With the nights fair drawing in and the festive season upon us, it’s the season to settle down by the fireside and forget the cold night outside. And what better way to relax and warm those cockles than with a glass of something special?
So here’s a guide to our 20 favourite spirits and liqueurs...
1. CHEVALIER 1989 GRANDE CHAMPAGNE COGNAC £29.99, Aldi
Tasting notes: Expressive with strong floral notes, this is elegant and powerfully aromatic. Aged in oak for over 26 years, the nose has layers of creamy vanilla, figs and apricots and it leaves spiciness and cocoa aromas on the palate.
2. HESTON FROM WAITROSE CHERRY BAKEWELL VODKA £24.50,Waitrose Tasting notes: An Eastern European drink and a classic Derbyshire pastry might seem an unlikely combination, but adding the traditional Bakewell flavourings of cherry and amaretto to vodka creates, well, plenty of spirit.
3. CHAMBORD LIQUEUR £7.50, supermarkets
Tasting notes: Chambord is a French black raspberry liqueur made from an infusion of black and red raspberries with Madagascan vanilla and XO Cognac. It is perfect to enjoy with Champagne or any sparkling wine as a Chambord Royale.
4. JÄGERMEISTER SPICE £18, Tesco
Tasting notes: A delicious re-blend of the classic, Jägermeister Spice marries the 56 herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits with enhanced notes of cinnamon, rich vanilla and subtle saffron. Smooth and warming with a spicy flavour
5. ARMILAR AMARETTO £8.99, Lidl
Tasting notes: A deliciously rich-textured amaretto with a good balance of the aromas of marzipan and almonds. Lovely Italian flavour that works well with ice, served with a mixer or added to Christmas desserts.
6. SPICED RUM £13, Marks & Spencer
Tasting notes: This spiced rum is made from a blend of rums from Trinidad and Guyana. It has a mellow infusion of cinnamon and cardamom with a hint of clove. Delicious served over ice. It is also a delightful accompaniment to good dark chocolate.
7. AELDER £24.95, royalmilewhiskies.com
Tasting notes: Aelder is new to the market; handcrafted with wild foraged Scottish elderberries and blended to a secret recipe with Scotch whisky. This luxurious, velvety liqueur has depth enough to be drink on its own without ice, but equally it jazzes up some fizz.
8. CIROC ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA £38, Tesco and Amazon.co.uk
Tasting notes: Ciroc is made using French grapes that are distilled five times and blended with natural ingredients to create a velvety smooth vodka with citrusy character. It has refined aromas and a smooth, sweet taste.
9. BAILEYS CHOCOLAT LUXE £12, major supermarkets
Tasting notes: Baileys is the perfect balancing act of aged Irish whiskey, fresh cream, a hint of cocoa and vanilla. The luxe variety blends this with Belgian chocolate to create an unforgettable molten chocolate pleasure.
10. ANCNOC 12-YEAR-OLD WHISKY £34, masterofmalt.com
Tasting notes: Soft and aromatic, this has hints of anCnoc’s signature honey and lemon flavours, giving a long, smooth finish. The amber colour comes from maturation in ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso casks, which help deliver a fantastic flavour profile.
11. JIM BEAM DOUBLE OAK £20, Waitrose & Morrisons Tasting notes: The twice barrelled process allows drinkers to discover rich aromas of vanilla and hints of toasted wood that lead into deep char and oak flavours, with rich caramel and toffee notes. The finish is notably balanced with a distinct spiced oakiness.
12. WARRE’S OTIMA 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT £11.99,Waitrose
Tasting notes: This 10-year-old tawny port has all the classic characteristics of the variety – golden colour, bright notes of sweet fruit and freshness on the finish. This is a port with depth and length of flavour. Delicious chilled.
13. SPICE CLEMENTINE GIN £13, Marks & Spencer
Tasting notes: A delicious clemetine-scented gin, that is just perfect for this time of year. It’s a great gin for winter cocktails, using a typical juniper-scented base, as this is enhanced with the addition of those clementine flavours.
14. PHILLIPS OF BRISTOL LOVAGE £7.50,Waitrose
Tasting notes: This old English alcoholic cordial is distilled from herbs and spices according to a family recipe. The word lovage comes from love-ache – a medieval name for parsley. Usually drunk two parts lovage to one part brandy.
15. SIPSMITH SLOE GIN £24, John Lewis
Tasting notes: The gin is left to rest on wild sloe berries, hand-picked in the autumn for three to four months. The result is a truly handmade sloe gin that is subtle, complex and bursting with flavours of cassis, soft cherry hints and fruitiness.
16. CHRISTMAS EDINBURGH GIN £35, John Lewis
Tasting notes: Wise distillers have bestowed this jolly tipple with frankincense and myrrh to add fragrance, and nutmeg adds warmth. Heady with rich spices and sweet orange, this gin has an almost honeyed thicker mouth feel thanks to the addition of the myrrh.
17. DUCASTAING 1975 ARMAGNAC £24.99, Aldi
Tasting notes: Careful distillation in old oak barrels for more than 40 years gives this a distinctive note of white flowers, dried plums and cooked orange. It goes particularly well with duck and venison festive feasts.
18. WM DISTILLERS CHOICE WHISKY £15, Morrisons
Tasting notes: A rich and warming whisky that can be enjoyed with water and/or ice. Alternatively, blend a good measure with single cream over ice for a perfect Christmas cocktail that is amazing with Christmas pudding. or mince pies.
19. ABERLOUR 12-YEAR-OLD MALT WHISKY £35.25, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons
Tasting notes: A soft and rounded whisky with a fine sherried character, balanced with rich chocolate, toffee, cinnamon and ginger tones. The finish is warming and lingering – sweet and slightly spicy.
20. FOXHOLE GIN £40, foxholespirits.com
Tasting notes: This premium London Dry Gin uses a neutral grape spirit for its base. It is also infused with juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, liquorice root, bitter orange, fresh lemon zest, grapefruit zest and angelica seed and diluted with natural spring water.