Ah, the holiday season cometh! As November dawns, clocks are set back, great sighs are heaved over quickly filling calendars, and a blustery wind from the North sends those last desperate leaves spiraling off the trees, heralding the coming onslaught of snow, cold, fattening treats, and gift-giving angst. I’m sorry to say I can’t do a damn thing about the snow and cold, but that gift-giving angst I might be able to help out with, especially if you’ve got a fair amount of gift-giving angst over what to get that serious whisky lover in your life. Here’s a list of some interesting and hopefully unique whisky-related gift ideas that I was able to find after many, many
minutes hours of internet searching…
Let’s start off with four excellent, small-in-stature, big-in-scope whisky books that came out this year, and that no self-respecting whisky fan should be without. (As temptingly easy as it would be to order some of these books from Amazon, please take the time to find them at your favorite local independent bookseller.)
- Canadian Whisky, The Portable Expert by Davin de Kergommeaux. The relatively under-appreciated Canadian branch of the whisky tree finally gets the great book it deserves.
- 2014 Malt Whisky Yearbook, edited by Ingvar Ronde. An indispensable, detailed guide to the malt distilleries of the world. An additional series of articles covers the year that was in single malt whisky.
Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick. A truly fascinating look at the criminally unheralded role women have played in the history of whisky.
American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit by Clay Risen. A timely, informed, honest guide to the burgeoning world of American whiskey.
If not books, then perhaps some other kind of random whisky-related gift…
- If reading isn’t really your thing and you’d rather sit around playing guitar…except, you’ve been thinking about reading more and would if only you could find a proper place to hang your ‘59 humbucking ES-175…look no further. A beautiful bourbon barrel stave wall-mount guitar holder from Southern Stave Decor, is an elegant way to showcase that beautiful hollowbody…or even that fading Airline JB Hutto if you’re into that kind of thing.
- If you actually want to give whisky as a gift and not just something whisky-related, do yourself a favor and visit the fantastic UK retailer, Master of Malt. Not only does Master of Malt have an extensive “Drinks by the Dram” sample selection, clever Tasting Sets, inventive blending kits, and personalized bottles, they also have these fantastic looking, impossibly perfect Whisky Advent Calendars, which beat the crap out of those other more traditional advent calendars. Hell, if you really want to throw the whisky geek in your life a curveball, get them one of Master of Malt’s Gin advent calendars…
- You might get the impression, especially after reading this blog, that whisky geeks are by and large an extremely attractive, well-groomed bunch of people. The truth is that is often very far from the truth. Many of us do have beards but many of those are rather unkept. Our glasses are usually smudged, and most of us (or maybe this is just me talking) think it would be nice if our kids would let us take more than a couple of showers a week. Why not give a little gift to help clean us up? Pick up some Goldzahn’s Whisky Soap made with Bruichladdich, and some Whisker Whisky Aftershave by The Holy Black, made with, er…real American whiskey, and the whisky geek in your life will be looking, or at least smelling, semi-human in no time.
- If your gift giving motto is “go big or don’t go home for the holidays”, then perhaps you wouldn’t think twice about dropping $400 on this impressive whisky aroma kit called (en français, s’il vous plait) Le Nez du Whisky from Wine Aromas. Developed with the help of prolific whisky writer Charles MacLean, the kit features 54 vials of ” the most commonly found aromas in Whisky”, a whisky aroma wheel chart, and an accompanying illustrated book, all of which will help develop your palate and help make sense of those silly tasting notes people write.
Of course, no holiday season is complete without the decidedly first-world-problem of overindulgence of sweet treats. A quick perusal of the interwebs yields no lack of barrel-aged, bourbon-infused, Scotch-soaked, deliverable-by-mail body mass increasers, but here are three that stood out…
- I’m proud to say this first one is a local selection from the wonderland of St. Paul: Scotch-infused, smoked honey sticks from Mademoiselle Miel. I first came across these at the Minnesota State Fair and being a fan of honey, anything smoked and (obviously) Scotch, they had me at Scotch-infused, smoked honey sticks. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also helping to save the planet by saving the bees – the proceeds benefit the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. Go Bees (and go Gophers!)
- Even deeper than my love of honey is my love of maple syrup. Old roommates and my current wife will attest to catching me guzzle the stuff straight out of the bottle. My problem with all these new maple flavored whiskies isn’t that they’re kind of cheesy and a poor excuse for real whisky (they are), no, my problem is that there’s not enough maple. It turns out I don’t want whisky with a touch of maple, I want maple syrup with a touch of whisky. Lo and behold, Noble Tonic 01: Tuthilltown bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup. Québécois medium amber grade maple syrup matured in barrels used to age some of New York’s Tuthilltown Spirits spirit. I would not be above pouring this stuff into a Glencairn glass to sip, contemplatively, by the fire.
- Last but not least, probably because it’s getting close to lunch and I’m feeling peckish, how about these adorably packaged chocolate-bourbon cupcakes in a mason jar. Not only are they made in the heart of Bourbon country, Bardstown, KY, they also come with their own spoon…the perfect meal on the go during this busy time.
a bit early, but…Happy Holidays!