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Tis the season to be jolly and tis also the season for lists. So here we go with a pick of our absolute favourite tipples of the year. We’ve asked our staff members to single out the products that give them that warm fuzzy feeling inside and with one eye on Christmas we have managed to keep it festive and seasonal.
It will be no surprise that Ally has chosen a sherry! Equipo Navazos source some of the very best sherries available from lots of different bodegas and bottle them under their own brand called La Bota. Each release is different and carries its own number. La Bota 60 is a manzanilla but has far more richness and complexity than normal which is down to the age and uniqueness of the single cask chosen by Equipo Navazos. Open while cooking up some fish and finish it off with friends.
Its a shame that Madeira is so hard to find in Ireland. Fortunately we love it and have a huge range. I could have picked a number of different Barbeito wines but their 10 year old Verdelho is the most versatile and is great value for money. Medium dry and food friendly, this is superb with charcuterie and cheese boards, it also pairs superbly with goats cheese.
Not just popular with Emmet, this is a real staff favourite, however perhaps not the kind of whiskey you get to drink everyday! Teeling 24 Year Old is one of those special whiskeys that you have to save for the right occasion with the right friends. A finishing period in Sauternes sweet wine casks has given this whiskey some juicy, tropical fruit flavours as well as touches of honey, citrus and apricots.
Offering superb value for money. This 21 year old blend has a high malt content and has been aged in a variety of cask types including madeira, port, sherry and bourbon barrels. This is a delicate, soft and smooth whiskey with vibrant tropical fruit and honey flavours. Pair with mince pies while waiting for Santa.
One of the highest rated wines on our shelves. 96 points from Robert Parker and 94 from Wine Enthusiast magazine who said ‘One look, one whiff, one taste and you're swooning…the epitome of elegance.’ This simply puts other, more well known Gran Reserva Riojas to shame. We can’t think of a more fitting wine to serve with the Christmas dinner.
What a few years it has been for Irish gin! We have gone from having just a handful to choose from to several dozen. Each has its own merits but Bertha’s is one of our favourites. It has a unique mix of botanicals and includes grapefruit, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, elderflower, Alexanders and sweet woodruff. Great in G&Ts and in gin based cocktails.
A fantastic Colheita (think vintage tawny) Port that has been matured in oak for 12 years before being bottled in 2007. Rated 95/100 by Jamie Goode and 92/100 by Wine Spectator. This tastes like distilled Christmas and has a wonderful combination of roasted nut, orange peel, chocolate and fruit cake flavours. Drink with your slippers on whilst toasting yourself in front of a roaring fire.
Cognac is dominated by big brands but if you look beyond the more recognisable names you will find where the real quality lies. Despite being significantly cheaper we would still rate this higher than most XO Cognacs in the €130-150 price range. It is elegantly refined and packed full of grape, apricot, honey and dried fruit flavours.
Pol Roger Reserve Brut is blended from equal measures of the three main Champagne grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. This is bolstered by 25% reserve wines which add complexity and maturity. A superb, delicate and fresh Champagne that would help start of Christmas day in great style.
Priorat is regarded by wine critics as one of Spain’s top regions yet for most consumers it remains slightly obscure and very much in the shadow of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. However we would recommend these wines in a heartbeat. Offering rich, full-bodied and satisfyingly seductive character this is the kind of wine you have to drink slowly with great company over a long winter evening.
Glengoyne is an unusual Scottish distillery. It is situated in the Lowlands but gets classified as a Highlander thanks to its water source being in the Highlands. Completely unpeated (ie unsmoked), this 18 year old has a high proportion of malt that has been matured in sherry casks. Rich, smooth and very moreish!
A Riesling from Catalonia? Yes, this is surprisingly good, as are the other wines from the innovative Castell d’Encus winery. This is a superb, dry aperitif wine that will work wonders on tired taste buds. Packed with pineapple, lime and stone fruit flavours. Great with smoked salmon and shellfish but equally as good on its own.
Consistently rated as one of Spain’s top cavas. We consider this equally as good as most Champagnes but at nearly half the price. The Reserva de Familia is bone dry, delicate and refined. It’s perfect for ringing in the new year or getting Christmas day off to a great start.
We have been big fans of Anima Negra for years and the 2014 vintage of their AN/2 label delivers exactly what we hoped for. This Mallorcan winery uses indigenous grape varieties and a dash of syrah to make a well-rounded, full-bodied wine with succulent black berry fruit. A worthy contender for pairing with the Christmas turkey.
If you like sweet wine but prefer them to have a light and fresh quality then look no further. This is like liquid lemon meringue pie. It is lively and vibrant with flavours of lemon, lime, white grapes and apricot. Perfectly balanced, refined and naturally sweet. Incredibly easy to drink!
This hard to find blended malt is made from whiskies sourced around Scotland with an emphasis on the Island malts. It has been expertly blended and packs a punch whilst remaining easy to drink- yet it is complex and a touch smoky. To be honest this is a lot better than many well-known single malt whiskies at the same price!
Black gold, or liquid Christmas pudding are good ways to describe this! This is made with sun-dried grapes which give the wine a dark brown colour and rich, liquidised raisin, mocha and molasses flavours. Simply amazing when paired with chocolate fondant or mature hard cheeses. It will also last a good few months once opened, so you don’t have to finish it off over Christmas.
We were pleasantly surprised when we sampled this wine for the first time. It is incredibly well made and deserves to be paired with food to bring out its best. The predominant flavour is, of course, strawberry but we have found it works equally well with savoury as well as sweet foods. A left field choice for Christmas dinner that should pair well with turkey and cranberry.
Harmony by name, harmony by nature. You would be hard pushed to find a softer, sweeter whisky anywhere in the world. We reckon this Japanese drop will appeal to fans of Irish whiskeys such as Jameson and Midleton. The flavours are citrusy and gently spicy with an unrivalled smoothness.
This is made at the impressive Echlinville Distillery in County Down. As well as laying down whiskey they are also making a single estate gin which is made from locally grown barley and entirely distilled on site. Released just in time for Christmas, this is sure to become very popular across Ireland.
A robust single pot still of single cask Powers. This is drawn from a single refill barrel and is made in the same fashion as the famous old single pot still whiskeys made in Dublin up until the 1970s
A unique blend of pot still and single malt whiskey. A blend but not what we usually expect because the two elements are considered high quality whiskeys in their own right. We love the mouthfeel and silkiness as well as the subtle spice and creamy, honeyed character. One of the best value Irish whiskeys around.