Sometimes you want to give your loved ones something you know they’re really going to use. Holidays aren’t just about ornaments, or the ornamental.
That’s when you get someone a bottle of liquor, and not just any bottle of any liquor — one that will surprise and delight them.
Business Insider reached out to our friends in the booze business — Robert Haynes Peterson, a writer and liquor expert; Pam Wiznitzer, bartender at NYC cocktail standout The Dead Rabbit, and Jessie Dure of American Whiskey — they told us which bottles are special enough to give.
And if these bottles are special to them, they will be special to you.
Ultimat Vodka, crafted in Poland from potatoes, wheat and rye, is a smooth, creamy spirit bottled in a beautiful midnight blue bottle.
Plus, Ultimat has partnered up with 1-877-SPIRITS to create a small gift box featuring not only the vodka, but the first-ever Reidel tasting glass that's specifically designed for vodka. (Order it separately, it comes free with a bottle of vodka.)
If you really love someone, here's the gift to get them. The Facundo Elevated Holiday comes with four rare sipping rums: Neo (aged up to 8 years), Eximo (aged 10 to 12 years), Exquisito (a blend aged seven to 23 years), and Paraiso (aged up to 23 years).
Additionally, the set includes 2 Baccarat 'Harmonie' tumblers, two bottles of Bitterman's bitters, a Brizard & Co. Cigar Humidor, Colibri Cigar Cutter and a barware collection including a bar spoon, mixing glass, jigger, ice bucket (wrapped in leather), a leather-bound journal, a Powermat charger, a lighter, and an ashtray.
Every year, the Islay-based single malt producer Laphroaig creates a special one-off expression for its Friends of Laphroaig -- and then the rest of us finally get a chance to try it out. The seven-year whiskey is finished off for a year in Amontillado sherry hogsheads, which gives the liquor a deep, rich sweetness that marries impeccably with the brand's traditional in-your-face smokiness.
For the holidays, Johnnie Walker offers a custom-engraved Blue Label bottle.
The Blue Label is a blend of rare malts, hand-selected from John Walker's casks in Scotland. Only one in 10,000 casks makes the cut for the Blue Label, so it's sure to be good.
Purity Vodka has won Vodka of the Year at the Spirits Masters Awards for three years in a row. It's the most-awarded premium vodka in the world. Made from an organic winter wheat and malted barley, it's distilled 34 times and unfiltered. And it's one of the more affordable items on our list.
This single malt scotch whiskey uses twice as many sherry casks than Highland Park's classic 12 year, lending it a darker, richer flavour.
If the ominous black bottle doesn't make an impression, the whiskey's spicey, warm flavour certainly will.
Price: £65 ($US102)
This rye whiskey, made in Caribbean Rum casks that previously held French cognac, has a strong aroma of brown sugar and spice and tastes of vanilla oak and maple sugar.
It was given Four Stars and came 'highly recommended' by the Spirit Journal, and praised by Bourbon Blog, Drink Spirits, and Whiskey Nose.
Tanqueray No. Ten is an all-time classic. It's fresh, bright, and citrusy. It's the only gin out there made of whole citrus fruit, mixing grapefruit, lime, and orange with juniper, coriander, and chamomile flowers. It tastes great in pretty much any cocktail.
This rye-and-bourbon duo is named for a Bourbon aristocrat who raced horses in the Kentucky Derby during the late 19th century and popularised the Old Fashioned cocktail. 'Pepper Whiskey' was reportedly a favourite of Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant.
The Pepper distillery shut its doors in the 1950s but the brand has since relaunched, and their 1776 rye and bourbon are the cream of the crop. Both are San Francisco World Spirits Competition gold medalists.
Suntory's Hibiki 17 Year Old is a Japanese blended whiskey. It tastes sweet and rich, with fruity and oaky elements. This is one of the best Japanese whiskeys out there and is a Whisky Magazine editor's choice.
This dry gin comes from Germany's Black Forest; its special ingredient is cranberries.
It's a great go-to gin, having picked up a number of awards from the World Spirits Award, Gin Worldwide, and the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
The coffee liqueur is a combination of Yirgacheffe beans, Madagascar vanilla beans, French chicory root, and organic cane sugar. It has both a fruity and savory taste, with flavours of berries and chocolate. And, really, what else would you want in a liqueur?
The Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera Rum is a blend of Venezuelan rums, aged 8 to 12 years. The blend is then aged in bourbon barrels. This one is an International Cane Spirits Festival gold-medalist, and great rum for the holidays.
You already know you like Absolut vodka. The Elyx is their new premium single-batch vodka, produced in hand-operated copper stills. It's made from single estate wheat from Sweden's Råbelöf Castle, less than 15 miles away from the distillery.
You know it's good when the founder of the company, in this case Ken Austin, will personally sign the bottle for you.
Avión Reserva 44 is an Extra Añejo tequila aged for 43 months in an exclusive stone temperature controlled cave. The tequila is then aged an additional month in a specially selected barrel. Then it goes in the crystal decanter you see here.
For Holiday 2014, exclusively through Reservebar.com, you can customise any Avión varietal, including Reserva44, with a meaningful message, name or seasonal salutation. Give them the ultra-premium tequila that defines a new standard of quality and taste in a bottle that that they can cherish for a lifetime.
The cuvée collection, Quintessence, is made from cognacs from the Marner Lapostolle family's private reserves. The cognacs come from Grande Champagne and the blend includes some more than 100 years old. It's aged in French oak casks for a perfectly balanced tastes.
Merchants Beverage is a new online spirits shop, where you can find the best liquid gifts for everyone in your life. There are cocktail kits, curated selections of spirits, and you can also send gift cards so that the gift-recipient can pick out what they like (this is particularly useful if you don't know what your boss or colleagues like).
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.