A Christmas pun is always difficult to resist, but don’t let that put you off our look at five different drinks that will liven up your winter break – and mulled wine is nowhere to be seen!
While they’re not all exclusively Christmas-themed, each of these five hand-selected drinks will go down well as the temperatures drop, and will all make for fabulous gifts.
English Heritage Victorian Spiced Gin
Launched this season, the British Honey Company, in partnership with English Heritage, has introduced its Victorian Spiced Gin. The unique blend is inspired by the great 19th-century gin revival and celebrated cook Avis Crocombe.
Avis worked at the English Heritage site, Audley End House and Gardens, in the 1880s, and this particular blend of botanicals and ingredients were found in Mrs Crocombe’s original notebook recipes.
Distilled using traditional methods and a blend of botanicals and ingredients found in Mrs Crocombe’s original notebook of recipes, English Heritage Victorian Spiced Gin has been expertly created by BHC head distiller, Marzio Di Rocco. Working alongside English Heritage head gardeners, and blending sixteen botanicals with citrus, bitter almond, liquorice and borage honey, Marzio has created a gin that delivers a burst of juniper and citrus followed by spicy floral fragrances with hints of black tea and warm spice.
What: English Heritage Victorian Spiced Gin
Where: English Heritage
How much: £39
Metaxa 12 Stars
First created by Spyros Metaxa in 1888, this uniquely blended spirit is a combination of Muscat wines, aged wine distillates and Mediterranean botanicals. Originally classed as a Cognac, then later as a brandy, Metaxa isn’t really either, so now stands alone as a classic Greek amber spirit.
The 12 Stars suffix refers not to the quality, but the age of the youngest spirit in the blend. The Stars range also includes 5 Stars and 7 Stars, each with slightly differing flavours. As you might expect, 12 Stars has a deeper, more complex flavour as it has spent longer developing in the barrel.
Metaxa has a fragrant scent which has hints of brandy about it, with notes of orange peel, coffee and chocolate, but also a subtle floral scent coming from the botanicals. The traces of spice, plums and raisins come through on the mouth, leaving a rich mix of florals and coffee, with just a slight hint of that orange peel underneath.
Drink it neat, over a single block of ice, or in a cocktail, Metaxa isn’t fussy and won’t judge. Brandy lovers might judge but will soon come around after receiving a bottle as a gift.
What: Metaxa 12 Stars
How much: £37
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
A product of the remote Scottish isle of Islay, from the Bruichladdich Distillery, The Botanist is a distinctively flavoured gin. It contains 31 botanicals in its blend, 22 of which are hand-foraged across the island itself, which sets it apart from its rivals.
The initial scent from The Botanist is one of citrus, with delicate tones of menthol from the mint and aniseed, and a lasting floral bouquet which give way to a smooth, cooling taste. The flavour quickly mellows to leave a hit of spice. All this combines to give a refined, luxurious and flavoursome gin.
You can grow your own botanicals – or at least some seasonal garnishes – using The Botanist’s glass and ceramic herb planter. Included as part of a special gift pack, the planter is joined by 70cl of the gin, echoing its famous design. Tin planter and tumbler gift packs are also available.
What: The Botanist Gin & Herb Planter
How much: £39
Cointreau Limited Edition
The iconic Cointreau bottle, the creation of Édouard Cointreau after he joined the family business in 1875, stands out for its distinctive features. Representing the four ingredients of his liqueur (sweet and bitter orange peel, alcohol, water and sugar), the amber-coloured glass reveals the liqueur’s surprising transparency upon each pour.
This Christmas, Cointreau is toasting the season with a limited edition bottle of its spirits created by French interior designer Vincent Darré. The design, created to mark the 170th anniversary of Cointreau, celebrates its proud French origins and elegantly re-tells the history of the orange liqueur.
The wonderfully sweet, fruity spirit is a fabulous winter warmer neat, an essential component of the classic Christmas cocktail Poinsettia, or a perfect addition to a steaming mug of rich hot chocolate. No matter how you like to drink it, this limited edition bottle will be a great addition to your festive season.
What: Cointreau Limited Edition by Vincent Darré
Where: Harvey Nichols
How much: £35
Secret Garden Christmas Gin
The Old Curiosity Distillery and Secret Herb Garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh was founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Hamish and Liberty Martin. Today, it’s an award-winning herb nursery, renowned for the highly acclaimed and multi-award-winning collection of 100% natural, Secret Garden Gins.
Ahead of the festive season, the Scottish craft distillery has launched a new limited-edition Christmas Gin, perfectly capturing the essence of the season by blending classic aromatic spices, and naturally coloured with botanicals to create fitting rosy red colour spirits.
That colour is created using Hollyhock petals, which transform to create a vibrant pink drink when mixed with tonic water; a perfect showstopper for your Christmas bubble.
The Secret Garden Christmas Gin is distilled with botanicals grown in the distillery’s Secret Herb Garden, including cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. There are no artificial preservatives, sugars or colourings added – something the company is very proud of.
“We really wanted to explore a new range of festive flavours using traditional seasonal ingredients to make our Christmas Gin,” commented Hamish Martin, director at the Old Curiosity Distillery. “We drew influence from medieval Christmas feasts by distilling the gin with cinnamon and aromatic cardamom, while the ginger gives the spirit an extra kick for warmth.”
The Secret Garden Christmas Gin is available now online at theoldcuriosity.co.uk.
What: Secret Garden Christmas Gin
Where: The Old Curiosity Distillery
How much: £36