8 rare whiskies you should have on hand for the holidays

Oct 29 2019, 3:36 pm

Whisky is a drink of class and taste — at least traditionally. But, what exactly you associate whisky with really depends on your experience with this popular spirit

Does it make you think of cigars and fine dining or memorable parties? Perhaps it’s a sign that the holidays have arrived, AKA the best time to crack a rare bottle and enjoy with loved ones. 

The world of whisky and spirits is ever-changing (and perhaps a bit intimidating to some) but the staff at BC Liquor Stores are trained to help you pick out whatever suits your taste. 

Leading up to the holiday season, a selection of exciting bottles will be available as of November 2 at 33 participating BC Liquor Stores locations, including plenty of locations in Vancouver.

Here are eight rare whiskies from the Premium Spirit collection this year that would be handy to have on hand for gifts, and holiday drinking purposes too. 

J.P. Wiser’s Rare Cask Series Seven Rebels

J.P. Wiser’s Rare Cask Series Seven Rebels/BC Liquor Stores

Price: $69.99

Created in collaboration with and exclusively for BC Liquor Stores, this unapologetically bold blend pays tribute to the tradition of innovation in Canadian whisky and the Canadian whisky pioneers. It combines seven different distillates that are finished in virgin oak and Speyside casks, producing a smoky, spicy whisky with notes of wood embers, toasted malts, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, and spice (plus everything nice, of course).

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 24 Year Old

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Price: $209.99

Ulmo honey and caramel make this bourbon silky, delicate — exquisite, even. It’s made with demerara sugar, maple syrup, and molasses for oaky undertones and notes of vanilla and caramel. In his “whisky bible” for 2016, Jim Murray said it has “the softest finish of a pensionable age bourbon on the planet.” High praise? Find out for yourself. It’s a slightly more luxurious gift, as its price tag indicates, but you get what you pay for.

Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon

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Price: $89.99

Dried apricot and rose petals are the stars of the show with this bourbon, accompanied by cardamom and coriander. Light caramel and hints of vanilla come out to play, too, but overall the texture is clean and soft. If you’re looking for something mid-range in price but still clean and refreshing, this is a top choice.

Gran Patron Smoky

Gran Patron Smoky/BC Liquor Stores

Price: $269.99

If you don’t know what ultra-premium tequila means, remember that talk about crushed velvet and fireplaces; the Gran Patron Smoky is that kind of drink. Agave and mesquite are roasted for about seven days in small underground stone pits at the Patrón Hacienda as part of an ancient, labour-intensive method, producing a perfectly balanced, complex flavour. You’re getting all of that for under $270, not including bragging rights. 

1792 Personal Barrel Selection

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Price: $89.99

Another BC Liquor Store exclusive, this barrel was stored from December 2009 to August 2018 and is now ready to be poured into a glass. Treat your taste buds to notes of sweet tea, baking spice, and mocha in addition to decadent flavours like peach cobbler, vanilla cream, toasty oak, and nutmeg. It sounds like dessert already. Now consider that the finish is also sweet, with whiffs of chocolate.

Bayou Single Barrel Rum

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Price: $59.99

If tropical tastes are your thing, the Bayou Single Barrel Rum might tickle your fancy. Neither a whisky nor a bourbon, this hand-selected single-batch rye barrel-aged rum has hints of smoked oak with bursts of pepper and tropical fruits, so it’s spicy but still sweet. Sip your way to white sands and colourful sunsets while you revel in the taste of oak, honey, pineapple and creamy banana with a balanced finish of spice, marshmallow, and crème brûlée. 

Kaiyo Un-Chillfiltered

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Price: $124.99

This is another dessert-y blend to satisfy your more indulgent cravings. According to the Whisky Advocate 2019, the Kaiyo Un-Chillfiltered whisky tastes like “finely ground spice, vanilla sponge cake, light honey, and brown sugar cubes, as well as the mizunara fingerprints of aromatic wood and incense.” Once the spices settle on your tongue, you might get hit with a lovely wave of vanilla creaminess, followed by a playful, lingering aftertaste. Imagine a light-hearted pillow fight between the vanilla cream and the fading spices – it’s sort of like that.

Ardbeg 19 Year Old

Ardbeg 19 Year Old/BC Liquor Stores

Price: $339.99

Ardbeg has an extensive and interesting history, making their aged whiskies all the more valuable. Their distillery was mothballed from 1981 to 1989 and then again from 1996 to 1997, so finely aged Ardbegs can be quite hard to come by. Still, they’re collected globally, and limited releases tend to sell out quickly. This particular drink has received shining reviews from Jim Murray for its “biscuit saltiness,” citrusy notes, and powdery pherols that “ensure the minty chocolate is on an equal footing with the friendly phenols.”