Salutations of the season one and all, we have indeed entered the festive season and you can’t say were not good to you! After last month’s guide to selecting the ideal gifting bottle, we now have four more suggestions that should serve as great gifts or might equally sooth your brow as the big day approaches.
Whether you (or that special someone) fancy a nice bourbon with friends, an affordable Japanese rarity or a scotch that’s equally at home in the hip-flask as it is at the fire side, we have you covered. Equally there’s some great value to be found here, which is always a good thing when yuletide expenses start to take hold! Enjoy.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
Karuizawa Spirit of Asama 48%
Karuizawa has become a name to conjure with and undoubtedly Japan’s most enigmatic, now sadly lost, distillery. With such reverence comes a price of course and with Karuizawa it is often a steep one. The single cask releases fly off shelves and quickly find their way onto collector’s shelves, or re-sold for a handsome profit. This release is different though; a vatting of 77 casks all distilled between 1990 and 2000, designed to offer more drinkers a taste of what this remarkable distillate has to offer.
£54.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Blanton’s “Straight from the Barrel”
A single barrel, non chill filtered, cask strength bourbon from the Buffalo Trace stable. This is a great whiskey for those looking to step up to quality mid-range small batch bourbon. The nose opens on ripe berries, raisins, clove spice and a dusting of cocoa with a back note of root beer. On the palate, if you’re brave enough to try this without water, it starts hot, very hot. With a generous drop of water - and you’re going to need it - things open up beautifully with caramel sweetness balanced by herbal tones and a spicy, chili bite. Oh, and the packaging more than a little special too!
£72.41 at www.masterofmalt.com
Tomatin 30 year old
This is a whisky that holds a few surprises, not least of which is the price tag. There aren’t many, if any, other distillery own-bottled 30 year olds at this price point. But the surprises don’t stop there. For a whisky of its age, it’s surprisingly full of life with zingy tropical fruit on the nose, especially pineapple, and an abundance of sharp, crisp, cereally malt on the palate. The Tomatin distillery character shines through - thirty years in the cask and you can still taste the malt and new-make distillate. Buy some fast before they realise they’ve made a mistake with the price!
£115.50 at www.whiskyshopdufftown.co.uk
Ardbeg - Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Independently bottled Ardbeg’s are a rarity, examples at a less than inflated price are even more so. Happily that’s not the case with “That Boutique-y Whisky Company”, and as a result it’s hardly surprising that they are already on the second batch of their cask strength, low out-turn release from what must be Islay’s most adored (and hyped) distillery. Ardbeg is of eminently reliable quality and this is no exception; bracing and full of peat but with the distilleries characteristic balance of sweet fruit and coastal notes.
£54.95 at www.masterofmalt.com
Prices correct on date of publishing