On the blogby Alfred
December 18 2018

11 Scotch whiskies to offer as a gift

by Eric Van Hove

11 scotch whiskies to answer “the” question of the hour: “I am looking for a special Christmas gift for my best friend, what are your suggestions?”

You are looking for the perfect gift for a special person, not something common that is usually tasted; what we’re looking for here is something rare or exclusive. In the province of Quebec, three options are available: Passion Whisky Québec, Alfred.vin, and the SAQ.

It is too late, this year, to participate in a private order with Passion Whisky Québec. A private importation through the SAQ usually implies a delay of three to six months to receive the product. Follow the Facebook page of Passion Whisky Québec for the next orders early next year.

There are unique collection products available on the Alfred online store. For those with budgets that can support this constant search for exclusivity and rarity, whiskies from closed distilleries, aged products or old versions; no other store can offer such a selection in the province of Quebec.

For the more standard budgets, there are quite a few finds available at the SAQ: it is important to know what to look for.

As most of the whisky sales are all blends, these blends are created to be accessible for more standard budgets and that are 100% un-differentiable from year to year; therefore, I suggest going for a scotch whisky in the “single malt” category. While this suggestion might make you think that the blends are not good products, it is clearly not the case; the point being that, for a special gift, these products are simply not the most suitable choice.

Among all the « single malt », which means that the product is only elaborated with malted barley from a single distillery, the very large majority are what we call “regulars”. These products are made in very high quantities and the taste is the same year after year, but there are also more precise bottlings: annual versions and “small batches”. These versions are the most interesting ones to offer as a gift, in my opinion.

These annual versions are products that are not very different from one batch to the other and that are often identified per year of bottling or per year of distillation. The “small batch” products are the grouping of a few casks to produce a unique bottling, often with a different product name. There is often a description of the type of casks used and the aging period.

There are also even more specific products: the “single malt, single cask”. These products are bottled from a unique cask (single cask). The master distiller chooses a cask that he believes is particularly interesting for the flavors and the complexity, and the distillery often bottles the product as is, without lowering the alcohol rate of the product. If this is the case, the bottling process can be identified as “cask strength”, which means that this is a bottling that is the closest possible to what the product would taste like if the cask was opened directly in the warehouse of the distillery. Depending on the size of the cask, there will be around 250 to 400 bottles in the world available for sale.

For a special Christmas gift, here are 11 annual versions, “small batch” and “single casks” suggestions currently available at the SAQ, within a price range of 90$ to 280$.

Annual version

Lagavulin 12 years Cask Strength– 160,25$
The Lagavulin 16 is for many the reference in the world for the products from Islay (a region of Scotland). The 12 years version with his higher alcohol rate is similar to a rebellious younger brother. Each year, the version is slightly different. Peat, smoke and iodine are on the menu for advised amateurs.

Aberlour Abunad’h – Cask Strength – 100,50$
2 to 6 versions are offered each year. Sadly, it is almost impossible to know which version you will receive after ordering from the SAQ. The photo on the website shows the version 39, but it is now up to version 60; red fruits, candied fruits and an alcohol rate of around 60%: a whisky at a price of 100$ that warrants to be seriously considered.

Small Batch

Collectivum 28 – 280$
It is not a “single malt”, but this product is very special, at is it is a unique bottling from the international company Diageo in 2017 which regroups single malts from 28 distilleries under the helm of this flagship company. This is a product that will truly please the scotch enthusiast by its incredible complexity. It is the « scotch blended malt of the year » in the 2019 edition of the « Whisky Bible ».

Ardbeg Groove – 180$
It is the annual version launched at the Islay Festival of 2018. For the peaty, iodine and fruity whisky amateurs out there, it is pure delight. A beautiful gift with an interesting “peace and love” themed packaging.

Macallan Edition #4 – 179,75$
The 4thinstallment of the “number” series that is currently a great success worldwide. The 1stversions are currently sold almost 10 times their initial price at its release four years ago. The number 4 version is beautifully balanced : a beautiful Macallan product.

Glenmorangie Spios – 160,00$
The 2018 version of the Private Edition series, with the 9thbottling of this series that offers a very special whisky that is quite different from its predecessor. Spios means “spice” in Gaelic and this scotch is the definition of a spice bomb. Ideal for the amateurs of pepper, cinnamon or clove.

Glenfiddich IPA Experiment – 90,25$
In the “Experimental Series” of the distillery, three products are offered. For the IPA, after the aging of the whisky, is that the casks were emptied of their contents are shared with a brewery for the production of a “batch” of IPA beer. Glenfiddich then recovered these casks and used them for a few more months, which resulted in a whisky blessed with a touch of beer taste and softness for the finale. For beer enthusiasts, this is a wonderful combination.

Bruichladdich Octomore 9.1 – 231,75$
For 9 years, the Octomore series offers very peaty/smoky scotches for the utmost happiness of amateurs. The version 1 of the series 9 has just arrived in SAQ stores. Octomore is a truly wonderful series, I want more!

Single Cask

Glenlivet Single Cask – 287,25$
I am not a fan of Glenlivet, I admit it and I did not taste this product. But this scotch whisky of 16 years at 55 % alcohol rate aged in “Hogshead American” casks is tempting me. I would take the opportunity any day, don’t be shy! Also, it comes with a beautiful wooden packaging, which is perfect to offer as gift for your friend.

Balvenie Single Barrel 15 years Sherry cask – 249,75$
What a beautiful fruity scotch! The red fruits from the sherry cask are superb. One of the best Balvenie that I have ever tasted.

Kilchoman Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish – Single Cask – Cask Strength– 179,50$
You are looking for red fruits, but also for an iodized peat taste? Kilchoman produces marvelous products that are bottled directly from the cask. A no-brainer purchase. Also, bottles produced by Kilchoman are some of the most beautiful ones on the market; I’ll be sending you my address for gifting purposes soon!

___

PHOTO:
Anthony Wills –  Owner of Kilchoman

AlfredThe sommeliers community in your pocket.

Begin your Alfred journey today: Sign Up