Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Picks 2008

Ladies and Laddies, at your request, the second installment of Dr. Whisky's top whisky, and whisky-related picks for Christmas. Not necessarily cheap whisky nor a lot of Christmas whiskey, but a few things worth every penny and things that would make good gifts for those whisky nerds in your life.


The Whisky Exchange
Ardbeg Uigeadail £38.50
Bunnahabhain 25yo £145
Clynelish Distillers Edition £35
Elements of Islay Set £100

Talisker 25 £87

Royal Mile Whiskies
Ardmore Traditional £23
Kilchoman Connoisseurs Pack £20
Royal Island 17yo £25

Royal Island 30yo £55
Glenfarclas 25yo £82.95

For Scotch
Talisker Sampler Pack (20cl bottles of 10, 18, and Distillers Edition) $50
Tomatin 25yo $125
The Balvenie 17yo $135


Social Christmas Gifts

Joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is worthwhile for any malt drinker and would make a wonderful gift that keeps on giving as newletters, bottling lists, and tasting event listings arrive by mail year round. In the UK, there are members rooms in Edinburgh [Leith Vaults (mentioned in a past Dr. Whisky post HERE) and Queen St.] and London (Greville St.) and they are absolutely stunning venues and great spots to entertain guests... or just yourself.

In the USA, the SMWSA is equally wonderful but operates slightly differently. You still reveive mail and have access to an exclusive list of soctiety bottlings, but it is much more a network of friends, bottles, and events that come to you! Twice a year, the SMWSA tours the country hitting larger cities with the best consumer whisky fairs in the country. They never oversell tickets so there is always room to move, good food to eat, and the Shayne family and friends do such a great job (and are such wonderful people), paying membership to be invited to their tasting events is worth every single penny.

And their new bottle design is absolutely stunning. Nice work, guys!

Readable Christmas Whisky Gifts

The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009: Another edition of the annual must-have from Ingvar Ronde, a book full of enough basics to educate the new whisky enthusiast, enough info entertain the casual whisky drinker, and enough detail to satisfy the real whisky nerds among us. As usual, the book includes detailed bios on all operating (and many closed) distilleries, stats and commentary on the year that was, info on websites (including this one), and an absolutely brilliant section of articles with contributions from Charles Maclean, Ian Buxton, Walter Schobert, Dominic Roskrow, David Stirk, Gavin D. Smith. This easy to transport and easy to read softcover is part magazine, part book, part distillery guide, part industry report and ALL amazing reading with brilliant new additions every year. No other book but the Malt Whisky Yearbook travels with me everywhere my malt mission takes me, and there is good reason for that.

Richard Paterson (and Gavin D. Smith's) Goodness Nose is a brand new book that has been in the works for longer than you can imagine. The subtitle, "The Passionate Revelations of a Scotch Whisky Master Blender" is pretty accurate and shamelessly embraces the confident but charming tone of Richard himself that permeates every page. Paterson is a third generation blender whose knack for recounting our shared cultural history, weaving it with the history of Scotch whisky, and draping it with his insightful wit is unmatched, either in his presentations or in the pages of this carefully crafted book. My own interest in blended whisky gets nourished with this book as few but Paterson can offer parallel insight into its history and craft. And he is not one to hold back.

Robin Laing's The Whisky River (or HERE):
Laing's well-written guide to Willie Nelson... just kidding. This is an intentionally and incidentally poetic guide to the distilleries of Speyside told in a way only Laing can, with song and spirit on every page. A delight to read.

Charlie Maclean's Whisky Tales or Maclean's Miscellany of Whisky (hardback and softcover available): Two books from one of the world's greatest whisky scholars that are absolute fun to read cover to cover or one section at a time. Unique books in the world of whisky lit: no tasting notes or chronological histories... just the best stories and factual tidbits told by a brilliant writer with an obvious passion for his topic.

and, of course, for the real fact nut

Misako Udo's The Scottish Malt Whisky Distilleries(hardback also available): The life, times, still size and phenolic content of every (legal?) malt distillery to have existed in Scotland. Amazing attention to detail with the new addition of brief distillery summaries.

Drinkable Christmas Whisky Gifts

The malts above are all well-suited for Xmas and are just a selection of the various offers at each outlet made by yours truly with Christmas in mind.

A good Christmas whisky should be pleasant to drink for both
new and experienced whisky drinkers. An added bonus is if they have some rich, winter-warming spice, dried fruit, etc.
(Buy one bottle of sherry this year, too. As whisky lovers, we need to support the Spanish sherry industry!)
So here are a nice round SEVEN recommended Christmas Whiskies, irrespective of price, but hopefully there is something for everyone's budget (and nothing that demands hiring a detective to find):

Grant's Family Reserve

Johnnie Walker 12yo Black Label
The Balvenie 17yo Rum Cask
Glengoyne 17yo
Bunnahabhain 25yo
Glenfarclas 30yo
Glenmorangie Signet

Hope this has been of use. If you have any whisky questions, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Whisky for a prescription.
In the UK? Check out Joel and Neil's top whisky Xmas gifts at CASKSTRENGTH.NET
In DC? Check out ScotchChix for their update of cheap whisky in the US Capitol.
Beyond the world of whisky, check out Camper English's ALCADEMICS gift picks.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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