Three Prime Ministers, Two British Monarchs, and a partridge in a pear tree, it’s time to Deck the Halls with boughs of holly once more… even if it is for an extra little bit of insulation this winter.
Shocking Christmas gags aside however, it is Beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with Bublé officially out of hibernation, it’s about time we throw ourselves into the ‘spirit’ of Christmas – pun intended.
To help you discerning drinkers, we’ve unwrapped our top picks of the gifting season to help place some affordable luxuries under the tree this year… and possibly a serve of indulgence too.
We’ve got ideas for those looking for that special surprise and others for those just wanting to fill up their glass to get through the King’s speech. So, get ready for all the essential bar cart booze for Little Saint Nick and let’s pull the ribbon on our Christmas Gift Guide...
For those looking for a gift that's just super tasty, meet Tarquin’s Spiced Watermelon Gin. Yes the watermelon is summery but the jerk spice gives it plenty of depth and with an earthy spice, charred smoke and waxy pine it makes for a spectacular G&T around food. Unsurprisingly too, it was created as an homage to the jerk watermelon, and for those who want festive gin but want to lean away from your novelty winter spice - this delivers and then some.
Now for this season’s showstopper and a reservation that is bound to turn heads. Have you checked in for a G & Tea at the Hendrick’s Hotel yet? Whether you’re hosting or helping, you can bag on the entertainment being covered. It’s a gift fit for the gin lover and curious ceramic collector, and once you combine both for a cocktail - for the whole family to enjoy!
Just make sure you take the Gin out before letting the little ones roam free in their make-shift doll hotel…
For those not dreaming of a White Christmas and who would rather gaze at the horizon with a sense of wanderlust, let’s look at a Gin that will help escape the commercial constraints of the holiday season.
Via its textured bottle and enticing flavours, you can dip into Mediterranean waters with Gin Mare Capri.
It's filled with freshly zested oils and packed to the brim with resinous juniper, Italian bergamot and Capri lemons making it perfect for those who love citrusy gins and bright and zesty G&T's.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year... when you have the perfect winter dram to match.
Searching for THAT whisky normally requires a lot of patience but, in this case, screw the wait. Let us help fast forward your quest and guide you on what you need to add to basket (no naughty or nice list needed).
Although not everyone’s Christmas may fall into this category, you can count on Nc’Nean’s Organic Single Malt being something smooth, elegant and easy going.
Not just a tasty dram, but an environmentally conscious one too – Nc'Nean are a producer to back for more than what’s in the bottle.
That said, the all-important taste test never fails to impress; lemon rind, peach skins and juicy apricots define the first sip but it brings you back into the spirit of Christmas with spiced rye bread tones that emerge on the finish.
For those looking for a dram that is backed as a favourite among whisky enthusiasts, Port Askaig consistently takes the top spot. If you’re looking to gift an excellent ‘everyday’ whisky that will soon become a regular in the cabinet, Port Askaig 100 Proof Whisky stamps hard on quality with exceptional value.
It's one to reach for again and again and a bottle we’d recommend for those who are looking at buying a gift for a whisky lover, but only really know that they like peated whisky. This is that, but with loads of extra layers.
Consider this blend a love letter to Leith, Woven Whisky Experience No.9 is filled with contrasts, tropical citrus and depth. It may take you by surprise as it’s a journey of flavour contradictions, but it just works. The No.9 is such a confident display of whisky making at its most creative.
There's so much to love about Woven too, namely, it looks different compared to most Whiskies. As a brand, they are different in that they focus on storytelling and not process. They are trending right now within the whisky community and as makers, they weave an equal measure of charm and quality into the liquid.
We highly recommend you try some!
TEQUILA & MEZCAL
Thanks to Mr. Cliff Richards, a year doesn’t go by where we don’t hear Mistletoe and Wine sung on repeat. We might not be able to get him off the airwaves but to fix the broken record of what is classed as an acceptable Christmas tipple, we’ve had a look into what will turn a fair few Agave heads this year…
No more cheap shots. No more dreadful supersized Frozen Marg's. It’s time for quality sipping Tequila!
