It’s been a busy year at The Whisky Exchange and the blog team is ready to wind down and enjoy the festive season. Here’s what we’ll be drinking this Christmas…
I don’t associate one particular drink with Christmas – I use it as an excuse to pull out some great bottles and try them (not that you need an excuse to drink delicious wine and spirits). With Christmas dinner – which I have the dubious pleasure of cooking this year – I’ll start with fizz to accompany some smoked salmon, perhaps something from Pol Roger or Gosset, and then move on to a red with the turkey. I’m a big fan of Portuguese wine, and this full-bodied version from the Douro Valley will do the job.
I also associate this time of year with rich, sherried whiskies which are great for keeping out the cold. Redbreast’s Lustau edition is a great example, as is our own TWE Exclusive Edradour 2006, a rich sherry bomb that would be a fitting match for Christmas pudding. And whenever a James Bond film is on TV (I haven’t checked, but there will be), I will treat myself to some port, probably an old tawny such as Graham’s 30 Year Old. I love tawny port (see Dawn’s video below for an explanation on the main port styles), and for me its combination of rich fruit and nuttiness embodies the aromas of Christmas.
I am a man of routine when it comes to Christmas activities. My Lego set has been purchased (Boba Fett’s Slave I, for all you Star Wars Lego fans), pastry for a pie made of leftovers is in the freezer waiting a defrosting, and my list of beverages is set.
Part one of my threefold Christmas Day attack is always sherry. My taste has changed over the years, getting drier over time, and I’ll be cracking open a bottle of Romate Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado – it’s got some sweetness but also a stack of nutty complexity, and a 95pt score from Decanter magazine…
Next up is beer, and I’m stocking up on pale ales from one of my favourite brewers: Moor Beer. It may be the season for big dark ales, but for daytime drinking I’m looking for light and hoppy, and Nor’Hop and So’Hop fit the bill – citrus-focused northern hemisphere hops in the former and tropical-tinged southern hemisphere in the latter.
And to finish, a festive sharpener – something to prepare me for dinner. While I’m not the biggest fan of fizzy wine, I do love an Aperol Spritz, and they’ve become an integral part of my Christmas dinner over the past few years: 75ml of Prosecco or white wine, 50ml of Aperol and 25ml of soda water in a big glass with lots of ice. All I need after that is my Christopher Lee Heavy Metal Christmas playlist, and all is well.
I watched Die Hard on Sunday, so it’s now officially Christmas – yippee ki-yay… anyway, I’m spending the festive period with my family, so all my Christmas drinks will be geared towards things we can enjoy together. It’s not because I’m nice, it’s just a great way to distract them while I steal the last purple ones from the Quality Street.
My mother has a sweet tooth, so I’ll be bringing along a bottle of Giffard’s super apricot liqueur. I discovered this a few months ago and it’s absolutely delicious, flavourful without being over-sweet, and is ridiculously lovely when mixed with Prosecco – I’m thinking that a turbo-charged version of Buck’s Fizz will be the perfect way to start Christmas Day (famous last words…)
It’s also become something of a family tradition to drink Armagnac after the festive meal, and this year I’m really keen to try Domaine D’Aurensan’s 15 Year Old Assemblage. It’s from Ténarèze, an area known for characterful spirits with notes of violets, and I love the label which shows you the years included in the blend and their individual flavour characteristics.
For the drivers, I’ll have the amazing Rocktails, which are like non-alcoholic versions of Aperol Spritz, and for the late evenings, when I’m too tired to stop the cat climbing up the Christmas tree for the 17th time, I’ll treat myself to a Perfect Measure Scotch Whisky Set: like a grown-up Christmas selection box.