The 9 best whiskies to buy as gifts 2019

Give the gift of whisky at Christmas, whether a scotch, bourbon or Irish whiskey – we have identified the best bottles available.

Three bottles of whisky on a geometric background

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Whisky is a thoughtful gift because so much choice means you can tailor a bottle to the individual and you could also introduce a whisky fan to something new. Whisky can say a lot about a person, so what do you want to say about them? If you don't know your bourbon from your scotch, your Islay from your Speyside, choosing the right brand can be quite a daunting task.

We have rounded up the best whiskies on the market this Christmas. There's something for everyone, whether they’re an ardent scotch drinker, a cocktail king or a budding enthusiast, we've got you covered. We've also done our best to avoid the jargon, because this can make whisky quite intimidating to some.

Key to remember is that you have Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey – outside of these two nations, bottlers can decide themselves whether they're keeping or dropping the 'e'. 

Whisky is, more often than not, best enjoyed neat. But it's a matter of preference; sometimes you need a neat Islay dram after a long day, sometimes you want to enjoy a long drink of Irish malt over ice. We've pointed out the whiskies best enjoyed with a little something extra.

Here are our top whiskies to gift that special someone in your life, or whoever you drew in secret santa.  For more, visit our review section and find over 200 practical buyer's guides including taste tests of gin, vodka, rum, brandy and more. 

Nikki Yoichi whisky
Nikka Yoichi single malt – 45% ABV

Read our full review of Nikka Yoichi single malt

Nikka are one half of an indomitable pair of distilleries in Japan that have been at the peak of the Far East whisky market for decades. The Yoichi single malt is Nikka's greatest success; the bottle leans into Nikka's Scottish inspiration without being contrived, while bursting with their uniquely Japanese flavour profile. On the nose it's delicately balanced, matching peat and tropical fruit, and a complex palate follows the same formula with added nuts. Ideal for a young whisky buff.

 


Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Lagavulin 16-year-old – 43% ABV

Read our full review of Lagavulin 16-year-old

Lagavulin's 16-year-old expression is a titan of the industry. One of the world's most popular single malts, this whisky is a go-to at local pubs and enjoyed by the rich and famous. Definitive of the Islay region, imposing smoky notes are tempered by a rich sweetness. For the whisky geek in your life.

 


The Macallan 12 Year Old Triple Cask

The Macallan 12-year-old Triple Cask – 40% ABV

Read our full review of The Macallan 12-year-old Triple Cask

A sumptuous blend of creamy vanilla and dark berries with just the right amount of kick provided by pepper and spices. This 12-year-old dram is testament to the stature The Macallan holds in the whisky world – it is delicate, sophisticated and oozes class. Perfect for the swanky whisky drinker in your world – and their updated Christmas packaging will be sure to impress them.

 


Green Spot Single Pot Still

Green Spot single pot still – 40% ABV

Read our full review of Green Spot single pot still

Once upon a time this whiskey was exclusively sold in Mitchell's grocers in Dublin. The bottle is now much adored throughout the world and in 2018 was awarded 'liquid gold' status by Jim Murray in his respected whisky bible. This whiskey is a supremely sippable, stubbornly Irish celebration of caramel and fruit. Give this one to any newbies or theatre geeks, any stage enthusiasts are sure to be bowled over by the company this whiskey keeps.

 


Teeling Single Malt

Teeling single malt – 46% ABV

Read our full review of Teeling single malt

A modern Irish whiskey that oozes the smoothness and warmth associated with the Emerald Isle's heritage drams. This Dublin-made tipple caresses the tongue with summer fruits, warm spices and pepper. A drinking experience that will keep your friends around long after dinner has been served. Best presented to any Irish whiskey heads you know.

 

 

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

Jack Daniel’s single barrel select – 45% ABV

Read our full review of Jack Daniel’s single barrel select

One of the world's most recognisable whiskey brands. Jack Daniel's have an expansive collection on offer, their single-barrel expression is an inexpensive and thoughtful gift for the JD lover in your life. A full-bodied whisky with plenty of spicy rye balanced against honey and cereal. One for the Jack and Coke drinker, this is a versatile expression that will see them gradually wean off the mixer.

 

 

Maker’s Mark 46
Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon whiskey – 47% ABV

Read our full review of Maker's Mark 46 bourbon whiskey

Whiskey aficionado Jim Murray awarded this bourbon his 'liquid gold' award in 2014. This spiced bourbon was the first addition to the Maker’s Mark range since the 1950s. The whiskey pitches a bag of spices against the sweet funfare notes typically found in bourbon. Nutmeg takes over from toffee apple with the subtlety of an earthquake but it is a pleasant seismic shift. The ideal gift for lovers of American whiskey.

 

 

The Sexton Single MaltThe Sexton single malt – 40% ABV

Read our full review of The Sexton single malt

A new breed of whiskey. Sexton is an Irish single malt that is geared toward budding whiskey enthusiasts and cocktail makers. The hexagonal bottle is testament to the distillery's targeting of a new age of whiskey drinker, while in terms of flavour, honey is fused with peppery pears and a biting oaky spiciness. Buy this for the bartender in your family.

 

 

Old Pulteney 12 Year OldOld Pulteney 12-year-old – 40%

Read our full review of Old Pulteney 12-year-old

A scotch that gives as much as it takes. Pulteney are an environmentally-conscious distillery based in the Scottish coastal town of Wick. Their whiskies are unmistakably born at sea, they burst with salty sea air and the bracing freshness that comes as a result. Their 12-year-old expression is no exception; the salty sea is balanced with honey and caramel, matched by earthy grains, nuts and citrus. A whisky bursting with character and flavour. Buy this bottle for the whisky drinking eco-warrior in your circle.

 

 

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This review was last updated in November 2019. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.

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