Older is not necessarily better when it comes to fine single-malt Scotch whisky. So please the Scotch drinkers on your list, and save yourself some money, by passing on the $120 bottle of 30-year-old whisky in favor of a 12-year-old at $40. "Whiskies do not continue to get better as they get older; they merely change," says Anthony Burnet, head of North American sales for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg.
To qualify as a Scotch whisky, the "new make" spirit coming out of the still has to be aged in oak at least three years. But beyond 10 or 12 years, a whisky can become too "woody" at a cost to its balance and complexity, warns John Hansell, publisher of The Malt Advocate magazine. That's particularly true for peatier whiskies like Laphroaig or Ardbeg. So stick with age 10 or 12 of those -- or of the popular Glenlivet or Glenfiddich -- and you won't be selling your friends short. If you've ever fantasized about trading your business-class seat for something more dignified, here's your chance. Since 2001, prices for used corporate jets have plummeted 30%, while new planes are down 14%, says Mary Schwartz, director of aircraft finance at the Citigroup (C) Private Bank. Financing is cheaper, too. Citi, for example, currently charges 1.5 to 2.5 percentage points above the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), which on Nov. 24 was a mere 1.12% for a one-month rate. On top of that, a tax deduction, available through 2005, allows you to write off up to 50% of a new plane's cost in the year it's delivered.
So how much would this lifestyle lift cost you? Rock-bottom for a secondhand business jet runs about $1 million, Schwartz says. A top-flight new model -- one with room for 15, a galley kitchen, and a foldout couch -- might cost as much as $50 million. Buying may make sense for those logging at least 200 hours a year in the air, experts say. Anything less and you're probably better off chartering, buying a fractional interest -- or sticking with that seat in business class. Those who take a lot of medications should check out a free Web site designed to spot potential interactions among 5,000 drugs, over-the-counter products, and herbal supplements, as well as food and alcohol. Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts produced the site, drugdigest.org/DD/Interaction/ChooseDrugs, in conjunction with the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.