Vintage ports, easy-drinking malt, and specially designed festive tipples are keeping us warm this month, as we approach the year’s end.
Additional words: Giles Fallowfield
Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer
This refreshing, nicely structured ginger beer, with no preservatives, additives or artificial flavourings, packs a delicious punch with its zesty root ginger aromas and dry, slightly citrusy palate – the result of a soupcon of Sicilian lemon juice, since you asked. It’s not too sweet but neither is it too spicy; just a gentle, well-balanced and sustained warmth, matched by its lightly fizzy mousse – good length too. Classy stuff and easy to enjoy as your go-to festive soft drink.
The Luscombe Passionate Ginger Beer which is also made organically and lighter than the ‘hot’, has a twist of passion fruit on the finish.
£11.45 for pack of six, amazon.co.uk
The darkest months of the year find our minds drifting naturally to Med-kissed holidays, either promised or past. What better way to do this than with a G&T mixed with Gin Mare, a gin whose DNA is wholly based on the botanicals of the Mediterranean – think Arbequina olives from Spain, basil from Italy, thyme from Turkey, rosemary from Greece and oranges and lemons from Valencia and Seville. If you’re looking for a G&T which champions refreshment, this is for you – all wrapped in citrus bells and aromatic, spicy whistles.
Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2004
Named after one of the most famous and pretty vineyards in the Douro and enjoying a stellar reputation, this ‘quinta’ forms the backbone of Taylor’s classic declared vintage ports, and is something of a bargain. Fragrant violets and dried fruits on the nose give way to concentrated plum, cherry jam and sweetly spiced flavours with hints of chocolate on the palate. Integrated tannins and a subtle streak of mineral steeliness holds it all together, while the elegant finish goes on forever. It's beautiful when paired with blue cheese, Stilton or high cocoa chocolate – just remember to decant it first.
If you drink malt whisky just once a year, you’d be hard pushed to find a better looking, easy-drinking malt than this 10YO, matured in American oak casks that formerly held bourbon. With citrus, stone fruit and honey suckle aromas, Glenmorangie is often described as being highly accessible. On the palate, it is smooth, creamy, medium-bodied and gently warming, with hints of almonds, coconut and gentle spices balanced with a delicious toffee sweetness. This is the perfect please-all malt.
Christmas Tide by Salcombe Brewing Co.
Normally produced in cask, this popular Devon ale has been bottled for the first time this year for its seasonal range, and we’re a big fan. It’s a rich, warming malt-driven beer, dark in colour and full-bodied, beautifully balanced with multi-layered citrus and hoppy flavours, and a bittersweet finish. We can’t wait to kick back over Christmas and enjoy this tipple in front of the fireplace.
£19 for pack of eight, salcombebrewery.com
Looking for more liquid inspiration? See the new releases and old favourites we were drinking last month.