Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whiskey Wednesday: Whiskey Gifts

There have been some great whiskeys released this year, for both the whiskey novice and expert. Unfortunately, many of the new releases are either extremely pricey, extremely hard to find or both. I've tried to offer some more reasonable choices here along with a few splurges.

American Whiskey

William Larue Weller. The annual fall release of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (consisting of George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare 17 year old and William Larue Weller Bourbons as well as Sazerac 18 year old and Thomas H. Handy rye whiskeys) is always a cause for celebration among Bourbon lovers. This year, the best reviewed of the bunch has been the Weller, a barrel strength, wheated Bourbon. My review will come later, but I can attest that this is a phenomenal whiskey, and many people who have tasted it have uttered the words "best ever." If you can still find it, it should be in the $90 range.

Jefferson Presidential Select. I reviewed this 17 year old wheater last week. It will cost you in the neighborhood of $90, but for the real Bourbon geek in your life, a sip of potion from the defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery is worth its weight in gold.

Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. While Dr. Whisky disagrees, I very much enjoyed Bernheim Straight Wheat Whiskey, a novel whiskey which comes at a reasonable price, around $40.

Wild Turkey American Spirit. This limited release Bourbon is still on shelves but probably won't be available much longer. It goes for around $70 and gives you some solid Turkey heft and complexity.


Bruichladdich Octomore. For the peat lover in your life, take a trip to Wine & Liquor Depot in Van Nuys, which still has a few bottles of Bruichladdich's ├╝ber-smoky Octomore. It goes for around $120.

Ardbeg. A bit cheaper but still smokin' is the new Ardbeg Corryvreckan which runs $75 to $80. I haven't tried this one yet, but an Ardbeg new release is a pretty safe bet. Corryvreckan will be replacing Ardbeg's Airigh Nam Beist, which will be gradually disappearing from shelves, so if you're a fan of "the Beast," you may want to pick up a bottle to put away. It's still around and runs around the same price.

Japanese Whisky

Suntory Hibiki. The Suntory Company is smiling on the US and sending us two new releases, the vintage 1984 Yamazaki and the 12 year old version of their popular blend Hibiki. I tasted both of these whiskies at WhiskyLive and enjoyed them both. The more expensive and more remarkable 1984 isn't available yet and will probably be quite pricey. The Hibiki has started popping up; it is a very smooth and drinkable blend that would make the perfect gift for the Scotch drinker in your life. The going price on the Hibiki seems to be around $50.

For more budget-friendly whiskey gifts, see my list of great whiskey for under $20.

Happy holidays!


Anonymous said...

I would like to buy a bottle of 18 year old Highland Park Scotch as a christmas gift for my boss. Do you know where I could buy this in LA. Thanks for your help.

sku said...

Anon, Highland Park 18 is a great whisky and pretty available as well. You don't say where in town you are but most liquor stores with a decent selection of single malts, including BevMo, will carry it. If you let me know where you are, I may be able to suggest something more specific.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting back to me. I am in Venice. The gift is for someone who is a whiskey drinker, so I'm looking for something yummy but unusual
in the $100 price range. Maybe something harder to come by would be better??

sku said...

For where you are, Wine House in West LA might be the closest with a really good selection.

If you want something more unusual, try a Japanese whisky. In addition to the Hibki I listed above, the Yamazaki 18 year old is a great single malt that tends to be in the $80-$90 range.

Good luck!

TNT Adventures said...

Hi Sku,

I had a question that I was hoping you might be able to help me with. My wife who is an attorney like you, is looking to buy her boss a bottle of scotch. By the way they are located in K-town too. Another coincidence.

In the past we have gotten him Oban 14 and the Lagavalin 16. He enjoyed the Oban and we didn't get a chance to ask him what he thought about the Lagavalin.

We recently purchased The Balvenie single barrel aged 15 years. What do you think about this one? Looking for something in the $50 to $75 range. Purchased this particular one at Total Wine. Have you been here? What are you impressions on there selection and prices? Any places that you particularly like in the Orange County area?

Thanks for any help you can provide.


sku said...


I haven't been to Total Wine, but the best selection I know of in Orange County is Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa.

Balvenie is a solid choice; I haven't had that particular one, but most Balvenies will be a bit lighter than the Oban. If your boss really liked the Oban, I might follow up with an Old Pulteney 17 year old or a Dalmore 15 year old, both should be about in your price range.

Good luck and let me know what you choose.

TNT Adventures said...

Thanks for your help. I'll look into the Old Pulteney 17 and that Dalmore 15 for next year. I think we are going to stick with giving him the Balvenie this year.