Welcome once again to Scotch’s ScotchNSniff Christmas Scotch Gift idea list Extravaganza 2015 Edition!!!! We need to shorten that name.
Hello and Happy Holidays to all of you scotch loving friends! I’m sure you’re in a food coma right about now after eating your fill during turkey day, but stick with me and find out what my picks are for this holiday season. On with the list!
First off, with an average price of $53 per bottle, I’ve chosen Laphroaig Quarter Cask. The rich, oily and viscous body of this scotch shares characteristics of much older whisky. A little salinity in the nose, mixed with toffee and fig ice cream. The initial sweetness blends well with biscuit notes, easing into smoke and peat and ending with a nice bit of fruit and spice.
Sadly, Hibiki 12 had to be taken off my list for around $50. The Japanese boom has pushed many brands into and past the $100 price range. So instead, I’ve opted for Dalmore 12 year, right at an average of $50. Toasty oak, vanilla and citrus on the nose, followed by baking spices and malt awesome-ness. The palate is spice rich, medium long and full of citrus and spiced cake batter.
Last but not least in this price range, coming in at an average price of $37, The Glenlivet 12 year. The 12 year’s nose dances around showing tons of fruit flavors. The tropical fruits of kiwi and white grape and pineapple are so vibrant and apparent. The 12 is clean and racy, leaving a floral tea and dried orange peel lingering on the palate.
The first up in the “around $100” section still holds a spot from last year, The Glenlivet 18. Priced at an average $88, this dram feels luxurious and the price seems to match the quality and character better than more expensive whisky. Brown sugar, freshly grated nutmeg and sweet sherry fill the nostrils. Rum soaked raisins and figs, baking spices and tannic apple skins drape over the tongue. Delicious.
Second up isn’t even a Scotch, it’s a Bourbon. Coming in at $72 and only available to the European market, Blanton’s Gold Edition. The nose is full of raspberries, sweet vanilla and orange zest. Apricots and dried fruits are the first thing you’ll taste, layered with vanilla cream and then matched with rich spices. The oak is perfectly toasted, lifting notes of cocoa and more sweetness. This bourbon, at this price, knocked it out of the park for me.
The first one on this expensive list has everything I look for in a Scotch whisky. The Macallan 17 Fine Oak. With an average price of $204, I believe that this is the definition of a Speyside single malt Scotch whisky. Sweet honey, cotton candy and marshmallow Fluff on the nose. The mouth feel has incredible creaminess, bold oak spices and vanilla. Finishing off with a little nuttiness, dried fruits and nicely dry.
Here’s the issue…. This is also a bottle that I believe is the very definition of a Speyside single malt Scotch, The Balvenie 17 DoubleWood at a more affordable average price of $138. The nose, expressive with cider, floral heather and red fruits mixed with malt. The palate is rich of sherry and oaky spice and vanilla sweetness with a slight walnut nuttiness. Delicious.
I think it’s easy to realize that I love Japanese whisky. I enjoy a sweeter whisky and a lot of the Japanese varieties do a great job nailing it. These don’t really fit in the price categories but I really enjoy coming back and tasting these….a lot! The Hibiki 17 ($176) and the Hibiki 21 ($436), both are floral, complex and heavy weight on the palate, literally and figuratively. The 17 is sweet and slightly smokey, holding onto the plum flavors of the 12 year but incorporating mizunara oak tannins and spice. The 21 smooths out all the tannins and becomes dangerously drinkable (for your wallet at least). The darker dried fruits come out, but with the fresh fruity flavors as if plucked from the tree. Wisps of smoke swirl in the glass as toasty vanilla, cognac flavors of rancio create a whirlpool. Epic.
There are many ways online to get samples of really hard to find and hard to purchase bottles. If I had unlimited funds, this would be my pick. The Hibiki 30yr coming in at a 401k crushing average price of $2601 per bottle. I purchased a sample bottle for $77/ounce. Smooth is an understatement and I generally hate to use the word smooth, as it usually describes a surface and not a whisky. The spices and layers of flavors are immediate, but very subtle. But that subtlety is as concrete as the foundation of a house, Lasting from the first drop that hits your tongue, all the way to the coating of your throat and into your belly. There is no burn. This could be a serious cause of alcoholism….for a very wealthy alcoholic. Spice…the spice. fresh plums and spiced cakes dance around your palate while a slight smoke appears at the back of your throat. All too quickly, the ounce is gone and a page full of notes appear.
Remember, if you have any questions email us. Enjoy your holidays and may your selections be well thought out. Sainte!