The South's Best Bourbons for Gifting and Drinking

Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Mary Beth Wetzel

"Bourbon takes a lot of time and effort to create, and gifts are an extension of us," says bourbon taster and curator Fred Minnick. "If you're giving someone a bottle, you've shown the other person that you care." Plus, on a cold day, there's nothing better than the warm spirit sliding down your throat, he says. "That's what we call the Kentucky hug." Here, he's chosen five options to treat everyone on your list.

01 of 06

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
Robbie Caponetto

"I'm reluctant to share this because it's one of my secret favorites. I love the chocolate in this." From $60;

02 of 06

Michter's US 1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter’s US 1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Robbie Caponetto

"Their whiskey is getting better every year. This is a bottle that's got that je ne sais quoi; it's got that feeling of coolness. It looks and feels like its going to be good. If you don't pay attention, you'll get yourself in trouble because it's so easy to drink." From $40;

03 of 06

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Four Roses Small Batch Select
Robbie Caponetto

"If you're a fan of cinnamon, if you like those cinnamon tooth picks or cinnamon candies like Red Hots, Four Roses is just right for you. Much like the Wild Turkey Rare Breed, it can stand up to ice and water in any kind of cocktail. It's absolutely fantastic. For someone who has a bourbon geek in the family, this is going to be a winner." From $45;

04 of 06

Willett Distillery Rowan's Creek

Willett Distillery Rowan’s Creek
Robbie Caponetto

"If you love peanut butter like I do, Rowan's Creek is going to be up by your alley. Almost every taster who comes across Rowan's Creek gets a big old note of some type of nut. I love nutty flavors in the winter. This is also a bottle that will appreciate over time. Rowan's Creek and Willett [Distillery] are such mega names in bourbon. This is essentially like what Pappy was in the early-to-mid 2000s; Willett has that same kind of esteem. In 20 to 30 years, it's going to be a high value. This one is a sipper. You just put it in a glass and drink it neat." From $50;

05 of 06

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
Robbie Caponetto

"In the blind tastings I've done, this has beaten spirits five times as expensive as it is... It's got a lot of baking spices in it; it's earthy. There's a big, rounded caramel note that comes up toward the end. If you like to put ice in your bourbon, it's got just enough flavor that it won't fall to water or ice. That's why it's so doggone good: It can stand up to pretty much anything: Put in a cocktail, you'll still taste bourbon; drink it neat, you'll get a whole lot of flavors on your palate." From $40;

06 of 06

Meet Fred Minnick

Fred Minnick
Courtesy of Minnick Media Inc.

The Louisville, Kentucky, bourbon expert, best-selling author, and award-winning podcast host came about his craft in a roundabout way. Upon returning home from Iraq in 2005, the war veteran struggled with severe PTSD. In an effort to better his mental health, Minnick began practicing mindfulness in therapy, learning to meditate on the taste and texture of barbecue-flavored potato chips. Through this practice, his mental health improved, and he also learned that he had a discriminating palatewhich he now applies to whiskey.

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