Okay this might not be a good idea for the teetotaler in your life, and it's not the most original of suggestions, but otherwise a really nice bottle of wine or scotch or case of artisan beer is where it's at. And please, this isn't meant to be a gift for the college drunk in your life who doesn't know the difference between a box and a bottle; this is for the individual near and dear to you who likes to kick back with a beverage that has been supremely distilled and/or aged.
And this recommendation isn't in the spirit of trying to be pretentious or make you and yours look like fancy-pants who turn their noses up at cheap imitations. The fact is, the more a person learns, appreciates, participates in and gets to enjoy something, they eventually start to want the quality product. A quality experience. This goes for everything from sport, clothing, food, to beverages. And in our house, it's Dan's taste for scotch that is being refined.
My Bup--my grandfather--is the scotch man in our family, and he likes the stuff that will keep you warm when you're camping, duck hunting, or sitting around the Christmas tree with those you love. The first time that Dan ever met my extended family, Bup got him absolutely pickled on scotch. You may think it's odd for your grandpa to get you drunk, but, well, he also got my sisters and I pretty loaded at a family wedding one year, and none of us can remember the ceremony. He's a bit heavy handed when he mixes drinks. Anyhow, back to Dan's initiation to my family.
It was a late fall day and my dad had just retired; he had a whack of collected papers that needed to be disposed of, so the family made a day of it and we went to my uncle's property where a bonfire was started so the papers could be burned. We girls were inside, and all the boys were outside. Occasionally I'd peek out the window to see how Dan was doing, meeting all the men-folk for the first time, and it seemed to be going well: they were all standing around tossing back drinks and building a huge fire.
How very safe and non-redneck of us.
Later that afternoon they came inside and all 6'5 inches of Dan collapsed and sprawled across my uncle's living room floor. He was done.
"Caitie....Caaaiiiittttiiiieeee....." Dan hissed, lying on his back with an empty glass rolling beside him. "I don' know wha ta doooooooo."
"What do you mean you don't know what to do?" I laughed.
"Ever time I finish ma glass.....Bup fills it up again," he moaned, now trying to climb into a chair. And then, as if he heard himself mentioned, in strolled my jolly Bup to fill up Dan's empty glass for the seventh time that day.
"Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" Dan whispered, "I don' know wha ta doooooo."
After that day, and once he recovered from a wicked bad hangover, Dan took a decided interest in scotch. As the years have progressed, he has acquired his own preferences in a bottle of scotch beyond the familial obligation to drink Famous Grouse, and he has an interest in learning more about the different products; so, one day last month we hopped a train and went to Thun so that he could check out a specialty scotch shop.
And this, my invisible Internet friends, is where you can really make sure you're selecting a special Christmas present for that important someone: go to an expert. Go to someone who specializes in the product and who can listen to what your palette has been exposed to thus far and can recommend from there the next option you can graduate to.
I myself do not have a taste for scotch so I was content to browse the store and take pictures while the lady in the shop asked Dan what he'd drank so far, decided what flavours he'd likely benefit from trying next, and then chose a selection of scotch that he could sample from.
One corner of the store.
And if you can find an expert who insists on letting you try the product, well that's obviously even better. The afternoon was informative for Dan, and the lady nailed it in terms of selecting a range of flavours that Dan would like. They were all to his taste, and he chose to buy a bottle of the scotch on the left.
It really was quite the experience, and it's one I'd recommend if you know of someone who wants to expand their knowledge and you live anywhere near a specialty shop, or can find a willing expert via the Internet.
Christmas is a special time of year, so if you can help a loved one further their keen interest, or relax with a rare treat, it really does make their season bright.