The Gift of Spirits

The only thing better than drinking great spirits is sharing great spirits with close friends. So, this post will explore creative ways to share one-of-a-kind offerings that are unavailable anywhere else on the planet – without having to shell out a fortune for a rare bottling.

In the past, Bodacious Booze has written about specialty cocktail lists to make guests feel at home while entertaining. It has also described how enthusiasts can create unique spirits and cocktails without defying federal distillation laws through the use of small barrels and vatting. While it may be illegal to put up a still in the back yard, anyone can turn their personal bar into a mixology lab and barrel house.

Today’s post will explore how to combine elements of these previous lessons to create one-of-a-kind gifts for the cocktail enthusiasts in your life.

*Please forgive my Blender’s Notes and implements. 

Recently, a friend and fellow Bourbon lover had a going-away party. He and his wife have been very close to me since college, so the news that they were moving to Florida hit me hard. I wanted to do something special for them and decided that a limited-release whiskey would do the trick.

While I would love to be able to gift-wrap a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Macallan M or Pappy Van Winkle, I simply do not have the means. But I do have a collection of pretty impressive whiskey offerings. Many of these have undergone unique finishing techniques in my mini-barrel and others I have acquired through my travels and are unavailable in the U.S.

By blending some of my top whiskies, I was able to come up with a truly unique product that cannot be find anywhere else on the planet. What’s better is that I could write a personal label that has special meaning to the both of us.

*Note: While “International Blended Whiskey” is not a category recognized by the TTB, I believe you could get away with this label in the U.S. – if you were licensed to sell this product.

As you can see by the picture of the back label, this blend is unlike anything that could be found at the local liquor outlet. It includes two whiskies that have undergone unique finishes: Evan Williams Bourbon Black Label that spent a few weeks finishing in the barrel after it was used to mature Manhattan Cocktails and Dewar’s Blended Scotch that was finished in the barrel after Sherry had rested inside. In addition, the blend has two travel exclusives — Suntory Blended Japanese Whisky and Glen Breton Rare Single Malt Canadian Whisky – meaning they cannot be purchased in the U.S.

*The back label. Click here to see a list of composite whiskeys.

The gift went over well. My friend really liked the bottle and it kicked off a wonderful whiskey conversation.

In fact, can you keep a secret?

I am going to share another spirit bottling at my friend’s birthday party this weekend. Currently in the barrel rests a specialty Reposado Tequila. This tequila is a blend of El Jimador 100% Agave Reposado and Sauza Conmemorativo 100% Agave Añejo Tequilas. Before pouring in the tequila, Port wine matured in the cask for three+ weeks[1].

I showcased this product – straight from the barrel – at a recent party I hosted. It was a huge hit. The slightly pink color gives it a playful appearance. But make no mistake, this is a grown-up tequila. It has a wonder bouquet of agave, cherries and oak notes. Complex and smooth, the flavor features spicy-floral agave notes mixing with fruity sherry notes and a slight bourbon-like influence from the extra oak.

It’s nice coming to a birthday party with a gift that you already know the recipient is going to love. The downside of writing a blog is that sharing this secret with readers means the surprise might be ruined.

Oh well, hope he’s a good sport.

* Happy Birthday J.P.P.!

[1] Note: Each time a liquid goes inside it the barrel loses some of its “charge,” meaning it takes longer for the subsequent liquid to receive the same maturation influence. This has its benefits. Older barrels give off more balanced notes. Over-maturation which can be a problem with smaller barrels.


Article by akendeall

Aaron is a whiskey writer, brand ambassador and distiller based in Pittsburgh, Pa., who has been working in the spirits industry since 2013.