What do you get for the [insert personality type here] in your life?
Christmas looms, as it does every year – a delightful time of year, but often prefaced by an anxious hunt for the perfect presents for those special people. A bottle of whisky is a great gift under any circumstances, of course – but choosing the right bottle for the right person can be an art. If chosen well, you can really show your appreciation for someone, in all their kooky, idiosyncratic glory!
So this year, instead of giving you a list of whiskies to look over, and try and decide which one is best for whom; we’re going to give you a list of different people who may be attracted to different things, and the Cask 88 bottle that we think might suit them down to the ground. You’ll notice that some of the categories don’t even require an appreciation of whisky. We are confident that our whisky bottles are so beautiful, and their stories so alluring, that even the most diehard whisky-skeptics will be won over to the fold.
The Traveller, The Historian, the Engineer, the Transport Buff
The Scotch Express Series
A few disparate categories here. Yet we think we have something that unites them.
The traveller lives for the romance of the journey – they don’t mind where they’re going, it’s the way they get there that matters. Such a person is almost guaranteed to get misty-eyed at the thought of taking a train journey through a beautiful landscape, maybe with a dram of whisky to see them through.
There are many epochs of whisky history which transformed the spirit’s fortunes from illicitly distilled farmer’s fuel to internationally recognised drink of sophistication. The Victorian period, where Scotch whisky broke free of Scotland and began to charm the world – that’s a fascinating time for a scholar of the past.
There are those who love the intricate motions of metal; the finesse of machinery; the power that is created and harnessed by humankind’s technical creations. A steam train is an awesome thing to contemplate. The technology is simple enough to wrap one’s head around, but the steam engine itself is like a barely harnessed living thing – the gift of Prometheus in ascended form!
The Scotch Whisky Express series was started from a love of all these things. It pays tribute to a special epoch in Scottish history – a period of rapid industrialisation where people and goods began to travel unprecedented distances with ease, thanks to the development of steam railways. Whisky distilleries were connected to the world by rail, and vast amounts of Scotch were hauled to the cities and the ports, allowing whisky to take a place on the world stage.
Each whisky in the series comes from a part of Scotland once served by one of the five major railway companies of the Victorian era, and each label carries artwork by Robin Barnes portraying the most iconic of that company’s locomotives. The stories behind each bottle are explored on our website. The collection was completed in October, and there will be no more bottles in this series.
So, for the traveller, historian, engineer, or combination of all – we recommend a bottle from the Scotch Express Series.
The Engineer, The Racer, The Petrolhead
The 14th Revival Bo’ness Hillclimb: ‘The Moose’ Austin Special
Steam trains aren’t for everyone – many people prefer the true freedom afforded by a personal vehicle, or feel their goosebumps rise at the roar of an internal combustion engine. For them, we recommend our bottling commemorating the Bo’ness Hillclimb – a famous time trial race in the Scottish Lowlands, where classic cars and their devoted owners compete.
This bottle commemorates Cask 88’s sponsorship of this annual event, and we intend to release bottles annually in this series. This is the first.
On the label is ‘The Moose’, an Austin 7 special; engine tuned by Bonewell and new body designed and built by Pete Graham. The whisky in the bottle is a 14 year old ‘Croftengea’ from Loch Lomond distillery – chosen for a gentle smokiness that reminds us of the fire that powers these cars.
The Classicist, The Storyteller, The Mysticist, The Collector
The Scottish Folkore Series No.6… The Boobrie!
There are those who chase the stories of the mystical, the supernatural, or
the folk tales that our ancestors used to tell to explain the wonders (and sometimes the terrors) of the natural world. For those who like to immerse themselves in other worlds, we have options.
Fictional or non; it’s not our place to judge – we’re just the chroniclers of spellbinding tales.
This was our aim with the Scottish Folklore Series, our longest running and most iconic series of independent whisky releases. Every distillery in Scotland is a part of its local landscape, and every corner of Scotland has its own tales of fantastical beasts, troublesome spirits and awesome deities. Each distillery represented in the Folklore series is paired with a supernatural creature that also inhabits the local region – and with the help of stunning artwork by Hannah Fleetwood, we breathe new life into these old folk tales, and give you a new perspective on the place that made the whisky.
Those who like to collect the rarest whiskies would also get a kick from a bottle from the Folklore bottles. The first five entries in the series have sold out from our platform, and now can only be found in auctions, with collectors fiercely scrabbling to possess them. Clearly, there is something about these whiskies that fires up the imagination.
So, why are the sold out bottles on our Christmas list? Well, the series is not yet complete – the sixth and final bottle has yet to make its debut – something that we are anxious to bring you as soon as it’s ready, and it’s almost there. Like the creature it represents, the final bottle may prove elusive to all but the most determined seeker.
