Buy loved ones gifts they can imbibe this Christmas – because edible and drinkable presents will never go to waste. And with so many innovative artisan brands on the market, there are many ways to find an alternative version of a favourite tipple and her are some of our favourite spirits we have enjoyed this year.
Cut To The Overproof Spiced Rum
This incarnation of Cut Spiced Rum contains more alcohol than proof (hence the term overproof). Take a quick sniff and you’ll instantly notice the super-strong 75.5% ABV. Containing flavours of strong vanilla, burnt sugar and cardamom, it’s versatile for many mixers, but must be well diluted due to its eye-watering alcoholic potency.
Haig Club Limited Edition
Haig Club is a Single Grain Scotch Whisky developed in partnership with global sporting icon David Beckham. Made at the legendary Cameronbridge distillery in Scotland, the liquid has been crafted using a process that combines grain whisky from three cask types which creates a fresh, clean style that showcases butterscotch and toffee for an ultra-smooth taste. This makes it delicious served neat, over ice or in a crafted cocktail like the Old Fashioned. For the first time, Haig Club brings a festive twist to the Haig Club Clubman’s unique and striking square bottle design, with a limited-edition and flawlessly stylish new look.
Fresh and slightly sweet, this Scottish white rum contains a blend of nine exotic botanicals. Infused with Peruvian Organic Cacao nibs, Madagascan vanilla, Indonesian Java black pepper, Cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Madagascar, Cassia from China, orange peel from Murcia, almond from Spain and a drop of liquorice. It’s crafted using a 100% copper still – a bespoke hand-built Birdie – and rectifying column to create a clean and smooth spirit finish. Light, but with complex flavours, it’s also a most affordable gift for the rum connoisseur in your life.
Juracán – The Rum That Gives Back
Juracán Rum is a social initiative supporting Caribbean communities impacted by hurricane disaster. With the 2020 hurricane season having broken all records, with 30 named storms there’s never been a more important time to support the families and communities whose lives are destroyed by these natural disasters. Juracán Rum blends five rums from across the Caribbean islands, who are all affected by the devastating hurricane season, including Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad. The rum is complex and characterful, forging notes of smoky caramel, light ginger and vanilla spice.
Woodford’s Distiller’s Select
Create the perfect Old Fashioned with Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve. Smooth and packed with flavour, this bourbon is rich and full-bodied, clear honey in colour. Its complex array of notes is a tad festive, including cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, cookie dough, brioche, honey, apricots, sultanas, a touch of vanilla and candied citrus peel.
Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Malt Whisky
With notes of cooked banana, peppery oak, juicy raisin and honey, this is an exotic Asian combination of sweet and dry in one concoction. It spends two-thirds of its life in American oak bourbon barrels, and the other third in European oak sherry casks, before making its way to the shelves.
Forest Distillery London Dry Gin
An excellent choice for an on-trend friend, Forest Gin is hand-crafted in small batches. It’s infused by a range of foraged botanicals from Macclesfield Forest, including wild Bilberries, wild Gorse Flowers, wild Raspberries, and local Moss. Created in the UK by husband and wife team Lindsay & Karl Bond, it’s just as good solo or combined with a high-quality mixer. It comes presented in an English Porcelain bottle made by Wade Ceramics, the artwork representing a commission by the Papercut artist Suzy Taylor.
Green Spot Irish Whiskey
Matured in Bourbon and Sherry casks, then aged for 12 months in Zinfandel wine casks from the Napa Valley Château Montelena Estate, Greenspot is a limited edition triple-distilled Irish whiskey. Pomegranate, cranberry, damson, red cherry, baked apple, crunchy pear, greengage jam, leather, tobacco, crème caramel, fresh mint and oaky spices are combined alongside delightfully indulgent notes of cheesecake, marzipan, cookie dough, mixed peel, brandy snaps and ginger biscuits.
Milk and Honey Triple Cask Whisky
Established in 2014, Milk & Honey Distillery is based in the unlikely location of Tel Aviv, home of an emergent cocktail scene. The heat and humidity ages whisky twice as fast in Israel as it does in Scotland. So while it may be ‘young’ it’s just as mature as many comparable older products. This particular whisky is a delicate peaty variety, made with Malted Milk biscuits, dried fruit, a little honey, rich red wine, Bourbon and Islay whisky casks.
