Must Have Festive Spirits 2020

Reflecting on 2020… it’s been emotional, that’s for sure. BUT, if you’re here and reading this, which means you’ve survived the Covid apocalypse, congratulations. So, whist we sit here in lockdown 2.0, there’s no time like the present to prepare your Christmas wish list, and if you/someone close to you love a good tipple… there is heaps of pressie inspiration here. Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, have a damn good one, you’ve earned it!

TEQUILA

Maestro DOBEL Diamante 40% ABV Let me introduce you to the world’s first Cristalino, multi-aged tequila – It is a blend of 100% agave Extra-Añejo (extra aged), Añejo (aged) and Reposado (a little aged) tequilas. This essentially means that the distillation process uses a unique charcoal filtration process that removes colour and enhances fruity and floral character. This is Mexico’s best-selling, ultra-premium tequila that you will come to love, cherish and appreciate.

On the palate expect baked agave with the slightest sweetness mixed with earthy aspects – a full body and a smooth yet complex offering of bold oak, vanilla, and butterscotch notes with a little herbal spice balanced by agave sweetness. Yes, it’s not the cheapest premium tequila on the market, but there is good reason for that – it’s multi-faceted and is nice neat as it is in a delicious Margarita, however we’d suggest reserving this as a sipper.

Master Of Malt £45

1800 Cristalino Tequilla 35% ABV Check out the bottle bling people! 1800 have won the day once again, with this incredibly smooth tequila. This has it all going on for me, literally a party on the tongue – vanilla, caramel and toasted wood, followed by honey, agave and oak. Yum!

Let’s come back to the bottle again for a minute though; it’s said to represent the centuries-old Mayan stone pyramids, which is a fantastic nod to its South American heritage. Just look at its gloriousness! I love this straight up on the rocks to be honest, save the cheaper stuff for cocktails, this is too good’a flavour to be lost in a fruit juice! We really enjoyed this tipple and would recommend parting with your hard-earned cash for sure – at the very least it will certainly bring some sparkle to the drinks cabinet!

Master Of Malt £45

RUMS

Cane Toad Ruby Eyes Ruby Chocolate Rum 38% If you haven’t heard of the rock-star alchemists that are ‘Zymurgorium’ you are missing out in a big way. Each bottle looks like a potion, and the bravado of flavours they play around with are awe inspiring. We have once again had the honour of showcasing another of their master crafted ventures in the realms spirit creation.

A world first this spirit is made using chocolate, which is produced with the ruby cocoa bean! A fruity punch with brown sugar and milk chocolate notes. Enjoy served on the rocks, mixed with cola, it also works really well in a variety of rum based cocktails, or for something truly daring mix it with hot or cold milk! We’ll be keeping an eye out for the next adventurous and bold spirit from those clever folks at Zymurgorium!

Master of Malt – £27.95

Finders Rum “The Spirit Of Christmas Pudding” 37.5% If your looking for a more traditional festive taste, guaranteed to get you feeling all Christmassy – then welcome… you have reached your destination. Finders Rum “The Spirit of Christmas Pudding” is an adventurous oak-aged rum spiced with three main botanicals – cinnamon, orange and muscovado sugar.

A taste to behold the rich brown sugar shines through waxy peels and bright orange citrus – behind this there is a touch of cocoa that comes along with the cinnamon – goes perfectly on its own with ice, or with a small dash of cola. A perfect little festive tipple is a good measure of Finders Christmas Pudding Rum, warmed with a splash of Cointreau and topped up with cloudy apple juice for a Spirit of Christmas cocktail.

finders-spirits.com – £25.00

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 40% ABV We have here an incredibly tasty, molasses based, multi award winning rum all the way from the tropical climates of Venezuela. Diplomático is distilled in copper pot stills and matured in whiskey barrels, which gives it huge oaky spices on the tongue, conjured up with brandy, plums and pepper. The finish is really where Diplomático shines – think sweet coffee, dark sugar and that oakiness – to die for.

