Christmas drinks gift guide: Best gin, best whisky and more for the festive season

Whether you're keen to make your own infused gin, try a ten year old whisky or open a bottle of champagne with a bang, we've got something for you.

Captain Morgan’s Gingerbread Spiced Rum

Rum is a fine Christmassy drink regardless, and never more so than in this bottling. Captain Morgan’s, a decent supermarket shelf staple, gets a seasonal upgrade in this limited edition that adds gingerbread spicing ideal for eggnog.

£13 for 50cl

Warner’s Christmas Cake Gin

It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas

There’s a fine line to be trodden when blending a flavoured gin. Too gin-like and you leave people wondering why they didn’t just get a ‘normal’ gin; too sweet or flavoured and it can seem sickly or gimmicky. Warner’s are among the best at walking the tightrope — and though their Christmas cake gin packs in the grin-inducing flavour, it never crosses the line. Not cheap, but hard to imagine a more fun mid-morning starter-for-10 tipple on Christmas Day.

Warner’s Christmas Cake Gin, £38 from the distillery, M&S or Ocado

The Dalmore Whisky

Dalmore delight

When the tasting notes for a whisky cite not just blood oranges, but a specific type of blood orange (sanguinello, since you’re asking) you know you’re in the upper reaches of the distiller’s art — even before you’ve seen the price tag. Christmas is a time to enjoy things that are very special indeed — and for a real connoisseur of the Water of Life, The Dalmore’s 2003 and 2006 bottlings, being sold via Harrod’s, are quite astonishingly good.

The rarity and £1,500 price of the 2003 vintage suggest it’ll more likely be laid down to appreciate rather than popped open to drink (a shame, but understandable) yet the 2006 is a much more reasonable £200 and still hopelessly good, with a sticky toffee pudding note in the finish which would make it a truly perfect post-Christmas dinner dram.

The Dalmore 2003 and 2006 vintages, £1,500 and £200 respectively

Craft Gin Club membership

Why give one bottle of gin when you can give 12?

Once you’ve signed up for your Country Life subscription, you might want to consider other subscriptions too — such as this club membership, described as ‘the ultimate gift for gin lovers’. Monthly boxes (or bi-monthly, or quarterly if you prefer) are sent out, each containing a bottle of gin, mixers, garnishes, cocktail recipes plus the ingredients to make them and various other bits and pieces.

Craft Gin Club gift membership from £149 for 4 boxes, £440 for 12

Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding Gin

And we won’t leave until we’ve drunk some

Tarquin’s Cornish Gin has been winning a reputation for some time now, but this year they’ve really branched out into all manner of interesting special editions. There’s blackberry, blod orange and a slightly insane 57% ABV ‘Navy-strength’ edition they call The Seadog. For Christmas, though, it’s their Figgy Pudding Gin which will catch the eye. It’s an unusual mix of Christmas pud with gin, and just as sweet and quirky as you’d imagine — just like the pud itself, great for a taste even if it wouldn’t top your list the other 51 weeks of the year.

Tarquin’s Festive Figgy Pudding Gin, £36

The Emissary Prosecco

I’m forever drinking bubbles

There’s always something waiting in the wings to take over the booze world. Today, it’s gin; but not so long ago it was prosecco that was the drink on everyone’s lips — and as producers battled to keep up with demand, there were undoubtedly some pretty nasty examples pumped out onto the market. It’s refreshing, then, to see producers and suppliers bringing a bit of quality back.

‘The Emissary’ in question, incidentally, is a wine merchant named Ed Smith, who travelled Italy to find some decent sparkling wine. He spent his time well: both this Extra-Brut and the Prosecco Superiore (which costs a couple of quid more) are delicious, low-sugar and cost about half what you’d pay for a comparable Champagne.

The Emissary DOC, £14.99

Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin

It’s… errr… what mixed with gin?

Yes, yes — we know this Australian gin sounds weird. But honestly, it’s absolutely worth a try — think grapes rather than wine and it all sounds less freaky. There’s almost a sloe gin vibe as the hint of Shiraz comes through into the gin flavours. It’ll also lend a wonderful rich colour to cocktails, and is very good mixed with bitter lemon.

Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, £35 at Waitrose

One Sage & Apple Gin

A gin to knock the stuffing in to you

When trying to produce a Christmassy gin, the obvious is probably to go with sweet treats — so kudos for the bravery of One Gin making this distilliation using traditional turkey stuffing ingredients. Shockingly, it works really incredibly well — flavoursome without any cloying sweetnes and a lovely depth to the flavour. Really good stuff.

One Sage & Apple Gin, £38 from Tesco, Amazon and elsewhere

Yuletide Gin

A glass of Christmas sparkles

The curiously-named That Boutique-y Gin Company produce dozens of different types of gin — you can even get an advent calendar purely of their creations — but this must rank among the most weird and wonderful. It’s immediately striking thanks to the gold leaf flakes floating within, but they also flavour it with frankincense and myrrh, as well as anything else Christmas-related they seem to have been able to put their hands on: gingerbread, nutmeg and even Christmas tree needles. Utterly bonkers and it split opinion in testing, but one of our guinea pigs proclaimed it to be ‘like drinking a mince pie’.

Yuletide Gin from That Boutique-y Gin Company, £34.95 for 50cl

Old and Rare Whisky Advent Calendar

High-rollers only need apply

The whisky connoisseurs at Drinks by the Dram always come up with interesting Advent calendars, but they’ve really pushed the boat out here. 24 wax-sealed miniatures are contained within — the web link here has the contents if you don’t mind spoilers, but there are some truly extraordinary things here (as you’d hope, for the price) including several 40-year-plus aged single malts.

The Old and Rare Advent Calendar from Drinks by the Dram, £999.95 from Master of Malt.

Millionnaires’ Shortbread Gin Liqueur

Ready to give up alcohol yet?

From the top end of the price spectrum we come to the other end: Aldi’s selection of gin liqueurs come in at under a tenner. There’s a Northern Lights liqueuer that shimmers appropriately green in the right light, when given a shake; and a Millionaire’s Shortbread Gin Liqueur that’s almost comically indulgent. Not things you’d want to drink regularly, but great stocking filler fun.

Millionnaires Shortbread Gin Liqueur, £8.99 from Aldi