Updated: Jul 29, 2019
As a dyed-in-the-wool whisky lover myself, when it comes to the question, 'What would you like for fathers day/Christmas/your birthday?' my answer is invariably, 'whisky'! And why not? Like millions of other people out there, I love whisky!
However, in recent years, my family have asked whether there is something other than whisky they could get for me. It turns out, that far from being a really easy person to buy for, I have become predictable to the point where the gift-giver (wife, daughter, etc) gets no particular pleasure in buying me a bottle of whisky.
And I guess that makes sense to a degree. After all, the anticipation element isn't there (because I know what they have bought for me) and they are not on the receiving end of a genuine surprise reaction on my part. Like many people I actually prefer giving to receiving. I enjoy the process of surprising the recipient with a gift I have sourced, that moment when they open a parcel and (hopefully) are genuinely surprised and delighted by what they find. But it seems that I have removed this part of the gift-giving ceremony for my family and friends.
So, what can you buy someone who loves whisky, that isn't whisky? To help you answer this question, we have compiled 10 must-have gifts that are guaranteed to bring joy to the whisky lover in your life (even if that's yourself!)
1. The awesome Norlan whisky glass.
Every whisky fan should have a special glass from which to enjoy their favourite tipple. And it's true to say that for generations, the glass that has held the title of premier whisky glass, has been the Glencairn. However, the game has now changed dramatically with the development and release of the amazing Norlan Whisky Glass.
Designed by Sruli Rect, Brian Fichtner and Shane Bahng and funded by one of Kickstarter's most successful crowd funding campaigns (they hit 1000% of their funding target), the Norlan truly delivers a spectacular whisky drinking experience. In fact, the brand describes their focus as, modernising the whisky drinking experience through design, science and ritual... something they have undoubtedly achieved with this glass.
The Norlan has a modern, lightweight design featuring hand-blown double-walled borosilicate glass and is sculpted to reduce ethanol burn through the specially developed inner protrusions. Its concave outer rim is especially formed to fit the lower lip of the mouth elegantly, making for a totally organic and comforting drinking experience. And if that wasn't enough, the team enlisted the help and advice of master distiller Jim McEwan over the course of a four day workshop, to refine the design even further. For sure, in our opinion, the Norlan whisky glass would make a spectacular gift for anyone who is passionate about their whisky.
A set of 2 Norlan Whisky Glasses, complete with a microfibre polishing cloth, comes in at around £60.
2. Whisky Frames
Until now, the idea of receiving a picture frame as a gift was a bit... meh! However, that has completely changed with the advent of Whisky Frames.
Handmade in Scotland from reclaimed whisky casks, the Whisky Frames team use all parts of the barrels to craft a range of superbly bespoke photo frames with each one (due to the nature of whisky staves) being one-of-a-kind. Produced in a broad range of styles each frame comes with a choice of upgrades and personalised options.
For example, you can choose to have it trimmed with a standard Harris Tweed or select your own tartan, and for the frames that incorporate rivets (from the casks) you are able to have those monogrammed.
In addition, each frame comes with a unique reference number which you can use to locate the origin of the barrel used in its construction. Frames start at just over £40 and can rise to around £100 depending upon the model and number of personalised extras you choose to include.
3. The Glencairn Crystal Pot Still Decanter
There are of course an infinite number of whisky decanters on the market, and the design and style a whisky drinker may choose is definitely a matter of personal taste. Nevertheless, what is in no doubt, is that the style of the Glencairn Pot Still Decanter will undoubtedly appeal to the whisky lover.
Of all the pot still decanters we've seen, this one is the most refined and sophisticated. With its emotive design linking back to the moment of whisky conception it is the perfect vessel for holding your most favoured whisky.
We also love the fact that the relevance and authenticity of the design differentiates this decanter from the plethora of novelty decanters on the market. This has class!
Indeed, we think of it as a genuine piece of art, something that you can proudly display (full or otherwise) on your home-bar or mantle piece.
Surely worth the £75 it costs to buy one!
4. Whisk(e)y Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern
There are two things that whisky fans love doing. One is reading about their beloved tipple and the other is finding the best ways to drink it. As a mixologist of some renown myself (holder of world records, writer of many books, etc) I can tell you that whisky is the most versatile of cocktail ingredients. And while some whisky fans will tell you that its sacrilege to mix whisky with anything other than water or ice, I'm here to tell you that some of the most popular cocktails drunk in the world today (Manhattan & Old-Fashioned for example) are whisky based drinks.
In my opinion, this book is the finest one dedicated to whisk(e)y mixology. It brings together a wealth of knowledge and experience to help the reader recreate a stunning range of whisk(e)y based drinks, introducing them to whisky experiences beyond their imagination. These recipes are from the mind of America's top mixologist Brian Van Flandern and are all shot against the backdrop of such legendary New York City bars as the Brandy Library, Dead Rabbit Bar, and McSorleys. This is a book that should top the list for anybody that's serious about exploring the world of whisky beyond what's in the bottle and at around £35, it's worth every penny.
5. Whisky Barrel Drinks Cabinet
If you have a little bit more to splash out, what could better for the obsessive whiskyphile than owning their own whisky barrel? Of course, you could buy one filled with spirit but you'd need to be thinking in terms of multiple thousands of pounds. Alternatively, how about storing your whisky in a drinks cabinet made from a reclaimed whisky barrel?