The result… an outstanding rum that if I was given for Christmas, I’d know I’d been a good boy all year! I really enjoyed this on the rocks, but equally in a simple cocktail blending: Diplomático, lime juice, and simple syrup shaken up, strained and served immediately. This makes for a great pressie idea for the rum lover in your life, or if YOU are the rum lover, then go-on, treat yourself, you deserve this special drink in your life.

Master Of Malt £39

Goslings Family Reserve Rum 40% ABV Pouring a glass of this exceptional liquid kind of makes me feel a bit like a Caribbean pirate – the wax topped bottle is nothing short of genius, and gimmicks aside, provides a sense of the deep history behind Goslings Old Rum. A quick history lesson for you, the black champagne bottle is a homage to the beginnings of the Gosling’s Rum Company, when their rum got its name from the Black Wax Sealed Champagne bottles it was housed in.

Additionally, this rum recipe was deemed so special that it was first only produced exclusively for the Gosling family! True. We understand that this is aged between 16-20 years, hence the name ‘Old Rum’, and only 21,000 bottles per annum are produced, making this one very exclusive rum and the likely reason for its price tag.

Now onto the serious business, what does this taste like… first thing to mention is that this is a sipping rum, one for the rum connoisseur for sure. It’s sweet, thanks to the molasses, with an immediate hit of orange marmalade and dark chocolate. It leaves a dry mouth with an oaky/cedar (we can’t decide which) finish. This is a cracking winter warmer, either served from the hip flask on a chilly winter’s walk, or perhaps the first drink to pass your lips on your return.

This is a Christmas cracker for sure.

Master of Malt £55

GINS

1606 Gin 43% 1606 is a single batch distilled London Dry Gin, crafted in the heart of the Cotswolds by The British Honey Company, who also craft the delectable Keepr’s range. English spring water grain spirit combined with the juniper, coriander, liquorice, angelica and cardamom botanicals, as well as organic lemon and orange peel – which the creators of this spirit grow and handpick themselves in Spain!

Juniper led on the nose it also delivers earthy pine, vanilla, and a subtle fragrance of angelica. The taste is that of a classic London dry, fresh, clean and so easy drinking. There are delightful tonalities of Madagascan vanilla and British marmalade. This Gin will suit a wide range of occasions and tastes – this is the perfect Gin for a classic Martini or Collins. Finally, be sure to peruse the other spirits in the Keepr’s range – some beautiful little charms are perfect for a seasonal tipple, or gift.

Amazon  – £24.00

English Heritage Victorian Spiced Gin 40% Inspired by the 19th Century Gin revival wherein Gin became for the first time, a drink of respectable society, sparking an explosion in gin cocktail inventions – including the gin and tonic. English Heritage have utilised the expertise of The British Honey Company (Keepr’s!) Head Distiller, Marzio Di Rocco, to create a historically inspired Victorian Spiced Gin.

Celebrating the cook Avis Crocombe, who worked at the English Heritage site, Audley End House and Gardens, in the 1880’s and distilled using traditional copper pot methods. It blends sixteen botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, lemon, orange and mandarin peel, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper, to name a few. Delivering a truly succulent burst of juniper and citrus followed by spicy floral fragrances. This dazzling new premium gin would be worthy of the finest Victorian gin palace, or your Christmas drinks selection!

english-heritageshop.org.uk – £39.00

Herno Gin 40.5% Hernö is handcrafted by the first gin-only distillery in Sweden. Hernö was first launched on the 1st of December 2012 and quickly establishing its name as a quality gin. Made with only natural and organic botanicals of mostly Swedish origin. Before distillation the wheat based spirit is macerated with juniper and coriander for 18 hours, before the other botanical such as meadowsweet, cassia, black pepper, vanilla, lingon berries and lemon peel are added in and the whole batch is distilled.

