Make mine a glass of mince pie: Forget mulled wine. The new Christmas spirits are inspired by your favourite festive treats
- Liqueurs infused with Christmassy flavours are hitting shelves across the UK
- Tipples include Christmas pudding flavoured vodka and bespoke festive malts
- Drinks expert Helen McGinn gives her verdict on a selection of beverages
With a very different festive season upon us this year, there’s still one thing guaranteed to lift our spirits.
And that’s actual spirits, with more whiskies, gins, vodkas and liqueurs infused with all sorts of Christmassy flavours hitting the shelves than ever before.
From Christmas pudding vodka to bespoke festive malts, there’s a host of drinks to help Santa (and his helpers) feel a little merrier.
Some are made to sip on their own, others are best used in cocktails — but are any of them any good? Our drinks expert Helen McGinn puts a selection to the test . . .
MINCE PIE GIN
Reverend Hubert Winter Gin Liqueur 50cl, £34.45, masterofmalt.com
British drinks expert Helen McGinn gives her verdict on a selection of festive beverages. Pictured: Reverend Hubert Winter Gin Liqueur 50cl
The original Reverend Hubert gin formula has been updated to create a modern gin liqueur with 27 per cent alcohol, inspired by all the flavours you’d find in a mince pie. Packed with dried fruit and spice, this is decadent on its own, but makes a great festive Negroni when mixed with Campari and sweet red vermouth.5/5
PUD IN A GLASS
Black Cow Christmas Spirit 50cl, £30, harveynichols.com
Helen said Black Cow Christmas Spirit 50cl (pictured) is best mixed with champagne or sparkling wine for a great Christmas cocktail
Inspired by the flavours of Christmas pudding, the team at Black Cow infused their award-winning vodka with ingredients such as cloves, cinnamon, figs, raisins and vanilla.
On its own it’s pungent, but mix it with champagne or sparkling wine and you’ve got a great Christmas cocktail. The freshness of the sparkling wine lifts the flavours, making them pop on the tongue. 5/5
Brecon Chocolate Orange Gin 70cl, £24.95, masterofmalt.com
Helen said Brecon Chocolate Orange Gin 70cl (pictured) is quite the kick and has plenty of dark chocolate characters
If you can’t drink liquidised chocolate orange at Christmas, when can you? On first sniff there’s plenty of orange, but it’s not until you taste it that the chocolate part kicks in. And it’s quite the kick, with plenty of dark chocolate characters underpinning that lovely citrus flavour, but still with a reassuring taste of juniper to remind you it’s gin you’re drinking and not a melted chocolate orange. 4/5
Yuletide Gin from That Boutique-y Gin Company 50cl, £34.95, masterofmalt.com
Helen said Yuletide Gin from That Boutique-y Gin Company 50cl (pictured) made her smile
The ingredients read like a list of everything to do with Christmas: gingerbread, chestnuts, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mince pies, panettone, even pine needles.
The result, predictably, is a real mess of flavours. What saves it are the flecks of gold in the bottle that sparkle when you shake it. It made me smile, and after one G&T, the second tastes much better. 3/5
SPICY AND SMOOTH
Two Birds Christmas Spices & English Vodka 20cl, £13.04, amazon.co.uk
Helen said Two Birds Christmas Spices & English Vodka 20cl (pictured) is a smooth beverage, with a touch of mince pie
Creators Two Birds took their standard English Vodka and infused it with dried fruits and a blend of Christmas spices, including cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg. The result is smooth and suitably festive, with a touch of mince pie. 3/5
King’s Ginger Liqueur 50cl, £23, waitrose.com
Helen said King’s Ginger Liqueur 50cl (pictured) will keep you warm in the cold, if you stick it in a flask
This ginger-based liqueur was invented by royal spirits supplier Berry Brothers & Rudd in the early 1900s.
Concerned for the health of the king, Edward VII, his doctor asked Berry’s to create a drink that would fortify His Majesty. And so, The King’s Ginger was created, full of flavour — and alcohol (it’s 29.9 per cent, enough to make the eyes water a little).
Stick it in a flask if you go for a long walk over the festive period and it’ll keep the cold out. 5/5
Christmas Malt 70cl, £74.95, thewhiskyexchange.com
Helen said Christmas Malt 70cl (pictured) screams Christmas in a ‘wonderfully’ classic way
From its festive green wax seal to the Dickensian label, this screams Christmas in a wonderfully classic way.
Aged in old sherry casks, it’s a bespoke blend that really has a whiff of Christmas about it — from the warm spices on the aroma to the apple fruit on the palate. 4/5
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