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What our spirits buyer bought this Christmas for his loved ones

As Arthur is away this year, one half of his family got their presents ahead of time in one of those strange fake Christmas Days. This means there are no spoilers in revealing his shopping list;
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Fanny Fougerat
Fanny Fougerat Pineau des Charentes

Surprising someone with a type of drink they have probably never heard is a touch challenging, but a Pineau has never failed me. Sweet but with substance, this is a mix of fresh grape juice and cognac all from the same vines in one delicious bottle. Give it with confidence and say it can be served chilled with either good, salty cheese straws, a cheese board, or a creamy dessert.


For: Anyone who has ever enjoyed any pudding anywhere.


Avoid: Diabetics

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Black Tot
Black Tot Rum

Christmas is not all about serious, chin-stroking drinks (more of these below). There should be a party night, where rum and ginger beer with a wedge of lime livens things up (somehow, the younger and older drinker seem to like this we find). There should be a steaming mug of hot chocolate after a good walk, given extra pep with a dash of the Caribbean’s finest. Crucially, it is also delicious with coca cola.


For: The ex-merchant navy uncle.


Avoid: The ex-merchant navy uncle who won’t stop talking about his days on the high seas.

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Empirical Spirits
F*** Trump and his Stupid F***ing Wall

Honestly, this is because my most interesting day of my working year was spent at Empirical Spirits in Copenhagen. Just when I thought I knew enough about distilleries and my industry, these guys showed me I knew nothing. This liquid can’t really be called a spirit, but has 27% alcohol in it, and is made from a base of pearl barley. Habanero peppers are distilled, and a habanero vinegar is mixed in. It is sweet, fruity, malty, acidic and not at all spicy. Serve it chilled and be perplexed and delighted.


For: The adventurous explorer of flavor. Someone who has tried everything.


Avoid: Brick layers looking for Stateside work and wearers of red hats.

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Seven Crofts
Seven Crofts Gin

For all the nonsense of recent years, gin is a delicious spirit and a good gin and tonic is essential on Christmas Day. I take one when I finally feel I have the cooking of the lunch under control. The turkey is out, the roasties are in. As chef, you are starting to tire and your hair and fancy clothes are covered in food. A brisk G and T refreshes the palate and mind as you steel yourself to plate up the meal you no longer feel like eating. Let’s make that gin a good one, that tastes of gin.


For: That relative that claims to be making such strong G and Ts because they can’t wait to stick a candle in that pretty bottle.


Avoid: Anyone who works in the spirits industry. They are probably sick of hearing about gin now.

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Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis 1996 - The Amber Light

When I give a bottle of whisky, the stakes are high. If the flavor isn’t a life changing, clouds parting and trumpets-heralding-a-new-dawn kind of experience then my family think I have been wasting my life with this obsession that somehow turned into a profession. This is the bottle to show that Spirits Buyer is definitely a worthwhile career for a grown up and not a made-up job at all. A cask discovered by some rising stars of distillation and bottling, given the seal of approval by a dear friend and legend of the industry, and sold only by our company. Most importantly it is intensely delicious, challenging, and complex. As Dave described it, ‘fruity yet feral’.


For: That relative who opens a bottle immediately and pours everyone a glass.


Avoid: That relative who doesn’t do the above.

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Arran Barrel Reserve

Everyone sensible has a present upstairs. In a cupboard, unwrapped, and waiting to be deployed. The doorbell goes and it is that friendly neighbour or distant relative you hadn’t expected to see that year and they are carrying a gift. While you boil a kettle you nip upstairs and activate The Emergency Gift getting it wrapped up in appropriate paper and scrawling a quick card. This is the whisky for this crisis, with a bright and light style and crowd pleasing flavours of vanilla and apples it has mass appeal. Only released in Autumn few whisky fans have a bottle yet, and crucially, its smart packaging suggests it costs a deal more than it actually does.


For: Liars who ‘don’t expect a present in return, and just like giving’


Avoid: Anyone who reads this blog.

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