The taste is very ‘northern hemisphere’ with sweet pine notes in the initial aroma, this is balanced with classic juniper and coriander. It is a symphonic gin, with juniper and floral flavours which are accompanied with complex Sweet creamy pine, followed by the spectacular finish – which is long and fruity with vanilla and tart berries. Finally a dash of black pepper in the back of the throat. Hernö is an impressively floral gin, and sits well in a G&T as well as a vast range of gin based cocktails – and this gin fits right in with a truly nordic Christmas. Which is simply lovely!

Master of Malt – £25.90

Conker Gin – Dorset Dry 40% No Christmas is complete without a staple go to gin you can call on at 2pm on Boxing Day – let me introduce you to Conker Dorset Dry Gin. The taste is juniper led, but then pushed aside by smooth elderberries – Conker gin is naturally sweet, with suggestions of blackberry jam and candy sweets. When combined with a a premium tonic and a twist of lime peel, the deeper flavours of Angelica root, samphire and gorse flowers are presented. Add this one to the drinks cabinet this Christmas – you’ll thank us at 2pm on Boxing Day.

Master of Malt – £34.95

Ealing Gin 42% ABV Quirkily branded the Queen of London Dry Gins, this small batch gin is a good old-fashioned West London beauty! Brewed in Ealing Distillery’s copper still called “Felicity”, so much love has gone into creating this, a true smoothie of a gin. On the tongue, you can pick up so many of the 11 botanicals (mostly grown in Ealing!), especially distinctive pink peppercorn, juniper, angelica root, chamomile and orange peel.

By now you’ll also know that I a sucker for a well-designed bottle, Ealing Gin not disappointing here. It’s art deco ribbon effect is a show stopper and will certainly attract attention from guests! But there’s a really nice finale to this story too, founders Simon & Amanda Duncan have pledged 20% of all profits to charities addressing loneliness and social isolation. Fantastic work. For the best results, we recommend serving with a slice of grapefruit and a premium Indian Tonic.

Get ready for a good old-fashioned knees up!!

Ealing Distillery £44.95

Gin O’ndina 45% ABV Hailing from Italy and inspired by the glamour of the Italian Riviera in 1960, this is a BIG gin with 19 no less, delicious botanicals sourced from all over Italy. This is also a very well-priced, small batch, super premium number, which you simply won’t find a negative review for online. And when you try it, you’ll understand why!

Expect Zesty lemons and oranges, basil, juniper and a distinctive organic Mediterranean herbyness, with a little bit of liquorice for good measure. Team it with a Mediterranean tonic a slice of a citrus fruit and fresh basil and right there in your hands will be the solution to a very merry Christmas!

Amazon £30

Finders Fruits Of The Forest Gin 40% ABV There’s nothing like a fresh burst of juicy forest berries to lift you out of a dull and dismal day in the depths of winter. Hailing from Yorkshire in the Spring of 2020, this is a creation of new distillery Sloemotion, who champion very ‘green’ credentials when it comes to the entire manufacture of their delicious spirits. In fact, this may be the most environmentally friendly spirit you’ll ever try. Distilled in an environmentally-friendly iStill, all the spent botanicals are turned into compost then repurposed as a soil conditioner (loud applause).

The ingredients are mostly picked from the farm, which Finders is produced on as well as the surrounding Ryedale countryside, making this a truly Yorkshire bred tipple. This is another plentiful gin in the botanicals front with 19 (mostly fruity) botanicals added to create a very rounded and flavoursome gin. It’s also a very nice, affordable price that you should absolutely take a chance on. Expect an unmistakable fruitiness at first, coriander blends through, finishing on delicious juniper.

I can’t leave without mentioning the quite incredible pale violet blush colour, love it! Team with a plain tonic and a strawberry, also at this price, you can afford to use it for experimenting with some fruity cocktails.

