Festive Spirits

Sarah Knowles MW

Our spirits buyer Sarah Knowles MW has been busy bolstering our selection of spirits throughout the year so that, at a time of year when spirits really come into their own, there's something for everyone in our Christmas List. So if you've not journeyed to the back of our main List or browsed the range online for some time, may we urge you to take a fresh look? Whether you're a lover of cocktails, a Cognac connoisseur, a single-malt enthusiast, a bourbon or rum drinker, there's sure to be something to treat yourself, or someone else, to this Christmas.

We take a spirited look at some ideas for festive cheer (with apologies to Charles Dickens!)

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol had a major impact on notions of the typical festive scene, with snowy streets, roaring fires and neighbours gathered in good cheer around a warming bowl of punch. Dickens was a great fan of punches and the recipe below came from a letter he wrote to a friend's wife in 1847. We wouldn't recommend using our lovely new Ron Barceló Imperial Rum (see opposite) here – save that for reverential sipping. Plump for an everyday bottle and do keep everything well clear of any hanging decorations! Heat-proof bowl and glasses are also essential.

Christmas Punch (to make three pints)

'Peel into a very common basin (which may be broken in case of accident, without damage to the owner's peace or pocket) the rinds of three lemons, cut very thin and with as little as possible of the white coating between the peel and the fruit, attached. Add a double handful of lump sugar (good measure), a pint of good old rum, and a large wine-glass full of brandy - if it be not a large claret glass, say two. Set this on fire, by filling a warm silver spoon with the spirit, lighting the contents at a wax taper, and pouring them gently in. Let it burn three or four minutes at least, stirring it from time to time. Then extinguish it by covering the basin with a tray, which will immediately put out the flame. Then squeeze in the juice of the three lemons, and add a quart of boiling water. Stir the whole well, cover it up for five minutes, and stir again.'(from Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, great grandson of Charles).

Christmas Present…

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Smart luxury gins and premium single malts are all the rage this year. The profusion of artisanal distillers springing up across the country and the dusting off of once moth-balled distilleries north of the border has been a joy to behold. It felt only right to include a couple of specially packaged spirits in our offering of Christmas gifts this year, especially for those who relish the taste of premium gins and single malts.

Luxury Gin Gift Box

A delicate and aromatic London Dry gin housed in a beautiful flower-adorned gift box. This has been crafted by the London Distillery Company in collaboration with The Royal Botanic gardens, Kew using 42 botanicals from around the world, many of them sourced from Kew's archives. A gorgeous present for any G&T fan. 46% Ref N-XC1716, £34 (70cl) (including delivery in the UK)

Luxury Whisky Gift Box

With rich notes of wheat, cereal and toffee on the nose and candied orange peel, caramel and nut flavours, this beautifully presented Highland malt whisky from the Deanston distillery makes for decadent fireside sipping. Matured for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels, the lovely warmth here is offset with a touch of salinity on a bewitchingly long finish. Non-chill filtered. 46.3% Ref N-XC1717, £45 (70cl) (including delivery in the UK

Christmas yet to come…

Christmas yet to come…

What is the next big thing in the spirit world? While the popularity of gin shows no signs of slowing down, those in the know are saying that rum is going to be the next spirit that everyone will be getting excited about.

From a clear spirit for cocktail shaking to a rich, warming, complex nectar for sipping and contemplating and everything in between, there's going to be plenty to discover.

In the meantime, if you're ahead of the curve or know someone who loves their rum, our Ron Barceló Imperial Rum is a real treat. This comes from the Dominican Republic and is a typically rich, soft and tropical-scented aged rum. It comes in a smart presentation box and so would make a lovely gift. 38% Ref N-RM51, £31 (70cl)

> Browse our special selection of spirits in our Christmas Fine Wine List

> Browse our full list of spirits

> Browse this year's selection of Christmas Gifts

Read about a trip to Cognac with buyer Sarah Knowles MW and Emma Briffett from our Tastings team

November 2017

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