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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Christmas

Our staff picks for Christmas!

It can be tough to figure out what to get the booze lover in your life when there’s so much choice. So let the Master of Malt team give you…

It can be tough to figure out what to get the booze lover in your life when there’s so much choice. So let the Master of Malt team give you a hand. Here are our staff picks for Christmas.

It’s that time of year where you really need to start ticking off your Christmas list and getting gifts under the tree. But sometimes we all need a little inspiration to help us on our quest to find the perfect present. We’re booze mad here at Master of Malt (responsibly, natch) so to help you out, we asked the team what they want from Santa this year. If you want to know what’s delicious and desirable this year, then look no further.  

staff picks

These are a few of our favourite things

Our staff picks:

staff picks
Zak, marketing campaigns manager: Rabbit Hole Heigold Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

These guys first popped up on my radar a few years ago when the news of their acquisition by Pernod Ricard broke. I’m always looking for new distilleries that put the quality of the product first; which is sometimes difficult for a new business to achieve. Enter Rabbit Hole, with a focus on interesting mashbills and top quality casks, this distillery should be of interest to anyone into innovative American whiskeys. I’ve really enjoyed the Heigold Straight Bourbon, it’s a chunky 47.5% ABV with a high rye content (25%) making it perfect to sip in winter, but equally has the power to make a delicious Manhattan

staff picks

Gio, head of brand & subscriptions: Premium Gin Advent Calendar (2021 Edition)

I’ll be counting down to Christmas with a Premium Gin Advent Calendar. I’ve been marking down the days on my normal calendar, waiting for 1 December so I can get started on trying all these gins and am looking forward to getting a load of new ones under my belt! I’m all stocked up on tonic, garnish options, and ice, so no matter what is behind each door (I’ve been trying to avoid finding out!), I know it’ll be a stunning serve every day til Christmas.

staff picks

Henry, editor: John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend

This was inspired by John Walker’s original Old Highland Whisky and was released last year to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the brand. I tried it alongside some seriously fancy Johnnie Walkers selling for hundreds of pounds a bottle, yet it was this one that shined the brightest. With its rich honey, toffee and marmalade profile, there are clearly some excellent mature malts and grains in here, but it only costs £55 a bottle. I’d take this over Blue Label any day. It’s gorgeous neat or just with a splash of fizzy water for the ultimate Whisky & Soda. I’ve never seen a bottle in our house disappear so quickly. 

staff picks

Emma, content executive: Waterford Single Farm Origin – Lakefield 1.1

For a bottle that I would be as equally glad to receive for Christmas, as I would be all warm and fuzzy if I gave it to someone else, I’ve picked out the Lakefield 1.1 from Ireland’s Waterford Distillery. The effect that terroir can have on spirits is something that fascinates me – and it’s an aspect of spirit production that Waterford has really focused on, and pushed to the forefront of people’s attention. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the Lakefield Farm in County Laois, but in my mind’s eye, it seems like it would be a nice place to spend Christmas, so a single malt made from barley grown exclusively there should be splendid, after a nice big dinner and a brisk winter’s walk. I might even pop some in a hip flask to take on the walk. It’s Christmas, after all.

staff picks

Adam, writer: Engenhos do Norte 7 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

That Boutique-y Rum Company are masters at finding expressions you never knew existed and sourcing rum from the places you least expect it. Did you know Portugal was home to fine rum, for example? More specially, on the island of Madeira all kinds of delicious sugar cane juice rums are made, including this 7-year-old expression that was produced at Engenhos do Norte. It’s got a beautiful, mellow fruitiness as well as spice and salinity that makes it unlike a lot of rum you’ll have ever tasted. And, fun fact, the sugar cane is milled by steam engines – like the one you can see on the label.

staff picks

Michael, spirits buyer: Ragnaud-Sabourin No. 10 VSOP

Ragnaud-Sabourin is a historic house of Cognac which was founded in 1850 by Gaston Briand and Marcel Ragnaud. Today, the latter’s descendants, Annie Ragnaud Sabourin and her son Olivier, are responsible for all aspects of production and ageing, making spirit from grapes that come exclusively from the vineyard called Domaine de la Voute, which is in the Grande Champagne area and classified Premier Cru. They make limited quantities of the highest quality Cognac, which is always bottled as vintages without any blending between years and without any additional sweetening or colouring. Lot no.10 is a great example of what they do best, a 100% Ugni Blanc VSOP aged for at least 10 years, thus exceeding the minimum ageing conditions for VSOP (four years), and displaying fantastic soft vanilla, floral and fruit flavours.

staff picks

Tiph, marketing campaigns executive: Stone Gaze Rhubarb & Raspberry Gin

This year under my tree, I wish to get Stone Gaze Rhubarb & Raspberry Gin. The bottle is stunning and is modelled after Medusa, one of the most famous figures from Greek mythology, and I think this bottle would fit perfectly inside my cabinet. The mix of rhubarb and raspberry is a perfect match, as the latter gives the fruity, fresh taste while the former brings a bit of sour for balance. For me, it’s an excellent accomplishment of both design and taste.

staff picks

Sam, content guru: Garden Swift Gin

I sometimes feel like my tastes don’t align with the seasons that well. During the sweltering heights of summer I can often be found eating steaming hot bowls of chilli, and during frosty winter evenings, I’ll be chomping on a Caprese salad filled with woefully out of season tomatoes. So, with that in mind, it’s not really much of a surprise that instead of an intensely sherried whisky or rich cream liqueur, the bottle at the top of my Christmas list is Garden Swift Gin from the Capreolus Distillery. Hugely complex and flavoursome, with loads of fresh floral and orchard fruit notes, it’s a bit like being out in the country on a sunny summer afternoon. I’d be very happy making a Gin and Tonic with this on a crisp Boxing Day evening.

