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The 7 Best Global Gifts for Whiskey Lovers

By Laura Dannen Redman

Nov 13, 2020

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D.S. & Durga’s new Blue Label candle smells like the North Sea of Scotland blended with barley, reindeer moss, and peated whisky.

Courtesy of D.S. & Durga

D.S. & Durga’s new Blue Label candle smells like the North Sea of Scotland blended with barley, reindeer moss, and peated whisky.

Be it a flask with a flashlight or scotch to your door, these gifts will make any whiskey (or whisky) fan light up this holiday season.

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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 whisky-and-cheese tasting shipped straight from Scotland, or a bottle of barrel finished Old-Fashioneds, or even reserve a spot on that epic future trip to the distillery where (we hear) the world’s best single malt is made. 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.)

Count us in for any virtual event that involves whisky and cheese.

Whisky and cheese tastings by Away from the Ordinary

Having already experienced the joy of a virtual whisky tasting with Aeneas O’Hara, founder of Scottish travel company Away from the Ordinary, I highly recommend this new whisky-and-cheese session. O’Hara hand-picks five rare or underrated Scotch whiskies and five cheeses and will package them with tasting notes, like a wee little Alice in Wonderland box of “Drink Me/Eat Me” treats.

You can also coordinate a private Zoom tasting with friends and family led by O’Hara himself, or join a special group virtual tasting on December 1, 2020, at 7 p.m. ET. (Space is limited to the first 25 people.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s no quicker way to the heart of a culture—and a people—than through a shared toast.

Premade cocktails are having a moment this year.

Premade Barrel Finished Manhattan and Old Fashioned by High West Distillery

  • From: Utah, United States 
  • Buy Now: Barrel Finished Manhattan, $50, drizly.com; Barrel Finished Old Fashioned, $50, drizly.com 

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At first, it was hard for me to get behind the idea of a premade Manhattan or Old-Fashioned—like a cocktail in a can, it just sounded sad. But then COVID hit, and I stopped being so darn judgy and opened up my palate to the possibility of a prebottled beverage.

High West, Utah’s first distillery since the 1870s (and beloved by AFARians), has developed a Barrel Finished Old Fashioned and Barrel Finished Manhattan, mixed with bourbon and rye and matured in used rye barrels, for a richer final taste. The Old Fashioned blends raw sugar, bitters, and a bit of orange extract, and the Manhattan is mixed with sweet and dry vermouth. Each 750 ml bottle pours 12 drinks—plenty for a Happy New Year, perhaps?

Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky

You may have tried any number of Suntory whiskies while out at a bar—they’re all over the USA now. But the Yamazaki 12-year is special and one of the best bottles of whiskey 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 also supposed to be so smooth, with hints of fruit (to name a few: peach, grapefruit, pineapple, candied orange, tart cranberry). I say “supposed to” because I haven’t tried it yet—but I want to! Hint, hint. 

It may look like a flashlight, but the VSSL Flask also holds 9 ounces of your favorite whiskey.

VSSL Flask

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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 a 9-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. 

Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey won’t be available in the U.S. until January, but Teeling has plenty of whiskey available to buy now.

Teeling Whiskey Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Whiskey

  • From: Dublin, Ireland
  • Buy Soon: $75, available in January at reservebar.com
  • Buy Now: Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey, $60, reservebar.com; Teeling Vintage Reserve Single Malt 24-Year Irish Whiskey, $500, 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.)

Since this new line won’t be available in the U.S. until January, I’d recommend gifting a bottle of the Teeling Single Malt or—if you’re feeling extra fancy—the Teeling Single Malt 24-Year, rated the “world’s best single malt” in 2019 at the World Whiskies Awards. I got to try a sip of it and wanted to buy it by the gallon. 

Purchase the Blue Label candle on its own through D.S. & Durga, or with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue via Reserve Bar.

Blue Label Johnnie Walker x D.S. & Durga Candle

  • From: New York, United States/Scotland
  • Buy Now: Blue Label candle, $65, dsanddurga.com; Whisky and candle gift set, $299, reservebar.com 

Brooklyn-based perfume house D.S. & Durga is known for its ability to evoke a real sense of place with its scents—with a tagline like “perfume is armchair travel,” you can see why. Big Sur After Rain? It comes as a hand sanitizer.  The scent of the North Sea of Scotland blended with barley, reindeer moss, and peated whisky? Try it as a candle paired with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.

In addition to exploring Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park, you’ll also get to drink the goods at Sullivans Cove Distillery on this three-day trip.

A trip to try the world’s best single malt

  • Where: Tasmania, Australia
  • When: September 28–30, 2021
  • Book Now: $1,730 based on double occupancy, atlasobscura.com

Technically, this three-day tour—one of the new cobranded trips created by Atlas Obscura and Tastemade—is all about “Walking and Wine in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park.” You’ll notice “whiskey” isn’t one of the “w’s” there. But on the third day, the small group will make for Sullivans Cove Distillery, which also lays claim to the world’s best single malt—the best single cask single malt, lest you read the Teeling description and wondered if I’m very confused.

Tasmania is already well known for its food scene and wild, remote hikes, and now it’s high on a whiskey drinker’s list. Given that COVID restrictions have closed borders between the U.S. and Australia for the near future, the trip organizers say they’ve made it easier than ever to reschedule your trip. (Though our sources in Australia say they think international travel may resume by September/October 2021.)

>> Next: Thoughtful Gifts for Wine Lovers in 2020

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