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Top 11 spirits gifts

With Christmas having passed, it’s nice to look at what gift sets can be found from some of the best spirits brands around the globe.

You might be thinking this is just a puffy promo piece for gift packs and glasses, but it is so much more. I’ve chosen these sets because they are works of art in their own right, pieces of true craft which exist because they help emphasise the quality of these brands.

Now, while some may seem over priced; many are unique and near one of a kind, you will be buying into a small part of drinks history. Gift sets are definitely a market in which some brands don’t take advantage, but there is a lot of potential for the future. I’d quite like to see a Julep gift pack from Woodford Reserve.

1. Yamazaki by Bill Amberg

Some of those reading this may recognise leather goods crafter Bill Amberg because of his work on a selection leather bags for other drinks brands. Or perhaps because of that Amberg satchel hanging over your shoulder. Amberg has now leant his iconic skills to Suntory’s Yamazaki.

As a man who is passionate about Japanese culture and an enlightened whisky enthusiast, Amberg was perfectly suited to create these two stunning gifts. One is the simple yet bold, half folded leather bag for the Yamazaki 18, which follows the natural curvature of its line and imperfections.

The other, the Yamazaki 25 year old set, makes somewhat more of a defining statement in the form of an oak box, inspired by the barrels of which it rests in. The leather bag has 25 saddle stitches to symbolise the 25 year maturation of this unique single malt. Want one? It will set you back 1,400 of your British pounds and there’s only 25 here in the UK.

2. Ketel One Tumi Luggage

We all love taking drink on our travels, whether it be to the other end of the country or perhaps just to a friends place. I know well that transporting your drinks is difficult and sometimes you even want to craft your own drinks at an evening get together. Luggage designer Tumi’s partnership Ketel One has seen the creation of two bespoke luggage pieces – ideal for what you want.

The first is the Tumi Mixology set housed in a ballistic nylon or earl grey coasted canvas case. It not only includes perfect space for two bottles of Ketel One, but also houses two martini glasses, a cocktail shaker, tongs, ice scoop, bar spoon, cannel knife, coasters, chopping board, measure, vermouth spritz and stainless steel cocktail sticks. This will undoubtedly make you the life of the party.

Selling for a cool £4,995, you have certainly got to be a dedicated Ketel One lover.

The second piece is spacious backpack that is more practical than the mixology case containing similar items such as a shaker, measures and barspoon, along with space ideally suited to books and laptops, as well as that all important bottle of Dutch vodka. A steal at £495. Lekker!

3. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Alfred Dunhill Edition and Trunk

I’ve always been fond of the sets offered by Johnnie Walker, such as their Blue Label 1805 Celebration Blend which contains a bottle of Blue Label rocking smooth curves and a gold bust of John Walker presented in a solid wood, victorian-style writing case.

2013 has seen the collaboration between Blue Label and iconic fashion brand Alfred Dunhill. Coming together to celebrate not just each others dedication for craft, but also the journey shared by adventurer Jason Lewis and first time boat builder Chris Tipping who spent 15 years circumnavigating the globe using human power alone.

It’s easy to see how these worlds of craft and pushing forward identifies with Johnnie Walker’s famous striding man and motto ‘Keep Walking’. To launch these mesmerising items an evening was spent learning more about the journey at Alfred Dunhill in Mayfair, tasting with Jonathan Driver, Global Blue Label Ambassador, a Q&A with Jason and Chris, as well as Blue Label cocktails (which I was made to shake) from UK World Class champion, Gareth Evans of The Blind Pig, Soho.

The range include a £10,000 limited edition trunk including four Dunhill Blue Label glasses, hip flask, ice tongs, cutting board and Dunhill Blue Label bottle – impossible to find in the UK, but perhaps in other parts of the world. The other items are the special edition bottle available in 70cl and 1litre travel retail exclusive.

Celebrate their journey and watch the film here

4. Crystal Head vodka Rolling Stones gift set

Now there are very few who haven’t heard of Crystal Head vodka and even fewer when it comes to Crystal Head mastermind and Hollywood Legend Dan Ackroyd. It makes sense then to put together a collaboration with the Rolling Stones then wouldn’t it? The special gift pack looks somewhat like a combination between stage and TV set, with a zipper to open reminding us of the Sticky Fingers album.

It includes the 70cl Crystal Head which is unmistakable, as well a special edition Rolling Stones engraved decanter top, 50th anniversary sticker and a two-disc live compilation of never before released version of some of their favourite tracks, hand-picked by Jagger himself.

This gift pack is meant for a rockstar, and you are that rockstar.

5. Bacardi 1909 Heritage limited edition bottle

Bacardi is a brand that knows how to celebrate. Back in 2009, the Bacardi 1909 Heritage bottle replica was released to celebrate both 100 years of the Daiquirí’s arrival in the USA, as well as its creation by engineer Jennings Stockton Cox in Daiquirí, Cuba 1898.

This world introduction came in 1910 when Cox invited visiting US Navy Officer Lucius W. Johnson to share cocktails with him, which happened to be the Bacardi Daiquirí. Johnson was so impressed with it and the large amount of supplies he received (what sailor doesn’t like rum), that he took Cox’s marvellous creation to the USA. It was this action that made Bacardi a global phenomenon. Johnson’s contribution is recognised to this day in the form of a plaque, which hangs in the Daiquiri Lounge of the Army & Navy Club in Washington D.C.