Those who are buying for the Mezcalistas in their life (including yourselves of course!) consider a lesser seen flavour variety in Don Amado’s Tobalá and Biscuishe Mezcal. To taste, it combines woody Biscuishe with the sweet minerality of the Tobalá. In layman’s terms, the tension of the two different varieties of agave used make for a delicious juxtaposition and an extremely tasty treat.
Don Amado is a fantastic artisanal producer too, there’s lots to delve into beyond the choice of agave and flavour should you wish to look further.
KAH Tequila tops the charts for quirky gift givers this season. Novelties aside, these hand-finished skull shaped bottles house a brilliant 100% Agave Tequila that’s resinous with the earthy, stewed herbal notes of the category.
KAH proves that you can find that fun present without sacrificing drinkability or dip into cultural appropriation.
If you’re in the position to splash a bit of cash this Christmas, Clase Azul Mexico Gold Tequila is a fantastic investment on all accounts. Let’s just say that when this landed in our office in September it was like Christmas had come early. It’s got a gravity too – people just flock to it and you can count on this being an absolute cracker of a gift.
Clase Azul Gold aims to capture the ephemeral feeling of sunsets held within a shimmering glass decanter. It’s a bottle that tends to stay around even with the last drop is gone and while you can see the detail in the images, in hand you’ll marvel at how the glass and ceramic have fused together.
If you’re shopping the shelves for that one cabinet essential, there’s only one word for it, Vodka.
Christmas is that chance to really go for it – so let’s take a look at what will help transform your Martinis into a cut above the rest. The great thing is that you won’t need to break the bank to do so.
If you’re looking for a step up from Absolut Vodka, you don’t need to look far. Absolut Elyx is the Swedish producer’s luxury expression.
All Absolut Vodka is made from winter wheat, but here the provenance is focused to a single location. They use a fantastic cereal base that makes room for the peppery notes to emerge into a smooth and mellow finish – and the bottle looks incredibly festive too.
All the more reason to have this sitting up on your spirit shelf this winter!
However, for those simply looking for an incredibly easy sipping vodka that will be a welcomed contribution into any cocktail, does it really matter if it looks festive?
Reyka is an Icelandic Vodka that uses the purest glacial water and volcanic lava rock to filter the spirit. It’s really high quality and the Icelandic vibes will have you feeling inspired to wear your best knitwear to match, even if it may not be a White Christmas down here.
Mermaid Salt Vodka is saline and moreish, bringing walks along the beach into your glass. To make it, they add a subtle addition of rock sea salt and while it might sound crazy at first, that salty touch heightens everything it comes in contact with. Try it in a Bloody Mary and you’ll see just how much of a flavour enhancer it is.
Rum is a tipple filled with quintessential winter spice so symbolic of Christmas’s curled up by the fire. So, each year it’s an unspoken tradition to try and filter our cosy surroundings into one token sip.
Elizabeth Yard’s Rum Union is a reminder of nutty maple syrup lathered over breakfast granola while also honing in on ripe bananas and stone fruit. Impressive on the nose and completely unconventional in what it ties together.
This expression combines the profiles of three ‘non-traditional’ rum-producing countries: the Philippines, Vietnam, and Ghana.
If only the constituent parts of most families, and indeed unions, could dovetail together so effortlessly!
For those hunting on behalf of a rum-lover’s palate, Chairman’s Reserve offers a balance of yuletide flavour and St. Lucian tradition.
On one hand, if you’re after something impressive consider their ‘Legacy Rum’, a tribute to their Chairman’s visionary talent for pursuing eclectic barrel selections and building a stockpile that could be turned into a luxurious rum. On the other, you have the ‘Forgotten Casks’ expression. Its rich, dark-golden hue sparks an intense nose of sweet raisin, cigar tobacco, honey, and vanilla.
Angostura Cask Collection No.1 Oloroso Sherry has warm rounded aromas, with cocoa, molasses, oak and sweet prune to draw you in – and there’s even more dried fruit to taste.
It’s made significantly better when accompanied by Christmas Pudding too. Just saying...
COGNAC & BRANDY
A drop of Cognac or Brandy has to be on the cards at some point, right? With it being the very definition of luxury at Christmas, now is the chance to step it up a little.
Let’s start with the pièce de resistance, and Cognacs that are ready to savour neat or with a splash of water.
