Wrapping Up Single Malts

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - December 23, 2005
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This is the perfect time of year to gift a single malt scotch. A well-chosen malt says a lot - but only if you know what you’re doing.

Here are a few of my favorite malts to give as gifts. They represent a broad region of Scotland and have enough depth and character to suit a serious collector, without (with the exception of Laphroaig) intimidating the novice.

I mentioned Clynelish last month, and said it should be in every serious collection. The same may be said of the following malts although the prices may vary. All represent a fairly wide range of whisky in Scotland, and there’s something from almost every region. For the most part they’re affordable.

Glenkinchie 10 Year Old. This is exceptionally soft and gentle malt with a lovely full body and a nice grassy sweetness on the nose. The Glenkinchie distillery lies just outside Edinburgh in an area of farmland so lush and beautiful it’s known as “God’s Garden.” Glenkinchie is easy on the palate and is classic, Lowland malt.

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old - purse your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss to get the pronunciation right. This is just lovely, lovely, lovely. I always think this is perfect for a beginner or for someone who wants to add an uncomplicated Highland malt to their collection. There’s a lot of honeyed heather here, and very delicate use of malt resulting in a lightly malted, floral whisky. It’s hard not to love this.

If your whisky lover demands something with a little more personality and punch, then you might want to treat him to a bottle of Lagavulin 16 Year old. Deeply smoked, heavily peated and with an undeniably complex body, this is the one whisky that people either love or hate! I love it - and certainly you can’t have a collection without it. Beware, though, this Islay malt is not for the faint of heart.

And I’ve always thought that Talisker is a perfect gift for almost anyone who appreciates whisky. Talisker is the only whisky made on the beautiful island of Skye in the northwest of Scotland. The distillery has great character and produces a 10-year-old whisky that has a ton of personality. The distillery lies close to a beach where seaweed is washed ashore daily, subsequently the whisky has a seaweedy nose, mixed with some peat that comes from both the water and the malt. There’s a definite sweetness to Talisker, making it much easier on the palate than many other malts that have a heavy ocean influence. There’s a great, long and spicy finish that lingers way after the last sip. With a fine combination of smoke, seaweed and peat, from this unique distillery Talisker is a great introduction to more complex malts - and the perfect single malt gift.


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