Later in 2012, to celebrate 150 years of Bacardi, a second heritage bottle was released, in the form of a 1957 bottle replica.

Cox and Johnson – I tip my hat, and Daiquirí to you!

6. Patron Gran Burdeos

For many, Tequila is the night out party drink. For the rest it’s a spirit to be sipped, cherished and enjoyed. One brand that stands out more than most to the consumer market is Patron, and they have a crisp, fully flavoured special edition that’s sure to wet your beak. The Gran Burdeos, is crafted from the finest 100% Weber blue agave, from the Highlands of Jalisco, with maturation taking place in both French and American oak, with a minimum resting period of 12 months. After this, it’s distilled once more before being racked in vintage Bordeaux (Burdoes means Bordeaux in Spanish) barrels, from the finest châteaux, bringing with it notes of dried fruit, vanilla and raisins.

Each bottle rests in a handcrafted presentation box, sitting in a bed of suede and includes a cut crystal stopper, much like a wine decanter.

7. Grey Goose NightVision Decanter and Chiller

Grey Goose is never one to do things piecemeal or quiet for that matter, whether it be their pop ups or photo upon photo of magnum’s at clubs and bar across the world. Well, this time is no different with a glamourous collection of gifts, some more exclusive than the next. First up is the chiller – perfect for a bottle of the Goose and placeable in the freezer to make sure the bottle is ready for the trip to THAT party. One thing they may have missed out on – a strong seal on the chiller would have created the perfect on the go shaker.

The second is a the Night Vision, an ultra stylish 1 litre travel retail exclusive – a sleek, glamourous silver decanter perfect for what could almost make the perfect centre piece, especially on those dark evening where the night vision lights up the room with its LED light in the base.

8. Herradura Selección Suprema

Herradura is already a well respected, high quality Tequila and their Selección Suprema has to be one of the best available on the market. Exclusively hand crafted and bottled at Casa Herrdura, it is rested for 49 months in imported white oak barrels, which create an unspeakable Tequila that is soft and mellow. It’s one of a handful of Extra Añejo’s on the market that really make a statement with delicate flavours, defined by the use of not only their best agave plants, but also the oldest and most traditional parts of their distillery. It’s also stated as the Tequila that launched Extra Añejo as a category.

Presented in a curvy decanter, it’s set in a solid, clean cut box that when open resembles a glamourous museum exhibit. When closed it nestles neatly into your book case waiting to be sipped on a dark, candle lit evening. Tequila doesn’t get much better than this.

9. Hendrick’s Tea Cup/Midnight Tea Party set

Now I would agree a tea set is something you think of playing with as a child, but I assure you this one is very grown up. Hendrick’s is already seen as a very English gin (which is actually Scottish) made using cucumber and rose water in its production. It is those ingredients that hint at the quintessential afternoon tea we English are so fond of, so a tea cup and saucer (little tea drinking finger sold separately) is ideal. This is perfect for a classier, more refined drinker.

Puzzled by what to serve in your very proper drinking vessel? The pack includes drinks recipes from Jason Scott of Bramble Bar in Edinburgh, Thor Bergquist from ECC NYC and Duncan McRae, UK Hendrick’s Brand Ambassador. McRae suggests the Hendrick’s Tea Time & Tonic – Hendricks Gin, a teaspoon of strawberry jam, diced cucumber and topped off with tonic water and ice.

If you wish to increase the elegance exponentially, I recommend heading to eBay and tracking down a Hendrick’s tea pot…..

10. Master of Malt DramVent Calendars

Launched in 2012, fantastic drinks provider Master of Malt created a unique item designed for the child inside and the adult exterior – advent calendars not with chocolate but with drams of whisky. With 24 doors (though I postulate it should be 25), a new and exciting 3cl dram waits for you each day, including a very special 50-year-old whisky surprise that typically retails at £350. The box is of course a work of art in itself on top of each dram, featuring a variety of images such as copper pot stills and oaks casks.

Now the range has grown to cater to much more than just the whisky drinkers with gin, rum, Tequila, Cognac, Armagnac and premium whisky, as well as absinthe and vodka – probably the two I’d choose.

Please don’t get too nostalgic while watching the 2013 Xmas ad.

11. Elit by Stoli – Pristine Water editions

First launched in 2012 Stoli began releasing their Elit Pristine Water editions to the world. The idea behind these ultra exclusive editions is based on using the purest and finest water located around the globe. Beginning with the Himalayas in 2012 and a New Zealand edition in 2013. the New Zealand edition’s water comes from the north island’s Blue Spring, which is renowned for its clarity and natural purity thanks to the pumice of colossal Mamaku mountain range. This Pristine edition is presented in a box crafted from kauri wood, native to the north island. Best sipped chilled, preferably with a hand carved ice ball.

But this wasn’t just about releasing a new ultra premium expression. Stoli also partnered with Oceana, the largest charity dedicated to protecting the worlds oceans. As such a portion of the Pristine profits are donated to help the conservation of our oceans.

With only 300 of these sleek sets produced – 30 meant for the UK and selling at a cool £2,500 – this is an ultimate once in a lifetime, exclusive vodka. If you missed your chance, don’t worry as they’ll be releasing a new edition later this Autumn. Perhaps they’ll find the fountain of youth by then?

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