Host Guide: Holiday Spirits: Made in the USA

  • James Y. Bartlett

A.H. Hirsch Reserve
Michter’s Distillery in Schaefferstown, Pa., was the first licensed distillery in the United States, and while it is now closed, the 1974 bottlings of its A.H. Hirsch Reserve can still be found. This robust bourbon with its hints of mint, toffee, and apricots is worth the search.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year Old
Aged for 20 years, which is the equivalent of several lifetimes for bourbon, and bottled at 90 proof, this is not a bourbon for the fainthearted. Like old Pappy, whose cigar-chompin’ likeness adorns the label, this one is full of complex character, opening with flavors of maple syrup and finishing with the taste of apples and oak.

Rowan’s Creek 12 Year Old
Rowan’s Creek is one of Kentucky’s treasured small-batch distilleries, where the quantity of the output is limited by the desire to make bourbon slowly and carefully. The sour mash process uses the pure limestone water from the namesake creek, and the result is a mellow whiskey whose flavors are unleashed with a dash of branch water.

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