12 best whiskies to buy as gifts 2023
Give the gift of whisky, whether it's a scotch, bourbon or Irish whiskey – we have identified the best bottles available.
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. 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'. Learn more in our article on Whiskey or whisky, what's the difference?
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 order online for that special someone in your life. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 200 practical buyer's guides including taste tests of gin, vodka, rum, brandy and more, plus gift guides like the best letterbox gifts to order online.
Best whiskies to buy as gifts at a glance
- Best for the whisky buff: Nikka Yoichi single malt, £74.90
- Best for sherry sweetness: Balvenie DoubleWood 12, £39.95
- Best for fans of smoky whisky: Lagavulin 16-year-old, £74.80
- Best for fans of classic flavours: The Macallan 12-year-old, £84
- Best for English whisky lovers: Bourbon Cask Cotswolds Distillery, £75
- Best for trying something new: Daddy Rack Tennessee whiskey, £37.95
- Best for Irish whiskey enthusiasts: Green Spot single pot still, £42.90
- Best for smooth, fruity whiskey fans: Teeling single malt, £56.95
- Best for whiskey beginners: Jack Daniel's single barrel, £43.95
- Best for American whiskey explorers: Maker's Mark 46 bourbon whiskey, £37.45
- Best for budding mixologists: The Sexton single malt, £31.99
- Best for environmentally conscious whisky fans: Old Pulteney 15-year-old, £74.50
Best whiskies to buy as gifts 2023
Nikka Yoichi single malt – 45% ABV
Best for the whisky buff
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.
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Balvenie DoubleWood – 40% ABV
Best for sherry sweetness
Take a trip to Speyside with this opulent, flavourful addition from Balvenie. Expect rich milk chocolate on the palate, with fresh raspberry, warming cinnamon and a hint of spicy black pepper to finish. Every true whisky connoisseur could do with a bottle of this special single malt on their shelves.
Lagavulin 16-year-old – 43% ABV
Best for fans of smoky whisky
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 – 40% ABV
Best for fans of classic flavours
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.
Cotswolds Distillery bourbon cask single malt whisky – 59% ABV
Best for English whisky lovers
This rich, smooth single malt matured in bourbon casks has plenty of characteristic vanilla flavours, sweet honey notes and candied fruit. It’s a punchy cask-strength expression made for slow sipping. Although the Cotswolds Distillery is relatively new to scene, having been established in 2014, it’s producing some exciting drams. The ideal gift for any whisky lover looking to expand their English whisky collection.
Daddy Rack small-batch straight Tennessee whiskey – 40% ABV
Best for trying something new
This buttery small-batch Tennessee whiskey is made using 80% locally produced corn, bringing a butterscotch flavour you can't miss. The 10% rye in the mix adds a peppery finish, with nutmeg spices to keep things interesting. You'll get plenty of classic oak-matured vanilla and a cereal sweetness. On the palate, you can taste candy floss and fresh green apples. It’s got plenty of depth and a long finish.
Green Spot single pot still – 40% ABV
Best for Irish whiskey enthusiasts
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 – 46% ABV
Best for smooth, fruity whiskey fans
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 – 45% ABV
Best for whiskey beginners
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 whiskey 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 bourbon whiskey – 47% ABV
Best for American whiskey explorers
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 funfair 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 malt – 40% ABV
Best for budding mixologists
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 15-year-old – 46%
Best for environmentally conscious whisky fans
A scotch that packs in spice and sea spray. Pulteney is an environmentally conscious distillery based in the Scottish coastal town of Wick. Its whiskies are unmistakably born at sea; they burst with salty sea air and the bracing freshness that comes as a result. Its 15-year-old expression is no exception; salinity is balanced with delicate vanilla and warming spices, matched by sweet toffee and light floral flavours. A whisky bursting with character and flavour. Buy this bottle for the whisky drinking eco-warrior in your circle.
This review was last updated in November 2023. 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 email@example.com. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.