Along with socks or a good book, a bottle of single malt is a Christmas cliché. Don’t get us wrong, a fine whisky is never to be sniffed at, but we’ve got a drinks cabinet overflowing with simple supermarket Scotches — and could do with something a little more special. We’d wager you could, too.
As such, we’ve got into the Christmas spirits, and uncorked some of the best bottles to gift this Christmas. There’s everything from rum to brandy to wines to cocktails rounded up below (of course, Scotch also makes an appearance…). So whip out your Christmas list and get ticking off — because we’ve got a bottle for everyone…
If you’re going to go for Scotch, go for something special
As we said, you don’t want just another bottle of whisky. But there are some offerings out there that will raise your bar — literally. Chief among them is the Caperdonich 25-Year-Old we tested earlier this year — the jewel in the crown of the Secret Speyside collection.
Alternatively, if your price point is a little lower, why not plump for Glenlivet’s 12 Year Old Illicit Still; inspired by the founder’s original illicitly distilled whisky. No? Still want to splash out? Okay — Glenfiddich’s delectable cuvée wine cask-finished Grand Cru is a nice middle-ground.
Glenlivet 12 Year Old Illicit Still Limited Edition
Glenfiddich 23-Year-Old Grand Cru
Aside from Scotch, there’s a whole world of whiskey out there
But whiskeys don’t start and end with Scotch alone. We’ve got a soft spot for bottles from England — and even further afield. To introduce any Scotch die-hards to Irish whiskey, there’s no bottle better than Redbreast 15 Year Old; a rich, thick, sweet, pungent whiskey.
For an American offering, try Buffalo Trace’s Sazerac Rye — boasting a bottle as memorable as the liquid it holds. Our last international choice? Mackmyra Mack, a Swedish single malt.
Redbreast 15 Year Old Single Pot Still
There are some exceedingly interesting gins out there
With whisky, we told you to look beyond your usual bottles — and the same could be said for gin. And it’s not difficult to broaden your juniper-y horizons. There are some cracking bottles out there, in terms of both looks and taste.
One of our particular favourites this year is Portofino Dry Gin; a Mediterranean holiday in a bottle. Procera is a neat option — the most important gin of the exotic African craft distilling movement. Similarly, QVT is a gin made in an unexpected location; this time hailing from the grape-bursting vineyards of Provence, France.
You can never go too tropical when gifting a rum
We like our rums unapologetically flavourful. From the big established names to some boutiquey special editions, we want them soaked in Caribbean sun, packed with fruity flavours and tasty enough to be sipped neat.
Thankfully, these three deceptively dark-bottled options tick all the tropical boxes, starting with Bacardi’s Diez 10 Year Old Rum — followed by Don Papa’s super-premium 10-Year-Old Rum. Or, for a really special gift, try this Santa Teresa Limited Edition Old Fashioned Gift Pack (that even has the option to personalise the label in Harvey Nichols’ Leeds store).
Bacardi Diez 10 Year Old Rum
Don Papa 10-Year-Old
Santa Teresa Limited Edition Old Fashioned Gift Pack
A good cognac is a drinks cabinet staple
Because brandy’s so much more than an accelerant for your Christmas pud. Just ask these bottles. Courvoisier‘s XO Cognac is a perennial award-winner — and has a bottle that looks like a piece of modern art. Perfect for gifting.
Through The Grapevine’s VSOP Cognac may be a little more conservatively bottled, but its taste of cardamom and Mirabelle plums is a delightful surprise. And this H by Hine Cognac is a good introduction to the brandy — if you’re looking to tempt any friends over to the VSOP side.
Courvoisier XO Cognac
Through The Grapevine VSOP Cognac
H by Hine VSOP Cognac
Give the gift of vodka (it's for more than just martinis...)
Whether you like them shaken or stirred, the likelihood is that martinis are the reason you’ve got a bottle of vodka in your drinks cabinet. This Christmas, you should be broadening your horizons — and those of others, too. Vodka can be crisp, clean and a treat neat. And this festive tin from Grey Goose — containing 1 litre of the brand’s top quality vodka — is the perfect gift to leave under the tree.
East London Liquor Company’s cheaper and more cheerful take on the spirit is perfect for those aforementioned cocktails — and Belvedere’s new Heritage 176 is a strange, flavourful beast; made using the traditional malting method of superheating Dańkowskie rye.
Grey Goose Gold Gift Tin
East London Liquor Company Vodka
Belvedere Heritage 176
If you’re gifting, sometimes you can give pre-mixed
Now we wouldn’t usually allow this — a man should be able to mix his own drinks. But, if you’re gifting to the mixologly-challenged, it can pay to pop a pre-mixed bottle under their tree. Meda’s Espresso Medatini is low-sugar, low-calorie and pre-mixed with premium vodka and CBD.
From Berry Bros’ No.3, this Vesper Martini is the real 007 deal. And, if you’re looking for stocking fillers, Buveur offer a great range of handsome-bottled minis. Our favourite? The White Russian.
Red wine is the perfect way to ring in the festive season
Isn’t there just something innately Christmassy about a hearty bottle of red? It’s definitely the sort of wine Santa Claus himself would drink — no rosé in the North Pole, thank you very much. And Gentleman’s Journal’s very own GJ Wine stocks some of the best stocking-filling bottles around.
If you know a fan of niche grape variety Carignan, this Corbières Campagnès Maxime Magnon 2018 is the ideal gift. For those looking for a sunny Californian bottle to ring in the New Year, we’d go for the unapologetically jammy Turley Zinfandel Juvenile 2018 — a recent GJ Wine of the Week. Or, if it’s classic vino you’re after, we dare you to do better than a 2015 Château Montaiguillon.
Corbières Campagnès Maxime Magnon 2018
Turley Zinfandel Juvenile 2018
Château Montaiguillon, Bordeaux, 2015
If you’re gifting white wine, try something new
Can you guess which wine pairs best with turkey? No? We’ll tell you. While a medium-bodied red can stand up to the toughness, your best bet is a full-bodied, punchy Chardonnay. So what better to slip under someone’s tree this year than this Domaine de la Renardiere Chardonnay Jurassique 2016? Made with grapes harvested from 20-year-old vines, it’ll be the centrepiece of Christmas dinner.
For all of your other white wine needs, we’d recommend trying something new. This Domaine FL Savennières Chamboureau 2016, for example, is a delightfully tropical Chenin Blanc. Or, for something intensely Italian, a mineral-heavy Umani Ronchi Centovie Pecorino.
Domaine FL Savennières Chamboureau 2016
Domaine de la Renardiere Chardonnay Jurassique 2016
Umani Ronchi Centovie Pecorino 2018
Nothing makes for a more sparkling present than Champagne
And let’s finish with a bang — or, rather, a pop. Champagnes and sparkling wines are, quite literally, the toast of every festive season. And there’s a reason for that. Rich, decadent and bubbly, they’re flutefuls of liquid happiness — especially when they come in magnum form.
That’s why, for our first two recommendations, we’d suggest gifting large format bottles. Nothing makes a splash like a big bottle — and Bollinger and Louis Roederer are such grand brands that you know the pour will be magnifique! Alternatively, for those friends and family yet to be convinced of English sparkling wine, give them a sparkling education in the form of Nyetimber’s extraordinary 1086 Prestige Cuvee.
Bollinger Magnum Special Cuvee Brut NV
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
Nyetimber 1086 Prestige Cuvee