There was a survey in a national newspaper today that said many people were ditching the traditional turkey this year, and opting instead for a different centrepiece for the table, whilst others were even choosing to eat out. But while our culinary tastes are changing ever so slightly, what we imbibe is still seen as a festive custom that cannot be changed. Indeed, relatives and friends go to great lengths to buy in our favourite drinks to make us feel welcome in their houses.
But when advertisers spend millions on persuading us to give a new tipple a go at Christmas, isn’t it our duty to at least try something new? To give the drinks industry their due, they do come up with some pretty neat ideas at this time of year and although after Christmas those bottles may lie gathering dust until the next festive season, they do go really well with mince pies, Christmas pudding and party food.
And we’re not just talking about sticky, creamy liqueurs, there are some fabulous flavoured vodkas for instance, some super festive beers and a few delicious whiskeys available.
Here’s what’s made our top list this year for festive tipples:
Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka – $15.99
Perfect for Christmas, the warming sensation of chilli and pepper is offset by the sweet notes of honey, followed by light cloves, cinnamon and gingerbread spiciness and extending with creme brulee and vanilla.
Quady Essensia Orange Muscat – $19.99
A great wine to go with desserts, the Essensia is full-bodied made with Orange Muscat Grapes. The spicy orange-apricot-pear flavors balance perfectly with a fruit acidity to finish clean on the palette. Tastes like bittersweet orange marmalade.
Berentzen Apple Bourbon – $19.49
A combination of Straight Kentucky Bourbon, which has been distilled and aged to specification, and mixed with authentic Berentzen Apple liqueur to create a whole new flavour sensation. Ideal for grown-ups at Christmas.
Briottet – Vieux Marc de Bourgogne – Pomace Brandy 70cl Bottle – £29.00
Vieux Marc de Bourgogne Briottet is a French brandy distilled from the pomace (the skins left over after grapes are crushed to make wine) and is allowed to age in new oak barrels, which means that the resulting taste is well rounded and fully developed. A dry but mellow drink that can be mixed or drunk straight.
Christmas Pudding Gin – £33.95
I’ve heard of Sloe Gin and Blackberry Vodka but I did not know that you could make Christmas Pudding gin with actual Christmas puddings. This gin was created using 14 kg of puds which were then macerated with English grain spirit, Juniper berries and then redistilled for the final gin.
AFTER – Ivory Chocolate Liqueur – Supreme Liqueur – £19.95
Christmas wouldn’t be complete without some form of chocolate liqueur so why not buy one that has won an award? After Belgian Chocolate and After Ivory Chocolate were named ‘products of the year 2010’ in Belgium. The smooth liqueur contains a combination of high quality cream, smooth malt spirit, exotic bourbon vanilla from Madagascar, aromas of high quality African cocoa beans and hazelnut from Italy.
ARARAT Akhtamar 10YO 40% 0.5L – €15.25
If it’s good enough for Churchill, it’s good enough for us. This warming brandy makes the perfect ending to any meal, with wonderful hints of copper, hazelnut and oak bark with traces of vanilla and dried plum. A fully rounded sweet taste is tempered by the light dryness which finishes with a touch of cinnamon.