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The Best Ten Whisky Gifts for Christmas

By Miguel in Featured , Whisky

With Christmas so close it is time to stock a few malt to either enjoy them with the friends and family or just to enjoy them on your own despite your friends and family. You can use this as a list of best xmas whisky gifts but I really advise you against it… this stuff is quite good for giving it away.

whisky-best-gift

Whisky world is getting each day more and more exclusive ( and this sucks ), there are tons of limited special editions of great distilleries like Lagavulin, Macallan or Glenlivet and it is each time harder to get one of them because they are either too limited or too expensive or both of them most times. So let me help you choosing interesting stuff for this Holiday and you thank it me later.

First, please remember that I really love young peated whiskies, mid age sherried Speysiders and very old ex-bourbon casks malts. If you share my taste go ahead blindly, you won’t be disappointed. Second, I am tired of reading about whisky bottles that I can’t afford… I don’t know anyone who can afford a £2000 Lagavulin, I don’t even know anyone crazy enough to buy the Lagavulin 21yo so my ten suggestions are on the affordable ( *ejem* I mean “affordable”… most of my friends insists that I am crazy ) range of the single malt spectrum.

So let’s see the list

1. Glenfarclas 25 years old

My first choice would be this fantastic Glenfarclas 25 years old. It is maybe the best quality-value sherried whisky out there. After tasting it in a row with the 21yo, 25yo, 30yo and 40yo, I would doubt a second between this one and the 30 years old… but really you can’t get a better whisky for less than £100. A Masterpiece.

“An all-time classic. Really if you want a good sherried whisky for a fair price get this Glenfarclas”

91
Glenfarclas 25 year
Distilled at the Glenfarclas distillery in the Speyside, this awesome 25 years old single malt whisky belongs to one of the last family owned distilleries in Scotland.

An all-time classic, Glenfarclas 25 years old is the epitome of long-aged sherried Speyside, gorgeously smooth and silkily-textured, with rich, generous flavours of fruitcake, hazelnuts, dried fruit and a hint of dark chocolate and coffee. A thoroughly delightful dram.

If you like sherried whiskies you are already late buying one!

This dram has a amber-like color.

Nose (90): more than average. nuts, citrus, honey, spices, wood, cocoa.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. nuts, spices, citrus, honey, wood, leather.

Finish (91): longer than average. nuts, oloroso.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Glenfarclas 25 year with 91 points over 100.

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2. Aberfeldy 21 years old

Keeping with the old, this Aberfeldy is the key ingredient in Dewar’s blended whisky… but for a second forget about White Label and think about their fantastic Dewar’s Signature. Yes? Well, this Aberfeldy was even better.

“Fantastic whisky with traces of smoke and pinapples. I really love it. What a discovery!”

92
Aberfeldy 21 year
Launched in October of 2005, this 21 year old lies at the core of the Aberfeldy range and is something of a flagship for the brand. This bottling was heralded as the Best Mainland Single Malt at the World Whisky Awards 2007.

This dram has a gold-like color.

Nose (92): more than average. honey, citrus, fruits, pineapple, flowers, spices, vanilla.

Palate (92): powerful, oily. honey, citrus, smoke, fruits, spices, cinnamon.

Finish (91): longer than average. honey, spices, wood.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Aberfeldy 21 year with 92 points over 100.

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3. Ardbeg Uigeadail

What would be of a list of the best whiskies without an Islay one? This is a lovely Ardbeg with all the flavour of the Ardbeg 10 years old and all the extra and fireworks of being bottled at cask strength. If you like peat, this whisky is a no-brainer.

“ A great dram. One of the best Ardbegs I have tried that has still a reasonable price. It is more complex than Ardbeg 10 years old and has no trace of vanilla.”

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Ardbeg Uigeadail
A fine drop of Ardbeg bottled at cask strength.

As most Ardbeg whiskies, Uigeadail is an earthy whisky with a bit of spice - a marriage of Ardbeg from bourbon barrel and sherry butt which gives a sweet and smokey finish to this malt at 54.2%.

