12 Whiskies for 12 Days of Christmas

12-12-2016 By Emily Stockden

With bells and holly decking the halls, Boney M piping through every shop and general Christmas madness unfolding all around us, we decided to help you choose which whisky to gift your favourite person by chatting to those in the know.

“Whisky,” says Lukasz Dynowiak, Global Ambassador for International Beverages (which serve up drams like Balblair, Old Pulteney, AncNoc, Speyburn and Hankey Bannister, to name a few), “is the perfect gift. I love getting bottles but equally I love giving great whisky to friends as they then feel like they should share with me. If that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is.”

We agree! So what does Dynowiak want if Santa is reading? Of all the whiskies he represents, he’s singled out a bottle of Old Pulteney 21 Year Old owing to its serious depth which is to be expected from Pulteney Distillery at this age. He also loves the lush sense of coastal location that the Old Pulteney 21 Year Old offers and describes the whisky as “a special after-dinner treat with a lot of influence from European oak.”

Old Pulteney 18 Year Old label

He also mentions perhaps asking for an historic blend, like White Horse bottled in the 80s, picking up on the trend among whisky geeks of looking at past bottlings.

From a Scot to an Irishman – we wanted to be balanced like a beautifully aged malt – we asked John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador for Irish Whiskey, Tullamore DEW, what he’d fancy in his stocking and he chose Tullamore DEW 14 Year Old. He explains that the whiskey was only launched in 2016 and describes it as “a delightful triple distilled full bodied single malt”. This is a very fresh fruity style of whiskey and the triple distillation gives it real Irish character, as does the 4 cask finish. After spending 13.5 years in ex Bourbon American Barrels, it is finished in 4 different cask types for the final 6 months: ex bourbon, ex Sherry, ex Port and ex Madeira casks. Expect fresh apples, gentle spice, vanilla oak and a hint of tropical fruits. Says Quinn, “It has a long, rich and full-bodied finish; a delightful whiskey!”

Tullamore DEW 14 Year Old Whisky

Of course he’d choose one of his own, so we asked for another choice outside of the whiskey that he represents and Quinn chose a Glenfiddich 18 Year Old which he describes as “a stunning single malt from the Speyside region of Scotland. The taste is very full and rich. Fruity with baked apples together with a hint of cinnamon and even some dried fruits. And then there’s the oakiness, which you’d expect after 18 years in wood.”

Local whisky legend, Andy Watts, Master Distiller for Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky and Three Ships, would like bottle of his own Three Ships Pinotage Cask Finish simply so that he can share it around a table with fellow whisky lovers! Given that it’s so limited in quantity, a milestone in Watts’ career and a World First innovation from South Africa, we’re not surprised.

Three Ships Pinotage Cask Finish Whisky

Watts recalls visiting the Island of Mull for the first time this year: “I was fascinated by the small intricate distillery and I’d love to sit back and relax with a dram of Tobermory 10 Year Old,” he adds.

Keeping it local, we spoke to independent whisky lover, Bernard Gutman of The Drinks Mag, Whisky Magazine and Waterfront Whisky and he’d also ask Santa for a Three Ships 15 Year Old Pinotage Cask Finish for the same reasons as Watts: “It is a limited release; very special as it is a blended whisky finished in casks previously used to age wine made from with South Africa’s unique grape – Pinotage. It is a local whisky and a great example of people in South Africa showing the world what we can do. It is made in Wellington, a small town an hour from my front door, so close to home and heart.”

Gutman doesn’t stop there. He’d also like a bottle of the new Glen Grant 18 Year Old single malt because he is a fan of the Glen Grant 10 Year Old and he is looking forward to enjoying the complexity of the 18 Year Old. Unfortunately, it will only be available in South Africa after June 2017, so Santa’s elves would really have to hustle to make Gutman’s Christmas wish come true!

Glen Grant 18 Year Old whisky label

Lastly, we spoke to Jeanette Wentzel of Our local whisky lass has a list as long as her arm and right at the top is the Glenfiddich Gran Reserva because, she explains “it’s divine and my bottle is nearly finished!” She’d also love a bottle of Bunnahabhain Toiteach, because it’s a peated whisky from an Islay distillery normally known for unpeaty whisky. Others she mentions are BenRiach Tawny Port Cask which she hasn’t been able to add to her collection and Scallywag from Douglas Laing which she says looks like her dog, Max, has a great label and is getting brilliant reviews. She’d also a bottle of the Woodford Reserve Double Oak, mirroring the growing trend toward spicy, rye whiskies that also make excellent cocktails.

Scallywag small batch release whisky

Whether it’s Highlands or Lowlands, Speyside or Islay, South African or Scotch, Irish or American; whether you’ve been naughty or nice, we hope that Santa fills your stocking with golden drams this festive season!