The Amateur Drammer’s guide to Christmas whisky shopping

Every year in the run up to Christmas I receive countless emails from people who are trying to find that ideal whisky as a Christmas gift. 

It is such an open question and taste is so, so personal it is almost impossible to pick out a whisky without really knowing the person involved.

I’ve put together a few (hopefully) helpful guidelines that might just help you, or at least point you in the right direction. 

At the very least it might prevent you looking lost in your local supermarket whilst simply trying to find the oldest whisky for the lowest price…

Firstly you should consider what they currently drink. If they are a creature of habit then its best to keep it narrow, either to region or distillery, if they seem like they might be open to trying something new then its time to widen the search.

If they are creatures of habit then why not look for an older age statement of a current favourite? If they love a particular 10 year old whisky then why not treat them to a 12 or 15 year old? 

If they are just beginning their whisky journey and you want to get them a ‘starter malt’ then be careful. I am not really convinced that there is such a thing. 

I have friends who have started on Laphroaig and loved it, and friends who started on Dalwhinnie and loved it. Taste is 100% personal so it’s difficult to predict what they might like. 

I’d really recommend as a starter gift a tasting set (available from companies such as Drinks by the Dram) that contain malts from all regions of Scotland. This will provide a closer look at some of the varying styles before finding a particular dram that suits.

On this note, I would also recommend as a gift a whisky subscription box. Favourites of mine are from The Dram Team and Wishky, both of which offer various subscription choices and a good variety of themed tastings during the year.  

If they have a favourite distillery then why not look for an independent bottling or a single cask expression from there? This will offer a different experience from the standard releases.

Variations on a theme of one distillery could also include different finishes. Perhaps a sherry or port finish rather than the standard? 

If you are looking for a drinker who likes to proudly display his malts then why not look for one that comes in a nice presentation box? 

If, on the other hand, you are buying for an extreme whisky geek who is really particular about what they drink then gift vouchers are your best bet… or maybe just ask, we always love talking about whisky. 

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