There’s no point in beating around the bush — or in this case, the tree — so I’ll just ask this directly, without hesitation: Is booze, in whatever form, a mainstay on your festive gift-giving list?
If the answer is yes, here are some suggestions for fabulous and extravagant potential gifts for the alcohol aficionados for whom you have to — or better yet, WANT to — purchase a present. This is the time of year we seem most inclined to spoil the people we love with special items they might not buy for themselves on a regular basis.
I was recently gifted, lucky me, with some bottles of tequila. But not just any tequila. The stunning Patron tequila, which is mind-bogglingly wonderful.
I wrote a few months back about the joys of the Patron Silver, which I’d discovered at a friend’s birthday party, and mentioned, at the time, that it boasted flavours of fresh agave with just a hint of citrus and a white pepper kick on the finish. It was $79.99 and I thought it was amazing.
However, I was then treated to the next two levels in the Patron line. And as the kids would say, OMG! These two, the Reposado ($89.99) and the Anejo ($99.99), are remarkable. While the Silver is clear, the Reposado is pale straw in colour, and the Anejo is light gold.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here — I’ll deal with one at a time. When I first sniffed the delicate bouquet of, and then tasted, the Patron Reposado, I said out loud, "How does it DO that? How can it be so smooth?" It starts out so elegantly then finishes like a warming ember in the belly that’s as comforting, soothing and satisfying as any gastronomic sensation I’ve ever experienced. I mean, all levels of the Patron are 40 per cent alcohol, so that certainly makes the heat understandable. But I think the fact they’re all 100 per cent agave is what makes them so sophisticated. Whatever it is, it’s simply fabulous.
I’d suggest that the Patron Anejo is for the seasoned tequila expert, which I am certainly not. It has an even more subtle bouquet than the Reposado, but the flavour is somehow more intense. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but while I think the Anejo is marvelous, honestly, my pick of the three is the Reposado. And that NEVER happens! I’m one of those Champagne-on-a-beer-budget kind of gals, and I ALWAYS pick the most expensive of just about anything. But in this case, I’d buy the Patron Reposado. I thought it — well, no — I KNOW it was the best tequila I’ve ever had.
Until I got seriously into wine almost a couple of decades ago, I was a rum drinker. I mean, I loved wine with dinner, but my pre-meal cocktail was always rum and Coke. But I’ve gotten so far away from it in recent years that I don’t have anything in that vein to recommend. Same goes for rye — it’s never been my beverage of choice.
I also was never into scotch — until about four years years ago. But I have to admit that I quite enjoy a good scotch nowadays. I don’t have it frequently — I’m still a wine-lover at heart — but I have had a couple of what I thought were very pleasant scotches in recent months. Two that spring to mind are the lovely 12-year-old anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Smooth and very aromatic with an initial hint of honey and lemon followed by a delicate fruitiness on the palate, this is a lovely beverage for $55.19.
And when I joined new friends to mourn the passing of an old one, I was delighted to be able to toast the memory of a wonderful chap with 12-year-old Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($50.09). And while there are certainly many more expensive and older scotches out there (16 or 22 or 35 years), these two deliver a heck of a lot of bang for what’s not a crazy buck, at least not in terms of scotch.
As far as vodka goes, two words — Crystal Head. Smooth and crisp, this is the purest of beverages, with no glycol, citrus oil or sugars added in its making. An extra bonus for the festive season is the gift pack ($54.99) , which includes the 750ml Crystal Head Vodka accompanied by two miniature crystal head glasses, so if there’s a vodka lover on your list, this would be an ideal present.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 14, 2013