So, with only eight shopping days left until The Big Day (which always ends up being an anti-climax), here’s my tops tips for buying a bottle of whisky for someone this Christmas.
1. Do your research
Loads of people regularly ask me what sort of whisky to buy their dad/brother/uncle for Christmas, but when I ask what they usually drink, they don’t have a clue. So before you go shopping, have a rummage in their drinks cupboard or ask their partner what they normally drink. If they prefer a fruity Speyside malt, you don’t want to buy them an Islay peat monster!
2. Don’t be a cheapskate
Whisky can be an expensive business but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are some great bottlings out there for under £50, including my very first Whisky of the Week – the Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish. The Old Pulteney Navigator and Glendronach 12 Year Old, which I tasted at the Drinkmonger Christmas Fair, come in at under £40. Don’t just go for the £10 bottle of blended whisky you spot in the supermarket a few days before Christmas.
3. Don’t go for the same thing
Now you know what they like and how much you are willing to spend, don’t just go for the same thing as they usually drink. If they are a fan of Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood, maybe go for the 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask finish. Or if they normally drink Talisker, you could spend an extra couple of quid and buy the new(ish) Talisker Storm.
4. Shop at a retailer who knows what they are talking about
The price cuts which the supermarkets are able to offer at this time of year may be appealing, but you’d be best going to a specialist whisky retailer who knows what they are talking about. In Edinburgh, I’d recommend Royal Mile Whiskies, The Whiski Rooms or The Scotch Whisky Experience (Disclaimer – The Scotch Whisky Experience is a client of mine in my ‘normal’ job). The teams in all the stores are extremely well trained, as well as being passionate about Scotland’s national drink and will be more than happy to help you find that perfect bottle. Nationwide, The Whisky Shop usually has a good selection and there’s usually someone on hand to give some advice. And if you know what you want to buy, then the internet is your friend, with both Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange offering a fantastic range of whiskies, alongside other spirts and gift ideas.
5. Join them in a dram
So you’ve bought, wrapped and given that perfect bottle of whisky. And now they’ve opened it, comes the best part – joining them in a dram on Christmas Day. Sláinte!