Food & Drinks

What liquor will he adore, or she?

Rob Scannell, the Prestige Manager, East Africa for Pernod Ricard. PHOTO | COURTESY
Rob Scannell, the Prestige Manager, East Africa for Pernod Ricard. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Receiving a gin and tonic pack with special tonics and different mixers would be Rob Scannell’s idea of great gift, if not a good bottle of whisky.

“With the different syrups or mixers, I can make many different types of gin and tonic. If anyone is looking to gift me after this, a bottle of Monkey 47 gin and you’re in my good books forever,” says the Pernod Ricard prestige manager for East Africa.

With the holiday of love fast approaching, the choice of gift, especially for those opting to buy a memorable gift for the men or ladies in their lives, choosing the perfect liquor can be a challenge.

Whiskies, says Mr Scannell, alongside with wine, champagne and cognacs take the foreground in East Africa when it comes to gifting.

Perfect hamper

But with the growth of other alcohol segments, gin leading the way, there has been a gravitation towards other liquor types including gin and vodka.

Picking the perfect bottle is an art, and contrary to popular belief, the cost of the bottle does not determine how good it will be.

“What I recommend so that one can make a truly educated decision on the whisky is to understand the flavour profiles of each whisky producing region (USA, Canada, Scotland {islay, speyside, highlands, lowlands}, Ireland, India and Japan — to name a few). Understand what you are buying before being absorbed simply by a price tag – the flavour of the most expensive whisky may not be to your tastes,” explains Mr Scannell.

The growth of speciality shops in the country complete with high-end displays and staff who are skilled in the segment allows buyers to seek information on the different classes and flavour profiles of the drinks.

Understanding the drink will give one the advantage of creating a perfect hamper. Just as a bottle of wine would be packaged with a box of chocolates or decadent chocolate dipped strawberries for that extra fresh element, whiskies too have complementing products.

This can also be informed on whether it is being gifted to a man or a lady. The fact that whisky has been known as a ‘man’s drink’ is slowly dissolving as more women are appreciating whiskies.

“Whisky is for appreciators, people that understand flavour, complexity, depth…There are countless women with a very well developed taste and thirst, for whisky. It has been a very positive sign for me to see an uptake in gifting of whiskies to women,” says Mr Scannell.

Depending of the recipient of the gift, a box of cigars, chocolates, cured meats, cheese and even fruits can be part of an edible basket.  One can also include beard grooming kits, car accessories or even engraved products including the whisky bottle itself.

“Virtually all bottles can be engraved, but one should always be careful as the thinner the glass, the more risk you take of cracking it. The final outcome more depends on the skill of the engraver rather than the glass itself…but a word to the wise, always ask the engraver to test the engraving on a similar surface before going to the bottle (remember, you paid for it),” says Mr Scannell.

“If you are worried that an engraving may damage the integrity of the bottle, you can reach out to printers and designers (even marketers like myself) and try to have a customised label designed— it can be a very nice touch to have your name labelled on a bottle),” he adds.

Brands including Chivas Regal are known for the personalised labels including a message to the recipient at the back of the bottle. The personalised labels are usually done from the distributor shops at no cost or ordered well in advance at no charge or a small fee depending on the seller.

Gifting vodka

“If gifting a vodka, best recommendation I could give would be to pair it with a cocktail book. Vodka is such a versatile spirit, there’s truly no end to what one can do with it. For a more unique and luxurious gift— gift an Absolut Elyx with some incredibly unique copper drinking vessels,” he advises.

To add to the sentimental value of the bottle, a collectors or rare bottle puts you well above the mark. Finding this can at times be a needle in the haystack kind of search if not sure where to start.

Local distributors are usually the best place to begin, as they can assist you in locating and bringing in the bottles.

According to Mr Scannell, for travellers, airport duty-free shops are always filled with amazing surprises and many distilleries around the world do have distillery reserves/cask strength (barrel strength) bottles that are only available in the distilleries themselves. 

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