If you’re reading this then you’re probably searching for some gift ideas for that special whisky aficionado in your life, or perhaps you’re simply looking for a gift for your boss or business partner. You may even be looking for great gift ideas for yourself. Hey, we all deserve a nice treat every now and again, right? Either way, this list is here to provide you with some guidance on where to look the next time you make your way into your local or not so local spirits store.
The fact is there are plenty of great whiskies out there. In order to have been considered for this list the whisky must be somewhat readily available (not all can be found at just any spirits store) and it must have been something that I’ve personally tasted and have found to stand out from among the rest – Something I would in fact not only buy myself but wouldn’t think twice about gifting to somebody else. Although it may seem extensive at first, the point of this list is to provide a short range of options at various price points. These are my top recommendations.
Recommended Buys $50 and Under
Highland Park 12-Year-Old ($40): Classic single malt from the northern island of Orkney with a beautiful balance between sweet and smoke – very light and gentle smokiness. The gift set this year comes with a miniature bottle of 18-year-old.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof ($40): For the Bourbon lover in your life. This whisky is as bold as its color – Great complexity and stays straight as an arrow with water.
Booker’s Small Batch ($50): Another in the Bourbon category. Booker’s is a bold and complex whisky that offers a deep, warming experience. The perfect gift for any American whisky lover – comes in a great package, too.
Ardbeg 10-Year-Old ($50): The flagship malt for this cult status distillery, Ardbeg ‘Ten’ is a classic Islay malt that is non chill-filtered and bottled at a very welcomed 46% – Definitely worth picking up for that peat lover on your list. The gift set this year comes with a branded nosing glass.
Recommended Buys $50 – $100
Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Cask Strength ($60): Big, bold and everything a dedicated peat lover could ask for. It rounds out quite nicely with water, but of course that’s optional – a wonderful Islay malt and a great value.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra ($60): Not all great whiskies have to be in your face with character. This ex-Bourbon cask matured Speysider is bottled at cask strength and non chill-filtered, offering the classic Glenlivet profile in craft presentation.
Aberlour A’Bunadh ($65): Powerhouse of a sherried whisky – A’Bunadh offers great complexity and quality for those who love sweet, full-bodied whiskies.
WhistlePig 10-Year Straight Rye ($65): Sourced from Canada and bottled in Vermont, this 100% straight Rye whisky is another North American option that will be sure to please the Rye lover on your list.
Ardbeg Uigeadail ($70): The epitome of a high quality, high value Islay single malt whisky – beautiful integration of peat and sherry and truly a classic Ardbeg.
Lagavulin 16-Year-Old ($75): Classic Islay malt with enough smokiness to please the most curious of palates, but also tame enough to be enjoyed any day of the week.
Glendronach 15-Year-Old Revival ($80): Simply an elegant and lively sherried malt – matured in 100% oloroso Sherry butts, this whisky is full-bodied, rich and oh so tasty.
Recommended Buys $100 – $200
Lagavulin 12-Year-Old Cask Strength ($105): A younger Lagavulin that seems to really belie its age – Always seems older in my experience. It’s a bold Islay whisky that will always leave you wanting more
Amrut Portonova / Intermediate Sherry Matured ($110/each): Two lovely single malts out of Bangalore, India. If you can’t find one, grab the other. These whiskies offer deep complexity and show just how wonderful malts from around the globe can be.
Highland Park 18-Year-Old ($120): Another pick from this wonderful island distillery. Darker, rounder and full of wonderful character – A single malt every whisky drinker should experience.
Talisker 18-Year-Old ($125): Cannot forget about this lovely distillery on the island of Skye. Talisker 18 is a wonderfully complex malt full of sweet coastal tones and spice. I must say, you cannot go wrong with the 10-year-old either ($60).
Yamazaki 18-Year-Old ($150): Rich, elegant and complex single malt from the ever growing category of Japanese whisky. Deep with dark fruits and spices, this is another world whisky I find to be quite pleasing.
Glenmorangie Signet ($200): Highland single malt that comes in the most beautifully designed package in this category. Signet is a marriage of whiskies aged up to 40 years and has wonderful dark chocolate and coffee notes – Absolutely wonderful all around.
Recommended Premium Buys ($200 – $500)
These whiskies may be a little harder to find, but rest assured they are out there, especially if you’re an internet shopper – For the very special whisky lover in your life.
Highland Park Loki ($250): A little pricey for a 15-year-old, but it’s also quite the collector’s item. Loki is a coastal-esque Highland Park whose deep flavors tug you in all sorts of direction – A wonderful whisky with quite an awesome display package.
Talisker 30-Year-Old ($350): Deep, complex malt with pleasant coastal tones and an elegant, gentle smokiness. The 30-year-old is a wonderful whisky that is now part of Diageo’s annual special releases.
Highland Park 30-Year-Old ($450): One of the most beautifully complex and elegant whiskies in the Highland Park core range – This malt manages to hold onto its gentle smokiness despite spending 30 long years in refill Sherry casks.
Glenfarclas 40-Year-Old ($450): Not only a fantastic Speysider but probably the best value in terms of price vs. age. A beautifully rich and complex whisky with a wonderful oak influence expected in a whisky of its age.
Laphroaig 25-Year-Old ($480): Aged in a combination of oloroso ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks, this non chill-filtered malt offers a complex and gentle experience despite being bottled at cask strength.
Books and Other Whisky Related Gift Ideas
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014 ($20): A staple for any whisky lover’s bookshelf. This reference book provides the most up to date information on distilleries throughout the globe and is packed full of content from industry leaders.
Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion ($20): The classic definitive guide to single malt whisky, which includes reviews of over 1,000 whiskies.
Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey ($20): Fred Minnick tells the story of how women helped build and save the whisky industry, including brands such as Bushmills, Laphroaig, and Maker’s Mark.
American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: The Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit ($25): Devoted solely to US made whiskey, Rye and Bourbon, Clay Risen provides his tasting notes and reviews on over 200 whiskies. A great guide to American whiskies.
Glencairn Crystal Whisky Glasses ($16: set of 2): Whether it’s the traditional Glencairn nosing glass or the Copita nosing glass, a set of crystal glassware is sure to please the whisky drinker on your holiday shopping list.
Vinturi Spirit ($30): An interesting gadget I’ve been toying around with since my wife bought me one for Christmas last year. Instantly aerate any spirit including Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Rum, Port, Gin, etc
Le Nez du Whisky Aroma Kit ($400): From the makers of Le Nez du Vin comes a nosing kit made in collaboration with industry leader Charles MacLean. Le Nez du Whisky is a beautiful box set that includes over 50 key aromas and a guidebook featuring a breakdown of over 1,200 whiskies.
That completes the list. What are some of your favorite/recommended drams? Having trouble deciding what to get? Let me know in the comments below and perhaps I can be of more assistance. Happy Holidays!