Distiller’s Scotch Whisky Gift Guide 2023By Stephanie Moreno
It’s gift giving season once again so that means it’s also time for our Holiday Gift Guides! As is the case each year, we’ve done the “tough” part of tasting to make our recommendations. To make your shopping excursions a bit easier, we’ve organized our lists by category and price. Furthermore, we’ve made suggestions on who on your shopping lists we thought the picks would best suit.
For the most part, our picks are widely available so don’t expect to see rare releases with just a few bottles produced. Also, in addition to Scotch whiskies that are new for 2023, we’ve also included some core expressions you can find year-round.
Please note that prices listed for our Scotch Whisky Gift Guide are the suggested retail price (SRP) for purchases in the US. Of course, prices may vary depending on your location. Happy shopping!
Budget Scotch Whisky Picks (Under $40)
Glenfiddich 12 Year
What to Know: Aged for 12 years in oloroso sherry and ex-bourbon barrels, this is the world’s best selling single malt. Although the brand refreshed its packaging for its flagship range in 2019, the bottles are still triangular-shaped — a tradition that dates back to 1961.
Tasting Notes: orchard fruits, butterscotch and mild oak flavors with a gentle finish
Best Gift for: a friend looking to stock their home bar with a crowd pleaser
Beginner Scotch Whisky Picks (Under $100)
What to Know: Introduced to Compass Box’s core portfolio in 2021, Orchard House gets its name from the fruit-forward flavor expressed by the whiskies in the blend. Also, almost all the whiskies used in the blend were aged by the brand itself.
Tasting Notes: a delightfully fruity expression with additional notes of vanilla, almond and elderflower
Best Gift for: your younger sibling looking to graduate from shots to sips.
Aficionado Scotch Whisky Picks (Under $200)
What to Know: This 15 year-old single malt expression initially matured in second-fill American oak ex-bourbon casks followed by further maturation in Spanish oak ex-oloroso sherry casks. Known as The Maritime Malt, Old Pulteney’s traditional warehouses are exposed to the sea air of the North Sea.
Tasting Notes: a complex, balanced whisky with flavors of rich malt, dried fruit, and a hint of sea salt dusted chocolate
Best Gift for: a loved one who prefers obscure finds over the more promoted labels
Splurge Scotch Whisky Picks (Over $200)
What to Know: A high proportion of first-fill sherry-seasoned casks were used in this new 25 year iteration from the brand. The packaging features handwritten tasting notes from Master Whisky Maker Laura Rampling who crafted the release.
Tasting Notes: rich, sticky toffee pudding aromas along with flavors of sugary dried fruits, dark chocolates, pecans and ginger
Best Gift for: your significant other who is growing their whiskey collection.
Scotch Whisky Picks for Mixing Cocktails:
What to Know: This is a lightly-peated single malt matured predominantly in European and American sherry-seasoned oak casks. Highland Park uses Orkney’s heather-rich peat for its whiskies and is one of just a handful of distilleries to turn their malt by hand.
Tasting Notes: a honeyed, vanilla aroma precedes an herbal, fruity flavor and a light peat smoke
Best Gift for: your co-worker who likes to shake things up!
Unconventional Scotch Whisky Picks:
What to Know: Made in collaboration with Master Blender Emma Walker and Chef Kei Kobayashi, selected casks from inland and coastal distilleries were used which had a unique umami profile. The brand recommends you serve the whisky neat and pair it with caviar to maximize the umami experience.
Tasting Notes: aromas of wet, earthy moss is coupled with flavors of dark chocolate, salted pretzels, and a hint of truffle
Best Gift for: your best friend with an adventurous spirit