With Christmas fast approaching, Champagne, Port and whisky are the fail-safe drinks to stock up on and offer as gifts. But what about something a bit more quirky for the wine drinker that has everything?
This year decanter.com has compiled its top 10 spirits for the festive period with winter nights and wine drinkers in mind. From single estate tequila to solera-aged rums, we’ve looked for spirits that reflect their terroir and have been produced with loving care rather than in industrial-sized distilleries.
They range in price from £6.99 to £150 so whether you want a good value treat for yourself or to splash out on a limited edition Cognac for a loved one, there’s something here for everyone.
What really set these ten spirits apart is their balance, concentration and length. From Kazakhstan to Mexico, the quality is truly outstanding.
Snow Queen Kazakh Vodka
Clean and pure nose with notes of sugared almond. This wheat-based vodka is five times distilled, making it incredibly smooth and silky with great concentration. Its class shows through and there’s no alcohol burn despite the alcohol hitting 40%. The bottle is pretty stunning too.
£33 (70cl), thewhiskyexchange.com, Selfridges, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and regional wholesalers
Calvados Hors d’Age Christian Drouin
Normandy’s best-known spirit Calvados sometimes gets forgotten about in the corporate spirits world but this artisanal product deserves more attention. Having spent 15 years in small oak casks it has a lovely amber hue and spicy notes plus vibrant apple skin and dried fruit on both the nose and palate. Great length with a fiery 42% alcohol finale to warm your cockles.
£79.99, thewhiskyexchange.com, Berry Bros & Rudd, Harrods, Partridges of Kensington
Santa Teresa 1796 rum, Venezuela
This blend of solera-aged rums has huge complexity with caramel, raisins, apricots, nutmeg, coconut and pineapple on the nose. In the mouth it is silky, honeyed and unctuous with great concentration. Aged in whisky and bourbon barrels, it has definite smoky tones on the finish.
£47.95, thewhiskyexchange.com, Harrods
Akashi-Tai Shiraume Umeshu
Not strictly a spirit but this umeshu is perfect for Christmas. Plums are infused in ginjo sake for six months then aged for two years. It’s sweet and has an almost tawny port-like character. You can really taste those plums as well as spicy white pepper and marzipan. Can be drunk chilled or warm.
£13.50, thewhiskyexchange.com, Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com, Wholefoods Market, Soho Wine Supply, D.Byrne & Co.
Herradura Tequila Añejo
This 100% blue agave single estate tequila is definitely one for sipping and savouring. It combines the white and black peppery spice of a Rhone red with distinctive fresh green agave flavours. Two years in barrel gives a smoky caramel finish. A great winter warmer.
£34, thewhiskyexchange.com, Waitrose
Cognac Frapin Le Multimillesime
This Cognac oozes class. A blend of Cognac from 1982, ’83 and ’85, it has developed a beautiful deep amber appearance. Youthful aromas of pear and apples with a hint of vanilla and caramel on the finish. Incredibly smooth and refined with mouthwatering acidity. Unfortunately only 1270 bottles were ever made so better hurry up if you’re planning on treating the Cognac lover in your life.
£150, thewhiskyexchange.com, Harrods, Uncorked, Berry Bros & Rudd, and Nichols & Perks
Bache-Gabrielsen Dupuy Cognac Hors d’Age
Subtle but profound nose: dried fruits, fresh herbs, caramelised nuts, toffee, vivid citrus and apple fruit that really lingers. Incredible length.
Sierra Milenario Extra Añejo Tequila
Grandiose but gentle with lots of white pepper, chestnut, orange peel, and vanilla tones on the finish. Very persistent with distinct piquancy. Sophisticated, elegant and very drinkable neat.
£48.99 thewhiskyexchange.com, thedrinksco.co.uk
Blackwood’s 2007 Vintage Dry Gin
2007 was a distinctively average year for Bordeaux but there’s nothing average about this 2007 vintage gin from Shetland. The people at Blackwood’s harvest the botanicals on the island each summer and small batch distil the gin hence it bears a vintage. This has an unusual pale green tint and an herbal, savoury nose with mint and coriander to the fore. Super smooth in the mouth; clean and crisp on the finish.
£16.99, thewhiskyexchange.com, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Majestic, Oddbins, Tesco (Scotland only)
Merlet Crème de Cassis
Pure blackcurrant coulis, with a lick of dairy and vanilla. Viscous and luscious on the palate, mouth-coatingly intense with long persistence and menthol, minty tones to add complexity. Very concentrated and impressive.
£6.99 (50cl), thewhiskyexchange.com, Laithwaites