staff picks

Charlotte, social media executive: VIVIR Café Coffee Liqueur

After the devastating news that Patron Tequila had discontinued its coffee liqueur, I had to source a new one. Enter Vivir Coffee Liqueur! I’m a big fan of Espresso Martinis and Christmas is one of the best times to make them. The nutty and fruity notes lend particularly well to my favourite dark roast coffee and the smoky-sweet aroma makes me think of getting toasty by the fireplace at Christmas.

staff picks

James, marketing campaigns executive: East London Liquor Company East London Single Malt 2021

This year I am wishing for the East London Single Malt. I managed to bag myself a sample of their latest single malt release and I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolatey, peanut butter and almond flavours. Now I am hoping to convince Santa to supply me with 70cl’s of the good stuff.

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Top ten premium whiskies perfect for Christmas

If you’re looking to push the boat when it comes to whisky, then you’re in the right place. From luxury blends to single cask rarities from closed distilleries, these are…

If you’re looking to push the boat when it comes to whisky, then you’re in the right place. From luxury blends to single cask rarities from closed distilleries, these are our top ten premium whiskies for 2021.

Maybe we have a little bit of bias, but in our opinion whisky is one of the most thoughtful gifts. Because the choices are so seemingly endless, you have to know what the person likes to find the right present and that means you can tailor a bottle to the individual. Or, you can introduce a fan of the spirit to something new entirely and open another door of deliciousness.

Now you can get wonderful whiskies for £30, £50 or £73.99, but for those looking to splash out, either for yourself or as a gift, we have provided a top ten to inspire you. We’ve got everything in here from super premium blends to single malts that you might have to consult your bank manager about before buying. Here our top ten premium whiskies for 2021.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Gift Pack with 2x Glasses

Blue Label is a legend in its own right. One of the ultimate premium blends, this rich and slightly smoky whisky is made up of some very old malt and grain Scotch whiskies and it’s said that only one in ten thousand casks makes the grade. Not only does this handsome gift set contain the ever-awesome Blue Label, but it also boasts a pair of very snazzy branded tumblers to sip said whisky from! Ought to make quite the gift.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 (Release No.11535) (The Character of Islay Whisky Company)

The Character of Islay Whisky Company’s Wind & Wave independent bottling series is all about showing off the glorious whiskies from the  island of smoky whisky, and this single malt from Port Ellen is one of the finest it has featured. Distilled back in 1983, the year the distillery closed, this beauty was then matured for 35 years before being bottled up at 47.9% ABV. 

premium whiskies for Christmas

The Oxford Artisan Distillery Rye Whisky – Batch 3

There’s few whiskies that have impressed us this year like The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s Rye Whisky, with each batch demonstrating it’s a distillery to keep an eye on. Making deft use of ancient heritage rye strains at its heart, along with wheat and even some oats and thistles, this whisky was aged in virgin American oak casks, but was then moved over to Moscatel de Setúbal wine casks all the way from Portugal. A wealth of rich, ripe, decadent fruit notes was the reward, which balance beautifully with the core of rounded, subtly spicy notes from the spirit. Super stuff again.

premium whiskies for Christmas

J.J. Corry The Vatting No.1 

If it’s exceptional Irish whiskey you’re after, then you can trust that J.J. Corry sources some of the finest. The first release in the Vattings range, this 30 year old single malt was finished in ex-Macallan casks and only 60 bottles were released worldwide. This bottling also comes with a 5cl bottling of the same whiskey, so you can taste it without opening the full-sized one if you so please. Which is very thoughtful. 

premium whiskies for Christmas

Heaven’s Door The Bootleg Series – 2020 Edition

Heaven’s Door The Bootleg Series is all about showcasing particularly impressive American whiskey so expect great things from this expression. It’s a 15-year-old bourbon whiskey, which has enjoyed a finishing period in Jamaican pot still rum casks before being bottled up at 52.3% ABV. This is a whisky that’s beautiful inside and out, thanks to a ceramic bottle featuring art from the one and only Bob Dylan and a box shaped like an old leather journal. Very giftable.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Mortlach 26 Year Old (Special Release 2019)

Diageo’s Special Releases are often full of seriously good premium whisky and the 2019 collection was no exception, as this mighty Mortlach single malt demonstrates. This is a 26-year-old single malt that was drawn from fresh-toasted first-fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry-seasoned casks before being bottled at 53.3% ABV. The stunning label is in keeping with the theme of ‘Rare by Nature’, hence the rather impressive stag.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Balblair 25 Year Old

A fantastically full-bodied Highlander from Balblair, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries. This particular whisky was aged for a quarter of a century, first in American oak ex-bourbon casks and then in Spanish oak butts to create an indulgent, elegant profile that’s full of orchard fruit, citrus, and runny honey.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Amrut 10 Year Old Greedy Angels (2019 Release) 

You hardly ever see Indian whisky aged as long as this expression as the angel’s share (the rate at which whisky evaporates as it matures) is so high, which is why this impressive Indian single malt is called Greedy Angels. Thankfully they left enough to enjoy this delicious Amrut whisky, which was bottled at a generous 55% ABV and presented in a rather elegant decanter, complete with a glass stopper.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Mannochmore 10 Year Old 2009 (cask 1387) – The Single Cask 

