Scotch Whiskey Gifting Guide
So there’s a special holiday, birthday or occasion coming up for a friend or loved one who loves Scotch Whiskey, but you don’t know where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I am going to show you in this scotch gifting guide how to pick the perfect bottle for the occasion. Unless you know exactly what they like already, your going to have a tough time selecting something they love.
*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
Scotch Gifting, Too Many Choices?
When it comes to Scotch, there are very few people who like all of the different verities available. So you could end up spending a hefty amount of money, and the person receiving it might not enjoy drinking it (and they usually won’t tell you, besides you wouldn’t want to hear that anyway). Unfortunately, this does happen often, but following the steps in this guide will help you make the right decision and feel confident that the one you picked is the right choice.
The Two Categories
Let’s get into it. Scotch is broken up into two categories. Blended Scotch Whiskey and Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. We’ll refer to them as Blended and Single Malt in this post. Blended Scotch is made up of blended malt and grain whiskeys sourced from different distilleries. Single malt is a malt whiskey from a single distillery. All Scotch Whiskey is made in Scotland.
Whats The Difference & What To Look For
Blended or single malt, what does this mean to you? They taste very different, and most people prefer one or the other. So you’re going to have to do some research here and find out which one they like. When I say research, I simply mean look to see what kind of Scotch they currently have, or ask someone close to them. You don’t have to follow them for weeks waiting for them to drop hints. You just need a little bit of information but get as much as possible. Take pictures of labels if you can. We’re looking for blended or single malt, age statement, and region if it’s a single malt.
If you have access to their liquor cabinet, all the bottles will say which type of Scotch it is. If you can only get a brand name, you can google it to see which one it is. Remember it can’t be both, it has to be one or the other. If it’s someone new to Scotch, and you can’t find any info, stick with the blended category. Scotch drinkers like to talk about what they like, so this shouldn’t be too hard to find what you’re looking for. However, I recommend reading both just to understand the differences. Chances are, you will gift both kinds in the future.
Blended Scotch Whiskey
Blended scotch is more of a “neutral” tasting profile, and also great for beginners in the Scotch category. This does not make blended scotch a beginner category, but this is where most people get introduced to Scotch. The distilleries blend their whiskeys and strive for consistency. The addition of grain whiskey in blended scotch mellows out the taste in this type of whiskey. The blended scotch drinker can be brand loyal because the consistency keeps them coming back for a taste they love. Therefore it wouldn’t hurt to know what kind they like.
If you know what they like, stick with it
The goal of gifting a blended scotch is to find out what they like and get them something similar or better. The two most popular brands in the category are Dewar’s and Johnnie Walker. So if they like Dewar’s white label (which is Dewar’s base level scotch) you will want to get them at least that or better. The next step up would be Dewar’s 12, then 15, and 18, or Signature at the top. The thing that makes whiskey better is age, so a higher age statement is a “better” whiskey.
What you want to try to avoid is getting a Dewar’s 15-year drinker a bottle of the white label. But if that’s all you can afford, the Dewar’s lover will find the occasion to drink the white label. However, do not get that person a single malt because the tastes are completely different. They might not be able to figure out how to enjoy that type of whiskey. When getting them a lower mark of the scotch they already drink, the tastes are still similar. It is actually the same scotch, just aged more or less than the other.
Try to stick with at least a 12 year Blended Scotch
It is ok to cross brands within the category, just try to make sure you are getting them a blended scotch whiskey. As for a gift, I always recommend going with at least a 12-year version. The majority of blended scotch drinkers drink a 12-year or lower, and a gift should be something nice. All the major brands have a 12-year expression and they start around $30 for a 750ml. If you have more to spend, you could go up in age, a bigger sized bottle, or both. Personally, I haven’t had a 12 year or higher blended scotch that I didn’t enjoy.
Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Ok, so you found out you have a single malt drinker on your hands. Depending on the circumstances this can make things easier or much more difficult. Hopefully, you were able to gather as much info as possible about what they like to drink. Most single malt drinkers have their favorites, but they also like to enjoy new whiskeys (which can make this process easier). What we are looking for to start with is a brand, an age statement, and possibly a region. The easiest way to gift a scotch is by giving someone something they like. So if you know the brand they like, you can usually find it with different age statements. Most single malt whiskeys start at about 10 to 12-year old expressions.
If this person usually drinks Glenlivet 12 year, you could get them that or step up to the 15 year if you wanted to splurge for something special. Some brands even make some side expressions of their scotch. For example, Glenlivet makes a Founders Reserve that does not have an age statement but is made using select casks to replicate their traditional scotch. Some brands even make expressions with the same age statement but finished in a sherry or different kind of cask to give the whiskey some extra flavor profiles. If the person you are getting this for has a preferred brand (always talking about one, or always has a certain kind), it’s safe to stick with it in either the same age expression, an older one, or an offshoot of that brand.
The usual is as good as gold
For someone who regularly drinks a certain kind of scotch, getting it as a gift is a great thing. They don’t have to buy it the next time they need it, and you know they will enjoy it. Getting a bottle of your favorite in an older expression (say 15 if they normally drink 12) is also great, and will probably be used for special occasions and savored.
With Something New, You Might Find Them A New Favorite Whiskey
Want to get them something different? That’s ok too! Or maybe their collection contains a bunch of different brands already, well you have a whiskey explorer on your hands. This is great because they love to try new things and are open to different tastes in their Scotch. In this case, did you notice that most of their whiskey had a certain age statement? For example, when looking at their whiskey collection did you notice that most of the bottles were 15-year expressions? If so, stick with that and get them a single malt that’s aged at least aged 15 years.
Try to always get the same or higher age statement than what they usually drink. Sometimes this can be difficult because they might have a higher taste profile than what you can afford. Scotch can get very expensive as the age increases. So if their taste is out of your budget, just get them a well-known brand in at least a 12-year expression. It might not be exactly what they are used to, but it will be close enough for them to enjoy. Let’s say they usually drink 20+ year old Scotch, and you can only afford a 12 year. That’s ok too, if you don’t want to take the chance and give them something you are unsure about, you can check out my gift ideas for a whiskey lover and give them something they can use to enjoy the Scotch they already have. We know everyone loves accessories!!
Important Note (Islay Region)
Ok, if you remember earlier I mentioned paying attention to a region when looking through their whiskey collection. Did you notice any bottles with the words Islay on them? Well if you didn’t, you’re going to want to avoid getting them a Scotch from this region. Islay single malts have a very distinct smoky (Peaty) taste that not everyone enjoys. So unless you see a few bottles of Islay, or have heard them mention they like a peaty (smoky) Scotch, make sure to avoid this one. Islay single malts are great whiskeys, but they taste very different from the other Scotch regions and we don’t want to risk them not enjoying their gift. So unless you are absolutely sure they like this kind of Scotch, don’t go that route when gifting and let them explore that on their own.
Heres The Secret
There’s no secret trick to picking the right whiskey for a gift. However, these guidelines will help you navigate in the right direction and make a better choice to suit the person it is for. Using the things you know or can find out is certainly the best way to select a gift. Ultimately you want them to enjoy this gift, so getting a Blended Scotch drinker a bottle of Islay Single Malt is going from one extreme to the other. After reading this you know how to avoid a mistake like that. You will at least be in the ballpark of the type of Scotch they like, and the similarities will ensure you selected a whiskey they will enjoy.
If you have already found the perfect bottle and are looking for something perfect to go with it, check out these few items from Amazon I recommend that Scotch drinkers will love. These items will pair perfectly with a bottle or are even great gifts for a Scotch lover on their own.