Master Of Malt £25

Mirabeau Rosé Gin 43% ABV What could be chic-er than French gin? An award-winning French gin, with a beautiful bottle, that’s what! This is a deliciously round yet dry, floral fragranced, small batch gin originating from Provence. Expect earthy tones thanks to the provençal botanicals (12 in total) and infused rosé wine.

Combined, the flavours on offer are exceptional – you’ll be able to pick out lemon, thyme, lavender and of course Rosé. This is smooth enough to be drunk neat, however we most enjoyed with a slice of grapefruit and a premium Indian tonic. Far too nice to be put in a cocktail we’d say!

Slurp £35

Snow Globe Gin, Orange & Gingerbread Gin Liqueur 20% ABV Well what have we got here then… two Christmas faves for the price of one, that’s what! Yes, this really is a gin snow globe and it is absolutely fabulous to look at, let alone drink. But that’s not all, it contains edible 23 karat gold leaf and a lamp on the base for illumination (for 10 hours and after 30 minutes it will switch itself off)… can gin literally get any more Christmassy!

If you can bring yourself to opening and tasting, you’ll not be disappointed – expect zesty Seville orange upfront with a gingerbread warmth, notes of cinnamon and dried cloves. Combined, they absolutely capture the spirit of Christmas, delicious! Pop a little drop into a glass of Prosecco, team with a premium tonic or simply splash over ice. Merry Christmas one and all!

Amazon £30

Haymans Spiced Sloe Gin 26.4% ABV We couldn’t leave this festive 2020 Best Sloe Gin award winner out of the equation! I like to think Mrs Claus herself actually created this rouge delight; stewing delicious berries, throwing in some cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn and some Christmas spirit to top it off. This truly is produced in the spirit of this magical time of the year and will make even the most humbug individual want to adorn a Christmas jumper! Haymans Spiced Sloe Gin is just divine; expect an earthy berry sweetness on the palette, followed by ripe plums and even more sweetness… maybe even marzipan.

This is a true English winter warmer alright! You can drink this neat, add into a glass of fizz, team with an Indian tonic… or create that classic British staple cocktail, the English Blackthorn:

True English Blackthorn 45ml Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin, 30ml Hayman’s London Dry Gin, 20ml Antica Formula Vermouth, 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake all the ingredients together with ice and fine strain into a chilled martini glass.

Haymansgin.com  £28

Masons Gins Taste Experience Set 42% ABV When I think about Masons Gin, the first thing that comes into my mind is ‘premium product at a very reasonable price’. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of their products, hence why I’m very excited to see them release this Taste Experience Set. This is essentially 5x 5cl bottles of the Masons range of gins, meaning ‘the perfect stocking filler’! You can expect 5 delicious tipples as below, our personal fave being the English Lavender and its deliciously subtle flavours – team with a premium Indian Tonic and grapefruit – YUM!

We’ve done the research, and if you were to buy these individually, for one you’d be missing out on a very stylish gift box, but secondly, you’d actually be paying over £5 more. So, this is an absolute bargain and will guarantee to put a smile on the gin lovers face on Christmas morning!

1 x 5cl Masons The Original, 1 x 5cl Masons Tea Edition, 1 x 5cl Masons English Lavender, 1 x 5cl Masons Pear & Pink Peppercorn, 1 x 5cl Masons Orange & Lime Leaf

MasonsOfYorkshire.com £20

WHISKYS & BOURBONS

Glen Grant 18 Single Malt 43% ABV Touted as the Second Finest Whisky in the World (Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019), this absolutely deserves a place on our 2020 Christmas tipples list. Rich and complex with notes of caramel, raisins and vanilla, this would make for a very welcome pressie OR indeed a well-deserved Christmas treat for yourself (you’ve gotten through 2020 after all!). This is the whisky that keeps giving… layers upon layers of delicate and malty sweetness with an eternal finish of spice and nuts. If we had to sum it up – quite possibly the most balanced whisky we’ve had the honour of drinking. Definitely going on my Christmas list for the next 20 years!

