Blog posts

Gift Ideas for Whisky Virgins – The Weekend Whisky Write-up

Gift Ideas for Whisky Virgins – The Weekend Whisky Write-up

A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Beyond the Books

“He flung her down upon the sacks, and there he got her corn ground, her corn ground… .”  Roger was chanting hotly in her ear, his full weight pinning her to the ground and the stars spinning madly far above.

She’d thought his description of Ronnie as “reeking wi’ lust” merely a figure of speech, but evidently not.  Bare flesh met bare flesh, and then some.  She gasped.  So did Roger.

“Oh, God,” he said.  He paused, frozen for an instant against the sky above her, then sighed in an ecstasy of whisky fumes and began to move with her, humming.  It was dark, thank God, though not nearly dark enough.  The remnants of the fire cast an eerie glow over his face, and he looked for an instant the bonny big, black devil Inga had called him.

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 6 – Ambush)

Whisky was in that excerpt.  Did you see it?

Sometimes my links are tenuous, but they’re always there.

As I’m fond of telling my Englishman, EVERYTHING always relates back to Outlander.

Macallan 10 YO

Bree is hardly a virgin by ABOSAA, but her distaste for whisky is still going pretty strong.  Now I don’t like haters, but in this case, I can relate.  I only developed a taste for whisky fairly recently.

It started on a vacation to Scotland and has progressed from there.  I’ve stuck mostly to Highland single-malts, and I have to say that my palate now appreciates the distinctive differences between distilleries.  In fact, my taste is much more suited to appreciating fine whisky than it ever was to fine wine.  And me a classically trained chef.  Mmphmm.

If someone is asking you for gift ideas for Christmas, a new single malt is a fun idea (although it can be on the top end of people’s price range).  But unless you’re one who loves powerful, smoky flavours, I recommend avoiding peaty whiskys at the beginning.  Here’s a few of the more “accessible” single malts that I have tasted myself over the past couple of years.


First up is the single-malt that made me decide I could like whisky after all: Glenmorangie Original. My Englishman bought a bottle to warm up my tastebuds before we hit the Highlands on Holidays.  A 10 year-old single malt aged in American white oak casks, it’s a smooth, sweet whisky with very distinct fruit notes, which makes it a good first taste for “virgins.”


Bunnahabhain 12 YO:  The first thing you notice is the subtle whiff of smoke coming from the bottle top.  On the tongue, Bunnahabhain is nutty and sweet.  A rich, full-bodied single malt that is adored by a wide spectrum of whisky enthusiasts.


The Dalmore Distillery has been distilling fine whisky since 1839 and, for almost a century, was owned by the Clan Mackenzie. If you want a whisky with a definite Outlander connection (and a really pretty bottle adorned with the MacKenzie Clan’s stag), The Dalmore is your best pick.  Slightly sweet and a light introduction to peat, The Dalmore 12YO is full of fruit flavour and has a warm, rich finish.

bookclub-whisky virgins

Lastly is the Glen Garioch 12 YO, which was a big hit with my book club when we met to discuss Outlander at the local campground this summer.

GG is matured in American Bourbon casks, and finished in those of  Spanish Sherry.  Bourbon softens while the Sherry adds depth of flavour.  As with the other choices in my list, GG is smooth, a little sweet, and very light on peat.

That brings the last OK post of 2012 to an end!  I’m taking a wee break over Christmas to visit with friends and family, as well as to recharge my creative batteries.

All that’s left it to wish you all a Nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!  (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)


  1. Pauline Medforf
    December 21, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Happiest of holidays to you, your Englishman, and your family. Thank you for all the fun food and words you supply us with all year long! My children and I have attempted a few of your recipes and I have drooled over many more. I look forward to your return in the new year.
    Best regards
    Pauline Medford

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Feedback like that is a wonderful Christmas present, Pauline! Thank you.

  2. Candy Dolan
    December 21, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Merry Christmas to you and your Englishman. I have so enjoyed your Kitchen. Candy & Charlie

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

      And I’m so glad you’re here, Candy! Happy Solstice to you and yours.

  3. JZ
    December 21, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I would add Aberlour to the list. It’s a good gateway scotch and not too expensive.

    P.S. I think I understand the attraction to Outlander a little better this morning.

