Whisky options are endless for the discerning drinker (Getty)

    Whisky: the holy spirit of Christmas

    15 December 2016

    The Three Wise men delivered various things to the baby Jesus, none of which, as far as we can tell, the little blighter had much use for. Joseph would’ve undoubtedly stood there wondering why no one bought him a bottle of whisky. Christ knows he needed a drink, what with his new child being the Messiah and having been born in a shed lacking the NHS basics, not to mention a wife with a mysterious tale about the real father.

    As it happens, had he demanded a dram, Joseph would’ve been gutted to learn that whisky didn’t exist on that first Christmas day. Nor did tinsel. Distillation would eventually emerge a stone’s thrown from the manger around 800 years later when a Muslim chap by the name of Jabir Ibn Hayyan perfected the scientific technique in Iran. When Europeans later agreed the holy spirits came off a still, it was Irish priests who took the knowledge home and would subsequently claim to be the architects of whiskey. From there whiskey with an ‘e’ travelled to Islay and then mainland Scotland, eventually becoming whisky without an ‘e’. The story is open to finesse, whisky’s story, not Jesus’s birthday, but it’s a religious pilgrimage that warrants a nod to both Celtic nations.

    If you prefer to toast with Scotch, the options are as endless as an obsession with independence referendums. So here are three wise gifts. For blended try the Chivas Regal Ultis (Whisky Exchange, £168) which carefully combines five single malts – Allt a’Bhainne, Braeval, Longmorn, Strathisla and Tormore. For a single malt, we’ve just replaced our Lagavullin 8 year old 200th Anniversary Edition (£52.95, Master of Malt) If you fancy combining novelty with an nice nip then the nifty Christmas Pudding blended malt whisky came to us from Lost Distillery Company, available online at: for £49.99.

    For the Irish, head to the Middleton Distillery in Cork for Jameson blends and single malts. At the still remarkable £35.95 you’ll discover Green Spot Single Pot and frankly, while it remains at this price we’ll champion it. If you’d like to keep the star north then Bushmills 21 Single Malt is a step up in price at £140 but does a fine job of balancing the expression of American, European oak as well as delivering a Madeira finish.

    And for thinkers outside the nice box the bottle comes in, consider membership to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS). With its own rare single cask bottlings, special prices for its products and access to their clubs the full membership comes with a gift box for £122

    The Thinking Drinkers will be providing audiences with five free drinks during performances of their acclaimed comedy show Around the World in 80 Drinks at London’s Museum of Comedy until December 23. For tickets go here

    For the other entries in our 12 Drinks of Christmas series, go here