Published on December 2nd, 2012 | by buyingforhim0
Gifts for the Whisky Drinker
Buying gifts for a whisky connoisseur can be a minefield. Our guide to whisky styles will help you pick the perfect gift.
Blended whiskies are made by combining whiskies from several distilleries to produce a whisky that is very consistent and doesn’t vary from bottle to bottle. They are competitively priced and a good gift for someone who has just started to try whisky, as they are usually smoother and easy to drink. These types of whiskies are also great for using in cocktails or for mixing with other spirits, where the finesse of more expensive whiskies would be lost.
Scottish whisky is regarded as the best in the world but it can vary widely depending on the region the whisky is made.This is because traditional processes vary slightly between regions which changes the flavour and character of the whisky. Knowing a little about the different styles will help you pick the perfect bottle. Look for a ‘single malt’ whisky – this means it was made from whisky produced at a single distillery. Single malts vary greatly, with subtle and complex flavours. This type of whisky is best drunk straight or with a little ice or water, so the true flavours can be enjoyed.
Speyside produces the majority of whisky, with about 60% of single malts coming from this area. Malts from this region are fruity and smooth, with sweet notes. Light styles like Glenfiddich or Cardhu are fragrant and easy to drink; perfect for someone who is just venturing in to the world of whisky. The Glenlivet and Glen Moray brands are heavier bodied, but still fruity. There are also big bodied styles, such as Balvenie or The Macallan, that are very complex and sophisticated. They are often described as being similar to fruit cake, and make a good gift for the serious whisky lover.
The Highlands cover a large area geographically, so whiskies from this region can vary a lot. They tend to be medium or full bodied, with a dry finish, although some lighter whiskies can be found from the distilleries near Oban. In general, Highland whiskies don’t have smoky or peaty notes, making them a good all-rounder if you aren’t sure exactly of the recipient’s tastes.
Islay is thought to be one of the first parts of Scotland to produce distilled alcohol, and whiskies from this area are well known for their use of smoke. This produces strong, earthy tasting whiskies which can be an acquired taste. These types of whisky are popular with connoisseurs and are a perfect gift for someone who already has a well-stocked whisky cabinet.
Many lowland distilleries have now closed, so these type of whisky can be hard to find. They are light and fresh tasting, with no lingering flavours. As such, they are easy to drink alone or with a small snack, and make a great gift idea for someone totally new to whisky.
Once a major whisky region, now only 3 distilleries operate in this area. Whiskies from this area can be smoky, although there are some un-peated varieties available.
Island whiskies aren’t officially recognised as a specific type and are often sold alongside Highland whiskies. The whiskies vary across the region, but slight salty notes are a common feature of whisky from this area due to the sea air. A great choice for the adventurous whisky drinker.
Other styles and gift ideas
A selection of Miniatures is a great way to try several different whiskies without breaking the budget.
American whiskeys are sweeter and richer than Scottish whiskies.
Books and guides to whisky – great for the fussy drinker.
A set of whisky glasses is the perfect gift for those with a full whisky cabinet.
Blow the budget with rare and vintage malts