Whether you’re looking for a great last-minute gift or something good to bring to a party, these boozy delights will certainly satisfy.
For better or for worse, drinks cabinets always take a hammering over Christmas. But here’s how you avoid the sadness of depleted wine stashes, gin caches and whisky hoards.
We’ve put together some of our favourite tipples from wineries and distilleries we love, plus some we haven’t had before.
Something to drink – last-minute Christmas gift guide
This is an excerpt from our free downloadable Christmas e-magazine Hint, which you can get here.
Lanson Black Label Brut
Lanson is one of the oldest existing Champagne houses and the family have been crafting champagne since 1760.
Predominantly a beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape balance, this traditional champagne’s straw and amber colours give way to fine bubbles in this embodiment of Lanson non-vintage brut Champagne.
Black Label NV has aromas of honey and fresh flowers with rich ripe fruits and sharp citrus flavours. Perfect as an aperitif and even better as a gift.
Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne NV
Founded in 1734, Taittinger is now one of the last remaining great independent Grande Marque Champagne houses that’s owned and managed by the family whose name is on the bottles.
This Taittinger Brut Reserve is unusual in that it has a particularly high percentage of Chardonnay (40% – the rest is Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), which you don’t usually see in a non-vintage Champagne.
It makes this a worryingly easy-drinking and well-balanced Champagne with delicate yet defined flavours. It’s the perfect gift when you want to celebrate!
McWilliams McW Reserve 660 Canberra Syrah 2016
The McW 660 Syrah is a luxuriant wine, full of toasty, oaky spices, silky tannins and lively red fruit flavours. A medium-bodied Syrah like this fits perfectly with the general move in Australia towards a more refined wine palate. Less grunt, more grace.
McWilliams McW Alternis Touriga 2017
The McW Alternis range is yet another experiment by a winery that doesn’t seem to want to stop moving. Touriga is a Portuguese grape that delivers a juicy, vibrant flavour full of cherries and violets, but with a velvety, savoury finish.
The 2017 vintage celebrates 140 years since Samuel McWilliams planted the family’s first vines near Corowa, NSW.
$29.99 from Vintage Cellars
Cupio Pinot Noir Dry Rosé
This edgy, contemporary rosé in its bold bottle and colour that’s almost a light whisky is about as masculine a pink wine as you can get. It certainly puts pay to any thoughts that rosé is a girl’s drink. It’s a sign that Australian rosé has moved away from overly-sweet lolly water rosés for good.
Wild strawberry tempered by a citrus minerality and spiciness, it’s well balanced. There’s also a slightly creamy mouthfeel to the wine. In all, it’s a perfect summer drink – just right for a hot Christmas holiday.
Coombe Farm Chardonnay 2017
Coombe Farm Estate is a 100-year-old winery in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. Cool nights over summer give this wine a minerally acidity with a complex stone fruit-driven intensity that’s made to linger in the mouth with the clever use of French oak barriques.
Spirits – Australia & New Zealand
Something rare from Stone Pine Distillery
Every year, Ian brings out a special edition gin like the Orange Blossom Gin and the extraordinary Black Truffle Gin, which I hope he makes again.
This year, Stone Pine has two special releases:
Stone Pine Decade Dry Gin
A bit like Apple’s iPhone X, this gin is a celebration of Stone Pine’s first ten years of mastery. And just like the iPhone X (I’m a fan), this gin is truly remarkable. Fittingly, 10 botanicals make up a smooth, juniper-forward, citrusy beauty of a gin.
And the four Aussie botanicals Ian Glen has included in that 10 – lemon myrtle, saltbush, flinger lime and ironbark – lead this gin to a savoury, balanced finish that’s essentially Australian.
Stone Pine Limited Edition Cabernet Brandy Liqueur
The perfect Christmas sip, this limited-edition liqueur from the amazing brain of Ian Glen is a work of art.
Taking a 2011 cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon from Bathurst’s wine region, Ian pot-distilled the wine then aged it in French oak for 6 years. He then blended the aged spirit with red grape juice to create this deep ruby liqueur with an oak blessing that softens the sweetness and adds further texture.
Sipped neat with a cheeseboard or after dinner on its own, this is a special drink.
Scapegrace Dry Gin
The craft gin movement is a wonderful thing. Especially when you see things like this little New Zealand distillery turning out marvels like their Scapegrace Dry Gin.
Their story’s amazing – including the name change from Rogue Society to Scapegrace (watch the video) – and their products are splendid. 12 botanicals with orange and lemon leading the way bring a deliciously clean, bright gin.
Perfect as a martini or a negroni, or in a G&T with Fever-Tree’s Mediterranean tonic. All with a slice of orange peel, please.
Starward Australian whisky – Two-Fold double grain
I’ve really fallen for Australian whisky. There’s something about it that’s just so… unbridled. Starward have created this brand-new release using two primary grains in their mash: wheat and malted barley. Then they’ve aged the whisky in Aussie wine barrels to impart the fruit-driven and vanilla flavours of this very likeable dram.
You’ll find hints of Fuji apples, roasted pineapple and spices in this versatile Melbourne whisky. Perfect on its own or in a Manhattan.
Spirits – Japan and USA
Matsui – The Kurayoshi Pure Malt Japanese whisky
Japanese whisky has become incredibly popular in the last few years. It’s not only grown a following within the grizzled aficionado crowd, but more importantly from people with previously no interest in whisky.
Matsui’s The Kurayoshi is typically Japanese, with clean, fresh flavours, approachable mouthfeel and elegantly simple aromas. Its palate is balanced with sweet and tart, and manages to be an easy-drinker in spite of its slightly higher ABV of 43%.
Buffalo Trace Straight Bourbon
Coming from the world’s most awarded distillery in the heart of Bourbon country Buffalo Trace’s best release – their Straight Bourbon – is an easy bet. With more and more American whiskies becoming popular (and more available) in Australia, it’s good to see something other than the more predictable Jack D, Wild Turkey or Jim Beam.
Easy drinking but plenty of flavour, this Bourbon is sweeter than most. It’s woody, with hints of orange and very approachable. This whiskey is perfect in an Old Fashioned or maybe in a Manhattan.
We hope you have a merry ol’ Christmas and a ripper of a New Year.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx