It is that time of year again when many people's thoughts turn to the festive season and what to buy their family, friends and colleagues. Black Friday has been and gone, as has Cyber Monday and most are still panicking about what to buy If you are like me, December seems to have snuck up on me this year and Christmas is just a few weeks away - where has 2013 gone? As with previous years I have decided to do a short gift guide, so you can banish any ideas of Christmas socks that play Jingle Bells when you walk along ...
Last year on Whisky For Everyone we reviewed some whisky books that had appeared on the market, and in 2009, 2010 and 2011 we selected some of our favourites whiskies. But what do you buy that friend or relative that likes whisky? Especially if you don't know which style of whisky they may prefer. This year, we have decided to take a look at whisky related gifts and have selected suggestions in various price categories. We hope that it gives you a few ideas ...
'The stocking filler' - Uisge Source water
Many people add water to their whisky. Uisge Source is a range of waters drawn from natural springs in three regions of Scotland - the Highlands, the island of Islay and Speyside. The idea is that if you are going to add water to your whisky, then the best water to add is from the same area as that used in the whisky production. Therefore if you are buying an Islay whisky as a main present, why not buy the Islay water to go with it? They retail from selected specialist retailers for £3.99 (for a 10cl bottle) and are also available in a three pack for £12 if you have a bigger stocking to fill.
'The innovation' - Whisky Stones
Many people add ice to their whisky. These whisky stones offer an alternative to tradition. They first appeared a couple of years ago and were seen by many as a gimmick. However their popularity seems to be ever growing and they are now available through numerous major retailers and wjisky specialists. The idea is that the stones are used instead of ice - the stones are kept in the freezer and added to whisky to chill it down, but without diluting it as ice does when it melts. When finished you simply pop them back into the freezer until next time. They should cost around £10-16.
'The gift that keeps on giving' - The W Club
This is the perfect present for someone who is going to buy a few bottles for themselves throughout the year. The W Club is the whisky members club that is operated by The Whisky Shop, the UK's biggest specialist whisky retail chain. Club membership offers access to a dedicated website including extensive tasting notes, news updates, staff picks, exclusive bottlings and 'money can't buy' competitions. The major benefit is a 10% discount on all purchases in any of the chain's 22 UK stores or www.whiskyshop.com.
The members pack (pictured, above) including a members card, tasting glass, whisky miniature and the latest Jim Murray Whisky Bible costs £25 and covers you for one year. Alternatively, you can buy just a members card for £12.50, which also covers for one year and all the same benefits. Both can be purchased from any of The Whisky Shop stores or website. Don't worry if you don't live in the UK - you can still join and order whisky online, as they deliver to most countries around the world.
'Something a bit different' - Grow Your Own Cocktails
Here is something slightly more obscure but fun that we spotted online recently. It is not really anything to do with whisky but we have decided to include it anyway. The Cocktail Garden Kit contains seeds for six different herbs and botanicals that can be added to cocktails when made at home. It also comes with six small pots, soil, instructions for growing and suggested cocktail recipes. The pack should cost roughly £10 and is available from various online retailers.
'Whisky is for life, not just for Christmas' - Join the SMWS
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (or SMWS for short) is one of the biggest whisky members clubs in the world and they have this year celebrated their 30th anniversary. The SMWS are set up in various countries around the globe and membership includes access to special Society rooms, tutored tastings, private tutorials about whisky and subscription to their regular UnFiltered magazine.
The Society release numerous single cask whiskies to members each month, with a portfolio that currently totals 132 distilleries. Membership costs start from £122 (£155 with an additional cardholder) with annual renewal fees starting at £59. To join or for more information, please visit www.smws.co.uk.