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 7:52 am

      I’m going to find me a bottle of that Aberlour if it kills me! Thanks for the suggestion, JZ!

  4. Denise Twist
    December 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I love the Dalmore you listed and you can never go wrong with a bottle of Glenfiddich, which is why, in a rare moment of self indulgence (and because I had been gifted a tidy Christmas sum from my FIL) I bought a bottle of 18 year old. I’ve been busy admiring it and waiting for the perfect moment over the holidays to enjoy a wee dram. Fortunately, I’m the only Scotch drinker in the house (my husband is a bit like Bree when it comes to whisky) so I get to have it all to myself!

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

      oooh, you’re a lucky lady on multiple counts, Denise! Happy Solstice. 🙂

  5. Carissa
    December 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve only tried whiskey once, and I enjoyed it. It was done as a shot, however, and was ordered for me by friends, so I have no idea what it was. I’ve been wanting to try it again, but had no idea where to begin, as the options for whiskey are so varied. I look forward to trying some of these out!! Thanks again! I love your blog about all things Outlander!!!! 🙂

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

      You’re verra welcome, Carissa! Slainte.

  6. Jeanne
    December 21, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Praise the Lord,
    and pass the Whiskey!

    • Theresa
      December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr, Jeanne!

  7. DawnaL
    December 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I decided I had to try whiskey just because Claire liked it so much. That was years ago. The MacGillivray Pipe Band has held a whiskey tasting every year for the last 7 years. I’ve only missed once. It’s an amazing evening. If you’re ever in Thunder Bay in October you have to attend.

  8. ML
    December 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Oh I have another to add to the list, Balvenie double barrel. Aged first in oak then a sherry barrel. Very smooth

  9. denizb33
    December 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Yum! I got my dad a Lagavulin for Christmas, so I can taste it too!

  10. Viviana
    January 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Theresa! I read all your whisky related posts in FB, but had missed this guide. Thank you very much for it!
    I actually started tasting – and learning to enjoy – single malt whiskies a few years ago. My eldest daughter had a Scottish boyfriend, and we were able to learn more about varieties and brands from him.
    Since then, whenever I travel (working trips), I try to buy a special bottle to bring back home. They’re not easy to get down here, and we keep them for very special celebrations.
    Last year I visited a cousin in the US and there we bought a bottle of a Glenmorangie finished in port casks. It was absolutely fantastic!, its color and aroma! A pity I can’t find it here…
    My husband and his friends LOVE the smokey peaty ones (Ardbeg and Tallisker). I definitely prefer Glenmorangie or Mac Callan Oak. I bought a bottle of Balvenie, but it turned into a birthday present to a very good friend, so now I’ll have to wait some time to get another one!
    I am taking note of your suggestions, keeping them in mind if I have the chance to run into any of them. Thank you again and Släinte!

    • Theresa
      January 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Keep on sampling!

  11. Viviana
    January 14, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    By the way, sometimes while reading (or re-reading) certain scenes in Diana’s books you can feel in the mood of enjoying it with a wee dram of a really good whisky, doesn’t it? So, now and then, I have my personal Outlandish “special celebrations” added to the more family traditional ones … (g)

    • Theresa
      January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      I’m glad you take time to celebrate yourself and Outlander with a wee dram, Viviana…Slainte!

  12. Kate Jones
    March 21, 2015 at 3:35 am

    I wonder if any one can steare in the right direction on where to find the whiskies mentioned
    In the article above?

    • Theresa
      March 21, 2015 at 5:43 am

      Not to be funny, but a liquor store…perhaps a specialty market in your area?

    • Kate Jones
      March 21, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Hi, the reason I asked where it can be found, is because I live in a small town in ME, and we we have neither a liquor store or a speciality store! Got any other suggestions? I am not trying to sound like a smart Alex.Thank you for your response.

    • Theresa
      March 22, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Maybe your best bet is online? I don’t have any suggestions, because I’m in Canada, but there must be some good options out there. Anyone?

  13. Lee
    December 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I would go with GLEN ORD (if you can find it), it’s good and not too dear. HIGHLAND PARK is excellent but a bit more pricey

    • Theresa
      December 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for the tip!

Comments are closed.