Scotchy scotch scotch. Get in my belly.
June 24, 2007 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married in September and I want to get my guy a nice bottle of scotch as a wedding gift.

My boyfriend loves scotch and I'd like to get him a bottle of something nice, but since I don't drink it myself I have no idea. I just checked our liquor cabinet and it looks like we have Johnny Walker Black Label and something called Dalwhinnie scotch whiskey.

I'm looking for something under $500 and I live around Boston. I'd take either package store recommendations (where they'd know their stuff) or specific bottle recommendations and where you can get them online (I think I can order booze online and get it shipped to Mass., but I am not sure. Let me know anyway).

thank you!
posted by sutel to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about Federal Wine and Spirits, but since it's a couple hours away, have not been there myself. They're an importer of Blackadder Whiskies, that a friend has raved about. I'm just waiting on the right combination of time and money to get there and try some
posted by pupdog at 6:05 PM on June 24, 2007

It appears that he enjoys both blended (Johnnie Walker) and single malt (Dalwhinnie) scotch.

Charles Street Liquors has quite an assortment of scotches -- many rare and preferred.

Also -- Kappy's has quite a selection of fine scotches.
posted by ericb at 6:07 PM on June 24, 2007

Best answer: My dad's a member of a scotch society in the UK. Perhaps your fiance would be interested in something like that? A quick google shows The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America, where the $200 joining fee includes a bottle of scotch and access to members-only scotch tastings. This might be a neat way for you to give him not just a bottle of scotch, but a built-in calendar of scotch-related events. (It appears that they have events in Boston, according to their calendar.)

I'm not a member of this society, so I can't vouch for it, but if your fiance is a scotch fan, this could be right up his alley.
posted by kdar at 6:19 PM on June 24, 2007

my dad is a fan of johnnie walker blue for special occasions. an old bottle (30 or 40 yrs) of laphroaig might be nice, too.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:24 PM on June 24, 2007

Best answer: I just checked our liquor cabinet and it looks like we have Johnny Walker Black Label

If he likes Black Label, upgrade him to Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Most civilians have never heard of it, but it's common enough not to be impossible to get.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label — Johnnie Walker's ultimate blend. Every bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Although no age is declared, it is believed many of the whiskies blended are aged for 50 to 60 years. 86 proof.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:27 PM on June 24, 2007

Single Islay malt, cask strength. Something like that goes for roughly $100 and up, and anyone who likes Scotch will fall down and worship you in gratitude Don't get a blend for an occasion like this.
posted by zadcat at 6:34 PM on June 24, 2007

I'll third (or fourth) the Johnny Blue. The first time I tried it, (it was a gift) I was ready to say "It's not that great, rediculous price".... but I'm stunned. It really is very good, and hard to match at any price.

Or.. go find a place with good single-malt stock and find something really old with a name you can't pronounce.
posted by TravellingDen at 6:40 PM on June 24, 2007

Cask strength is great. I'd think about getting a really nice bottle of something and then a couple better-than-average but not outrageous bottles to have around. Its hard to justify to yourself stepping up an extra $30 or $40 to get a better bottle, but once you have one around you love it.
posted by devilsbrigade at 6:52 PM on June 24, 2007

Also, if you can probe around a little bit, find out what specifically he likes. Some scotches are really dry, some are wetter. I tend to think of Johnnie Walker (Red, don't know about Black) as wet, & some older singlemalts (Glenlivit 18yr and Macallan 12yr) as pretty dry. The Glenlivit was almost too dry for what I like.
posted by devilsbrigade at 6:57 PM on June 24, 2007

Response by poster: (oh and thank you for everyone who has responded so far, this has been really helpful)
posted by sutel at 6:58 PM on June 24, 2007

I'm a scotch snob. I have had johnnie blue (and johnnie green), and well, they are nice ... but they are hardly exquisite. Especially for the price.

