A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Shop Local Spotlight: A spirited holiday gift guide for the adults in your life, from local retailers

First in a series

By Tabari McCoy
NKY Chamber of Commerce

Bourbon. Barrel-aged and distilled, it’s the signature spirit of Kentucky – and given its history and the fact the vast majority of it (not to mention the best) is made here in the Commonwealth – for good reason. But while bourbon may get the spotlight, there are also plenty of beers, wines and other spirits worthy of your attention that would make for great gifts, too.

The NKY Chamber encourages you to shop local by considering these locally-based gift ideas to bring cheer to you and yours. These area retailers are more than ready to help you find the perfect gift this holiday season.


Got a hankering for batch straight bourbon whiskey made right at home in Northern Kentucky? You must make a stop at Boone County Distilling in Independence.

Don’t let the name fool you, however. In addition to its standard small batch and bourbon cream bottles, Boone County Distilling Co. has several unique, limited edition offerings that would make for great gifts – especially when paired with their distinct apparel, glasses and/or barware.

For a full experience, consider getting a ticket to one of the public tours the distillery offers and complete your visit with a trip to the gift shop afterward. You don’t, however, have to be a bourbon enthusiast to enjoy their quirky, humorous apparel … But it sure helps!

For more information, visit the website or call (859) 282-6545.


Know someone who enjoys a nice cabernet or prefers a good merlot to bourbon or beer? It might be time to get them a ticket to the Brianza Experience.

A flight of three wines at just $8 per flight, a $64 picnic package for two, or a tour of the winery/vineyard are just some of the reasons to consider giving the gift of a trip to Brianza Winery in Crittenden. Given their deep selection of Estate grown and bottled wines, picking up something on the go isn’t a bad idea, either.

Then again, you could opt to enjoy everything Brianza has to offer by staying at one of the three vacation lodgings near its wedding reception site. So, whether you wish to gift a stay at The Cottage, the Winemaker Suite or The Bungalow, there’s probably a cozy bed – and plenty of wine – awaiting you.

For more information, visit the website or call (859) 445-9369.


If there’s a new riff on a tradition as old as Kentucky bourbon itself, New Riff Distilling in Newport has just what you need for the holidays. Yes, you can still stop by their tasting bar The Aquifer and arrange a tour as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour … But the gift shop is where you’ll find your best selections for friends and family this year.

Looking for some of their signature New Riff Bourbon (available in both large and mini bottle form), perhaps even in a personalized holiday bottle? How about some stadium cups, tumblers, water bottles or even leather rock glasses, tumblers, apparel or items for that home bar your friend is oh so close to finishing? New Riff has all of it ready at your disposal, although if you decide to keep that gift for yourself, no one could really blame you!

For more information, visit the website or call (859) 261-RIFF (7433).


The name, derived from Flemish, comes from a youth circus in Ghent, Belgium. The high-quality beers they produce, however, are purely a Northern Kentucky original.

Bircus Brewing Company in Ludlow is an outreach of the Ludlow Theatre, which helps in maintaining its big-top theme while serving its signature selections of beer while people take in live circus and music acts.

You can help bring the party home this holiday season by picking up of their signature selections of lagers, pale and dark ales and IPAs by the bottle or four-pack depending upon availability. Life under the big top has never been so tasty.

For more information, visit the website or call 859-317-3778.


The weather outside might be frightful, but at Braxton Brewing in Covington that just means it’s the perfect time to grab something to go or make a reservation for the IGLOOBAR!

If you know a beer aficionado who hasn’t had one of the diverse pours available both in house and to go from Braxton’s Covington Taproom as well as their Braxton Labs in Bellevue and Barrel House in Fort Michell locations. (Seriously – where else are you going to find their Graeter’s key lime pie ale or various FC Cincinnati collaborations?) Of course, given the number of flavors not to mention apparel, glassware and their Smoothie Sour Series subscription service, the options may not be endless, but they’ll certainly taste that way.

Of course, if you’re looking to enjoy a safe, intimate – and warm! – gathering with a few friends, reserving one of Braxton’s rooftop IGLOOBAR spots might just be the best gift of all. Able to accommodate eight people with a dedicated bartender and Bluetooth speaker in a heated setting (with food and drink package options) for 2 hours, the weather outside may be of no concern as you ring in the holidays.

For more information, visit the website.


Located just about an hour south of the Ohio River, Augusta’s Baker-Bird Winery & B. Bird Distillery products are available at several stores throughout Northern Kentucky. To fully appreciate the company’s rich history, however, picking up something from their Augusta home comes highly recommended.

The oldest commercial winery in America that still has its original vineyard land that also houses the largest, oldest wine cellar in America – and the only one to have survived a Civil War battle – the history of Baker-Bird runs deep. Equally strong is Baker-Bird’s selection of wine, which has won the company more than 150+ medals in competitions.

Of course, being part of the Kentucky bourbon trail, they’ve got plenty of barrel aged bottles on hand for the tasting should you wish to arrange a tour for a family member or friend. (Prices range from free to $15 for a group of six). Can’t make it to Augusta? Don’t worry – home delivery options are available, too. If you do go, however, be sure to stay for the sunset (we’ve heard it’s pretty nice)!

For more information, visit the website or call (859) 620-4965.


The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky’s rich German heritage cannot be denied – and with all the tasty offerings that make for great gifts you can find at Hofbräuhaus Newport, why would you want to even do so?

Located within walking distance of Newport on the Levee, Hofbräuhaus Newport celebrates the rich history of its original Munich, Germany counterpart with a menu full of authentic Bavarian cuisine and bier (“beer” in plain English) brewed in-house. Thus, if you know someone who fancies their self a true beer connoisseur, getting them a membership to Hofbräuhaus’ 1859 Growler Club (complete with a lifetime warranty) or Stein Master Club (when available) might just be the perfect gift this holiday season. Can’t decide which option may be right? Simply select a gift card and let them figure it out on their own – you can’t go wrong letting someone determine their own present, can you?

For more information, visit the website or call (859) 491-7200.

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