You don’t see much from the marvellous Mannochmore Distillery, which is a real shame, so when we do get a chance to shout about it we don’t pass it up. In this case, we have a 10-year-old single malt that was independently bottled by The Single Cask. We love the signature bottles the latter uses, full of all the geeky info whisky nerds like us want to know, as well the delicious spirit that’s inside. Expect notes of spiced orange, coconut husk, toffee ice cream, red liquorice, buttercream, and grassy barley.

premium whiskies for Christmas

Strathclyde 31 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) 

One thing we absolutely love that we don’t feel gets anywhere near enough credit is old grain whisky. Just look at the incredible value of it. Less than £70 for a 31-year-old whisky? Unbelievable. That Boutique-y Whisky Company obviously agrees, as it bottled up this light and tropical single grain from the Strathclyde Distillery. Somebody will really appreciate this bargain.

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Top ten Christmas drinks

In need of the perfect festive tipples? We thought you might be so from mulled wine to advocaat, we’ve rounded up our top ten Christmas drinks. Christmas is arguably the best time…

In need of the perfect festive tipples? We thought you might be so from mulled wine to advocaat, we’ve rounded up our top ten Christmas drinks.

Christmas is arguably the best time of year to have a drink. From office parties, festive fizz opportunities, or a dram of whisky to keep out the cold, there’s no end to the excuses to have a cheeky tipple. Then there are certain drinks like sloe gin or mulled wine that just scream Christmas.  

From Gingerbread Rum to gin made with festive botanicals and even Brussel Sprout Vodka we’ve got the best selection right here, for your convenience. Perfect if you need to do a little present shopping too…

Top ten Christmas drinks

Christmas drinks

Christmas Mulled Cup

Christmas is a cup is what is promised in this delightful creation. Created as the perfect base for simple, delicious mulled wine, Winter Mulled Cup is produced with a mix of VSOP Cognac, fine Port and festive spices. Then, this is combined with cold-distilled orange and lemon peels and cold-distilled fresh root ginger. It’s not just great for mulled wine, you can make all kinds of wonderful things with this beauty and even sip it neat.

Christmas drinks

Christmas Cake & Dark Chocolate & Medjool Dates & Cinnamon 8 Year Old

Whisky that tastes like Christmas is something none of us should pass up and this bottling hits the nail on the head. Featuring festive flavours like Christmas cake, dark chocolate, medjool dates, and cinnamon, the aptly named Christmas Cake & Dark Chocolate & Medjool Dates & Cinnamon is a superb Speyside single malt Scotch whisky, aged for eight years and boasting a sleighful of Yuletide elements. Any whisky fan will be thrilled to find a bottle under the tree with their name on it.

Christmas drinks

GINgle All The Way (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

You might not be a big fan of puns, but seasonal gin is something we can all agree on as being a wonderful thing. That Boutique-y Gin Company’s GINgle All The Way come complete with a festive snow globe on the label that is filled with the gin’s botanicals, and you can see the likes of spot cocoa, bitter orange, ginger and cardamom. Note, the baubles aren’t botanicals. The recommended festive serve is to add a splash of grapefruit tonic, which sounds absolutely amazing, doesn’t it?

Christmas drinks

Project #173 Gingerbread Rum

Let’s face it, we all love a good drink that’s based on a classic flavour. Jaffa Cakes. Chocolate. Even gingerbread. It’s a bedfellow of rum anyway, as both are spicy and sweet, but the folks behind Project #173 have ramped things up a notch by taking a good quality rum as a base and bringing in all those yummy aforementioned flavours you’ll find in gingerbread to pair with it. The bottle even features a flake of 23 karat gold leaf, making this one extra-giftable. 

 

 

Christmas drinks

Shanky’s Whip 

If you are looking for an alternative to your favourite cream liqueur this Christmas, then why not try Shanky’s Whip? This affordable and versatile Irish whiskey-based liqueur is based on a combination of Irish spirits, and aged pot still whiskey, blended in with the natural flavour of vanilla-infused with caramel. Smooth, rich and creamy, it’s the perfect drink to serve to guests this festive season as an after-dinner digestif, well chilled over ice or even as an indulgent liquid dessert! 

Christmas drinks

Tiptree Christmas Pudding Rum Liqueur

Did you know you can distil Christmas puddings? Well, you can. And Wilkin & Sons did for the wonderful boozy arm of its Tiptree range. This small-batch English rum was distilled alongside hand-made Tiptree Christmas puddings to create the ultimate festive liqueur. Play around and make all kinds of wonderful seasonal cocktails, or enjoy as an after-dinner sipper.

Christmas drinks

Big Peat at Christmas 2021

We love a bit of Big Peat and don’t need an excuse to enjoy it at Christmas, but creator Douglas Laing has given us one anyway. This limited edition bottling of Big Peat follows something of an annual tradition for the fab independent bottler, who make the blended malt with malt whiskies from a medley of marvellous Islay distillery, and boasts a full-bodied peaty profile. Titular character Big Peat is naturally the star of the label, enjoying a spot of sledding. 

Hayman's Sloe Gin

Hayman’s Sloe Gin

Were you out in November collecting sloe berries to make your own gin liqueur? No, we weren’t either. Instead we rely on Hayman’s to do it for us, blending their classic gin with sloes and sugar to make a classic winter drink. You can sip it neat, rather as you would Port, but it also makes a great addition to various cocktails like the Negroni (or Sloegroni), Bramble, or combine it with English sparkling wine for a British take on a Kir Royale.

