So you’ve decided that you’re going to treat yourself to a bottle of Lagavullin 16 or Coal Ila Connoisseurs Choice or a Dalwhinnie Distiller’s Edition. Where are you going to buy it from and how can you get the best deals? There are lots of retail outlets, supermarkets and websites so we’re going to share our favourite places to buy whisky and why we like them.
The Whisky Exchange
This specialist whisky retailer has a fantastic breadth of range. You can learn a lot from browsing through their exhaustive collection and there’s a really useful sidebar that gives you suggestions of other related whiskies – particularly useful if you’re looking for something new – either for yourself or as a gift.
They’re also very competitively priced and have lots of special offers throughout the site. They give comprehensive, but not too nerdy, tasting notes and you can read (and post) comments about their products from consumers. If you’re not London-based you’ll need to buy online. You can buy single bottles and there’s no minimum order. You’ll have to pay for delivery, but at £4.95 for up to 60 bottles, why not buy several at once, or make an order with friends or colleagues. One last thought – they have a plethora of miniatures so why not add on a tiny treat or two and broaden your knowledge without burning through your whole pay cheque?
Master of Malt
This is a specialist retailer who sells online only. They have a fantastic spectrum of whiskies as well as other wines and spirits. They have some fun and interesting gift ideas if you’re searching for that elusive top-notch present. They also offer gift vouchers which make a great present for any whisky enthusiast.
Delivery is quick and easy and they offer a flat rate charge of £4.89 for unlimited bottles to be delivered to one UK mainland address. If you’re in a hurry, take a look at their different options for speedy delivery – including before 9am the next day.
Of all the supermarkets, Waitrose is our favourite for buying whisky. Why? Because they have range, good stock levels and most of all because they have amazing special offers. Throughout the year they promote different whiskies by discounting them, sometimes by up to 30%. When compared against wine sales that may not seem much – how many times have we all seen £10 bottles of wine slashed to just £5 each?! Too many times – especially if you’ve drunk those bottles and woken up the next day realising they were just that: £5 bottles of wine.
The same is not true of the whisky market and a discount of 30% is a real discount of 30% so fill your boots, and your trolley. A bottle of single malt whisky is a terrific Christmas present and Waitrose clearly agree. The best time of year to stock up on whisky from Waitrose (especially if you like to browse a bit and perhaps try something new) is in the 8 weeks or so before Christmas when they have a very large selection of special offers, many of which are incredibly good value. And you truly can’t beat their customer service – even with a big stick!
If you’re starting out on your whisky journey or you’re trying to persuade a partner to buy something more unusual than another bottle of blended whisky then manoeuvre them further up the same Tesco aisle towards the shelves of the single malts.
As a general spirits retailer Tesco are very competitive on price. They tend to focus more on the entry-level single malts alongside mainstream spirits products. It’s a great place to look for special offers at the more reasonable end of the single malt range and pick up a Jura or a Balvenie at a decent price.
If you’re travelling, remember to check out World of Whiskies in the airport and online before you leave www.worldofwhiskies.com. They have travel retail exclusives and some very good deals including larger format bottles for the same high street price – spend the same but get a litre bottle rather than a 70cl one.
Those were our favourite whisky suppliers, but there are lots of other good places to shop so why not check out these folk too: