milagro barrel select silver tequila photo courtesy of w. grant

Bottles that make perfect gifts for the boozehound in your life

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The panic of last-minute gift giving can elicit high blood pressure in nearly anyone this time of year, but luckily your neighborhood spirits store has everything you need to fill those 11th hour stockings.

While gifting a beautiful bottle of booze may not be ground-breaking, people traditionally gravitate to the big displays of cardboard boxes filled with a bottle of spirit and two cheaply made glasses calling it a day. But you can do better! If you want to watch your recipient’s eyes truly light up when opening your gift, a little consideration can go a long way.

First, ask yourself a question: Have I ever drank socially with this person? If so, can I remember what they ordered? Was it a cocktail or, better yet, a straight shot of whiskey? Answering this simple question could be the key to unlock the perfect gift.

If your recipient ordered a cocktail, whether you remember the specific cocktail is largely irrelevant as the base spirit most likely consisted of vodka, gin, rum, tequila or whiskey. While this doesn’t narrow your choices much, you can feel comfortable purchasing a bottle in any of these categories as cocktail enthusiasts are typically a transient bunch and enjoy a wide variety of tipples.

If you’re going with tequila, elevate your selection to something a little more luxurious than the norm with Milagro Barrel Select Silver. Unlike most silver tequilas, it is mellowed for an average of 45 days in both American and French oak barrels, resulting in a fine sipping tequila that is perfectly balanced and full-bodied. $39.99

If vodka is more their speed, choose one from somewhere exotic like the wonderful island of Iceland! Reyka Vodka uses pure Icelandic spring water and is filtered twice through hand-picked lava rock before bottling. $19.99

Gin is another popular choice for cocktails these days, and the limited release of Hendrick’s Lunar is a delightfully smooth and alluring gin that offers a delicate balance of gentle spice, subtle floral notes with a soft citrus finish, best enjoyed during casual nights at home and is a curious companion for sundowners and starry nights with friends.

Premium rum has also been making a huge comeback recently, and the Single Estate Flor De Cana 12-Year makes an unbelievable daiquiri or can simply be sipped alone. This rum has aromas of red fruits, honey and toasted nuts with superb flavors of wood, vanilla and baked apples, and a smooth, well-balanced finish. $35.99

Finally, whiskey may be the most overwhelming category, but fear not for there are several guaranteed wins out there. The newly launched Fistful of Bourbon (a blend of five straight bourbons) makes for a wonderful Old-Fashioned and can be enjoyed neat. $19.99. Looking for something a little more creative? Tullamore DEW XO Rum Cask adds a finish of sweet caramel by secondarily maturing the product in Demerara rum casks. $29.99.

Need to hit a home run? Glenfiddich Small Batch 18-Year fills the need for both connoisseurs and amateur whisky enthusiast alike by being matured in both ex-bourbon barrels and Olorsso sherry casks. $99.99

So before you embark on that spirits store shopping trip, remember to ask yourself one key question about your recipient, and then let your heart lead the way.