Advocaat

Advocaat Warninks

Advocaat is a traditional Dutch liqueur made from a mixture of egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and alcohol. It’s essentially boozy custard and who doesn’t like boozy custard? Warninks, the leading brand is part of the De Kuyper group. This can be used to make such classic cocktails as a Green Monster, a Fluffy Duck, a Broken Nose, and, of course, a Squashed Frog. Oh and don’t forget the mighty Snowball.

Christmas drinks

Nelson’s Brussel Sprout Vodka

What a way to round things off, right? And don’t think we’re trying to fool you, this is real. Nelson’s used a whole load of Brussels sprouts to create the most festive and ludicrous of vodkas. Oh, and if it wasn’t Christmassy enough, if you shake it, it also sparkles. Perfect as something of a joke for the office Christmas party or as an after-dinner surprise.

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Introducing our fabulous Christmas Gift Finder!

Hey, guess what we’ve done? Launched a gift finder especially for Christmas, that’s what. Let the buying of perfect presents begin! We all want to spoil our loved ones at…

Hey, guess what we’ve done? Launched a gift finder especially for Christmas, that’s what. Let the buying of perfect presents begin!

We all want to spoil our loved ones at Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas shopping is easy. 

Even if you have a vague idea of what somebody likes, making sure you get the kind of present they spend all day smiling at and not trying to hide behind the back of the couch every time you turn around (granny can be so cruel) can be tougher than wearing skinny jeans to Christmas dinner.

That’s why we’ve made it easier than ever to find the perfect present with the Master of Malt Christmas Gift Finder. It’s filled with top bottles and tasting sets, from staff picks to customer favourites all in one handy place. So, if you’ve got somebody who loves booze but you’re not sure what to get them, then don’t go anywhere else. 

Christmas Gift Finder

Whatever you need, we’ve got you covered

Making Christmas shopping a piece of cake

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re on the lookout for something delicious but you’re not sure what. You think a tasting set or a gift pack will do the trick, but which one? Well, simply click the ‘Most popular tasting sets’ page and you’ll be greeted with fabulous finds like our specially curated Christmas Whisky Tasting Set 2021 or That Boutique-y Gin Company’s well-loved Retro Gin Fridge Tin, filled with eight 50ml miniature bottles. 

Or, you can check out what we’re really excited about, as we’ve put together our staff picks, featuring promising bottles to look out for such as Horse With No Name, Jaffa Cake Gin – Passion Fruit, and Masthouse Single Malt. We’ve also backed the taste of our wonderful regulars with our ‘Customer Favourites’ page which showcases what drinks lovers have been enjoying, featuring beloved bottles such as Bathtub Gin and Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old

The likes of whisky, gin, and rum even have their own dedicated page. But, believe it or not, the helping hand of MoM doesn’t stop there. We’ve also got whipped up some super convenient lists, like our selection of extra-special limited edition or luxury offerings such as Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire & Sherry Casks, festive-themed bottlings like Christmas Mulled Cup, and even a whole selection of gifts under £20 to make you the king of office secret Santas and stocking fillers.

Christmas Gift Finder

Head over to the Christmas Gift Finder and you’ll get the perfect present in no time

Christmas drink gifting has never been so easy. The perfect present awaits. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go burn a pair of skinny jeans and find a lump of coal for granny. It’s going to be the best Christmas ever.

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Christmas gifts we’d love to find under the tree!

Taking in Yuletide gin, Christmas pudding spiced rum, and even a Brussels sprouts vodka (yes, really!), we have rounded up the best, most festive spirits around and put them all…

Taking in Yuletide gin, Christmas pudding spiced rum, and even a Brussels sprouts vodka (yes, really!), we have rounded up the best, most festive spirits around and put them all in one place… 

At this time of year, we know a lot of you want to make yourselves feel as festive as possible, and we relate. It’s why I’m wearing a Santa hat and eating milk and biscuits at 4 am every day in December. And there’s no better way to do that than to pick up some suitably seasonal spirits, like gins made with Christmassy botanicals or a vodka made with Brussel sprouts. In order to make narrowing down your choices a little easier, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite festive bottlings right here. Trust us, you’d be delighted to find these under the tree!

Christmas gifts

Christmas Whisky Tasting Set 2020

First up is the ideal treat for the whisky fan in your life, a tasting set that we put together filled with some delightful expressions from across the globe! Inside are five different 30ml wax-sealed drams that are perfect for enjoying on a chilly winter evening. Oh, and take a look at how easy that box would be to wrap. We really have thought of everything!

Christmas gifts

Yuletide Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company) 

How many gins can you think of that boasts a botanical selection which includes the likes of gold, frankincense, myrrh, Christmas tree needles and even an entire gingerbread house? We can only find just the one, a fabulously festive creation from That Boutique-y Gin Company that is also packed with gold flakes so that you can shake it and turn it into a brilliantly boozy snow globe!

What does it taste like?

Juniper, a good splash of citrus, gingerbread, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, aromatic spiciness (nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom), mince pie pastry, raisins and a big slab of Christmas cake notes.

Christmas gifts

Black Cow Christmas Spirit

Christmas pudding is an essential seasonal treat that millions of households indulge in every year, but what if you could enjoy its festive delights in the form of a tasty drink? Thanks to the fab folks at Black Cow Vodka, you can. By steeping a plethora of ingredients, including the likes of currants, cinnamon, figs, raisins, brown sugar, orange zest and lemon zest, in top-quality English vodka the brand has made a seasonal spirit that would be amazing after Christmas dinner.

