I know you. You’ve saved your Christmas shopping until the last minute—too late to order from any of those specialty only stores, unless you want to spring for the overnight shipping—and now, you’ll have to bite the bullet and enter a brick-and-mortar store during the Christmas season.
Don’t worry. I get it. In fact, I do it, almost every year. And fortunately, you don’t have to shell out a fortune or worry about shipping to land a great bottle of Scotch whisky that will make your gift recipient very happy.
Here‘s a list of five of our favorite “grocery store” Scotches that should be easy to find in a well-stocked liquor store—no auctions or exorbitant shipping fees required. And this list pays special attention to whiskies a little off the beaten path, the kinds of things many Scotch fans may not yet have tasted, which makes them perfect for gifts.
This unusual release from Glenmorangie incorporates a small percentage of chocolate malt in its mash bill, giving it a distinctive depth of flavor that helped it snag the 2016 Whisky of the Year award at the International Whisky Competition. Our reviewer loved it too, calling it “art in a glass.”
Part of Dewar’s “Last Great Malts of Scotland” series, Craigellachie 13-Year-Old is a new single malt from an old distillery that, until recently, was only used for blends. Craigellachie uses a worm tub rather than a shell-and-tube condenser, making for a savory spirit with appealing funk.
Established in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay in 125 years. It’s a true farm distillery, growing and malting barley right onsite. The Machir Bay release is the new distillery’s flagship product, and it’s won multiple awards, including a Gold Medal at the International World Spirits Competition in 2012, the year it was first released.
Founded in 1898, Benromach was mothballed in 1983, and stayed that way for 10 years. Then, in 1993, Gordon & MacPhail took it over, revamped the branding, and started producing a thoroughly modern whisky that took the Scotch world by storm. At the 2014 World Whisky Awards, the 10-Year-Old won a Gold medal, and the contemporary bottle design looks great on any cabinet shelf.
Talisker flies a little under the radar—maybe it’s because it’s the only distillery on its home island, the Isle of Skye. In any case, they make some outstanding single malts, and their Distiller’s Edition, finished in oloroso sherry casks, is no exception. Pairing sherry and peat can be a tricky business, but Talisker pulls it off with aplomb.