I need to buy a gift for my best friend's husband - after years of no reaction to presents, a few years ago I started giving him booze,and he has actually thanked me a few times. (Let's just not get into personality issues.) I like to try to find something a little unusual, since I've hit most of the majors. I don't remember all, but I know I've given him:
Scotch (not sure, maybe Glenmorangie)
Elijah Craig bourbon
Tequila (don't remember, it was a while ago)
Grateful Palate liquers (desert-flavored)
La Prisoniere pear liquer (has a whole pear in the bottle, very cool looking and quite good)
Before I ever went for Tullamore Dew, I would buy someone Red Breast, which goes for somewhere in the $45 range. It's about the only Irish whiskey that is available and is all pot still. "Unique to Irish whiskey is pure pot still whiskey (100% barley, both malted and unmalted, distilled in a pot still). The "green" unmalted barley gives the pure pot still whiskey a spicy, uniquely Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whiskey. Usually no real distinction is made between whether a blended whiskey was made from single malt or pure pot still." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_wh...
If that was not the way you decide to go, a fine rum, something like a Barbancourt or Ron Zacapa would be good.
I might consider a cask strength Scotch or Irish whiskey, of which a few might be in the price range, many won't be.
I also might tell you to go with grappa or another brandy, armangac, cognac, eau de vie, etc.
Thank you all, great suggestions. Sam, you are right, but this is the one thing in the year that I am willing/determined to do - just because he doesn't have manners doesn't mean I shouldn't!And to the tequila lovers, I got him tequila last year or the year before, but it's my favorite so I'll use your suggestions for me!
Is anyone familiar with Charbay vodka? I'm not a vodka person, but the flavors sound great.
There are folks here who apparently know more about whiskey than me, but there are two that I love that I'd like to mention. Tullamore Dew is an Irish whiskey that is fairly easy to get at a good liquor store and is quite unusual. I find it's smoother and a little (not a lot) sweeter than most Irish whiskeys. It'll run you slightly less than $50. And Macallan's 12 is excellent, in the same price range. It's a Scottish single malt. If you want to better that, you can go for the 18, etc, they only get better, if more expensive. The bonus is that they're not found in a lot of bars.
If you want to try something unusual, there is a Polish honey vodka I've found in many liquor stores. It's called Krupnik. Drink it straight, and chilling is not advised.
If a single malt whisky is the preferred beverage, also consider a cask-strength bottling. There is a society in the UK that acquires some phenomenal casks (one-offs, many from now-closed distilleries). The descriptions in their catalog are entertaining in themselves - "aroma of pencil shavings and old wellies". Cask-strength bottles have to be diluted to be consumable, and are fantastic.
A nice brandy (Cognac, Armangnac), or perhaps a desert wine such as Royal Tokaj (very delicious and available in a range of prices). Depending on your friend's palate and food preferences, perhaps consider a high quality, unfiltered sake. Something different.
I'd start with which ones he thanked you for.
Then from the Malts.com website:
If you don’t know what they like, ask them. Then, simply purchase and gift-wrap a bottle of their favourite single malt – and you’re done.
However, if you are one for the element of surprise... there are a number of routes you can take. The vertical one, for example, exploring different marques from the same distillery. (If they like the TaliskerTM 10 year old, chances are they’ll love the 18 year old, right?) Or you could truly knock the socks off the recipient by gifting a Distillers’ Edition or a limited edition – for example the TaliskerTM 175th Anniversary Bottling. (Chances are, they won’t get two!)
Or, you may go the horizontal route – looking across the range. Start by identifying the flavours and aromas that are characteristics of their favourite malt. Then check the tasting notes from the distilleries featured here, and see if you can’t find a match. Or, choose a malt from the same region as their “regular.” If they prefer Speyside malts like CragganmoreTM, you might choose another Speyside, or surprise them with something that originates in a vastly different clime, like TaliskerTM from the Isle of Skye.
If you’re really not sure what someone likes, the safest bet is to go for a malt like GlenkinchieTM. Approachable and soft, it has long been a favourite among the Lowland malts.
If budget is no issue, treat the connoisseurs on your list to some of the more exclusive, limited edition malts. Think about the ObanTM 20 Year Old (a very special limited release with only 1260 numbered bottles worldwide) or the TaliskerTM 175th Anniversary Bottle.
If you’re still unsure - or you’re starting out on your own journey of malt discovery - a gift pack of three mini bottles makes a smart gift for aficionados and novices alike. Ask at your local spirits store for availability.
No matter which of The Classic Malts Selection you choose, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed. Good luck – and slainte!