The Whisky Exchange £125

Glen Grant 12 Single Malt 43% ABV Another corker from Glen Grant, this 12-year-old is hard to compare against its older 18-year-old sibling in terms of depth, but still offers a balance and flavour by the boat load. For the price, this has to be one of the easiest to drink single malts in its class – on the nose you’ll get fresh apples and sweet butter, delivering sweet almond and lingering honey flavours on the tongue.

This is a soft, yummy dram that would make for a great pressie for both the connoisseur as well as the amateur whisky drinker. Interesting to note is the fact this scores 7.8/10 (102 votes) on one of the leading whisky websites, and we’d probably give it a round 8!

Amazon £42

Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt 40% ABV Whilst this may be Bushmills youngest offering, if you enjoy your Irish whiskies, then this is a very straight forward decision. Winner of the 2007 World Whiskies Awards and earning a place in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2013 (92.5 points), you can expect a delicious fruitiness (banana and vanilla thanks to both bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks) to the nose followed by a quick yet bold lasting floral finish. It’s very drinkable, the sort of bottle you’ll drink a little too easily then accuse your father in law of scrumping! Thanks to it being so light, this doesn’t necessarily require a mixer, just add a few cubes of ice we say.

However, this is also delicious when mixed with ginger ale and a slice of lime (one part Bushmills to three-four parts ginger ale).

Master Of Malt £35

Jack Daniels Single Barrel Direct 45% ABV Jack’s back… in fact Christmas definitely wouldn’t be quite the same without him right. 2020 has been a toughie, therefore I suggest you treat yourself (or the bourbon lover in your life) with a bottle of this deliciously rich bourbon. Jack Daniels Single Barrel Direct is as it suggests… bottled from a single barrel from the iconic distillery, each barrel is selected by the Master Distiller by its suitability as a stand-alone product before being bottled.

You’ll no doubt be acquainted with Jack Daniels No.7, made famous by 80’s rock gods… well think of Single Barrel Direct as his regal older brother. More refined, less sweetness yet far more firepower. There’s also plenty of body on offer. This has a toasty oak nose and cereal sweetness, buttered popcorn with a pinch of Christmas spice and toffee. As soon as this hits the lips, rye is in abundance with a touch of nut oils, spice and aniseed.

A Christmas must have staple folks!

Master Of Malt £45

Wild Turkey Longbranch Bourbon 43%  Wild Turkey’s Longbranch is the distinguished result of a collaboration between the Wild Turkey master distiller Eddie Russell, and the distillery’s creative director, who just so happens to be Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club).

Wild Turkey Longbranch is a rare, small-batch 8-year-old bourbon – the term ‘Longbranch’ meaning “the extension of the hand, an invitation a welcome” wherein friendships are formed. Sipping on Longbranch is a reward, it’s a statute reminder that the spirit of America can still be found within its Whiskeys, even the newer recipes. Taking his favourite notes Matthew McConaughey has encapsulated his quintessential bourbon flavours – and quite frankly, he’s spot on. Using charcoal made of both Kentucky white oak and Texas mesquite to filter the liquid, a sweet blend of caramel and smooth toffee left hints of nutmeg and oak.

The taste is initially creamy, but fades to a buttery caramel and finishes with black pepper and lingering dry oak – akin to other Wild Turkey bourbon.

Master of Malt – £35.94

Elements Of Islay – I Love Peat Tasting Box 53.46% ABV I can’t think of a better Christmas than travelling around beautiful Islay visiting distilleries to be honest, but with lockdown firmly in place, this is the next best thing for the peaty whisky lover. It also makes for a lot of fun on Christmas Day! You can expect x5 drams as per the below, all of which offer different depths of peat to the next.

