9 Spirited Gifts Our Wine & Spirits Columnist Recommends Giving This Holiday Season
It’s been a great year for drinks. As Worth’s resident wine and spirits columnist, I should know. There have been a plethora of wines and spirits that have come across my desk this year that I love and think would make great gifts for your loved ones, whether they’re connoisseurs or just love a thoughtful gift. These are the nine spirited presents I feel are worth gifting this season.
Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, $39.99
Italicus caught me by surprise. Usually, I am not a fan of Italian Aperitivo liqueurs because I find them too bitter. However, this one is totally different. It follows that same citrusy idea, but it utilizes bergamot. It is such a nice, quality liqueur—totally different from what you’ve come to know in the aperitif world. It is bright and smooth, with floral and herbal notes accompanying the bergamot, while being a little on the sweeter side. It’s good mixed with tonic water, but I also just enjoy sipping it on its own. Plus, the bottle is absolutely stunning, with its trademark blue body and black and white cap.
Scapegrace Black, $46.99
This naturally black gin is a sight to behold. Launched in New Zealand, Scapegrace Black was recently released in the U.S., and it may well change the way you enjoy gin and tonics moving forward. The flavor is floral and slightly spiced with a menthol-esque forwardness. And though it appears black when you pour it into a glass—thanks to a thoughtful blend of colorful botanicals including purple sweet potato, pineapple, saffron, butterfly pea and aronia berry, resulting in the black hue—this gin transforms into a pretty purple color when mixed. For gin drinkers and those that love a bit of theater with their cocktail, this makes for a lovely gift.
Mezcal El Silencio Espadín, $35.99
This year I really fell in love with mezcal, and El Silencio offers a truly great one. Made in Oaxaca, Mexico, this is a pure agave mezcal that has a deep, rich, smoky, earthy flavor. It makes me think of barbecues and summer nights. It’s a great mezcal to sip but equally good in cocktails.
Fire Dept. Coffee’s Vanilla Bean Bourbon-Infused Coffee, $19.99
A veteran-owned brand, Fire Dept. Coffee pulls no punches, as it’s run by actual firefighters! The brand offers a variety of coffees, from light, medium and dark roasts to spirit-infused flavors, but my favorite is the limited-edition vanilla bean bourbon-infused coffee. It’s nonalcoholic, but smells and tastes of good, oaky bourbon.
The mission behind this brand is also pretty neat: They donate 10 percent of net proceeds to help firefighters and first responders who need support due to illness or injury. They do this through their Fire Dept. Coffee Foundation, which gives to both organizations and individuals who need help.
VOYAGE by Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky, €145 (approx. $167.64)
Back in August, Alfred GIRAUD unveiled the first whisky in its Exploratory Blends collection: VOYAGE. I was lucky enough to attend a truly magical tasting on the 101st floor of the restaurant Peak in Manhattan. What makes this whisky distinct is that it combines two single malts—one aged in Sauternes wine casks and the other in French Robinia casks. Together, the two are then aged in ex-cognac casks. This process makes for a complex whiskey, with notes of grape, honey and white flower. For the whiskey collector in your life, this will make for a truly special gift.
Nixta Licor de Elote, $31.50
Now this is a spirit I’ve come across recently, and I just can’t get enough of it. Nixta is a 100 percent corn liqueur made in Mexico from the byproducts of the corn mash used to make Abasolo whiskey. It is unlike anything I’ve ever had; it’s sweet in the way that good corn is, it’s smooth and it is dangerously good. I like it so much that I could sip it straight. That being said, I recently spoke with the master distiller, Iván Saldaña, and asked him how to use it. He said it’s a great replacement for vermouth and amaro and that it’s popular in espresso martinis in Mexico. I tried it in coffee recently and really enjoyed it. However you or your loved one might choose to use it, it is definitively a great spirit that will make for a unique addition to anyone’s home bar.
Glenmorangie’s a Tale of Winter, $99.99
The acclaimed single malt Scotch brand has just released a limited-edition whiskey that is sure to make you want to cozy up by the fire with a glass. A Tale of Winter is a brand-new offering from Glenmorangie, with notes of cinnamon, cocoa, Brazil nut toffee and red pepper flakes. Just the flavor profile is enough to make me excited for winter, but the bottle takes it to a whole new level. The bottle’s label is designed to look like a knit sweater in shades of frosty blue, berry and orange, making it perhaps one of the coziest spirits you could gift this holiday season.
Jacques Torres Chocolate’s Jacques Pepin Foundation Bonbons, $27
As someone who loves gourmet chocolates, I find few things more exciting than unwrapping a beautiful box of high-end bonbons. These new limited-edition bonbons from Jacques Torres will have any lucky gift giver sharing my same excitement. Available in a box of 12, these bonbons are 60 percent dark Belgian chocolate with a smooth, creamy chocolate ganache center, flavored with Woodford Reserve’s Double Oaked Bourbon. You really get that flavor of the oaky, nutty, spiced bourbon against that beautiful dark chocolate. It’s a lovely pairing, and even better is that a portion of the proceeds from this box go to the Jacques Pepin Foundation, which seeks to help better lives and communities through culinary training programs.
Studio Null’s The First Release, $85
This recently launched nonalcoholic wine brand is one of the best drinks I’ve had from the nonalcoholic category. The company has three varieties available right now—Sparkling Rosé, Blanc Burgunder and Prickly Red—though at the time of publication, they are only selling them as a set. Truly, all three are great and taste just like wine, but I find without the alcohol, they have a much cleaner flavor—something I prefer. Their grapes are sourced from small European vineyards and go through a traditional winemaking process. The only difference is at the end, the wines go through a de-alcoholization process, which brings these wines down to 0.5 percent alcohol. With beautiful art the company has commissioned specially for each bottle, this is the perfect gift for the wine enthusiast in your life who wants to try something a little different.