What does it taste like?

Dried fruit and toasty spices sit up front, with hints of citrus giving it some pep in the background.

Christmas gifts

Kyrö Dairy Cream Liqueur

A great cream liqueur is a must at this time of year, but if you’re on the lookout for something a little different then we recommend this tasty treat. Kyrö Dairy Cream Liqueur was created using local milk and cream (although, amazingly, it’s lactose-free) as well as a touch of Kyrö’s rye whiskey to create a profile that’s both great over ice or enjoyed with coffee.

What does it taste like?

Vanilla-forward, with whiffs of caramelised nuts, anise and milk chocolate underneath.

Christmas gifts

GINgle All The Way (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

The people have spoken over the last few years and the result is clear: they love a bit of gin. And there’s no reason why the spirit can’t become a festive favourite too, especially if you can pick yourself up a gin made to taste like Christmas. And that has a pun in the name. Good thing That Boutique-y Gin Company’s GINgle All The Way ticks all those boxes! If you look at the pretty snow globe on the label you can see what botanicals were used, including cocoa, bitter orange, ginger and cardamom. 

What does it taste like?

Melted chocolate richness, zesty orange peel and some aromatic spiciness, with distinctive nutmeg and cinnamon, dusty cocoa and freshly baked gingerbread.

Christmas gifts

Nelson’s Brussel Sprout Vodka

This is not a joke. This is a real vodka. Made with Brussel sprouts. The debates these divisive little veggies spark every year has made them a staple of the season as much as Christmas cake or candy canes. So it was only a matter of time before somebody popped them in a drink. Oh, and you can shake the bottle too. It sparkles.

What does it taste like?

Slightly green sprout-y flavours coming through, with touches of nuttiness too.

Christmas gifts

Finder’s Spirit of Christmas Pudding Spiced Rum

To finish off the selection we’ve got dessert, naturally. Finder’s made this aged rum suitably seasonal by adding some cinnamon, orange and muscovado sugar into the mix to create a classic Christmassy profile that would be delicious with some ginger beer and a good wedge of orange.

What does it taste like?

Rich brown sugar, warming oak and touches of cocoa and cinnamon, with waxy peels and bright orange citrus.

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Talking Christmas 2020 drinks trends with David Miles

David Miles is back once again to chat about Christmas and tell us what festive trends to look out for in this strangest of years… Last year we sat down…

David Miles is back once again to chat about Christmas and tell us what festive trends to look out for in this strangest of years…

Last year we sat down with David Miles, senior brand ambassador at Edrington Beam Suntory, so we could get the lowdown on what we should expect from the drinks industry at Christmas. Because this is a time of year of tradition and community, we decided to do it all again. After all, when you work with brands as notable as The Macallan, Bowmore, Courvosieur, Highland Park, Famous Grouse and more, you’re going to have your finger on the pulse. 

Discussing the impact of COVID on Christmas, how can people make the most of drinking at home, how brands will respond to a lack of physical shopping, which type of spirit will win the Christmas battle in 2020 and more, Miles has identified several trends to keep an eye out for and, once again, recommended a couple of festive serves.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Look, David Miles is back!

The trend: Bars and brands to embrace Christmas drinks at home

David says: “It’s an obvious trend but the biggest change we’ll see this year is that the usual culture around Christmas drinks will be happening at home. As people organise virtual cocktail parties or to see their family over Zoom their drinking habits will naturally have to adapt. It’s not what we would have wanted or expected, but it does mean we’ll see a lot of innovation and flexibility in Lockdown II from brands and bars. This time around it seems there’s a lot of bars who are far more prepared to deliver cocktails at home and are ready to hit the ground running. There’s also going to be brands and bartenders who are more prepared and experienced in putting together Facebook or Instagram masterclasses to take advantage of social media. You will see brands prioritising trying to get serve suggestions and ideas out there to the consumer”. 

The trend: People will opt for quality over quantity when purchasing gifts 

David says: “Consumers have been increasingly buying into the ‘I’ll drink less but drink better’ mindset and are also discovering all the time. One of the advantages of the great gin boom is that people who typically have only drunk one type of gin were suddenly trying different expressions, different brands and discovering a broader whole new world. It doesn’t take much for that to then tip over into other categories. We know that treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions and I think there’s that feeling of ‘we’re going to have a Christmas somehow’. People are going to look back on this year and think ‘damn it, I’ve earned a treat’.

The trend: E-commerce and online retail to rule the roost 

David says: For all the brands the big switch in focus is going to be moving resources to make the most of online retail. To survive, brands need to make their products available as much as possible and to a large extent, this does seem to have happened. While the first lockdown was devastating for much of our industry, drinks companies comparatively speaking did all right because the great British public kept us going by purchasing booze from supermarkets and retailers like yourselves. The challenge for brands is how they present shelf appeal in an online space and ensure that they’ve got the means to give consumers the knowledge and the inspiration of what to do with their drinks at home.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Blended whiskies are great for cocktail making and this strength will serve them well this Christmas

The trend: Blended whisky will get some overdue appreciation   

David says: Single malt whisky is going to be a big one again thanks to the luxury aspect we talked about earlier, but the fact that people are increasingly embracing the fun mixability side of whisky and the increase of cocktail making at home means the more accessible blended malt category should get some overdue love too. 