Islay Peat is a distinctive smoky taste, which is a little like Marmite to whisky fans. They are housed in a quality box, which would make for a lovely stocking pressie – just make sure the receiver loves peaty whisky first to avoid disappointment! This set contains 3cl samples of: Br7 – Elements of Islay (Bruichladdich), Peat – (Pure Islay) Elements of Islay, Ma2 – Elements of Islay (Bunnahabhain), Lp8 – Elements of Islay (Laphroaig), Bw7 – Elements of Islay (Bowmore).

Abbey Whisky £40

A Fine Christmas Malt 2020 19 Year Old 44.5% ABV Turkey (CHECK), novelty Xmas jumper (CHECK), mistletoe (CHECK)… a little something special for yourself to celebrate getting through 2020… introducing A Fine Christmas Blended Malt 2020 by Whisky Exchange. Now this really is a Christmas Cracker – a 19 year old, sherry-aged blended whisky packed with festive spice, Christmas cake, poached orchard fruit and zingy apples.

To the nose, fruitiness like you’ve never experienced… Christmas cake delights in abundance. On the palate, apples and more apples, followed by this incredible richness with heaps of brown sugar along with dark chocolate followed by a dusting of cinnamon. The finish is sublime and rounds off with a bite of mince pie!

Those clever folks at Whisky Exchange have literally delivered Christmas in a bottle folks. This is a treat to sip next to the fire, enjoying the Christmas lights, and the replays of Die Hard, but don’t hang around – there are literally just 1918 bottles available, so get your skates on people, you won’t want to miss out on this one.

The Whisky Exchange £75

Smokehead Skull Gift Tin Another ideal stocking filler, expect 3 miniature bottles of Smokehead Islay malt whisky, 3 mighty Smokehead flavours: Smokehead, Rum Rebel and High Voltage. But be warned… as it literally says on the tin – this is smoky. If you’re not a fan of peaty, smoky whiskies, then these won’t be for you. But if you are, you absolutely need to get your taste buds around these. For me, there’s something about having a choice of whisky tasters to share with my dad on the big day, it’s a bit of a tradition for us. We sit around, slurp it up, and chew the fat over the Queens speech! Random I know.

So, what can you expect: 3x 5cl bottles each offering something slightly different to the next. The Rum Rebel is rich, spicy and finished in a Caribbean Rum cask – sweet and vibrant! The Smokehead is subtler in sweetness, whilst the High Voltage is not for the faint of heart. These guys are creating a bit of a cult following and it’s easy to see why with their unique flavours.

John Lewis £23

VODKAS

Wasabi Vodka We love wasabi – its richness, its power and its overwhelming ability to make us want more, more… MORE. When we heard the Wasabi Company had created a unique amalgamation of Wasabi and Vodka – we jumped at the chance to taste this truly unique spirit. Made with real wasabi and distilled by the artisans from Winchester Distillery, in an old watercress bunching shed, this spirit stretches the taste of wasabi with a hint of daikon on the tongue, whilst notes of mustard and pepper ascend to the nose.

We had to try this in a classic Bloody Mary, which was a spectacular flavour profile, more heavy-handed than a more traditional counterpart – which we loved! We can also suggest just trying this over ice, to examine the truly complex and wonderful world of wasabi!

www.thewasabicompany.co.uk – £29.00

Beluga Celebration Vodka 40% Beluga Celebration is a limited edition bottling of Beluga vodka, crafted by the Mariinsk Distillery masters to celebrate the 115th anniversary of Siberia’s Mariinsk Distillery. This is a spectacular example of the a truly Russian vodka – using Siberian artesian wells to create the spirit, combined with sugar syrup, natural honey, oatmeal infusion, blessed thistle and a touch of vanilla. This creates a smooth taste that exemplifies notes of a traditional vodka. Sweet aromas pervade the nose from the first opening, then the delicate spices come through, with which the liquor is made.

To taste, light oat and citrus sweetness, with a mellow touch of honey coming through. Hints of spice develop on the palate to finish with a crisp clean hints of honey. Drop this onto ice, sip and enjoy – or take a shot glass, add frozen pomegranate seeds, add Beluga Celebration and toast – the future, the past, health, fortune and Christmas. Or as the Russians say – здоровье!

