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Nice, Reasonably Priced Whiskey for a Gift

I don’t know anything about whiskey, but a good friend is a whiskey drinker. I’d like to get him a bottle to celebrate a bit of good news he recently got. It’s not a super special occasion, so I don’t want to spend a ton of money. I do know that he regularly orders Jameson as an after work drink. But he steps it up to other labels on special days and will spend $30-$40 on a pour. Any suggestions for a good, mid-range bottle for gifting?

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  1. If he likes Scotch, Chivas is respectable as a gift without going overboard.

    1. Sticking to Irish Whiskey I would suggest

      Black Bush Irish Whiskey or Red Breast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey, with the Red Breast 12 YO being my first choice.

      If you ever want to spend a ton of money then Knappogue Castle 1951 is the real deal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Scott M

        Red Breast, wonderful stuff for the price. Wonderful stuff regardless of price.

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          Wow, this is more complicated than I thought. I'm not sure what he prefers. I haven't paid that much attention to his ordering. That being said, it would be fun to introduce him to a great new whiskey.

          Did a quick run to the liquor store last night, but they didn't have Black Bush or Red Breast. So I guess something that is pretty widely available would be good too.

        2. Perhaps an aged rye like a 21 y.o. Rittenhouse or 17 Sazerac? If you're in a big city they shouldn't be too hard to find and the flavour profile would be similar to an Irish whiskey like Jameson. Plus, they might be things he doesn't have.

          1. Well, there's a world of difference between Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, etc.

            Sticking to Irish, I grew up on Jameson's ... and then developed a palate. My regular Irish these days is Power's (a little dry) but I also enjoy Tullamore Dew (definitely sweeter, smoother). I would push these if only to get your friend drinking better whiskey.

            Red Breast gets raves from friends, but not me (sorry ... I just don't get it). I was equally unimpressed with Middleton (a fine whiskey, but off the charts price wise).

            I have my own issues with Bushmill's but would have to admit they make several damn fine whiskeys ... 10-year, 16-year or "Black Bush".

            Most assuredly, stay away from Michael Collins ... made by the marketers behind Grey Goose, in it for the buck, not the making of great whiskey.

            Finally two that you'll have a devil of a time finding in the States but are wonderful are Paddy's (on the low-end) and Green Spot (pot still).

            A quick bourbon recommendation: Elijah Craig. Maybe $20, comes in a well-crafted bottle, looks and tastes like it should cost double (or more). This would be VERY well received.

            See also

            3 Replies
            1. re: NYChristopher

              That list is a great resource. Thanks!

              I'll bring the list with me and ask for a nice, single malt Irish whiskey. I think that should do it.

              1. re: garriga

                Bushmill's Black Bush is not a single-malt Irish whisky, but it is very, very tasty stuff. and should not cost more than $30-$35. Bushmill's does make a single-malt as well.

                Among the single-malts from Scotland, I would recommend anything from Macallan, Glenmorangie or Glenfarclas available in your price range.

                1. re: DavidT

                  Knappogue Castle is an amazing single malt, with a vintage (I've only seen the 94). Reasonably priced too, seen it for $35 once.

            2. I wouldn't take any chances. Just get him a bottle of Jameson - or the premium Jamesons. I once ordered a shot of Bushmills for a Jameson drinker, just for variety, and he threw the shot on the floor. No offense, he said, but Bushmills is a spit in the face to real Irishmen since it says it's made in the UK, instead of Ireland.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MichaelG

                That's old politics.

                The currently reality is the both Bushmills and Jamesons are owned and made by the same company, the Irish Distlliers Group. There are only three legal distilleries on the whole island. All the Irish Whickies you see come out of either the Bushmills, Cooley or Middleton Distilleries. Some are made with whiskeys from both Bushmills and Middleton.

                1. re: Captain

                  That's actually not true anymore. Both Jameson (distilled by Midleton Distillery) and Bushmills were, for a time, owned by Irish Distillers. In 1988, Irish Distillers was purchased by Pernod Ricard. In 2005, Pernod sold Bushmills to Diageo. So now, Bushmills is Diageo and Jameson is Pernod.

                  The third distillery, Cooley, is independent.

                  1. re: sku

                    Thanks for the info. My info was wrong, but I think it still shows that the the refusal to drink Bushmills is still old politics.

                    Bushmills is owned by the brewers of Irelands beer of renown, Guiness. So, it would seem someone who won't drink Bushmills also should not drink Guinsess, for poltical reasons. Not something normally done, from what I've seen. The French still own the brands made at Midleton.

                    I like whiskies made by all of these, but Bushmills is probably third on my list.

              2. $30-40 for a pour? or a bottle? That's some real good stuff he's drinking at $30-40 for a single pour/drink. Mid-range for a whiskey is probably the $40-60 a bottle range. you have some mighty good stuff available for that price.

                What type of whiskey? You mention Jamesons which is Irish. but you have Scotch, Japanese single malts, and of course American whiskeys including rye, bourbon, etc.

                For a single malt scotch in the smoky end of things any of the offerings from Laphroig. Not smoky but very complex any of the Glenmorangie 'woods' ie. port or sherry cask aged.

                1. Crown Royal or Blantons would be my general picks but over all you really need to tell us, Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Canadian or what exactly it is your after. Worlds of difference in the Scotch family alone and a Bourbon lover may scoff at Crown Royal or even the very best scotch.

                  1. Thanks to all for this wealth of information! It was incredibly helpful and I feel much more knowledgeable on the subject. I ended up going with a bottle of Black Bush. I had a drink with him and, though I can't say I loved it being a whiskey novice, he was really pleased.