The Purist, The Whisky Buff, The Tippler
The Unfiltered Series
Whisky for its own sake? What novel idea is this? Some of you may think that we’ve spent so much energy on the look and feel of the containers for our whiskies, we’ve let the liquid inside come second. Untrue – the whisky must be able to stand on its own as a fine example of unique, single-cask expressions – the stories and the artwork support and bolster the whiskies, anchoring them in a particular space.
But, we also have a series that demonstrates our love of fine whisky, without the extra pomp and ceremony. Simply, single cask whisky, with nothing taken out and nothing added in. We call this series ‘Unfiltered’. It showcases wonderful whiskies from the four corners of Scotland, with single malts taking the lead, but with equal prominence given to fine single-cask grain whiskies as well.
The packaging is elegant, but simple, and designed to convey the whisky safely to you so that you can uncork it and take a dram without the worry that you’re vandalising a priceless work of art. Indeed, if you’re feeling a bit green, you can opt to have these Unfiltered whiskies shipped to you just as bottles without their outer carton – putting just a little bit less pressure on the planet, and granting a small discount, too.
The Bon Vivant, The Sweet Tooth, The Luxuriant
The Digestive Dram / The Rum Collection
There are many ways of living for the pleasures of the finer things. A dry white wine that cuts like a knife, or the briny slide of a live oyster (I’m told) are among life’s greatest pleasures. They are, though, a little ascetic as pleasures go.
Our next recommendations are for those people who have the unashamed joy of living for the love of things that are rich, sweet and unapologetically decadent. Think sticky toffee pudding, drenched in Madagascan vanilla custard. Think pineapple marinated in maple syrup and then blasted with a blowtorch. Think egg-nog for breakfast.
The ‘Digestive Dram’ 27 year old Blended Malt Scotch whisky is all of this in whisky form. A rich, almost oozing sweetness runs through this whisky, which we think is perfect for an indulgent digestif following a heavy lunch.
We collaborated with Tatsuya Minagawa of the famous Highlander Inn in Speyside to produce this incredible Blended Malt (comprising four distilleries’ spirits), and you will find this bottle at the bar there. It’s a perfect counterpart to an afternoon spent in front of the fire in a warm parlour, away from the dreich outside. Order it from us, and take the comfort of the Highlander Inn home!
There is another option for the sweet-toothed bon-vivant, and I hope you won’t find it controversial. Rum is a close relative of whisky, but instead of tricking barley to produce a little sugar, rum skips the middleman and goes straight to source – rum is distilled from molasses; sugar in very potent form.
Single cask, long matured dark rums are somewhat rare, but they are often extravagantly sweet, deliciously spicy and completely decadent. We have rums of two different South American origins to choose from – one 19 year old from Nicaragua, where the sugar cane is nourished by active volcanic soil. The other is a 21 year old from Guyana – where the Demerara river flows and gives its name to some of the world’s best quality sugar.
Supremely wonderful and complex drams, no whisky drinker should feel like a traitor for turning to a dram of rum. We’re all one happy family.
The Explorer, The DIY, The Family
A Whole, Entire Cask of Whisky!
You’re still reading – does this mean that you haven’t found the perfect gift in the lists above? Are you looking to make a grand gesture for Christmas this year? Hmm…
Do you know someone who likes to explore new frontiers, and grab amazing opportunities to do things before they become mainstream? Do you know a whisky lover who has always imagined aloud what they would do if they were making their own whisky?
It’s a bold step, but going for a whole cask of Scotch Whisky is the ultimate journey for a whisky lover. There aren’t many who know how it feels to have a cask of maturing spirit, waiting for the day they choose to reveal it to the world. This is not a gift of immediate gratification – a cask owner has the chance to influence their cask’s development, re-rack the liquid into a different style of cask, take a sample to see how it’s progressing – even visit it at its warehouse home. And finally, they can create their ideal bottle, to their own design; their very own unique Scotch Whisky.
Cask 88 are here to take anyone on their own cask to glass journey – we offer guidance on every stage, from purchasing the right cask, maturing the whisky in the chosen way, protecting the cask, checking on its progress and then creating the perfect bottles with our talented design team.
There are a lot of bottles in each cask, so perhaps this is a gift that can be shared – not a cask for an individual, but a family cask that grows along with you and your family. The whisky can wait for the right day – a special birthday, a wedding, or an anniversary. Whisky has always been a social drink, and a way for people to celebrate each other’s company. Let your whisky bond you together.
However you chose to celebrate this year, and whomever you celebrate with; we at Cask 88 hope that you will be happy, healthy and wealthy – and we raise our glasses to you. Slàinte Mhath!