Master of Malt – £39.99

Ciroc Black Raspberry Vodka 37.5% Ciroc’s latest infusion, Black Raspberry Vodka is a 5x distilled, ultra-premium winner in our books. Rich and sweet, expect an incredibly balanced truck load of juicy berries, which gives such a long, smooth and enjoyable finish. Serve this fresh from the freezer and garnished with a handful of berries. Alternatively, we tried whizzing this up with some strawberries and ice, then pour in 100ml of soda water – an awesome cocktail! We’re confident that this will undoubtedly become your Christmas warm up AND aperitif of choice.

Drinks Supermarket £35

LIQUEURS, WINES AND WILDCARDS

Cognac Seignette Vs 40% ABV OH YES, YES, YES!!! This is absolutely what Christmas is all about. Beautiful as a straight cognac, as a mixer or even to set light to the Christmas pud, Cognac Seignette Vs is a new take, ‘modern day’ cognac, but with roots that date right back to the 17th century and the Seignette family who lived along the stunning Western French coast.

On the nose you’ll get dried apricot, vanilla and hints of honeysuckle followed by a touch of citrus, on the palate, expect a fresh, deep flavoursome tipple that will win the hearts of most, cognac drinkers or not! The company behind Cognac Seignette Vs are wanting to change the perceptions of the sometimes stuffy, old skool cognac drinkers to appeal to a younger audience, and I tell you what… they may just do it, especially when added to a cocktail!

Waitrose £32

Waning Moon (Junmai) 16% ABV

Junmai is a type of Sake, created using only rice, water, yeast and koji – there are no other additives such as sugar or alcohol. Waning Moon stays close to its Japanese Junmai roots, it is uncomplicated, versatile and an easy to drink Sake. In a time where our travel and global experiences are limited, Waning Moon invites us you to take a calming sip of Japanese culture.
With creamy cooked rice and caramel notes, its silky flavours are of a medium acidity – to be enjoyed ice cold, or warm – that’s the great thing about Waning Moon, it’s versatile, not only in flavour but use; Whilst this is the perfect Sake for umami dishes, or a fine selection of Sashimi, it also pairs well with other worldly dishes, especially those with made with tomato, or stews.
There is something special about drinking a great Sake, with close friends or family – Waning Moon is a drink that accompanies memories – and in these troubled time, it’s exactly what we all need right now.
www.thewasabicompany.co.uk – £24.00


Regal Rogue Vermouth 16.5% ABV
Now for something completely different! Don’t let the label ‘Vermouth’ fool you into believing that Regal Rogue is more of the same. This spirit is an Australian made wine Aperitif which is worlds away from some of the Italian barrel-aged styles. Led by a full-bodied citrus wine, the Australian botanical aromas give an approachable delight that dominates with exotic floral tonics to create a mouth-watering apéritif. The result is surprisingly savoury, with salty touches coming through – it pairs well with olives, cold meats and cheeses. For a more rounded, less punchy classic cocktail, try using Regal Rogue as the leading ingredient, instead of the spirit – a ‘Reverse classic’. Lastly, the bottle is delightfully playful – with a beautifully illustrated Rogue Knight on its label.

We thought the upside-down crown was also a genius Aussie touch!

Majestic.co.uk – £15.99

Cucielo Rosso & Cucielo Bianco 16.8% ABV 2020 has very much been about discovering vermouth for us, with these two award winning beauties (Rosso & Bianco) certainly proving their place in the much-contested drinks cabinet. For those newbies to vermouth, this is essentially aromatised wine from Italy, then fortified with alcohol.

These tipples come from the North of Italy, the Piedmont region to be exact, where all the botanicals are sourced also. There are two ways to enjoy both Rosso & Bianco; over ice which really helps you appreciate the depth of flavour on offer within each, then there’s within a cocktail. Rosso with its dry finish makes a mean Manhattan or classic Negroni, whilst Bianco, with a more bitter finish, is simply stunning when teamed with a Prosecco. Be sure to add to your very sophisticated Christmas shopping list.

