From bourbon to rye, we love giving friends and family a bottle of American whiskey this time of year. And to help you pick the perfect holiday present, we got Keith Biesack, beverage director at Brooklyn’s acclaimed Char No. 4, home to more than 100 whiskies from the US, to share with us five of his favorites.
There are few people who know more about American whiskey than Wild Turkey’s master distiller Jimmy Russell, and Biesack likes this bottling that bares the legend’s name. “The rye has mellowed just a little bit from its years in the barrel, providing good mouthfeel and depth,” he says. But “one is still sure to get that delicious and explosive rye bite.”
There’s small-batch, and then there’s Jefferson’s, which uses a dozen or fewer casks at a time for its whiskey bottlings. Try one of the smooth, fruity and complex bourbons or the rich and spicy new 10-year-old rye. They’re as distinguished as their presidential namesake.
For this special whiskey, Park City, Utah, craft distillery High West blends older and younger spirits. “This is a masterful example of the meeting of youthful (6-year-old) and aged (16-year-old) rye whiskey,” he says. As a result, “it is both aggressive and wise, exposing visions of the past and memories of the future.”
“Corsair is revealing through its many experiments just how interesting and unique American whiskey can be” Biesack says. And this single malt is the perfect example. Portions of the barley are dried with three kinds of smoke—from burning beech wood, cherry wood and peat. “If you like a little smoke after a meal, have a sip of this stuff.”
Love drinking Blanton’s? Well, “try another single-barrel from the same distillery (Buffalo Trace) that shares the same mashbill,” Biesack suggests. “Single-barrel bourbons are picked according to flavor profile rather than age. Hancock’s reveals through its color, aroma and depth of flavor the art of barrel selection.”