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 this festive season. And we’d wager you could, too.
As such, we’re getting into the Christmas spirits — and have uncorked some of the best bottles to gift this year. There’s everything from rum to brandy to wines to champagnes 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 18 Year Old expression from The GlenDronach‘s core range; ‘Allardice’. Named for the distillery’s founder, it has notes of Christmas cake, brown sugar and maple syrup.
Alternatively, if your price point is a little lower, why not plump for Glenmorangie‘s exquisite new woodland-inspired whisky; another bottle filled to its brim with history, heritage and flavours of juniper, birch bark and heather blossom. Or, for something completely classic, look to Aberlour, and its delectable ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’. You can even get this 18 Year Old bottling engraved for an extra £10.
The GlenDronach Allardice 18 Year Old
Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of the Forest’
Aberlour ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’ 18 Year
Aside from Scotch and across the pond, bourbons are bursting with flavour
But whiskeys don’t start and end with Scotch alone. We’ve also got a soft spot for bottles from England — but bombastic American bottles are perhaps our all-time favourites. To introduce any Scotch die-hards to bourbon whiskey, there’s no bottle better than Maker’s Mark 46; a rich, sweet and pungent whiskey.
For a more recent player in the bourbon game, try Rabbit Hole’s ‘Heigold’ whiskey — boasting cinnamon and ginger influences. Our last American option? Something special from established distillers Jim Beam; a handsomely presented Single Barrel edition with notes of caramel, oak and spice.
Rabbit Hole ‘Heigold’ Bourbon Whiskey
Maker's Mark 46
Jim Beam Single Barrel
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 The London No.1 Gin; and this striking phone box gift box will make the perfect present this Christmas. Monkey 47 has cornered the Christmassy gin market by introducing a bonus Black Forest botanical (sweet woodruff) into its latest annual limited edition. And Portofino Dry Gin has brought a touch of summer to the festive season with its boldly blued bottles and Mediterranean mouthfeel.
The London No.1 Gin Phone Box
Monkey 47 Distillers Cut 2022
Portofino Dry Gin
Look for interesting ingredient influences 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 interesting ingredient notes, packed with fruity flavours and tasty enough to be sipped neat.
Thankfully, these three options tick all of those boxes, starting with Tidal‘s trailblazing rum, a past winner of the fiercely-contended Gentleman’s Journal Drinks Awards. Next up is Santa Teresa 1796 Rum — a single estate spirit from Venezuela that’ll make a mean ‘mulled rum’ this winter. Or, for a true taste sensation, why not give Suncamino‘s ‘Floral Rum’ this Christmas; packed as it is with Barbadian flavours of hibiscus, orange blossom, and honeybush.
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.
Delamain’s ‘Pale & Dry XO Centenaire’ may be a little more conservatively bottled, but its rich, decadent notes of candied peel and chestnuts are an opulent surprise. And the LOUIS XIII Classic decanter is on a shelf of its own; less a gift and more an objet d’art (although the exquisite blend inside might be the smoothest spirit that’ll ever pass your lips).
Give the gift of vodka (it's for more than just martinis...)
Whether you like them shaken or stirred, it’s likely that you only use vodka for martinis — or the odd Bloody Mary. This Christmas, you should be broadening your horizons — and those of others, too. Vodka can be crisp, clean and a treat neat. And this sharp Japanese offering from Haku is the perfect exotic gift to leave under the tree.
Chase’s oak-smoked take on the spirit is perfect for perking up simple vodka cocktails — and Belvedere’s new Lemon & Basil infusion is a strange, flavourful beast; made using natural ingredients to bring a rich fragrant quality to any mixed drink.
For any beer enthusiasts, go for an unusual brew
Think beer is less decadent than a rich, age-old spirit? Think again. But we’d never advocate gifting a simple lager or ale that’s available all year around. Instead, seek out some lesser-known limited edition bottles of beer, in styles that they’ll have time to savour this Christmas.
Bottles like the 2021 vintage of St Austell’s award-winning stout, Black Square, brimming with notes of bitter chocolate and liquorice. Camden Town Brewery’s black-bottled pilsner is similarly sapid; offering up dry, stone-fruit flavours. Or, for a really festive option, this red sour from the Wild Beer Co is well-aged and a glistening dark ruby colour.
St Austell ‘Black Square’ Stout (12 bottles)
Camden Town Brewery Imperial Pilsner
Wild Beer Co. ‘Beyond Modus 9’ Sour Red
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..
For our first recommendation, we’d suggest the Krug Grande Cuvée 164th Edition. Or perhaps the new Louis Roederer Collection 243. 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.
Krug Grande Cuvée 164th Edition
Louis Roederer Collection 242
Nyetimber 1086 Prestige Cuvee
Looking for someone a little more adventurous? Here are the best gifts for any wanderers and wayfarers in your life…
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