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Help with Scotch/Whiskey for Groomsmen Gifts???

Getting married at the end of next month and I'd like to buy my groomsmen a bottle of either scotch or whiskey. Can anyone recommend some great scotches or whiskey and stores around the city to get them. I'd like for the choice to be somewhat unique/rare as none of the guys are from the area. So, McAllen or other brand name scotches/whiskies won't do. Anything under $100/bottle works.

I realize this is a fairly open ended questions and everyone has their own tastes in scotches/whiskies, but I was hoping to get a little help from the experts.


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  1. Dunno if Lagavulin is special enough to suit you, but it is my favorite. The 16-year-old is widely available at about $60/bottle. It's smoky and smooth.

    7 Replies
    1. re: small h

      +1 on Lagavulin 16. I also like Talisker quite a bit -- get the Distiller's Edition if you can find it. Haven't heard of McAllen :-) -- I think that's Macallan, and the 18 year old version -- around $90/bottle -- is certainly nothing to dismiss just because it's well known. It's really great stuff.

      For American whiskey, which is my personal preference at the moment, I might go for Blanton's Single Barrel or Eagle Rare 17 Year.

      1. re: davis_sq_pro

        ditto on all this. If your friends are not big scotch drinkers, though, I'd stick with Speyside whisky- it's sweeter. (Macallan is a speyside.) I love Talisker, but it has a more petey flavor.

        1. re: LizR

          I'd be a little leery of buying an Isla Scots for anyone who isn't a heavyweight Scotch drinker. It's definitely an aquired taste. I'd reccommend the Macallan 18 or the glengoyne 17 y/o or the Springbank, all wonderful whiskies but without the havy peat/seaweed overtones of the Islas.

        2. re: davis_sq_pro

          Right! McAllen is the border town in TX.

          I love the options on these post. Now I need to find a good liquor store in new york that has these.

          I'm going to want to buy a bottle of each one for myself now!

          1. re: davis_sq_pro

            Talisker's Distiller's Edition 1992 is the way to go. It's my absolute favorite Scotch right now. In fact, I gravitate to the double matured Scotchs I'm discovering, like Abelour 16yr & BenRiach. They're richer and tastier, but if you default to the smokier/peetier Scotchs, Talisker DE is the way to go. '92s are almost all sold out, '91are totally gone, and '93 will begin being imported in about 3 mos. '93s are the only ones currently being sold in the US, and the fact that they're made in limited batches makes them that much more special.

            Macallan 12 yo is good if you like the sweet sherry tasting Scotchs, but I prefer the opposite end of Scotchs like Laphroaig & Caol Ila 12yr...BenRiach if you like peet, less smoke...and Old Pulteney which is a sweet smoke Scotch.

            At my ofc, we have Thursday night Scotch tastings, so we learn pretty quickly what kind of Scotchs we like...ie. fruity, smokey, sherry, peety...etc. Most important lesson learned is that, unlike wines, age has nothing to do with whether a Scotch will taste better...you just have to know what kind of taste you're looking for...and let me tell you, it's fun learning.

            Btw, I've pretty much bought the last Talisker DE '92 bottles in the SF Bay Area...lol. Waiting for K&L to get in the '93s.

            1. re: Kona

              You do Scotch Tastings at the office?? I want to work there!!
              Since you're in the Bay Area, do you plan on attending Whiskey Fest?

              1. re: David Carlson

                Ditto the employment - got a branch in Seattle?

        3. flieshman's whiskey or a simple single malt something like Glenleviet or Glenfiddish that will cater to a broader group

          1. It sounds like you are asking for something that will be appealing to people who are perhaps not huge Scotch afficianados and something a little different than you would find in a run of the mill bar. Based on those assumptions, I would recommend Highland Park which is a full-flavored Scotch but not too smoky. Lagavulin, as was suggested by small h, is an excellent malt, but is very smoky and might not appeal to everyone.

            The ten year old HP should meet your needs just fine. Since I don't know what city you're in, I can't give you tips, but any premium liquor store should have it.

            4 Replies
              1. re: bhb1978

                Park Avenue Liquors in Manhattan has one of the best Scotch selections in the City. LeNell's in Redhook, Brooklyn has one of the best American whiskey selections in the country (at least outside of Kentucky).

              2. re: sku

                Agree with Sku 100 percent - Highland Park 12 is a wonderful whisky, and it won't break the bank. Park Avenue Liquors is fantastic, and if you are on the West side, try Gotham Wines & Liquors.

                CA Scotch Chick

                1. re: sku

                  I agree with your assessment. Other low-price alternatives would be a Jura 8 or Dahlmore. Alternative

                  I love Lagavulin, and most Islays for that matter, but many people have strong reactions to Islays and either love or loathe them at first.

