Gift-giving and receiving can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. This holiday season, there’s a simple answer to alleviate all gifting woes -- and that answer is Scotch. Other than the fact that it looks classy on a bookshelf, we’ve rounded up the reasons everyone loves to unwrap a bottle.
You’re complimenting the recipient’s intelligence
With age comes wisdom, and some of the smartest folks consider Scotch their drink of choice. Take 96-year-old war vet Jonathan Mendes, who finished the 2016 New York City Marathon this year by taking a shot of Scotch. Or this 110-year-old woman who’s been drinking a shot of Scotch every day for 70 years. They know a bit.
When you give someone the gift of Scotch, you’re essentially saying, “Hey man, remember when you went through that fedora phase? I’m really glad you know better than that now.” It puts your friend in a class with some of the wisest people ever: Notorious chef/knower-of-all Anthony Bourdain loves his Scotch, as did Casablanca star Humphrey Bogart, whose supposed last words were, “I should have never switched from Scotch to martinis.”
One bottle, so many options...
If the gift receiver doesn’t have a fully-stacked bar or a Pinterest-worthy bar cart for entertaining, Scotch is the answer. There are so many ways to enjoy it, so one bottle can satisfy every type of drinker. Let’s start with the simplest options:
Neat: Many devotees swear by drinking Scotch whisky all by itself in a tulip-shaped whisky glass or a snifter. Both glasses are wide at the bottom and more tapered toward the rim, which allows you to get the full experience of a Scotch’s smell, color, taste, body, and finish.
Splash of water: Even if your friend has nothing in their fridge but old takeout leftovers, you can pretty much guarantee they have a few drops of water to add to their Scotch. Enthusiasts say this technique coaxes out a Scotch’s hidden flavors.
On the rocks: Of course there’s always over ice -- though Bourdain cautions: “I think a quality whisky you drink neat or maybe, arguably, in certain circumstances with a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of water or maybe a single rock,” he told Supercall. To this Scotch buff, if you dilute a beautiful, high-quality whisky or mix it with other spirits, “It gets lost in the sauce.”
It’s not just for Scotch aficionados
Many great creations have been created to ease newbs into often smoky, AKA “peaty,” Scotch territory. So rather than drink their present neat, your pal can respectably whip up one of these classic Scotch whisky cocktails:
Rob Roy: This one’s simple, as it just requires a mix of sweet vermouth and Scotch. Stir both in a glass with ice till fully chilled, strain it into your most sophisticated cocktail glass, and top with some Angostura bitters. It’s essentially a Manhattan if a Manhattan grew up and started buying all its furniture at West Elm instead of Ikea.
The Godfather: Though it’s not certain how this one got its name, it was supposedly a favorite of Marlon Brando’s -- and, like revenge, it’s best served cold. Scotch meets Amaretto liqueur, served on the rocks and stirred very briefly before drinking.
Rusty Nail: In the premiere episode of Better Call Saul, Saul Goodman is seen pouring Scotch whisky, Drambuie, and lemon juice into a tumbler with ice, commonly known as a Rusty Nail. Had he been more traditional, he would have topped it with a lemon twist, but hey, you make shortcuts after you barely survive altercations with Heisenberg.
There’s a story behind every bottle
While some spirits can be made in just days (and some gifts can be picked out moments before they’re gifted), Scotch isn’t Scotch unless it’s aged for a minimum of three years. And we’re talking legally: The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 define “Scotch whisky” as whisky made in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years. Look it up!
Giving a bottle of Scotch is akin to going on an overseas vacation and bringing your friend back a thoughtful souvenir, except -- and this is the best part -- you don’t have to declare it for customs. Crack open that bottle together and imagine where it’s been and who made it: a Scottish Scotch master in the rolling hills of Aberfeldy, maybe a young apprentice in Speyside who just wants to make his “mum” proud -- who knows?!
It’ll last at least as long as your friendships
Once bottled, Scotch whisky will neither improve nor worsen with age -- as long as you store it correctly (in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight). So it’s a particularly symbolic gift. Make a pact not to crack it open for 15 or 25 years and you’ve got a great reason to keep returning each other’s texts long into the future.
Wouldn’t want to do that with a brewski, now would you?