The trend: Rum to enjoy the spoils of premiumisation

David says: With rum, there’s an ongoing question of ‘is rum the next gin?’, which has become a cliché, but there is so much interest in it. There are far more mainstream products emerging all the time, which does mean we’ll have to endure an influx of some slightly dodgy spiced rums, also that at the top end of the rum market there’s premium, aged expressions designed to rival whisky and brandy coming through in numbers. This is something that has developed over the last couple of years and is ongoing and this Christmas I think you’ll notice there’s a lot of people willing to splash out on quality rum.

The trend: Cognac to move back into the spotlight

David says: I wouldn’t be surprised if Cognac had something of a revival this year. We’ve been pushing Courvoisier a lot at the moment and the reception has been great. There’s a real drive to get Cognac back in the minds of the on-trade and to embrace its history as a key component in cocktails, which we saw over London Cocktail Month. I get the feeling that it’s about time that Cognac had its turn there.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Is Cognac primed for an overdue comeback?

The trend: Low-and-no alcohol will adapt to thrive

David says: There’s been a whole slew of low-and-no alcohol spirits launched in the last year and the big difference is that they’ve adapted to create ranges of zero-alcohol bottled cocktails which should prove very popular. It’s a reflection on the fact that even if people aren’t drinking they still want a treat, something that’s a little bit special. They’re not settling for another orange juice with soda water or something as the non-alcoholic option anymore.

The trend: English sparkling wine to make its mark

David says: Traditional drinks like mulled wine and a bit of bubbly will always have a role at Christmas, but a development that’s happening in this space is people swapping Champagne or prosecco for English sparkling wine. That category of really good quality sparkling wine, which champagne has always tried to keep to itself, is diversifying and opening up. Even though it’s not cheap, English sparkling wine is getting this great perception of having really good quality. People shopping for a special occasion and the association with festive fizz will serve the category well. 

The trend: Ethical and sustainable practices essential for brands to adopt

David says: A lot of brands are looking at how they can reduce their carbon footprint, how can they reduce the amount of glass they use, the amount of plastic. There’s been a bit of a kickback against premium spirits in ceramic bottles as you can’t recycle it. When I’ve been doing training sessions on peated whisky I will now always get a question about peat use and sustainability. Consumers are concerned about this and so brands are going to try to be more responsible. Both to tap into that consumer desire and for our own good as well. If our packaging weighs less it will cost us less. Our Maker’s Mark packaging would be a great example of that. It’s totally recyclable and designed to be a little herb pot once you’ve taken the bottle out of it so you can grow your mint for your own Mint Julep at home. Innovations like this will continue to take place and when consumers are purchasing presents they’ll demonstrate they favour those who are more mindful.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

The Salted Honey Old Fashioned

The cocktails:

The wonderful David Miles leaves us with a couple of delightful festive serves that can be made simply at home this Christmas:

Salted Honey Old Fashioned

Emphasising the salty, heather honey notes of the whisky, The Highland Park Salted Honey Old Fashioned is a simple but effective twist on a classic. To create, stir 50ml of Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour, 10ml of honey syrup (made using equal measures of honey and water), a dash of orange bitters, a dash of Angostura Bitters and a pinch of smoked sea salt in a mixing glass. Then strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist.  

Courvoisier Espresso Martini

Embrace how delightfully mixable Cognac is by adding 35ml of Courvoisier VSOP, 15ml of Galliano Ristretto, 30ml of cooled fresh espresso and 10ml of sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 8 seconds and then fine strain into a Coupette glass filled with cubed ice and add three coffee beans to garnish.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Embrace the mixologist in you this Christmas!

Roku Winter Punch

For those who are able to safely entertain, a winter punch is the perfect serve. To make this gin-based delight, you want to brew 15ml of Roku Gin, 25ml of lemon juice, 25ml of honey (adjust to taste), 4 large pinches sencha green tea, 180ml hot water, two 10cm long grapefruit zest and 5mm of thick ginger cut julienne for 5 minutes in a preheated teapot. Serve in your chosen teacup.

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Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now!

Whether you’re the super-organised type who has everything ticked off their Christmas list by Halloween or the kind of person who just can’t wait to get their hands on a…

Whether you’re the super-organised type who has everything ticked off their Christmas list by Halloween or the kind of person who just can’t wait to get their hands on a selection of delicious drams, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Drinks by the Dram’s Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now!

I think we can all agree that we’d like 2020 to end better than it started. Thankfully, we can be the bearer of good news. Drinks by the Dram’s incredible boozy Advent Calendars are almost here! We’re delighted to reveal the new collection for this year which is so good you’ll be putting up decorations and singing for #WhiskySanta in September. 

If you’re new to this, here’s the deets. You can now put your order in for Advent Calendars from MoM Towers that are filled to the brim with 24 different 30ml drams of brilliant booze, one for each day in the Christmas run-in. You can choose from whisky produced all over the world as well as gin and rum editions. Plus the exciting Explorer calendars have returned and once again we’ve collaborated with That Boutique-y Gin Company and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Whatever your tipple of choice, we can provide in style (look how pretty they are. They’re very pretty.). It’s the perfect gift for the drinks geek in your life, although don’t forget how important it is to treat yourself every now and again… 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Look, Drinks by the Dram’s Advent Calendars have returned!

Don’t take our word for it, though, see for yourself! Check out the full team line-up of the 2020 Advent selection and pre-order* yours now!

Main Collection

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Premium Gin Advent Calendar – £84.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Bourbon & US Whiskey Advent Calendar – £134.95 (Currently down from £149.95!)