                2. OP, do your groomsmen drink scotch, or is this simply a gift idea?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    All drink scotch and/or whiskey, albeit some more than others.

                    I've just received crappy groomsmen gifts in the past that I never used.

                    I'd rather buy something for them that they could consume.

                  2. Here is a link to a long-running discussion on single-malts:


                    1. I am partial lately to Balvenie. Though Macallan is fairly well-known, it's for a good reason. You may also want to try Aberlour--I've visited the distillery and it is wonderful. (It's a Speyside whisky--when you are talking scotch, you leave out the "e.")

                      1. Since this is an open ended question, I'll try to suggest some bottles that might be acceptable for everyone.

                        As far as American Whiskey, you could go for a well known name and get something like Wild Turkey Rare Breed, which is around $40.00 here on the east coast. Or maybe something like Bookers, which is $60.00. Or if you can find it, maybe Pappy Van Winkle's 20yr Family Reserve, at around $100.00. I hear nothing but great things about this last bourbon.

                        As far as Scotch, it might be a little risky to give everyone an Islay. They are pretty strong in peat/smoke flavor. I would maybe lean more towards an aged Speyside. But if everyone is Scotch drinkers then, absolutely go with the Lagavulin.

                        But maybe something more like Glenlivet 18, Glenfiddich 18, Glenfarclas 17, or one of my favorites; Balvenie Sherry Wood 17 year.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: theginguy

                          I agree that you need to know someone's tastes before giving them an Islay. If they are not into it, they will take one sip and never touch it again, thus removing from the world one bottle of pure joy that some of us could have had.

                          That said, I would suggest a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label. It appeals to scotch drinkers at many different levels. Some may disagree, but I think it is a safe bet for all around enjoyment, and it does have a certain prestige as well (despite it's status as a blend).

                          If that doesn't work, you may want to go for an American whiskey like Booker's or even Evan Williams Single Barrel, as these can be used in cocktails rather than drunk straight like the scotch.

                          1. re: ed1066

                            Have to say, not all Islay's are made to be super-peaty. Yes I've heard that peatiness seems to scare some people, but really The Bruichladdich 10 and Bunnahabhain come in at only 2-3 ppm. Wouldn't myself go for the Bruichladdich 10 (the 18 is gorgeous), but the Bunnahabhain is something I would gift others.

                            But on a personal note, I only truly fell in love when I met Lagavulin. And I've backtracked and learned to like Speyside after. XD

                            1. re: ed1066

                              If your groomsman are at all avid single malt drinkers, you may wish to stay away from blends. Johnnie Walker Gold Label is a blend of single malt scotch and grain alcohol. I know some single malt lovers who are quite against drinking blended whiskey at all.

                          2. If you really want rare,hard to find or ltd 1 keg/cask bottlings try THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY.I just received the members summer sale bottling list.It is pricey,
                            on past lists most are not so dear in $$$$.Now the dollar is sooooooo weak to the
                            EURO and #Sterling.

                            1 800 990 1991 or www.smwsa.com CONGRATULATIONS !!!

                            1. id personally go irish and get one (or 2, depending on how many groomsmen) bottles of rare middleton or similar, then present each groomsman with a beautiful, "formal," pewter flask, perhaps with knotwork, then you can all fill up your flasks from the same bottle, ahh, lads! after the whiskey is gone, the flasks will be cherished for formal occasions: weddings and funerals and christenings and cookouts. . . you get the idea. every time your groomsman tucks it in or out of his breast pocket, he'll think of you, brotherhood, the occasion of your wedding, blah blah blah.

                              scotch is very personal, some may like the mellowness of a dalmore and some prefer the peatiness of laphroaig. it's not something i would pick out for another person unless i knew a lot about their palate and drinking custom. i'd even go with a great & rare american bourbon over trying to select a scotch for any other person. i think that going with an irish or american whiskey will ensure that your gift will be most appreciated by all.
                              cheers & congrats.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: soupkitten

                                Not sure I completely agree with your logic. Yes, Scotches vary along a number of dimensions, but as long as you avoid extremes (such as the ultra-peaty Laphroig or mild Dalwhinnie), you are just as likely to appeal to a broad spectrum of individuals as if you selected an Irish, American or other such whiskey. HIghland Park, Cragganmore (especially the Distiller's Edition), Coal Isla, Bunnahabhain, Balvenie and various others would likely fit the bill, and, if they indeed are all Scotch drinkers, an Ardbeg or Lagavulin is tough to pass up (though fairly peaty). Macallan Cask Strength is a nice choice as well -- and surprisingly affordable compared to many of the distillery's offerings.

                                Rare Midleton, while terrific, is expensive by the way, but I like the flask idea a lot!

