Winter whiskey nights

Four sippers to get through the season

illustration by Mark Stivers

Winter temperatures may rarely dip to snow-tempting levels here, nonetheless ’tis the season to enjoy soul-warming drinks. For some, that’s hot teas or cocoas. For the rest of us, it means whiskey, sipped slowly in front of the fire and yet another British crime show binge-fest.

Here are four whiskeys perfect for such cold-ish nights, some for enjoying straight, others as a lovely addition to those teas and cocoas.

Yame Eight Goddesses 10-Year Whiskey

This Japanese blend ($49.99 a bottle and up) is made from whiskies matured in oak for as long as 12 years and distilled in low-pressure, single distillation pot stills. The resulting profile is a delight. Pale—almost to the point of translucence—this 100% whiskey exhibits a complex and nuanced flavor that's at once infused with notes of vanilla and caramel as well as citrus. According to its maker, it's inspired by the mythical Yametsu Hime goddess, said to protect Japan's gorgeous Yame mountain region. Best enjoyed straight-up, no mixers, at room temperature.

Hayes Parker Reserve Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

This South Carolina-crafted bourbon whiskey ($10.99 a bottle and up) is aged six months using the TerrePURE Technology, a process meant to mimic the aging of whiskey in barrels, while reducing the time needed from years to mere months. It's a controversial method among some whiskey aficionados, but if you're feeling adventurous it's worth a try for its budget-friendly price point and smooth, slightly sweet and spicy taste. Try it blended with ice-cold distilled water to give its profile more depth.

Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky

Reportedly the first Texas-made whiskey on the market after prohibition ($39.99 a bottle and up), you'll want to (generously) pour this into a cup of hot chocolate or the like. With notes of vanilla, toffee, cinnamon and even baking chocolate, it's a satisfyingly warming drink that will lend a touch of adult-appropriate sugar to hot toddies and holiday drinks. Don't tell the kids.

Ellington Reserve 8-Year Canadian Whiskey

Aged in charred oak barrels, this Canadian-distilled whiskey ($15.99 a bottle and up) is mellow and smooth with just a hint of caramel sweetness. While it's enjoyable neat or on the rocks, it would also make a lovely, subtle addition to hot tea with honey. Think of it as a Grandma-approved cold or flu-fighter—that's if you were lucky enough to have a cool, whiskey-swilling Grandma, of course.