Anyone who thinks the spirit of Christmas is dead hasn’t seen our gift ideas of gins, whiskies, vodkas and accessories this year – not to mention a couple of excellent cocktails that’ll get you in festive mood!
Buying a bottle of spirits as a Christmas gift used to feel like a bit of a cop-out, but that has definitely changed. Especially when you go down the small-batch and craft route.
Gin, whisky and vodka lovers really are spoilt for choice with an ever-increasing range of flavours, aromas and textures we’ve never had before.
From gins made with banksia, rich smooth rye Aussie vodkas or scotch with natural notes of honey, these fine spirits are the perfect gifts for Christmas – or any time of year really!
You can also check out the rest of our Christmas gift ideas here in our free e-guide Hint Magazine. Click the button below to check it out.
10 ways to get into the Christmas spirits
To help navigate through this quite long list, clicking on these headings will take you directly down to each section:
Drinking your cocktail from beautiful crystal glassware somehow makes it taste so much better. And this pair of DOF tumblers from world-leading crystal manufacturers Waterford will make your old fashioned, negroni or sazerac sing.
Holding up to 250ml, they’re the perfect size for cocktails served up or on the rocks, or a dram of your favourite with a touch of water.
The stunning hand-cut design, which nods to classic old fashioned tumblers, is modern and sophisticated. They’re the perfect glassware statement for your bar cart or drinks tray.
Working with the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, Aussie craft distillery Underground Spirits has created a mesmerising gin that speaks of the unique plants that grow here.
Taking the main stage (both in the gin and on the label), the three types of banksia are distilled along with 7 other native botanicals.
The gin’s name – Ad Crescendum var. Floseram – means ‘to grow a variety of flowers’ in Latin to reflect the abundance of native plants the distillery has used. Here’s the full fascinating list of botanicals – and juniper of course:
|– lantern banksia||– Geraldton waxflower|
|– hairpin banksia||– yellow satinash|
|– fern-leafed banksia||– lemon-scented gum|
|– smooth myrtle||– magenta lilly pilly|
|– kurrajong||– Gympie lime|
Ad Crescendum gives earthy juniper and floral citrus on the nose and a flower garden of flavours on the tongue. Smooth yet warming, it’s a lovely sipper when chilled on ice but with a good Mediterranean style tonic this gin comes alive.
Deep in the rolling English hills around Surrey, the mystical Silent Pool glimmers amongst the oaks and willows. On the shores of the lake, its namesake distillery handcrafts a gin than not only speaks of the 24 carefully distilled botanicals in its bright, crystal clear spirit but also to the ancient heritage of the area.
The lake also has links to the king of England and his role in a mysterious death of a maiden in the 13th Century – the legend of which is hidden in the beautiful decorative pattern on the bottle.
This generous, balanced gin gradually releases its aromas and flavours of orange and lime peel, elderflower, spicy bergamot and green cardamon, and the comforting depth of sweet honey. Perfect in a martini, a rickey or simply with a dash of tonic.
Vodka and Tequila
Usually we just think of using vodka to make a cocktail stronger, leaving drinking it straight to Cold War era nemeses and people in a hurry to get loaded.
But this Aussie craft vodka from Queensland is deep and savoury with a texture that’s almost thick in the mouth.
Fresh bread and dry spice on the nose, a startling creaminess and such smoothness on the first sip that turns into fruity spice flavours and stretches out like a cat in the sun.
All it needs is an ice cube.
Vodka has a reputation as originating from Russia and of being a flavourless spirit that people drink that don’t like the taste of alcohol. Both are incorrect – and Kavka Polish Vodka sets things right perfectly.
For a start, earliest written records of vodka come from 1400s Poland and as for flavour, Kavka’s blend of wheat and rye-based spirits gives the vodka a creamy smoothness and a bready spice.
Being barrel-aged in ex apple and plum spirits casks gives also gives this vodka a light fruity note.
In a Bond-style vodka martini, with tonic and lime or just over ice, this is the drink of the summer.
From the Jalisco Mountains in western Mexico, Cazcabel Tequila Distillery’s Coffee Liqueur is quite unbelievable. Think Padron XO but about a thousand times better.
On the nose, there’s dark chocolate and rich coffee from roasted Mexican robusta, and a slight grassiness from blue weber agave tequila. High viscosity coats the mouth with sweet coffee and more chocolate, which blend with the tequila notes to create a lovely kind of oaty effect at the back of the palate.
Starring in an espresso martini, a twist on a white Russian, poured over vanilla ice cream or simply sipped over ice – this is a worryingly moreish liqueur.
Whisky and whisky cocktails
From the southern coast of Victoria, not far from the looming monoliths of the Twelve Apostles, Timboon Distillery hand-crafts some of the best whisky in the country.
The Smoky 1881 – named in honour of local bootlegger Tom Delaney’s first known entreaties into distilling in the Timboon area – is a lightly peated single malt.
On the nose, the peat presents aromas of slightly sweet caramel and hazelnut alongside the hints of liquorice and fruit from the whisky.
With a touch of water, flavours of chocolate, dark red berries, malty sweetness develop, and a long finish helped along by the touch smoky peat, which balances rather than dominates.
Combining the two best things in the world – whisky and beer – this boilermaker kit is absolutely perfect for the festive season.
Saddling up with Mosaic and Motueka hops, the bespoke hazy IPA from Melbourne-based independent brewery Urban Alley matches supremely well with Aussie-owned Scotch distillery Bladnoch’s Vinaya.
This Lowlands single malt is bright, light and just the taste for summer.
If you don’t believe us, check out our IGTV episode where we trial this exquisite boilermaker pairing.
It shows that this style of cocktail, where you sip each drink to let flavours combine and evolve, has more to it than how it’s often portrayed in the movies.
Amongst the rolling valleys and green foothills of Scotland’s Central Highlands, Aberfeldy Distillery has been crafting whisky since 1898. Tapping into the Pitilie Burn – a pure water source locally famed for its alluvial gold deposits – Aberfeldy 12 is truly liquid gold.
Left to ferment for longer than usual, Aberfeldy 12 has light honey notes along with ripe fruits, fudge and a touch of smoke.
The 12 years it has spent in oak casks have smoothed out any edges leaving a silky, easy-drinker. Great neat or with a touch of water, Aberfeldy 12 is the perfect scotch for cocktails, whether it’s an old fashioned, highball or a whisky sour.
10. Aberfeldy Honey Highball cocktail
Tall and refreshing, this quirky but delicious take on a whisky highball is the perfect antidote to those crazy hot summer afternoons and gives whisky fans one more way to enjoy their favourite spirit.
Soothing yet boozy, floral yet deep, the honey notes of Aberfeldy 12 single malt scotch blend perfectly with the chamomile tea, while the fresh lemon lifts it all to a refreshing crescendo.
Here’s how to make the Honey Highball:
– 50ml Aberfeldy 12
– 120ml chilled chamomile tea
– 1tsp local honey
– 5ml fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon slice
1. Brew chamomile tea then stir in honey until dissolved. Chill in fridge or with ice.
2. Measure ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake until chilled.
3. Double strain into glass with more ice, and garnish with lemon and a metal straw.
We have so many more gift ideas for this coming Christmas in our free e-guide Hint Magazine. You can flick through its virtual pages and download it too all from here: