger, candied orange peels, toffee apples, and cracked black pepper.

[$48; michters.com]

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Bottle of GlenDronach 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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16. GlenDronach 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Sherry finishing and sherry aging are nothing new in the single malt Scotch world, but some distilleries are more masterful than others. One of the best (and reasonably priced) is GlenDronach 12 Year. Matured in both pedro ximenez and oloroso sherry casks, it’s known for its sweet, rich flavor with notes of raisins, dried cherries, sweet sherry, oaky wood, and buttery caramel.

[$69.99; glendronachdistillery.com]

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Craigellachie 23 Year single-malt Scotch

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Bottle of Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky
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17. Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky

First released in 2012, this single-grain, award-winning Japanese whisky gets its name from being distilled in the famous column-designed Coffey still. Aged in American oak barrels, it’s known for its smooth, sweet, rich flavor—highlighted by notes of caramel candy, almond cookies, toasted vanilla beans, and fruity flavor throughout.

[$72.99; nikka.com]

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Widow Jane The Vaults Bourbon
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18. Widow Jane The Vaults Bourbon

No one will fault you for simply grabbing a bottle of Widow Jane 10—but splurging on a bottle of Widow Jane The Vaults is the height of cold-weather comfort. This 99 proof bourbon is a blend of whiskeys aged between 15 and 17 years that are finished in Adirondack oak casks. The result is a memorable bourbon highlighted by notes of oaky wood, sticky toffee, cinnamon, and other spices.

[$349; widowjane.com]

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Bottle of Ardbeg Wee Beastie
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19. Ardbeg Wee Beastie

For exceptional proof that age isn’t everything in the whisky world, Ardbeg’s youngest offering is also one of its most well-suited for winter drinking. Aged for only five years in a combination of ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, it’s loaded with tasting notes of peaty campfire smoke, dried cherries, candied orange peels, and salty ocean brine.

[$45; ardbeg.com]

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Bulleit Rye

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Bottle of Pikesville Straight Rye
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20. Pikesville Straight Rye

While Prohibition squashed most of Maryland’s once-booming rye whiskey scene, Pikesville, was one of the few brands that bounced back. This 110-proof rye whiskey is a throwback to those old days. Matured for six years, the award-winning whiskey is filled with tasting notes of cinnamon, cloves, butterscotch, vanilla beans, and cracked black pepper.

[$55; heavenhilldistillery.com]

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