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Rum Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The World Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar – £199.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar – £199.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Premium Whisky Advent Calendar – £249.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Old & Rare Whisky Advent Calendar – £999.95

Explorer Editions

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Whisky Explorer Advent Calendar – £99.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Vodka Explorer Advent Calendar – £99.95

That Boutique-y Gin and Whisky Advent Calendars

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar – £49.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar – £99.95

* Estimated despatch is 8 October.

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Cracking Christmas table tipples

It’s mid-December and Christmas Day is next week. Time to panic? Nonsense! There’s still time to pick up some fabulous festive fancies, as this round-up demonstrates… Christmas is less than…

It’s mid-December and Christmas Day is next week. Time to panic? Nonsense! There’s still time to pick up some fabulous festive fancies, as this round-up demonstrates…

Christmas is less than a magical week away. Ordinarily, this would be the kind of sentence that would cause your brain to start crying and your stomach to leg it. It always comes around too quickly and there’s so much to do. But there’s no need for all that this year. We’ve got your back, as usual.

In this fabulously festive list we’ve rounded up the booziest and best Christmas gifts, from crackers to baubles and more, so you can relax and focus on polishing-off every cheese board in sight and making your blood gravy concentration borderline dangerous instead.

Merry Christmas!

 

Drinks by the Dram Spirit & Liqueur Crackers (Set of 6)

A good ol’ game of tug of war that results in immediate prizes sounds like the perfect dinner-table activity. But we’ve all experienced the disappointment of the truly rubbish gifts you’ll find in your average Christmas Cracker. Drinks by the Dram have gotten around this problem by filling up its Christmas Crackers with wax-sealed 30ml sample drams of spirits or liqueurs, perfect for post-Christmas-dinner drinks! The traditionalists around the table will be pleased to know these crackers also come with the customary paper crown and naff joke, so you won’t miss out on the quintessential cracker experience.

Pickering’s Gin Christmas Baubles

Adding a touch of boozy brilliance to your Christmas tree is this set of six colourful baubles, each filled with 50ml of the classic Pickering’s Gin. It makes a pleasant change from all that glitter and the occasional wooden festive figure. Just don’t let your cats near them. Cats famously love gin.

Retro Fizz 1910 20cl Glass

Christmas is the perfect time of year to enjoy a good tipple, and a good drink deserves an equally impressive glass. This retro piece of stemware is ideal, not only because at that price point it represents something of a steal, but because it’s equally suitable for a welcome drop of festive fizz or a delightfully Christmassy cocktail.

Drinks by the Dram Whisky Baubles

If gin isn’t your thing and you’d prefer to upgrade your bauble game with something a little darker, then the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Baubles set is just what you’re looking for. The six festive plastic baubles each house a wax-sealed dram of top-notch whisky from Scotland and Ireland.

Warner’s Christmas Cake Gin

Inspired by the founder’s mother’s very own homemade Christmas cake, this limited edition festive gin from Warner’s was made by distilling winter spices with dark chocolate, before being cask-aged and finally blended with cherry juice. There’s all kinds of fun and festive cocktails you could make with this one!

The Lakes Vodka Bauble 20cl

Proving that the boozy bauble market has room for all is this delightful creation from the wonderful Lakes Distillery. The impressive young distillery has filled each of its baubles with 20cl of The Lakes Vodka, which was awarded the title of World’s Best Vodka at the World Vodka Awards 2019. Which is pretty promising.

Drinks by the Dram Whisky Crackers (Set of 6)

We started this round-up with Christmas Crackers that kick off your post-Christmas dinner drinks in style and we end it with more of the same thing. Alongside your party hat and a traditionally terrible joke, you’ll find a different 30ml dram of Scotch or American whisky in these wonderful Whisky Crackers. It’s the perfect way to spoil the whisky fanatic in your life!

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Christmas 2019 drinks trends with Edrington-Beam Suntory’s David Miles

The senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory joins us today to chat all things festive and fun in the world of drinks. What can we expect this Christmas in the…

The senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory joins us today to chat all things festive and fun in the world of drinks.

What can we expect this Christmas in the drinks industry? All kinds of merriment and mayhem are par for the course, but helping us to dig deeper and peek behind the curtain is David Miles. The former bar manager of 57 Jermyn Street, who also has experience setting up cocktail bars in Amsterdam, Mumbai, and Tel Aviv, is the senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory. As well as working with brands like The Macallan, Bowmore, Highland Park, Laphroaig, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Suntory, Miles’s role involves training, as well as predicting and interpreting trends in the drinks market.

Miles was generous enough to share some of that wisdom with us, even going as far to include a couple of serving suggestions to try out at home for those who want to keep things simple at this hectic time of year.

Christmas drinks trends

Say hello to David Miles!

The trend: an increase in demand for premium products

David says: “More and more the drinks industry is encouraging people to drink better rather than drink more. That’s a trend that will carry over into Christmas. It’s more profitable for brands if people drink more premium products so they are creating more premium products in the last few years and consumers are responding to this. It’s reflected in trends like the craft beer and gin booms, it’s reflected in the kind of glassware people use, it’s something you can see even in the rise of premium mixers. If you spoke to someone five years ago and said there would be six or seven tonics in a pub you’d get laughed out of town, but this is how the whole drinking experience has moved. Premiumisation is up across the board, it’s all about the drinking experience being as good as possible. At Christmas, this trend is amplified”.