Rémy Martin XO Cognac is the signature expression of the distillery’s Cellar Master, who blends up to 400 different Eau-de-Vie in order to make it. The XO is his masterpiece. Expect a wide spectrum of aromas, matching dried autumnal fruits with a mellow oak finish. It's a dram that expresses the excellence of Fine Champagne and a treat worth gifting.
If you’re after something distinctive, you simply cannot overlook the unmistakable arch-shaped bottle of Martell’s XO Cognac. This will hit the nail on the head if you’re chasing a reaction of ooh’s and aah’s for the gifting season. But in the spirit of Christmas, it’s what’s on the inside that counts and thankfully this delivers there too. Golden amber hues shadowed by rich fig aromas allow the palate to open up to the nutty finesse of Grande Champagne.
Whether you’re after its robust structure for Cognac’s signature cocktails or ready to ignite your Christmas pudding with a little character, let’s look at the suggestions that won’t break the bank quite as much.
For those searching for luxury on an accessible level , Hine VSOP Rare Cognac is a classic expression of the House of Hine. It reinterprets the fruity characteristics of white Charente wines with notes of roasted nectarines, heavy vanilla and oaky brioche.
When given a friendly nudge of triple sec, it makes for a stunning Sidecar too.
There’s probably not a more suited time to get into the world of Armagnac. It’s similar to Cognac, but the fact that the name doesn’t carry as much caché and the brands aren't as well known means offers unbelievable value while still delivering great quality.
You can rely on Castarède’s honeyed amber hues to warm up your palate in particular. The VSOP has structured oak to taste and is an exceptional display of ageing and blending. Trust us, add a splash to the coffee and indulge a little!
APERITIFS & EAU-DE-VIE
Let’s dive into our Christmas cocktail cabinet and some aperitifs that tie in the rich festive flavours of the season. Think, booze that is best suited for cheese boards and pairing with food platters.
Amaro Montenegro is made from a secret blend of 40 botanicals, including vanilla, orange peels, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon – already it’s sounding like a step in the right direction (and a Step Into Christmas too).
It's fantastic on the rocks with an orange peel and complex in a Negroni. Crimbo aside, we think Montenegro is a year-round bar cart essential.
For those who lean more on the herbal side of the tasting wheel and demand no sugar in their digestifs - opt for some Swedish charm. With lead notes of spicy caraway, Ahus Akvavit is dominated by herbaceous rosemary with restrained subtleties of fennel.
Keep it in the freezer and serve up when needed.
For the more exotic gift givers this season, Azaline Saffron Vermouth opens a gateway to the Silk Road, combining pinot noir grapes and enriched with herbs and spices.
The spice is quite earthy, but balance is brought with fruit-forward sweetness to oscillate between the bitter herbs. For those always asking for a Manhattan, a spicy Fairytale of New York will warm up a cold Christmas Eve.
Crank Sinatra up a gear and leave it to the Irish to sort out your post-festive-feast drinks.
If you’re going to make an Irish Coffee, Shanky’s Whip is a brilliant liqueur made with whiskey, caramel, and vanilla. There’s aromas of toffee, buttered toast and cream making it great for those with a sweet tooth, or indeed, to have alongside desert and doubling down on sweet treats.
Tis the season after all...
With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree, do you play it safe with booze infused coffee or go all in with a Tequila instead? Why not do both? Cazcabel Coffee Liqueur uses the fresh earthy agave base of their Blanco as a starting point, before blending in roasted sweet arabica coffee.
A fuss free compromise to an Irish Coffee!
COCKTAIL & MIXERS
For those ready to turn their Bucks Fizz up a notch whilst avoiding any more mess making, Black Lines Pear & White Tea Fizz is your next liquid gold. Light, bubbly, yet sophisticated.
What’s more is that with all the mingling the festive season encourages, between three or four people you’ll be bound to finish a bottle in one sitting. Besides, it has a lot more character than your average sparkling wine and orange juice pairing.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, operation zero-mess but maximum taste does, Black Lines also bottles up a fair few fan favourites too; the Espresso Martini, Paloma, Negroni and Elderflower Collins make up a classic collection with a modern slant. Brilliant booze.
Whether it’s spent with family, friends or new acquaintances, and irrespective of whether you are enjoying old traditions or making new ones – We wish you a Merry Christmas!