The first empty doors of the boozy advent calendars are popping up on social media and people are inundating their followers with #whiskysanta wishes. That means it's time to start compiling the annual Christmas gift list for whisky geeks and occasional whisky drinkers.
Aah books, tiny creatures that literally eat away every available shelf space that has not been taken in by whisky in houses. Great solitary companions and always a tale or two at hand for you.
Whiskies Galore - Ian Buxton
Ian Buxton's new book isn't the usual distillation-process/distilleries-overview/tasting-notes whisky books that have been flooding the shelves for years. Instead, he took up a "Raw Spirit" approach and wrote down some of his tours across the Island distilleries with a few Buxtonian anecdotes and thoughts woven through it.
Great Drams of Scotland - Greg Dillon
This brand new book from whisky blogger and brand consultant Greg Dillon is a collection of distillery anecdotes and historical accounts from over 40 different Scotch distilleries.
Whisky Rising - Stefan Van Eycken
A book focused on the golden nectar from Japan, written by the man behind - the sadly idle - Nonjatta blog. It's a mix of interviews, a whisky bar guide and must drink whiskies.
Whisky - Aeneas Macdonald
A classic work that went back into print two years ago. The original text dates back from the 1930's but still tackles on contemporary issues in the world of whisky.
Whisky geeks are probably one of the easiest targets when you're out in the Christmas shopping frenzy. Any decent bottle will make them happy and they usually have a few bottles on their mind.
Big Peat Christmas 2017 edition
Any Christmas whisky list would not be complete without Douglas Laing's Christmas edition of the Big Peat blended malt. Our old pal feels a bit chilly and is in desperate need of a truly tasty dram of cask strength big peaty whisky composed with malt from every (active) Islay distillery and maybe even a drop of the soon-to-be-resurrected Port Ellen. If he or she likes his whiskies smoky or medicinal, this is the one you aim for. Alternative: Compass Box The Peat Monster.
Aberlour's A'bunadh is a huge liquid Christmas pudding. Thick and bold sherry flavours mingled with dried fruits and a serious punch. Alternative: The GlenDronach Cask Strength.
Compass Box No Name
This mysterious blended malt from Compass Box bears no name but cannot hide its provenance. There's a huge part of Ardbeg in it. And Compass Box malts rarely disappoint... Alternative: Rock Oyster Cask Strength.
Cotswolds Inaugural Single Malt
Why not start the new year with a brand new single malt from England. The Cotswolds Distillery has only been producing single malt spirit since 2014. Their very first single malt came out only recently and matured in bourbon and red wine casks. Alternative: Raasay While We Wait 1st release
The Irish whiskey brand Redbreast has been expanding its range steadily. The fabulous 12-year-old has been joined by the Lustau edition, named after the famous sherry bodega Lustau. Alternative: Teeling Brabazon.
Paul John Peated Select Cask
Indian whisky is taking the world by storm. Goa's John Distilleries has some excellent single malts both peated and unpeated. The Peated Select Cask has been made with Scottish peat since India does not have any peat bogs. Alternative: Amrut Peated.
Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength Caol Ila 2004
Gordon & Macphail is a reliable source of quality cask strength whiskies. This 2004 Caol Ila was one of the best-peated whiskies I've had last year. Alternative: G&M Cask Strength Caol Ila 2006.
Small gifts to fill those kitsch stockings near the fireplace. Small sized gifts are usually very budget friendly.
A decent hip-flask
Anyone who has a whisky geek in his family knows that he or she will always have a dram in his bag on a city trip or a hiking trip. A hip-flask will come in handy. Bonus points and extra love if you will it with his favourite whisky.
Virtually every single distillery has some branded glassware on sale. From glencairns to tumblers to water jugs. The only thing you need to know is his favourite distillery or brand.
The Whisky Exchange offers a range of different whisky and spirit crackers with a fancy gift wrap. To fill up a stocking or to decorate the Christmas table.
World Whisky baubles
Whisky and spirit baubles seem to be the hype of the moment. You'll find these Christmas decorations filled with whisky or some sort of booze in specialist shops. They are sold in a variety of themes (world whiskies, American whiskeys, English whiskies,...)
Miniatures or samples
There are thousands of 5cl miniature whisky bottles out there. Some webshops even specialize in small whisky samples with hard to find or exclusive whiskies in a small format. You'll be offering whisky without breaking the bank.
If your favourite whisky geek has a favourite brand, let him wear it with pride. Most distilleries and whisky brands have a line of clothes. Just don't fall for the shoddy (and often fake) Jack Daniels T-shirts from street vendors.
A Personal Note
I wanted to end this wish list with a personal note or two. You might have noticed there aren't any truly expensive gift ideas in this list. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. Don't put yourself in problems by overspending on gifts either for yourself or for loved ones. You don't want to start January 2018 with a massive hangover and an equally massive VISA statement. Be creative when the budget is limited.
Spend more time with family and loved ones instead of hunting for presents. Some recent family events confronted us with the triviality of material presents. I'd trade all those gift ideas for good health for everyone and a cuddle from our little girl. (In fact, I almost didn't publish the post because we are still considering to skip the holidays and the presents this year - except for the kids.)
Enjoy the holidays and all the little things crossing your path.
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