The trend: a revamping of traditional Christmas drinks

David says: “Bartenders are using traditional drinks as a starting point now. We’re seeing more drinks emerge like the Spiced Negroni, where people are taking the spices they would have traditionally used for mulled wine, like cloves and star anise, and instead are infusing it with gin. That traditional Christmas flavour is being as a launchpad to create more interesting, experimental serves. Warm serves are also being modernised, so instead of mulled wine, people are beginning to favour things like Hot Toddys, which bartenders are reworking and reimagining. Maybe they’ll make one with rum or Cognac, but ultimately what they’re doing is opening up the possibilities for interesting flavours and unusual flavours to stand out from the crown a little bit”.

Christmas drinks trends

People are experimenting with traditional festive favourites like mulled wine

The trend: rum enjoying more of the spotlight

David says: “Building on the back of an explosion with gin, you can see a huge growth in the consumption of premium rum and the number of rums a bar offers. How rum is being drunk has shifted with serves like Rum Old Fashioneds, which showcase rum in a different light and demonstrate its increasing premium perception. It’s one of those options that consumers wouldn’t have gone for a few years ago but is now becoming more commonplace. There’s some great rum out there produced with true love and care and it’s good to see it be respected and treated like the great spirit that it is alongside the more traditional Christmas spirits”.  

The trend: whisky becoming more playful

David says: “The culture that you can only enjoy single malt with a little drop of water or neat is one that’s being challenged all the time. At this time of year, you’ll see it increasingly reflected in cocktail lists, where single malts are being used so much more and with real creativity and imagination. It makes whisky cocktails so attractive, which has the effect of enticing people who would usually shy away from whisky”.

Christmas drinks trends

Having fun with your go-to dram is an easy way to improve your Christmas spirit

The trend: the rise of low-to-no ABV

David says: “Low-to-no ABV drinks are going to be part of the story this Christmas. There are already success stories you can point to, look at the work Seedlip has done and its ‘NOgroni’. We think of this time of year as being one of indulgence, but if you’ve got a glut of Christmas parties and yet another night where you’re not quite as enthused as other people, then that sort of offering where you can temper how much you drink over the festive period will be in demand”.

The trend: increased investment in aesthetic

David says: “This is more of an off-trade trend, but having a standout appeal on a supermarket shelf or online really matters at this time of year. Brands will spend a lot of time and money trying to get it right. If you look at The Macallan, for example, the packaging is already so beautiful you almost wouldn’t want to wrap it. Across the board, this is really important, as statistics suggest that around a quarter of the drinks industry’s profits come at this time of year”. 

The trend: pubs and bars becoming more spirit-forward

David says: “Pubs and bars will be increasingly encouraging people to go for more spirit and mixers. Back bar displays are becoming more spirit-focused to encourage consumers to step that way. Spirits are vastly more profitable to any bar than a pint of lager or a glass of Pinot Grigio. You’ll see more and more at this time of year that there will be cocktail menus and drinks lists on the bar and on tables available to people that will have a written offering of all the different gins and tonics they serve, for example. You wouldn’t have seen as much of that a few years ago”.

Christmas drinks trends

Pubs and bars will get into the Christmas spirit in more ways than one!

Before we let Miles get back to being all senior and specialist in all things whisky, we asked him to suggest some cocktails that can be made simply at home this Christmas:

The White Lady/G&Tea

David says: “Classic gin cocktails will do well this Christmas. One to try would be The White Lady. It’s a three-ingredient cocktail (gin, triple sec and lemon juice) that you put the same amount of each in (25ml each, although you can double the gin measurement if you’re feeling frisky), so it’s super easy to make at home and it always got a great reception from the people I’ve served it to! Innovating around a Gin & Tonic is great as well. Swapping out half your measurement of tonic and replacing it with cold green or jasmine tea is a very interesting twist which is not hard to pull off. The same goes for substituting half of the tonic with soda. This dilutes the tonic side of the drink so you can notice more of the flavours from the botanicals”.

Christmas drinks trends

Simple but delicious serves like The Old Fashioned are an easy way to improve your Christmas drinks game

The Old Fashioned

David says: “It’s such a bartender’s drink, but it’s one you can make really easily at home. You don’t need sugar syrup, everyone has got sugar at home. Anybody who makes Champagne cocktails will have Angostura bitters, if not they’re available from every supermarket. We don’t need to go down the road of spending 10 minutes crafting the perfect serve, because, for the most part, it’s unnecessary. Stir down in a rocks glass, at home, with some premium whisky. It will improve the pleasure of your Christmas!”

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#WhiskySanta’s The Macallan M Super Wish!

#WhiskySanta is back with a Super Wish so special that it will, quite literally, knock your socks off. This week he’s giving away a Lalique decanter of The Macallan M…

#WhiskySanta is back with a Super Wish so special that it will, quite literally, knock your socks off. This week he’s giving away a Lalique decanter of The Macallan M worth £3,300!

Mariah Carey once sang “All I want for Christmas is you”. In my view, it’s the last great Christmas song and one I never get tired of shaking my booty to at the #WhiskySanta Christmas party, but can you imagine if people acted on this song’s sentiments? Just picture the scene. It’s Christmas Day but I haven’t ventured down the chimney laden with boozy goodness because someone said that all they wanted for Christmas was to see a special friend. There would be tears before bedtime.

So to prevent grown-ups crying, I have been busier than ever giving away fine whiskies and other boozes from around the world in thousands of Master of Malt orders and also across social. By harnessing the awesome power of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (oh, and Google+. Go on then), I have been making your wishes come true. Including, for some very lucky people, Super Wishes!

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