Hi there!Looking for the perfect bottle of hooch for that loved one in your life? If they love single malt scotches, you’ve come to the right place. I know Scotch is working on his list but I fear it may be full of smokey, peaty, and “different” flavors that I have a hard time appreciating. My list though? It’ll be full of sweet, delicious, and delectable options for that person you actually love. lol
Let’s get started.
The parameters we’re using for this year’s Christmas gift list are:
1) A few $50ish bottle options
2) A $100 bottle option
3) A “dream” bottle option.
The dream bottle option won’t be something ridiculous like the Macallan M but something under a grand that is attainable with a good bit of saving. ($20 a week is a smidge over $1000 so it’s definitely a gift you’d be better off planning for)
Auchentoshan 12 Classic ($36)
Maybe your giftee is a big fan of smooth irish whiskeys. If they’re looking to make a transition from smooth to flavorful, the Auchentoshan Classic is a great segue. It’s triple distilled like many irish whiskeys but still as flavorful as any Scotch in this price range. A great beginner scotch also for the new-to-scotch friends in your life.
Glenfiddich 12 ($42)
I cannot emphasize enough how beginner friendly this liquid is. Full of tree fruits, it’s hard to put this dram down. I think this is the second year I’ve recommended this scotch and it’s definitely one that makes a great gift. It’s my go to gifting bottle for friends who are new to scotch drinking.
Dalwhinnie 15 ($57)
Apples. Banana. Pears. Need I say more? The Dalwhinnie 15 (which is NOTHING like the smokey distiller’s reserve) is very excellent. 🙂
The “Hundo” 🙂
Glenlivet Naddura ($90)
This bottle is pretty new to the Glenlivet line but tastes fantastic. This is for your scotch drinker who’s tasted a dozen or two scotches and has a good idea of the flavor profile that they like. It’s high ABV at cask strength is something to be aware of. Buying this bottle is almost like buying two bottles for the drinker that adds water to find flavor. In terms of flavors, it’s oaken spices meets sugar and butter creme all over a mashed pear drizzled in cinnamon and pepper!
Can I do two dream bottle options??
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19
This bottle quickly became my nightly sipper. It’s tannic grapes meets soft red apples meets cane sugar and sweet corn cereal. You can’t go wrong with this amazing offering from Glenfiddich.
Kirkland Alexander Murray and Co bottled The Glenlivet 40
($700 regularly, on sale in DC for $600 right now)
This is the smoothest and almost the most affordable 40 year scotch out there. Oak, cherries, creme, granulated sugar, a touch of pepper, cantaloupe, and just a touch of smoke. WOW oh WOW oh WOW.
What didn’t make my list and why…
Macallan Rare Cask ($300)
This would definitely make the dream bottle list but we haven’t done a formal review on it so it will have to wait until next year at the soonest.
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie ($66)
This actually replaced my Glenfiddich 19 as my nightly sipper after I purchased it. It’s an amazingly balanced scotch. I’m not even a fan of peat but level of peat and smoke in this tasty morsel mixed with actual fruit flavors equals an AMAZING daily dram.
Only 1650 bottles have been produced, after being held in Sauternes Casks from the legendary Chateau D’Yquem. Watch out Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, an opponent Sauternes finished whisky is in the house!!
COLOR: Aged sauternes, golden raisin, light honey
NOSE: Right off the bat you get a nose full of sweet candy. Some flavored with orange, red apple and apricot. Like you’ve walked into a candy shop that’s owned by a cooper, you can smell the hints of burned barrels behind the closed doors in the rear. The vanilla and honey are undeniable and delicious. No doubt from the interaction with the sauternes cask. The smell of flat sprite comes to mind, which is probably just light ginger, lemon and lime and orange. The wood and spice are not overbearing in the nose but definitely balanced and upfront. The deeper I stick my nose in the glass the more the caramel aroma deepens with vanilla and toffee richness. I slice a vanilla bean in half and store it with my raisins so they taste amazing in my oatmeal and this smells exactly like the box of vanilla’d raisins. Remember that, Vanilla’d Raisins.
PALATE: The golden nectar rolls across your tongue syrupy and sweet. As I swirl the spirit around my mouth the spices warm and surprise every nook and cranny. The flavors of the aromas are all present with the addition of light cracked pepper, lighter spice and the dryness that walnuts give you. There’s a bready quality to it, like I just bit into a sourdough loaf (akin to those from France not San Fran). Nutmeg comes forward, a smell often associated with sweetness but only to be fooled once you eat a spoonful. I want bananas to be found somewhere and then I would say that you’d be drinking banana bread. The spices and sweetness are very similar to a spiced loaf or cookie.
FINISH: The finish is long and warming and spice filled. After the flavors of spiced bread leave my mouth, I’m left with a soft smoke or at least light wood that’s been charred and left to smolder in a cold rain making that sizzling sound.
I tried the BenRiach a couple months ago when I first purchased it and I didn’t really care for it, well not at least as much as I do now. It’s interesting how a liquor will change in the bottle when all you add is time. The flavor is rich and the sweetness is balanced and with it getting colder and it happening to be raining today, I guess the timing is right.
COLOR: The color is a dark amber or medium grade B maple syrup
NOSE: 21 years of sitting in Oloroso and PX casks have done wonders for this single malt. Who knew something so dark could smell and taste so fruity, rich and spicy. Brown sugar blasts through, dragging sugar in the raw with it, caramelizing on your tongue to a rich and crunchy English toffee. The brightness of Pink lady apples and tart dark cherries snaps like a SlimJim in your nose. And this is all before you even take a sip. Take a moment to let the spirit breathe and fill the room and no doubt you’ll nose the heather off in the distance and the whiffs of tobacco leaves being dried, not smoked. Add a few drops of water and the red fruits get accentuated and then coated with sticky caramel and toffee pudding. If you don’t understand what I mean, It’s rich, rich, rich in the nose.
PALATE: The first thing I taste is the delicious fruitiness and the roundness of the two sherries. A slight smokiness or old wood flavor pushes its way through, possibly from the Pedro Ximenez influence. Even at 48% abv, I could drink this neat all day…I would be passed out with possibly less clothes on, but it’s definitely a slow easy drinker. There’s a lot of nuttiness and baking spices, like someone just baked a “fresh out of the oven” minced meat pie but added toasted hazelnuts, just because. The addition of a few drops of water increases the sweetness on the tongue and boosts the nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom spices deliciously.
FINISH: The finish is long and lasting and utterly balanced. I did experience some mid-palate astringency, but that was easily forgotten with another delicious sip.
Many of the 21 year old single malts that I’ve tasted felt light on the tongue and aren’t as rich as I’d like them to be. Enter GlenDronach 21. This single malt maintains the heavyweight feel and richness that I have looked for, all while balancing toasty oak, baking spices and sweetness. Definitely one to look out for or order, if you can find it for less than $150.
COLOR: Old Gold NOSE: Vanilla, peppery, musty with a slight sweet apple PALATE: Medicinal, light oak with a nice barley and malt base FINISH: Slight astringence, woodsy
The Yamazaki 12 year is a well done interpretation of a Scotch Whisky from the Japanese company Suntory. A great perspective from across the world.