Islay single malts are lovely, especially if they are old. I've had some Laphriog 20+yr old and it was magnificent, although the peat isn't for some.
posted by ysabet at 7:04 PM on June 24, 2007

I highly reccomend Ardbeg, especially if he likes peaty scotches.
posted by milestogo at 7:10 PM on June 24, 2007

You'll find there's a galaxy of wonderful choices in the $200 range. I'd avoid an Islay or anything too close to the seaside unless you know he'd like it. Anything Speyside or from the interior Highlands should be great; you'll find a bunch of 25-year-old precious selections in the above price range. No need to go the overobvious JW Blue route.

Ask at a reputable liquor store with a selection of expensive whiskeys--or if time permits, sneak yourself into a Scotch tasting and learn for yourself. It's a lot of fun.

(Me, I'd spend the money on a nice old Royal Brackla, but tastes vary.)
posted by gimonca at 7:10 PM on June 24, 2007

Official World Whiskies Awards Results: Best Whiskies in the World 2007
posted by miss lynnster at 7:21 PM on June 24, 2007

Although I don't doubt that Johnny Walker makes a very acceptable high-end blend, I sort of agree that the occasion demands something more special, which to my mind, for a scotch fan, means a well-aged single malt. And you can buy a lot of single malt specialness for under 500 smacks. I haven't had the Dalwhinnie, so I can't suggest a particular, but it should provide a solid reference for a knowledgeable liquor store proprietor to suggest some high end product that's likely to suit your fellah's palate.

This is just google search stuff but what the hell, for starters. Call ahead and verify they are stocking multi-hundred dollar bottles, perhaps ask if there is a particularly knowledgeable staff person for scotch and find out when they'll be there or talk to them on the phone.

Charles Street Liquors
Martignetti Liquors
Marty's Liquors
Blanchard Liquor
posted by nanojath at 7:25 PM on June 24, 2007

$500 buys an awful lot of Scotch.

If your fiance isn't already drinking high end single malts, a single bottle of crazy-level scotch probably wouldn't be right.

Johnnie Walker Blue is good and around $150.

There a several high end scotches for ~$75 a bottle that are boutique style with amazing flavor and history.

Perhaps a small collection of different things to try would be good. Maybe a Glenmorangie Sherry Wood or a nice Rye or a cask strength bottle.

Best bet is to find a local store, go in, and take a look.
posted by Argyle at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2007

$500 is an awful lot of scotch.

Macallan 18 is a nice $100 bottle. I would then get him some $100 cognac and some $100 armagnac. That's plenty!
posted by about_time at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2007

I know nothing about scotch, but as an idea: you could figure out which scotches will be at their peak flavor in 10 years, and buy him a bottle, stipulating that he needs to wait until your 10 year anniversary. But I would buy him another bottle of something else to tide him over until then. My parents tend to do this for their friends when they get married, only with wine.
posted by nursegracer at 8:25 PM on June 24, 2007

Sorry, I forgot scotch is aged before it's bottled. This recommendation probably is completely worthless. Sorry again!
posted by nursegracer at 8:26 PM on June 24, 2007

I've had the Bowmore 12-, 15-, and 17-year-old - they're all divine, so I can only imagine how fantastic their older and cask-strength versions are.

If you've got cash to spare, I highly recommend the California-made brandy Germain-Robin - the maker is French, and he makes the best brandy I've ever had. Get the Select XO.

if anyone else here like brandy, you must try this; it's hands-down the most exquisite...okay, now I have to go have some.
posted by rtha at 8:38 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am not a scotch drinker but my boyfriend is a huge fan of scotch and would love your Anchorman reference. (In fact, as I write this, he is out having a cigar and some scotch.)

He splurges on a nice bottle every now and again. Our liquor cabinet at home has a few bottles of high end blended scotches. The two we have right now are:

Springbank 35 Dun Bheagan
Ballantines 30

Also, I found some reviews of scotches on that may be of use. They have reviewed some Dalwhinnie ones and use descriptors about the colors and taste ("fresh, slightly waxy and rather malty, with lots of ‘light’ caramel and fudge" etc.) that may be of use. See also If you have the right adjectives to use, your search will probably be better.