Uigeadail is the loch from which all Ardbeg water flows and you can suck up the Islay landscape with a dram of this fine whisky. Winner of World Whisky of The Year title in Jim Murray`s 2009 Whisky Bible.

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (88): inexistent. sweet, malt, fruity: melon, complex. First nosing data is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

Palate (100): . sweet, peat, hot, fruity, lemon, malt. Bouquet data is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

Finish (92): no finish. peat and fruity, sweet. Finish length is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Ardbeg Uigeadail with 93 points over 100.

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4. Arran 17 years old Douglas Lain Old Particular

Douglas Laing launched recently their range of Old Particular single cask bottles and this Arran really shines between them with a great taste for a very interesting price. It reminds me of the first great whiskies I tasted… The good old times…

“Another great Arran whisky packed with all the character of this distillery and bottle for the new range of single cask whisky of Douglas Laing. Lovely”

92
Arran 17 years old Douglas Laing Old Particular

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. honey, citrus, vanilla, spices, liquorice.

Palate (92): powerful, oily. honey, vanilla, wood, spices, fruits, mango, pepper.

Finish (92): longer than average. honey, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Arran 17 years old Douglas Laing Old Particular with 92 points over 100.

5. Balmenach 1988 25 years old Cask 1132 Signatory Bottled For The Whisky Exchange

All I knew about Balmenach is that the Queen spends time on her castle there… but really who cares about all that. This whisky was so fragant, delicate yet powerful that I couldn’t but to buy it. It is another masterpiece result of an good spirit and the uttermost care for the wood and who knows… one or two drops of luck.

“Such greatness in this whisky! I bought one bottle of it. I couldn't resist”

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Balmenach 1988 / 25 Year Old / Cask #1132/ Signatory for TWE Speyside Whisky
A single cask bottling of 1988 vintage Balmenach, hand picked by The Whisky Exchange and bottled by Signatory at 25 years of age. The distillery very rarely produces an official bottling, as most of the production is used for the owner's, Inver House, range of blended whiskies.

This dram has a amber-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. honey, wood, spices, cloves, vanilla, candies, floral.

Palate (93): powerful, oily. honey, spices, candies, liquorice, apples, pears, citrus.

Finish (92): longer than average. honey, spices, floral.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Balmenach 1988 / 25 Year Old / Cask #1132/ Signatory for TWE Speyside Whisky with 92 points over 100.

6. Caol Ila 18 years old The Whisky Exchange Retro Label

And well… you know I have a keen heart for peat, but this Caol Ila is simply amazing. It is one of those rare whiskies that is well matured and still peated with such energy that still amazes me.

“Oh my God! Fantastic Caol Ila! It has been much like the first time I tasted Peat Monster. A life-changing experience”

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Caol Ila 18 Year Old / TWE Retro Label Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
A fantastic 18 year old Caol Ila, bottled by The Whisky Exchange and released at The Whisky Show 2013. A firm favourite on the show bottlings stand but with a very small outturn we don't expect this to last very long...

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (92): more than average. peat, honey, citrus, earth, vanilla.

Palate (93): powerful, oily. peat, honey, citrus, earth, sweet.

Finish (92): longer than average. peat, honey.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Caol Ila 18 Year Old / TWE Retro Label Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky with 92 points over 100.

7. Balvenie 12 years old Single Barrel

You didn’t see this one coming, don’t you? I tasted this at The Whisky Show 2013 and I was surprised that the most basic whisky of the range was so good. It isn’t sherried like the 12 years old Doublewood but it is so delightfully aged in ex-bourbon casks that it won my heart.

“Damn good dram! I have now a new favorite on the Balvenie range”

91
Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel - First Fill

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (90): more than average. honey, oranges, spices, vanilla, tobacco.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. honey, vanilla, spices, citrus, tobacco leaves.

Finish (91): longer than average. honey, vanilla, wood.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel - First Fill with 91 points over 100.

