Finding the perfect gift for that special someone can be tough. Unless they drink whiskey. In which case you’ve come to the right place.
Business Insider has spent some of the past year sampling, inspecting, tasting, and rating several top whiskeys and scotches. And as the holiday season draws closer, dear reader, we have objective results to report.
This year, we go international and domestic, sampling bottles of Americans’ and Scots’ favourites, and even include Japan in the booze rankings.
To keep everyone from novices to aficionados up on their beverage game, we’re including key whiskey amenities. Now have a look at some of the most flavorful spirits this holiday season:
Macallan Scotch is easy to acquire for drinkers of all stripes. It is, admittedly, not very peaty, but it's certainly good enough that you ought not ruin it with a single chip of ice. The Macallan 10 is the cheapest you can find, is noticeably lighter in colour than older Macallans, and is smooth and easy to drink. Perhaps a little too easy.
Price: $50 and up
The perfect whiskey for the drinker not terribly fond of peat. It's super-smooth relatively easy to find in most US cities. For those who really want to impress whoever they're gifting this year, there's an even better Redbreast (15 year) that's reasonably priced. It's the first of single pot still whiskeys on our list, but not the last.
Price: $63 and up
Take out the airport traffic, the propensity of germ attacks, screaming children, hostile TSA agents, taking off shoes, putting shoes back on, belt removal, and possibly the worst thing about modern air travel is being forced to choke down booze that most people wouldn't be mean enough to serve at an in-law's only open bar.
No more: You can now board flights acting as your own bartender, with Carry On Cocktail recipes, including The Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, and The Gin & Tonic. Or load up on all three.
Price: $24 for one or $90 for all, making two drinks each
Hibiki is a phenomenal Japanese whiskey that we highlighted on last year's liquor list, saying: 'It tastes sweet and rich, with fruity and oaky elements. This is one of the best Japanese whiskeys out there and is a Whisky Magazine editors' choice.'
It was also less than $140 back then. Today the best deal we could find online was $233.
Green Spot Irish whiskey used to be a superb way of impressing someone who was both a whiskey drinker and someone who appreciated the effort of a gift-giver going out of their way (until 2014, you couldn't even buy it in the US).
Now, thankfully, it's a lot easier to find. Green Spot is, like Redbreast, owned by Pernod Ricard and, like Redbreast, wasn't available Stateside until recently. The best part is, like Redbreast, it's still available at a pretty reasonable price.
Price: $64 and at many local retailers
Hudson Whiskey isn't just a great brand -- it's also something New Yorkers can enjoy in a simple day trip upstate
Not every whiskey and scotch on our list can be accessed with a quick ride upstate into New York. But, Hudson Whiskey (and, notably, its Manhattan Rye) is, and is worth the trip.
Price: $45 plus shipping
The Balvenie offers plenty of palate-pleasing options, so Business Insider decided to provide a few of them. The Balvenie 12 single barrel is a light, woody-tasting scotch; its Doublewood marks both a peatier and heartier drink and as for the Balvenie 21 year ... well, some of us are still working our way up the ranks. Feel free to write in, in our comments section, if you'd like to submit a review of one of Speyside's finer offerings.
Now we're getting into the peatier picks. Lagavulin 16 is a scotch drinker's scotch, smooth, woody, and balanced with enough peat to make you stop and enjoy your drink. It hails from the Isle of Islay, and Business Insider was fortunate enough to sample a little bit of it earlier this year at a tasting we hosted, when Diageo's whiskey team paid a visit.
Price: About $60 and up, less delivery cost
There's a lot to learn getting into the whiskey game. But there are scant opportunities (other than, of course, just drinking literally everything) for novices to up their game into being full-blown aficionados.
That's where The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-it-All comes into play. Not only can you familiarise yourself with new boozes; you can even get a whiff of what it's like to sample scotches and whiskeys of your choosing.
Price: About $15
If you're looking to upgrade your holiday whisky and enjoy a peatier sip, look no further than the Lagavulin 1995 16-year blend. It's an earthy whiskey, with a peat smoke taste and hints of sherry and vanilla.
Price: $72 before shipping
Laphroaig 10-year isn't a very expensive scotch, and it's also readily available at many retailer stores (unlike some of the more rare bottles we've got on our holiday tasting list). It's a peatier drink compared to other 10-years, like Macallan, but with what one reviewer called a smoky taste and a 'hint of seaweed and a surprising sweetness.'
Price: About $55