I might also consider reposting your question on the Chowhound spirits board. It never hurts to have a list of potential scotch gifts on hand.
posted by kathryn at 8:54 PM on June 24, 2007

(Oops, looks like the Springbank 35 Dun Bheagan is single malt. Sorry about that.)
posted by kathryn at 8:57 PM on June 24, 2007

Macallan 18 is a nice $100 bottle

Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Single Malt Scotch is my drink of choice. The sherry oak casks give the drink a very distinctive rich aroma and flavor, which is definitely more mature and balanced in the 18 year than the 12 year. Be aware that the price will vary quite a bit depending on where you are. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the Macallan 18 is now over $175 per bottle. The Macallan 24 year is really really good, but I'm not sure how much a bottle would run, as I've only had it by the glass. Probably within your budget still, depending on where you are.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:11 PM on June 24, 2007

Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Single Malt Scotch is my drink of choice.

Ah, the glorious uisge beatha! I have to second this excellent recommendation as an affordable choice, however, for a truly exceptional experience then try and source a bottle of the Macallan Fine Oak 25 year old.

Might cost up to $400 or more in the US compared to here (I can visit the distillery, buy a bottle and get back in a day), but it's a dram of beauty and should guarantee a lifetime of love and devotion from your boyfriend.
posted by Nugget at 12:56 AM on June 25, 2007

I have to advise against the JW Blue. It is very much "just okay", not worth the $150 at all. Like others say, you could get him a nice Speyside, maybe one from his year of birth.
posted by Skyanth at 1:15 AM on June 25, 2007

I likewise would advise against the JW blue. Given unlimited money the best blended whiskey I have found is JW gold label, and it is only half the price of the blue. I would go with a nice gift basket of different malts from different regions. Glengoine makes a bunch of good whiskeys but I think you would have to special order them direct, but it is a great highland malt. I like Caol Ila for the islay malts and a bottle of Caol Ila 18 would only set you back 50$ or so. THe glengoine might be more like 80$ but can go as high as 300£ for the really high end distillers reserve that is 30 years old.
posted by koolkat at 2:28 AM on June 25, 2007

$500 would buy about 25% of my ideal wedding bottle, soooo....

If he likes Johnnie Walker, he may want to try the single malt that forms the bulk of the blend, Cardhu.

Alternatively, if he likes Dalwhinnie, might I recommend some others from the area, such as Glenfarclas (someone gave me their 21 as a graduation gift, and it was much appreciated, as well as the 17 y.o. Bowmore we drank before the ceremony), a heritage bottle of Geo and JG Smith's Glenlivet, Dallas Dhu, or indeed a plane ticket to Scotland? All in all a memerbership in a scotch society is undoubtedly your safest bet.
posted by methylsalicylate at 6:57 AM on June 25, 2007

The Irish invented Whiskey before the Scots, and though they are harder to find, non-blend Irish whiskeys are also fine. And we triple-distill! Bushmills (10, 16, 21 yrs), Locke's Single Malt (8 yr), Tyrconnell, Connemara Peated Malt (tastes like Scotch), etc etc.
posted by meehawl at 7:56 AM on June 25, 2007

I'm with Skyanth and koolkat: Johnnie Walker Blue is a ripoff. Single malt is the way to go; personally, I'd purr like a cat if someone got me a good Islay, but Islays have a very distinctive flavor, so you'd want to be sure your guy liked them before you spent the bucks. You really can't go wrong with top-level Macallan; it's superb scotch and I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't like it.
posted by languagehat at 8:14 AM on June 25, 2007

congratulations, sutel!

I'd check out the other threads here on scotch, and not going overboard for your first purchase - you might browse web sites and find something that

I also recommend dropping by Federal - I took a class from the owner (on Scotch), and while he's a bit of an odd duck, there's lots of tasting to be had, and if you know your fiance likes Dalwhinnie, perhaps he'll enjoy others from the Central Highlands.
posted by canine epigram at 12:37 PM on June 25, 2007

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