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8. Compass Box Peat Monster 10thanniversary

This one is a bit expensive, if you recall the original Compass Box Peat Monster is worth around half the money… so? So this whisky is lovely crafted to follow the original Peat Monster style and pushed forwards with a cask strength version and wonderful whisky selection to create this great malt.

“Can anything be better than a dram of Peat Monster? Well, this is!”

92
Compass Box Peat Monster 10th anniversary

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. peat, honey, vanilla, smoke, citrus, bacon.

Palate (92): powerful, oily. peat, honey, citrus, vanilla, spices, wood, earth, coffee.

Finish (92): longer than average. peat, honey, coffee.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Compass Box Peat Monster 10th anniversary with 92 points over 100.

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9. Kilchoman 2008 Bourbon Cask Bottled For The Whisky Show 2013

Time for macho peat! Argh! I love Kilchoman whiskies… so wild and powerful. This Kilchoman is a fabulous single malt bottled specially for The Whisky Show from a single ex-bourbon cask with delightful peat aromas and taste. Really, you don’t imagine how good it is. And of course bottled at cask strength.

“Absolutely lovely Kilchoman. A single cask pleasure”

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Kilchoman 2008 / Bourbon Cask for The Whisky Show 2013 Islay Whisky
Bottled just 9 days before its 5th birthday, this 2008 vintage Kilchoman was released especially for The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show 2013.

This dram has a gold-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. toffee, vanilla, peat, citrus.

Palate (92): powerful, oily. peat, honey, vanilla, spices, salt.

Finish (92): longer than average. peat, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Kilchoman 2008 / Bourbon Cask for The Whisky Show 2013 Islay Whisky with 92 points over 100.

10. Lagavulin 16 years old

What would be of a list of best whiskies without Lagavulin? This whisky is the salt of life. You can live without it but it won’t be the same. It is my all-time favorite and one single malt that I always have at home because I love the way the peat, the sherry and the spices work on this Lagavulin to achieve one of the best single malts out there for its price.

“This Lagavulin is a superb Islay whisky with its amazing peat complexity. Really one of the best bang for the buck single malts out there.”

92
Lagavulin 16 year
Full amber in color with adominant sherry nose. Full-bodied yet smooth. The dryness is offset by the sweetness of the sherry character. Salty notes and a huge powerful peaty finish.

Lagavulin 16 years old is perhaps the best daily dram single malt whisky out there. You will not find anything so good for that price, as long as you like peat in your whisky.

A connoisseur's malt, and with consistently high marks from Michael Jackson.

If you have the chance, try the 12 years old expression that has been aged exclusively in bourbon barrels. Simply delicious.

This dram has a cooper-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. peat, honey, peaches, vanilla, citrus, pepper.

Palate (92): powerful, oily. peat, honey, citrus, vanilla, peaches, espresso.

Finish (92): longer than average. peat, honey, peaches, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Lagavulin 16 year with 92 points over 100.

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The Perfect Gift for Xmas

And as this is a list of the best Xmas whisky gifts I couldn’t end it without talking about Big Peat. This lovely vatted whisky from Douglas Laing has every year a special limited release for Christmas that it is bottled at cask strength.

“Absolutely delightful whisky with a nice peat punch... although I want to believe that last year whisky was slightly better”

91
Big Peat at Christmas 2013

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. peat, smoke, citrus, vanilla, earth.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. peat, earth, honey, citrus, vanilla, coffee.

Finish (91): longer than average. peat, smoke, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Big Peat at Christmas 2013 with 91 points over 100.

Miguel says…

sat-guaranteed

So this is my wishlist for Xmas. I have deliberately omited some expensive drams that I have tasted recently because the point on this list was to get some affordable whiskies, but in case you want to check it, it is some of the drams that I drank at The Whisky Show 2013 or just the best stuff that I have tasted.

What whisky would you love to get? What whiskies would you add and what whiskies would you remove of this list?



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