We all have those people in our lives who are impossible to buy gifts for. They either have everything or give us the old “oh, I don’t need a present” lie, or perhaps they are one of those family members you only see once a year – like Uncle Stanley and the only thing you know about Uncle Stanley is that he’s a single malt kind of uncle…
We have decided to take the edge off gift-buying for you and have come up with a list of killer gifts to get for those difficult people.
We’ll start with Uncle Stanley, the single malt kind of guy… When giving someone a bottle of scotch, you don’t want to get it wrong. If somebody gave me an average bottle of scotch, I would judge them, and I would have no idea what to do with the scotch. I couldn’t even re-gift it as I wouldn’t want anyone to cast the same judgement on me… So stay away from anything that can be bought at the supermarket, and try for something a little more interesting such as the Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old.
For only £34 a bottle, this Highland single malt delivers a quality the same as bottles many times its price. A complex dram with punches of green apple, vanilla and a whisper of smoke. It tends to become woodier in flavour with the addition of water. And when Uncle Stanley, or Uncle Bob (apparently he’s your uncle) unwraps it, you can throw in this fun fact – Queen Victoria visited this distillery in 1848 when she was staying at Balmoral.
With Uncle Stanley, inevitably comes choosing a gift for Aunt Meredith. All you know about Aunt Meredith is that she belongs to the WI and often wins prizes for her champion marmalade. Enter Chase Marmalade Vodka (£37). After its initial 1000 bottle run, it was such a coveted product that the family-run Chase distillery decided to make it a permanent feature in their beautifully crafted spirit selection.
Made using Chase’s triple distilled award-winning vodka, the tang and bite of Seville orange marmalade is added and then distilled a fourth time, creating a gorgeous and natural tasting vodka. Breakfast martini, anyone?
Moving on to Mum. Although you know Mum better than you know anyone, she is still hard to buy for, and is always guilty of the “oh darling, I don’t need anything”… What she means is she needs gin. A bottle of the old mother’s ruin to amp up the festive times this Christmas. With the craft gin scene thriving in the UK currently, you are spoiled for choice. So we will help you choose.
Dodd’s Gin is small batch and crafted in Battersea, London. Using organic botanicals including, juniper, angelica, fresh lime peel, bay laurel, cardamom, red raspberry leaf and London honey, this gin is fresh and exciting. London’s gin scene is exploding, and the distillers are being bolder with their choices. Gone are the days of overly heavy juniper-focussed gins. The gins are layered and complex and can be used in a variety of ways: neat, with tonic or in a cocktail.
You can pick up Dodd’s (£37.50) from Fortnum & Mason and you can ogle the Christmas decorations while you’re there, or oder online from leading spirits retailers.
As well as the ginaissance, bourbon has certainly been making a come back on the scene. And you know what? Rightly so, as the new wave of small batch bourbons are pretty special. And who doesn’t love an Old Fashioned? Your dad certainly does, which is why a lovely bottle of some craft bourbon is an ideal gift. Often bourbon gets a bad wrap as the big boy bourbons come premixed in horrible cans with cola and evoke nights that end up in gutters… But bourbon is a classic spirit. It can be sophisticated and timeless and can possess much complexity.
Four Roses has been named American Whisky Distiller of the Year four times, and currently hold the title bestowed by Whisky Magazine, and they are incredibly deserving.
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon is a mix of four different original bourbon recipes and creates a multifaceted and quite frankly, amazing drink. There’re notes of spice and fruit and sweet oaky caramel and it has a lingering finish. This baby just picked up double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so you know it’ll deliver. And for only £27 it’s a bloody bargain.
Grandpa deserves a top notch bottle of something too, so why not indulge his naval heritage and get him some rum?
The East London Liquor Company Demerara Rum (£25) is produced in Bow Wharf and uses Guyanan sugar. Aged for three years in ex-bourbon casks, it has sweet vanilla notes as well as a good amount of spice. It is also distilled in the world’s last surviving wooden still. The upside down horse on the label is a tribute to the distillery site once being a glue factory. Bottoms up!
Grandma will love you (even more than she already does) if you give her a bottle of Glayva Liqueu (£20). This Scottish gem is Christmas in a bottle, and is made of a blend of whisky, honey, spices, almonds and tangerines. In fact, Glayva is now trademarked as “the best liqueur in the world”, after winning the IWSC trophy a record-breaking 5 times! Who can argue with that?
Pour over Christmas pudding, mix in with warm custard, pour down your throat, mix with chilled ginger ale… Endless possibilities for this luxurious tipple.
And now we arrive at what to get your other half. Always difficult. If your other half is the beer kind, then why not break out of that Carling mould and make your own craft beer hamper? The world of beer is staggeringly diverse and is certainly worth exploring. Some tips for a super little hamper include, Er Boqueron, which is a Spanish beer brewed with sea-water. The result is a lovely minerality and lightness, not a mouthful of salt.
Founders All Day IPA is a gorgeous example of a hoppy and floral American style beer with plenty of punch.
And for something with some weight to it, throw in a can of Beavertown Smog Rocket. Not only is the branding out of this world, but this beer is like a velvety mouth hug. Packed with a rich, smokiness this beer is perfect for winter drinking. These and other excellent craft beers are all available at Ales by Mail.
And now if your other half is the non-beer drinker, a case of a rather marvellous thing called Harry Brompton’s will be a hit. Harry Brompton’s is a London invention combining black tea with vodka and citrus. Alcoholic ice tea. Yep. Delicious. It’s crisp and refreshing and is the perfect thing to drink on any occasion… I see it going down very well in a hot and tumultuous Christmas kitchen on the 25th. Available also from Ales by Mail, a dozen will set you back £21. Why not get a dozen of their other flavour, Berries and Cucumber? Yes. Do it.
Christmas shopping sorted… And you didn’t even have to brave the crowds. Go have a drink… Get into the Christmas spirit, whichever your favourite is.