Ready to ring in the holiday season? As we swap out our autumnal decor for twinkle lights and snowflakes, it’s time to start thinking about the best bottles to gift the drinks lovers in our lives. When buying for those who favor America’s beloved native spirit, nailing down the premier pick can be a bit of a challenge with the number of stand-out bottles on shelves increasing every year. But whether it be for a bourbon newcomer or the tater of all taters, the perfect bottle exists for everyone.
From innovative creations from tenured distilleries to bottles aged beneath the sea, the following list features the most giftable expressions the bourbon category has to offer. Read on for the seven best bottles to give this holiday season.
Best budget bourbon: George Dickel Bourbon Whisky Aged 8 Years
Best splurge bourbon: Wolf Spirit Puncher’s Chance Bourbon ‘The Left Cross’
Best bourbon for beginners: Larceny Kentucky Straight Very Small Batch Bourbon
Best bourbon for whiskey geeks: Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged
Best bourbon for cocktail lovers: Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old
Best bourbon to impress: Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage 24
Best limited-edition bourbon: Four Roses 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch
Best Budget Bourbon
Do you have a Tennessee whiskey lover in your life? George Dickel’s 8-year-old bourbon is a great choice for those looking to expand someone’s horizons without burning a hole in their pocket. Made using the exact same mash bill, yeast, and filtration process as George Dickel’s famed Tennessee whiskeys, this bourbon delivers aromas of red berries and dried flower petals and a robust, spiced palate developed from years of maturation in new charred oak casks. Bottled at 90 proof for just $33, this option is ideal for both cocktails and sipping alike.
Average Price: $33
Best Splurge Bourbon
While rum casks can often dominate the flavor profile of the spirits aged inside them, this 14-year-old bourbon is a stand-out success. After aging in new charred oak barrels, The Left Cross spends between two and six months finishing in 12-year-old Jamaican rum casks that impart a deeply concentrated flavor profile, including hints of spice and rich molasses. Though the sticker value may be enough to earn a sideward glance, if you have a bourbon fanatic to shop for this season, we can’t understate the beauty of this bottle.
Average Price: $150
Best Bourbon for Beginners
Made with a high-wheat mash bill similar to that of the iconic Pappy Van Winkle lineup, Larceny Kentucky Straight Very Small Batch Bourbon is the perfect pick for the bourbon newbie in your orbit. But despite the roots of its brand tracing back to Pappy Van Winkle himself, this bourbon’s $27 price point won’t break the bank like some of its peers. With the welcoming aroma of butterscotch and a luscious honeyed palate, Larceny holds up in cocktails, neat, or on the rocks, and gives the bourbon beginner plenty of room to explore.
Average Price: $27
Best Bourbon for Whiskey Geeks
For years, whiskey aficionados have been clamoring for Maker’s Mark to release a decade-old expression, and for years, those requests fell on deaf ears — until now. Launched in September 2023, Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is now the brand’s oldest release to date, consisting of an 87/13 blend of 12-year-old bourbon and 11-year-old bourbon, respectively. After resting for six years, each barrel holding the whiskeys was transported to a specialized cellar built into a limestone hill, which the brand claims slows the influence of charred oak on the spirit. Imparting welcoming aromas of berry and rosemary and a rich palate of dark caramel and chocolate, this bourbon is worthy of a space on every whiskey pro’s bar — if you can get your hands on it.
Average Price: $150
Best Bourbon for Cocktail Lovers
At 45 percent ABV, this bourbon offers shocking complexity for its proof. And at just $39, it’s perfect for the at-home bartender in your life. Distilled by Wild Turkey’s father-and-son team Jimmy and Eddie Russel, Russell’s Reserve 10 Year opens with aromas of dried orange peel, and practically begs to be the base in an Old Fashioned. With luscious fruit and vanilla undertones that dance across the taste buds, this bourbon also plays well in cocktails like the Boulevardier.
Average Price: $39
Best Bourbon to Impress
If you’re looking to turn the head of someone special with something outside the standard whiskey wheelhouse, look no further than Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage 24. While Jefferson’s is known for aging its spirits at the sea, Voyage 24 is the first bottle to remain in the same climate throughout the entirety of its maturation period. Aged for six to eight years on land before spending months in the Caribbean Sea, the bourbon takes on a creamy caramel and juicy, ripe berry flavor thanks to its time in the tropical climate.
Average Price: $82
Best Limited-Edition Bourbon
Four Roses’ annual limited-edition anniversary release is always highly coveted, but this year’s expression was extra special, as it contains some of the distillery’s oldest bourbons. A blend of 12-year-old, 14-year-old, 16-year-old, and 25-year-old whiskeys, this bottle is a master class in bourbon production, and carries seductive aromas of clove and smoked applewood. The palate takes a sharp turn for even more nuance, bursting with molasses, nutmeg, and a whipped cream-like sweetness. With a long, spiced strawberry finish, Four Roses 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch is certain to knock the socks off any and every bourbon lover in your life.
Average Price: $199.99