                                1. re: howaboutthat

                                  I like the idea of the flask and some Irish whiskey, but Irish can vary. Although it varies less than Scotch, especially if you don't include the Cooley distillery.

                                  However, that's exactly the stuff I'd look to buy. Connemara is a whiskey that's peaty but even those who don't like peat enjoy it, because of it's very light texture. Connemara Cask Strength is $65 a bottle from Park Ave. Add in a decent flask and you should be hitting right about the price point of $100 tota

                                  Edit: Looks like this might be out of date. Posts from onths ago. Oh well.

                              2. After thinking about this more; here are two more ideas that would work really well.

                                Scotch = Chivas Regal 18 Yr. I very good "light" scotch blend that "everyone" knows.

                                Other Whiskey = Crown Royal Cask No. 16. I very "light" but smooth and tasty whiskey that everyone knows.

                                I don't think you could go wrong with either of these.

                                I also second the flask idea. A good looking flask with some knot work would be totally cool. :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: theginguy

                                  Flasks are a totally cool and very useful gift..

                                  1. re: theginguy

                                    I agree that flasks are a great idea.

                                    Both Chivas and Crown are blends of grain alcohol and single malt.

                                  2. Just a practical point about silly gifts you have gotten in the past. If the groomsmen have to fly to NYC they may use carry-on and a bottle just won't work. Just a thought on your otherwise great idea.

                                    1. If I were doing this and wanted it to be special, I would go for independent bottlers (such as MurrayMcDavid, Adelphi, Douglas Laing, Hart Brothers, etc) who do single cask bottlings that are different than the standard distillery offerings. Choose a different whisky for each person. They vary in price, but you should be able to get something under $100, and it will be unique. It may not be the best whisky - if you want that, simply go for something like Highland Park - but I don't think this is about just getting a good drinking whisky as much as a good gift. And these IB offerings are still often extremely good, and something that will be more memorable than a standard, readily available bottle.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Dan G

                                        I second the independant bottler route. If you're looking for unique, just about anything you're going to find from the distillery is either going to be everywhere or very expensive. Some Independant Bottlers can be pricey, but others are very reasonable. I've found 18yo Macallan from a no-name independant bottler for about 2/3 the price of the distiller's 18yo bottling...

                                      2. If they are all scotch drinkers then the double wood Balvenie 15 year is tops in my opinion - it's finished in port wood casks so gives it the slighest hint of sweetness.

                                        If they are more casual scotch/whisky drinkers then I'd recommend Oban, as it's a really good beginners scotch (and I don't mean that in a bad way, I love Oban too). I've had many people tell me they don't like scotch because it's too peaty, but Oban is much lighter.

                                        For non-scotch whisky I've fallen in love with bourbon over the past few years. Old Rip Van Winkle (and the further aged Pappy van winkle) could be the way to go. I go through bottles of Old RVW ... well... let's just say faster than I should.

                                        I'd highly recommend going out and doing some hands on "research" before you commit to just one.

                                        Just to be the voice of dissent here - I think the flask idea is a bad one. I have about four that I've received as groomsman gifts and used one of them, once.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                          I second the "research." That would be the most fun part.

                                          CA Scotch Chick

                                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                            I will also throw my less-than-impressive weight behind Oban, which I like a lot. But I can't imagine why anyone would not enjoy peatiness (made-up word alert!). Also, I've gotten four or five flasks as gifts myself - not as a groomsman, 'cause I've got the wrong chromosomes - and never used any of them. They look nice on a shelf, though, so I wouldn't dissuade anyone from giving them out.

                                            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                              Dude.... Me and S.R.on.F. are really on the same page. :) :)

                                            2. Do you have to buy all of the same? Because you know that they all like scotch, but aren't certain what kind they like why not buy a variety. If they don't like what they got they can just swap.

                                              But if you do what all the same I would also suggest sticking with the Speyside. In my (limited) experience with scotch drinkers the dislike of a Speyside is not as great as the dislike of a Islay.

                                              As a fan of The Balvenie I join those is suggesting the 12 yr or the 17 yr.

                                              And another thought, have you considered going Japanese? Definitely would be unique or rare.

                                              1. I would steer clear of the Islay scotches for novices, even though they're my favorite, they're not for everyone. You'll want to go with something more along the lines of and Arberlour or an Aberfeldy.Both are quite good and easy drinking, especially for someone that's not too into scotch. Acutally a better, more interesting pick, would be Old Pulteney. It's an easy drinking scotch with uniquely shaped bottle.
                                                Other possiblilites: (excuse the spelling if incorrect)
                                                Highland Park

                                                Here's a link to help you get reivews.

                                                1. If they like smoky, Caol Ila's 12 year old is a great buy for scotch novices. Very smooth as well. Another option would be any from the Compass Box blended scotches series. I think the most inexpensive of the bunch is called Asyla