For the Novice
If you have a friend or a loved one who thinks they like Whisky and is slowly finding there way in the category, this is a great malt for them.
Besides its impossibly hard name to pronounce (Craig-el-Achy), it is a great offering from the people at Dewars.
Craigellachie is one of the last distilleries to use worm tail condensation in the distillation process. This creates longer contact on copper as the spirit condenses and makes for a cleaner spirit. It is then aged in Bourbon Barrels for 13 years to give it a warm vanilla feel to it.
For anyone who is just discovering single malt Whisky this is a great next step into the realms of Speyside.
For the Collector
The Macallan Rare Cask
For the Whisky drinker who has it all, and you want to impress with a high end bottle look no further than Rare Cask from The Macallan.
This opening offering from their high end rare cask line is study in cask management and sherry aging. Most of the casking used to produce this exceptional Whisky were first filled sherry barrel that were selected by Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Master Whisky Maker.
The first thing you notice is the dark rich color that emanates from the glass from all the years in sherry casks. The nose is full of warmth and winter baking spices.
The fist sip is pure joy. Like chewing on fresh baked persimmon bread (my father in law makes amazing persimmon bread every year at this time). The second sip brings forth more dark fruit with a slight savory element. The finish is long and lingering, and makes for a great Whisky after a holiday meal or really any time.
For the Geek
Kavalan Single Malt
You know the guy who is always expounding on how much they know about Whisky, and are trying to show off how much more they know and how special Single Malt Scotch Whisky is (and make no mistake it is)? Here is something that will blow their mind.... Single Malt Whisky from Taiwan. This is no novelty whisky. This is the real deal.
Ian Chang, the master blender, will go down as one of the pioneers of Whisky. His work on his single malts is something to behold. Everyone of these seems to be better than the last.
I am a particular fan of the Sherry Cask, of course I have been on a sherried aged Whisky kick lately, it just makes sense for the winter months.
This is a big beast of dark cherry and chewy oak. It is spicy and mellow and all encompassing. Anyone who thinks they know it all will love to have their minds blown by Whisky made half way around the world from the great land of the Scots.
For the Peat Head
Laphroaig Scotch Single Malt Triple Wood
Have you ever heard someone utter the words, "I love the smell of peat smoke in the morning, smells like Islay" ?
I never have, but it would be a funny thing to hear some day. Bad adapted movie quote aside, people who love peaty Whisky and love smoked meat and love iodine are a bread apart. And this Whisky is fully suited for them.
Jim Campbell, the master of Whisky at Laphroaig uses al three types of wood to create this most unique of expressions. It starts its life in used American Bourbon barrels, then transferred to smaller quarter cask barrels, finally it is finished in oloroso sherry cask.
First whiff you get smoked game meats and southern style BBQ (which would be a great food paring, by the way) the second time you put your nose to the glass you will get that classic Laphroig iodine scent.
The first sip reveals layers upon layers of smoke. Both the kind you find in a chimney and the kind you do outside of Memphis Minifies (Legendary BBQ joint here in SF) As the flavor sits on the palate it slowly unfolds to reveal notes of cinnamon and a lush bouquet of summer fruits. This is just plain fun Whisky and anyone who loves the peat will just gush over this as a gift.
For the Cocktailian
Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength
We all have friends who love to bartend and make drinks, whether they do it for a living as most of my friends do, or the amateur mixologist who is just shaking up drinks in his or her kitchen.
If you ever hear people expounding on the beauty of a Manhattan or the Sazerac, this is great Whisky for them to try their hand with to make Scotch cocktails.
Glenfarclas is one the few family owned distilleries in Scotland, and makes some of the best value Whisky on the market, there in not an expression they make that I would not drink on a daily basis.
When it comes to making cocktails using cask strength Whisky always makes for more interesting and more full flavored drinks, and this offering from Glenfarclas is one of the all time greats. It has big full flavor of dark stone fruits and baking spices.
This makes a dynamite Bobby Burns: 2 oz Glenfarlcas Cask Strength, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, .5 oz Benedictine, stirred and strained over a large ice cube.