Martin Miller’s Winterful Gin
Winerful is inspired by the botanicals commonly used in home-made mulled wine recipes in both England and Iceland (where it is known as Jóla Glögg) and pays homage to the brand’s dual heritage, which sees its English distilled gin blended with the purest Icelandic spring water for its signature smooth taste and soft mouth feel. Traditional winter flavours such as cinnamon, mandarin orange peel and cardamom are added to Martin Miller’s Gin’s iconic twin-distilled Original blend via a third distillation, resulting in a complex spirit, with great depth, which can be enjoyed both hot and cold.
Agua Peidra Mezcal & Co
This small-batch mezcal comes from San Bartolo Yautepec, just outside Oaxaca in Mexico. The area is known for a wide variety of fruit, of which notes of peach, apricot, grapefruit, tangerine and guava find their way into this beverage, along with orchard blossom, smoked peppercorns, meaty biltong and 10-year-old Espadín agave plants. Each bottle takes over 115 months to make, with agave hearts roasted over wood giving it a smoky quality and twice distilled in a copper pot still. It’s an ethical choice, presented in recycled glass, with brand owners Agua Piedra Mezcal & Co ensuring the incomes of the families who make it are 45% over the industry standard.
Samaroli Caribbea Soul Blended Rum
Just 376 bottles of this liquor were shipped to Scotland, blended and re-casked, providing rich and creamy notes of Florentine biscuits (orange peel, almonds, honey, chocolate), Christmas spices (star anise, cinnamon, ginger) and mouthwatering salted caramel. Samaroli, the creator of Caribbean Soul, is an Italian independent bottler is known for its rare, unusual, imaginative and aesthetically beautiful rums and whiskies, often sold for high prices at auction. Each bottle is one of a kind, so much so, the Rome based Samaroli says: “Do not ask us for brand standards and for the same shopping options, it would be like asking a painter to paint always the same painting.”.
Cotswolds Founder’s Choice Single Malt Whisky
Winner of the Best English Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2019, this whisky is a juicy single malt. It features flavours of the tropics: almond croissant, coffee, pineapple, flambéed banana, lime and Jamaican ginger cake, as well as the quintessentially English notes of pear, apple, peach, apricot, damson, barley sugars, chocolate, fruitcake and scones with strawberry jam. The first Founders Choice casks were laid down in 2014, using barrels of shaved, toasted and re-charred American oak red wine barriques made at a cooperage in Portugal. Just 3000 bottles have been produced worldwide, each capturing the essence of the rolling hills, clean air, honey-coloured stone, busy farms and charming towns of the Cotswolds.
Holyrood Auld Tam Gin
Another award-winning tipple – this time in receipt of the plaudit, Old Tom Gin of the Year at the Scottish Gin Awards 2019. Naturally sweetened by Botanics, this fruity floral gin contains fresh peach, Madagascan vanilla, chamomile, jasmine, orange flowers and milk thistle seeds. Distilled in Edinburgh, it offers an oily, full-bodied taste and is bottled at 41% ABV. Add a slice of peach to drink neat or with a light tonic.
Isle of Wight Mermaid Pink Gin
This unusual, feminine and utterly stunning bottle is one to display. In keeping with its oceanic theme, the bottle is plastic-free and sustainably made from recyclable and biodegradable materials. The smooth tasting gin contains ten botanicals, including rock samphire or ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’ which is handpicked from the Isle of Wight’s chalky cliffs. Boadicea hops are taken from a local botanic garden, with English coriander seeds from Sussex, juniper, organic lemon zest, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root, elderflower and grains of paradise. Mermaid Pink Gin gets its colour from Arreton Valley’s fragrant summer strawberries, along with lashings of salty sea spray and cracked black pepper.
RedLeg Caribbean Rum
This playfully designed rum is distilled in the Caribbean. Created using a variety of warming Caribbean rums, it’s then left to rest in oak barrels, before being infused with ginger and vanilla for a slightly sweet taste. Named after the indigenous Redleg Hermit Crab, the rum and its bottle design represent laid back island life.