I was asked by a friend to recommend a whisky to buy for his father’s birthday. I came up with a few suggestions, and thought that actually, since I get asked this quite frequently, I might as well blog it as well, since we’re now on the lead-up to Christmas…

I thought I’d leave aside the regular favourites (Talisker 10, Laphroaig 10 and quarter cask, Bowmore Legend, Lagavulin 16…) and come up with a few specialties. But of course, it all depends on your budget and the recipient’s tastes. From about £35 up, you can get some really incredible special occasion whisky.

I’ve linked to Royal Mile Whiskies – a good place to buy online, but you can find all of this stuff elsewhere, and it may be cheaper if you hunt around.

My recommendations:
If they’d like something really smoky and peaty, then you can’t beat an Ardbeg Uigeadail for about £50. An amazing whisky and definitely on my wishlist.

Mid-range, I’m a big fan of the Longrow 10 year-old 100 proof (£42). Put water in this one – it’s cask strength – 57%.

For about £37, you can’t go wrong with the Isle of Jura 16 year-old. It’s the islanders’ favourite for good reason – and definitely one to be shared with friends. Everyone likes this.

For something more fruity and cakey, I’d go with the Balblair 1989 (with a couple of freebie samples for yourself thrown in for good measure). An absolute bargain for a very good 21 year-old whisky at £44.

Somewhat more expensive (£60) and not quite as peaty as the Ardbeg (though up that same end of the taste spectrum) – my personal favourite, The Lagavulin 1994 Distillers Edition.

Getting up to £85 the Glenrothes 1985 is astonishingly good (fruit cake, marmalade & chocolate). Real artisan stuff.

And amazingly well-priced, but totally awesome – the Aberlour A’bunadh, which is cask strength (60%!) and you’d swear it was made out of raisins. Inexplicably £35 – should be much more.

Finally, while you’re there, do yourself a favour and grab a bottle of King’s Ginger liqueur. £20 a bottle and it is astonishingly great. The taste of Christmas. Good with a bit of whisky splashed into it as well.

There are, of course, lots of other Scotch whiskies that you may enjoy – and plenty of varieties that will make exceptional gifts. These are the ones that sprang to mind when asked. Enjoy.