Produced by Cheeky Chicks, a company that specialises in producing a range of bespoke furniture crafted from used oak barrels, the drinks cabinet comes in a variety of configurations from simple internal shelving to horizontal racking and with double or single doors. The reclaimed barrels are sanded back to reveal the beauty of the original wood colour, all the while maintaining the aged condition of the cask.
The branding on the head is professionally applied by hand and they offer numerous brand styles and distilleries. Purchasing one of these will cost you in the region of £280 which is pretty good price for a drinks cabinet, hand made from a piece of whisky history.
6. Angel's Share Water Dropper & Jug Gift Set
If you haven't heard of Angel's Share yet, you've been missing out. Specialising in the production of truly beautiful whisky related glassware products, Angel's Share take their name from the natural evaporation that occurs while whisky is ageing in a barrel.
From their fabulous range, we have chosen the Water Dropper & Jug Gift Set as our favourite whisky lover gift. With whisky drinkers so very particular about the amount of water they may add (or not) to their whisky, the water dropper allows micro-control over that process.
Note: I once spent an evening with a group of whisky enthusiasts where the entire night's conversation was about the optimum amount of water that should be added to enhance a whisky's aroma and flavour!!
Nevertheless, when it comes to truly high-end kit for the water ritual, the simplistically stunning design of the Angel's Share water jug, paired with their water dropper and displayed on a reclaimed whisky barrel stave is by far our favourite and would no doubt be a very welcome gift for any whisky drinker. This kit comes in at around £65 although you can purchase the items separately.
7. Whisky Socks
We thought we would include these because they are the perfect stocking-filler/silly gift! Not much to be said really, except if you do feel compelled to buy someone a pair of socks, why not bring a smile to their face with a pair of these. For less than £5 you can't go wrong!
8. Stainless Steel Whisky Bullets
I have never been the greatest fan of whisky stones. You know the things... they are cubes of stone that you keep in the freezer until you want to chill your drink. The idea is that they chill without melting (like ice) and therefore prevents dilution of your drink. The problem that I have always found with them, is that they don't actually chill very well.
Introducing Steel Whisky Bullets! With these little items, because of the material, they actually hold their temperature well and are much more effective at chilling your whisky, plus they're a cool (pardon the pun) talking point.
Designed to replicate a bullet, they also fit perfectly in the base of a standard 12oz old-fashioned/rocks/tumbler, with no square edges to damage the glass. This particular set of 6 whisky bullets also comes with a traditional style ammunition wallet packaged in a luxurious gift box. Definitely an inexpensive gift for someone that appreciates a 'shot' of whisky. This set comes in at around £15.
9. Master of Malt Dram Club Membership
As an alternative to a bottle of whisky, a Dram Club subscription could be an amazing gift for your whisky loving friend (or yourself). Run by Master of Malt, one of the UK's most respected online whisky retailers, the Dram Club delivers a package of 5 different whisky drams (30ml each) to your door each month. This gives the whisky enthusiast the opportunity to sample from a huge range of single malts (worth up to £100/bottle) from the world's finest distilleries.
Subscriptions can run monthly or can be purchased in 3, 6 or 12 months packages, although you can cancel at any time without penalty which is useful to know if you are subscribing for yourself. With the first delivery, you also receive a 'welcome' letter and two tasting glasses. Thereafter, if you maintain your subscription you receive additional bonus drams at the 3, 6 and 12 month stages, with the current 12 month bonus being a 30ml dram of Glenfarclas 30 year-old worth £31.79!
There is something particularly great about being able to sample 5 different whiskies worth up to £100 each month. It means that you don't have to invest in pricey whiskies before you know whether you actually enjoy them and the likelihood is that you will be exposed to a broad range of whiskies that you may never have discovered otherwise. So, if you are trying to avoid the full 'bottle' gift but still want to go down the whisky route, this has to be the one for you.
Subscriptions start at £29.95/month, although you can upgrade to a Premium Whisky subscription for £49.95/month (with these whiskies worth multiple hundreds per bottle) or the Old & Rare Whisky subscription for £99.95/month where the whiskies are worth up to £1000/bottle. They even do gin and rum subscriptions too!
10. Aspinal Leather Hunter Hip Flask
There are hip flasks and then there is this! If you are going to go down the hip flask route, you may as well travel in style. Aspinal of London are manufacturers of high-end leather goods and count the British Royal family among their loyal customer base. Here, Aspinals have taken the humble hip-flask and have given it a 5-star makeover. The hunter-style flask holds 8oz of whisky and comes complete with two dram cups that are held securely in the cap of the flask - perfect for adventures!
So, whether you're sipping a Jura 10 on a hike or topping off the three-peaks-challenge with a Macallan 25, make sure that the receptacle matches that class and quality of the whisky. At £75 it's sure to project how much you value whisky-time!
And that's our top 10 whisky gifts. Of course, a bottle of whisky is always a welcome gift, but if you want to truly surprise someone with something whisky related that's not the usual bottle, then consider one of these.
Finally, if you are new to Dream Whiskies, make sure you check out our famous monthly, free-to-enter, whisky giveaway competitions here. We have given away over £12,000 of whisky since 2017!
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