What’s the best holiday gift for a die-hard whisky lover? Well, no one’s ever turned down a dram of Scotch. But feel free to think beyond the bottle; whisky lends itself to accessories, after all. From professional-caliber glassware to tasting accessories and the latest in ice technology (yes, that’s a thing), here are our top gift picks for 2019 — with a few excellent single malts thrown in, of course.
Looking for an absolute gold-standard Scotch that won’t break the bank? Start with Highland Park 12 Year Old. The northernmost Scotch distillery in the world, Highland Park has more than 200 years of history on the remote Orkney Islands. Aged entirely in Oloroso sherry casks, Highland Park 12 Year Old appeals to every whisky fan. With delicate floral smoke and a rich sweetness, it’s balanced, elegant, and all but irresistible — a beautiful showcase of unique terroir.
Price: $55 (free shipping on all Highland Park products on Reserve Bar with code HIGHLANDPARK until December 31, 2019)
Like the idea of innovative ice, but not the price tag of an ice ball maker? This Whiskey Wedge builds a sloped ice cube right into the rocks glass, a clever and eye-catching way to serve any spirit or boozy cocktail.
Scotch can showcase a remarkable range of flavors, from smooth, restrained Lowlands whiskies to brawny, funky Islay Scotches big on the smoke and peat. But no matter which whisky you’re tasting, there’s a single glass for the purpose: the Glencairn nosing glass. The tulip-shaped glass, designed with the consultation of several master blenders, is ideal for discerning aromas and is the official glass of the Scotch Whisky Association. If you’re tasting whisky, why not taste like the pros?
When first tasting a whisky, it seems only logical to sip it neat. But experts know that even a few drops of water can open up a Scotch, allowing subtle aroma and nuance to bloom. And while a utilitarian eyedropper works well enough for that purpose, this crystal pipette is far classier; made from etched crystal and painted in gold, it’s elegant enough to take pride of place on a bar cart and precise enough to allow maximum control of dilution.
Despite its two centuries of history, Highland Park still has a knack for innovating. Its limited-edition 16-year Twisted Tattoo is unique among the distillery’s bottlings, aged both in Spanish Rioja-seasoned casks and first-fill bourbon casks for a bold, rich character. Taking a coveted gold medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, it’s a striking spirit presented in an equally striking bottle, designed by Danish tattoo artist Colin Dale — all the better for gifting.
Price: $99.99 (free shipping on all Highland Park products on Reserve Bar with code HIGHLANDPARK until December 31, 2019)
We can’t always pour straight from the bottle; whether you’re on the road, hitting the links, or you simply prefer to travel with an excellent spirit on-hand, a flask is the way to go. For something gift-worthy, this leather-wrapped stainless steel flask from the venerable American Moore & Giles is a great pick — as rich and handsome as the whisky they’ll pour in it.
The rarest single malts are best sipped neat, or with a splash of water. But Scotch can play a role in cocktails, too, from classics like the Rob Roy and Blood & Sand to modern favorites like the Penicillin. Cocktail Kingdom is the best place to turn when you’re after gifts for the aspiring home bartender. This barware set, with copper-plated shaking tins, barspoon, jigger, and strainer, along with a Yarai mixing glass, is professional-caliber and awfully good-looking to boot.
Spirit nerds are often ice nerds as well. Large, square ice cubes are great for chilling down a drink without diluting it too much, due to the cube’s reduced surface area. But what’s one step beyond the “big cube”? An ice sphere. Cocktail Kingdom’s ice ball maker is a countertop contraption that seamlessly presses large cubes into precise spheres, thanks to the power of gravity and the thermal conductivity of aluminum. (Drinking is really just science, right?)
Even a single distillery can produce dramatically different whiskies; the impact of wood on a finished Scotch is tremendous. And no bottles illustrate this as beautifully as Highland Park’s limited editions, The Light and The Dark. The former, a 17-year single malt aged in refill American oak casks, is pale and vibrant with the bright sweetness of vanilla and pear; the latter, matured in first-fill European oak sherry-seasoned casks, is rich and brooding, with all dark fruit and smoky peat. They’re as eye-catching as they are exquisite.
Price: Both $299.99 (free shipping on all Highland Park products on Reserve Bar with code HIGHLANDPARK until December 31, 2019)
While the bottles of great single malts can be stunning in their own right, an elegant decanter has an unmatched way of highlighting the whisky’s hue. This classic Waterford decanter, with its sharp lines and diamond cut, is the perfect display for any spirit; engrave a name or a monogram for an even more personalized gift.
Say you’re looking to gift the best bottles — but you’re not quite an expert on what to buy. Let the professionals at Caskers take over. An online purveyor of rare and high-end spirits, their Caskers Club sends two full bottles of A-list whiskies every three months, along with tasting notes, instructions, and everything else they’ll need to properly enjoy the spirit. Opt for the American Whiskey club, big on the bourbons and ryes, or the more diverse World of Whiskey, with picks from around the globe.
Now say you have a true peat-head or smoky whisky lover on your list this year — look no further than Highland Park’s Valknut. This is the second edition in a special three-part series — the first, Valkyrie scored 99/100 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. A celebration of Orkney in a bottle, this whisky uses Tartan barley grown on the island and is the peatiest, smokiest release from Highland Park to date. Valknut’s bold smoky flavor will surprise long-time fans of the distillery and especially please those who love a good Islay whisky. And for collectors, this is an opportunity to start or continue their Highland Park collection.
Price: $80 (free shipping on all Highland Park products on Reserve Bar with code HIGHLANDPARK until December 31, 2019)
© 2019 Highland Distillers Limited. Highland Park® Scotch Whisky. Imported by Edrington Americas, New York, NY. “H” Device ®. Please Drink Responsibly.