Got This? Get That – Distiller’s Smoky Scotch Whisky Gift Guide 2022By Stephanie Moreno
As you may have already noticed, our whiskey gift guides are structured a bit differently this year. A laundry list of great whiskeys to purchase is handy for whiskey enthusiasts. But not every great whiskey is suitable for every drinker and that can be difficult to judge for those that don’t know their Jacks from their Johnnies.
But even the most adventurous whiskey drinker has their go-to favorites that are widely available. If the purchaser has the name (or photo) of that classic favorite in hand, an alternative bottle can be purchased with confidence. The bottles we’ve selected below are comparable alternatives to some of the most popular classic brands. but they’re a bit more under the radar or are new to the market.
For this Smoky Scotch Whisky Gift Guide, our recommendations are listed from heavy to light on the smoky scale. If you recognize any of the classic brands pictured below, read along to discover a great alternative.
Got Lagavulin 16 Year or Laphroaig 10? Get These:
Lagavulin and Laphroaig of the most popular smoky Scotch whisky brands. Both fall on the heavier side of the smoky, peaty scale so if you’ve got a certified peat head to buy for, these alternatives are sure to satisfy.
Located in the Speyside region of Scotland, Benriach is one of the few Scotch whisky distilleries which produces both peated and unpeated whisky. Smoke Season is an annual release featuring 100% intensely peated Highland malt. The bourbon and charred & toasted American virgin oak casks provide a smoky, sweet dram with dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow notes. The Second Edition of Smoke Season was just released this fall. (SRP $77.99)
Yes, this recommendation is an unconventional one as it’s made in Ireland, so it’s not a Scotch whisky. But Blackpitts is made with peated malted barley so it certainly fits the smoky criteria. While Ireland today isn’t known for making peaty whiskeys, the practice most certainly has a history there. and Teeling is here to show you what we’ve been missing. In addition to the bourbon barrels, Sauternes wine barrels are used in its maturation so you’ll get a mix of white and tropical fruits along with the campfire smoke. Teeling just released a cask strength version of Blackpitts for those wanting a bit more punch. (SRP $74.99)
Got Talisker 10 Year or Highland Park 12 Year
Talisker and Highland Park are single malt whiskies from the Isles of Skye and Orkney, respectively. Each one shows a moderate peat level and a briny, sea salt character. Our alternatives may be a bit harder to find, but are worth the effort.
Founded in 2005, Kilchoman is a relatively new distillery to Islay and the first to be built in 124 years. Uniquely, Kilchoman is also a farm distillery and for their 100% Islay editions they have grown and harvested the barley themselves. It’s moderately peated and aged in both bourbon and sherry barrels you’ll find a smoky, sweet and balanced whisky. Released annually, the latest edition (12th) has just hit shelves. (Avg US Price $116)
Springbank is a beloved, but often overlooked single malt distillery located in the Campbeltown area of Scotland. They make three different styles of single malt at their Campbeltown distillery with their flagship Springbank line being their lightly peated version. Unusually, it’s distilled 2.5 times. Their flagship 10 year-old single malt is rich with notes of pears and toasted malt along with the moderate smoke and tangy, briny flavors. (Avg US Price $110)
Got Oban 14 Year or Johnnie Walker Black Label? Get These:
These two classics — one a single malt, the other a blend — are gateway smoky Scotch whisky brands. Accessible and widely available, both new and experienced peat whisky drinkers alike can find something to enjoy here.
While Bunnahabhain is located on the Isle of Islay (aka peat whisky central), most of the whiskies produced there are made sans peat. But Bunny has a few smoky Scotch whisky offerings including Toitetach a Dhà which is a recent (2019) addition to its core portfolio. In addition to the touch of smoke, the single malt shows some sweet red fruit from the sherry maturation. (Avg US Price $79)
And now for something completely different! That’s right, not only is this not a Scotch whisky, it’s not even a single malt. But this isn’t just an ordinary bourbon. Fully matured Basil Hayden gets to further age in a hickory smoked barrel. The end result provides a gentle smoke to pair with the sweet vanilla and barrel spices found in the bourbon. (SRP $49.99)
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