Amazon £22 (each)

Christmas In A Bottle Festive Spiced Vodka Cocktail 20% ABV A few swigs of this and you’ll be magically whisked away to the land of Christmas. We can’t imagine another drink that could better incorporate all the delicious flavours that this festive period inspires – Vodka infused with cardamom, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, mixed spices and bitters.

This is essentially a pre-prepared cocktail in its own right made in London, best served over ice and a slice of orange. Light the fire, throw on the jammies, load up Elf the movie, pour yourself a Christmas In A Bottle – Merry Christmas you! Oh, and by the way, this is such a great idea for stockings people.

Not On The High Street £20

Grand Marnier 40% In a world of spirits, some stand the test of time, and are instantly recognised as a staple – Grand Marnier is one of these spirits. Dotted in drinks cabinets, cocktail bars and kitchens across the globe, Grand Marnier starts its life as eaux-de-vie stored in oak barrels in the cellar of the Marnier Lapostolle family’s Chateau. After an unspecified ageing the Cognac is blended with essence of Caribbean Bigaradier orange peels. A combination of macerating, and then distilling this macerate produces the signature orange flavours.

Grand Marnier has the signature orange aroma, accompanied by a slight burnt note, that brings out the sweetness and bitter flavours of this surprisingly complex liqueur. There is no limit to how you can enjoy this delectable tipple, but we might suggest pouring Grand Marnier over ice into a highball glass, with a squeeze of lime wedge and top with ginger ale. Stir briefly. Secondly, no Crêpes Suzette would be complete without dashings of Grand Marnier. It also works perfectly accompanying a classic Christmas pudding, both on the plate, and in a glass with ice. Grand by name, Grand by nature.

Master of Malt – £25.49

Tempus Two The ONLY wines we’ve chosen to feature this year, these white Australian beauts have to be reserved a rack or two in the fridge this Christmas. Tempus Two Cuvee 11.5% ABV

Arguably better on all fronts over an expensive Champagne, expect aromas of green apple and pear complemented by a fine creamy texture and a crisp, zesty finish. Simply delicious and affordable enough to mix up with a few Crimbo cocktails folks!

Sainsbury’s £12

Tempus Two Wilde Chardonnay

This is a blend of old vine Hunter Valley Chardonnay and new plantings from the cool climate of Tumbarumba, Australia. Supported by fermentation and maturation in French oak, the combination results in a wine that is complex, elegant and exceptionally delicious. Expect a distinct note of peach tea on nose and palate along with lemon squash, pineapple and almond. Ideal with the turkey!

Sainsbury’s £15

The Bitter Truth – Olive Bitters 39% ABV Well this is a new one on us! Olive Bitters are, well… just enough to give you a hit of olive without the need to crack open a jar every time you fancy garnishing your Dirty Martini (6 dashes of Olive Bitters added to a 5 / 1 Dry Martini and you’ll never look back)! This is absolutely a tool for experimental cocktails, especially with white spirits. Expect yummy savoury olives with garlic and salt delivering a true Mediterranean aroma. A cracking stocking filler for the Mixologist!

Amazon £15

McGuigan Riesling 11.5% ABV For me, Christmas isn’t complete without a seafood starter, and a seafood starter isn’t complete without a fine Riesling. This is one you certainly won’t want to miss in the Isles of ASDA! McGuigan Riesling is an Aussie number, from the Eden Valley to be precise, which is a cooler climate than the neighbouring Barossa Valley, making it ideal for growing white grapes. This is a fresh and crisp dry wine, displaying a citrus backbone and a floral bouquet. There’s a pleasant intensity that lasts just long enough on the palate – ideal for shellfish. Simply delicious!!!

ASDA £14

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