Sometimes, a nice bottle of single malt might be all you need to delight an imbiber. There are certainly a few fun bottles on this year’s list of global gift ideas for whiskey lovers, but if you want to get creative, consider a rare whisky tasting shipped straight from Scotland paired with “official” whisky glasses. Sounds like something the whiskey lover in your life will enjoy? Then read on for seven unique whiskey gifts from around the world.
(A note that this roundup is an entirely selfish, not-so-subtle hint by the writer to her loved ones this season.)
1. Hillrock Double Cask Rye Whiskey
- From: Ancram, New York
- Buy now: from $100, drizly.com
There’s a lot to like about this rye whiskey: It’s been made since 2014 by a family-run distillery in Ancram, New York (a Hudson Valley town named after Ancram, Scotland) with a “field-to-glass” philosophy, says Paste magazine. “Basically, the rye grain is grown, milled, distilled, and aged in one location.” How much more local could it get? Each of its spirits—a Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey, a single malt, and this rye—are award winning, but I prefer this small-batch rye whiskey for its hint of caramel.
2. Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky
You may have tried any number of Suntory whiskies while out at a bar—they’re all over the U.S. now. But the Yamazaki 12-year is special and one of the best bottles of whisky to gift. This is Suntory’s flagship single malt out of Japan’s first distillery, Yamazaki Distillery, which opened in 1923; the Japanese tradition borrows much from Scottish distilling (hence this being whisky without an “e”). This 12-year is so smooth, with hints of fruit (to name a few: peach, grapefruit, pineapple, candied orange, tart cranberry).
3. Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Whiskey
- From: Dublin, Ireland
- Buy now: Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey, $86, reservebar.com; Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey, $60, reservebar.com
When it opened in 2015, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery was the first new distillery in Dublin, Ireland, in 125 years. You may say . . . what?! It’s true: Despite Ireland’s storied reputation for whiskey (with an “e” and triple distilled, to set it apart from double-distilled Scottish whisky), Dublin’s distilling scene had gone dormant in the 1970s and now enjoys a revival kicked off by Teeling. With its second Dublin-made release, the family-owned distiller debuts Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey, which uses smoke from peat to dry the barley during the malting process. (Peatiness is typically a scotch characteristic, especially if you’ve ever been to Scotland’s Isle of Islay.)
4. VSSL Flask
- Buy now: $100, vsslgear.com
Consider this a fancy stocking stuffer for whiskey lovers: The VSSL Flask looks like a runner’s baton, comes with a four-mode LED flashlight and a compass, and within—wait for it—is an eight-ounce chamber that will hold your spirit of choice and two stainless steel collapsible shot glasses. The makers say it’s waterproof and virtually indestructible; wish we could say the same about the drinkers. Consider this a liquid courage carrier for your next long hike or camping trip.
>> Read more: Camping Gift Ideas
5. Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Hirsch the Horizon Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- From: Indiana and Kentucky
- Buy now: $144 (for both bottles), reservebar.com (in select states)
Rated the “best non-Kentucky bourbon” by the World Whiskies Awards 2021 (it’s a compliment!) Hirsch the Horizon bourbon whiskey is a little sweet (notes of honey and toffee), plenty smooth, and comes by way of Indiana. The beautiful flask-shaped bottle, with markings that evoke exploration like a nautical sextant, makes this highly giftable to a traveler. Pair it with the new limited-edition Single Barrel release (only 57 barrels exist, aged six years in Bardstown, Kentucky, in new American Oak Barrels) to feel extra fancy.
6. Glencairn Whisky Glass Set
- Buy now: $27 for set of four, amazon.com
Our brand of whiskey drinking doesn’t care much for snobbery, but it does help to have a set of semi-official glasses to sip that single malt. Made by Glencairn Crystal Studio in the U.K., these glasses have become ubiquitous with tastings in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and across much of the U.S.
7. “Old and Rare” tastings by Away from the Ordinary
- From: Scotland
- Buy a gift voucher now: $580, watchwithwhisky.com (allow 12 days for shipping)
Having already experienced the joy of a virtual whisky tasting with Aeneas O’Hara, founder of Scottish luxury/bespoke travel company Away from the Ordinary, I’m an avid fan of its whisky-tasting packages. This “Old and Rare” set takes tastings to the next level: O’Hara hand-picks five rare Scotch whiskies—“the youngest being a dynamic 30-year-old dram, and the oldest being a powerful and iconic 50-year-old Speyside malt,” he says—and packages them with detailed tasting notes. “Each of these drams have been chosen for their narrative, their heritage, and their exquisite properties,” says O’Hara, and they can transport you to the Isle of Islay or Speyside, if only via your couch.
This article was originally published on November 13, 2020; it was updated with current information on November 24, 2021.