Top Shelf: 13 Bottles You Should Try Over the Holidays
Finding the perfect holiday gift can oftentimes be a task fraught with obstacles. Art is an acquired taste, technology can lack sentimentality, clothing sizing is a difficult and sensitive minefield, and nothing says “last-minute shopping” quite like a gift card and candle. So, particularly in a year like this, why not invest in a gift crafted for the express purpose of making the most of a sub-optimal situation? Our selection of Top Shelf spirits and non-alcoholic substitutes provide the perfect crowd-pleasing gifts, even if your crowd looks a little smaller this season.
Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012
Filled with peach, apple, honey, and toasty nut flavours, the Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012 combines freshness with richness, and minerality with notes of fruit. Still a relatively young wine and light on the tongue, its lasting acidity eventually lends structure to a liquid that never overplays its sweetness. It’s the kind of drink made to enjoy alongside good company, because there’s simply no way to know if you’ll ever experience anything quite like this vintage ever again.
Being a connoisseur of luxury liquor doesn’t always have to be serious business. At least that’s what Glenmorangie’s whisky creator Dr. Bill Lumsden believed when he set out to combine the joyous celebratory nature of cake with some of the finest whisky in the world. Finishing his favourite Glenmorangie Single Malt in the finest Tokaji dessert wine casks, the result of Lumsden’s efforts is a pure technicolour, luscious, sweetness with multilayered infusions of white chocolate, honey, mint, and various fruits. Naturally, the whisky is best when enjoyed alongside actual cake and shared with loved ones.
Georgian Bay Spirit Co.
On the shores of Georgian Bay, wild juniper grows abundantly, seemingly lying in wait for those at Georgian Bay Spirit Co. to hand-pick samples from the bush to use in every batch of their award-winning gin. Bursting with notes of six different botanicals – coriander, angelica root, orange peel, grains of paradise, lemon peel, and Georgian Bay juniper – Georgian Bay Gin offers a crisp, dry body with a warm, breezy finish. Enjoy these organic ingredients in a variety of delicious cocktails including a Red Snapper or Gin Basil Smash.
Highland Park Cask Strength No.1
Renowned for its smoky flavour notes, Highland Park Cask Strength No.1 is whisky in its purest, most elegant form. Matured predominantly in sherry-seasoned American oak casks of different ages, the whisky is hand-selected by Gordon Motion, Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker. It is then directly bottled—not chill-filtered—to ensure the natural colours stay intact. A whisky made with nothing but whisky itself, this impeccably balanced, award-winning release is the perfect addition to any collection.
Volcan de mi Tierra Blanco
Whether sipped neatly or in a luxurious cocktail, the Volcan de mi Tierra Blanco is a tequila meant to be savoured. While most blancos are often simple and used in cocktails to provide the tequila base on which to build flavours, this spirit is the exception to the rule. Erupting with aromas and flavours of white flower, cherry, citrus, and pepper, the Volcan de mi Tierra Blanco makes any night special. Both smooth and fiery, with the pepper on the nose turning into a spicier hint of jalapeno, it’s no surprise it comes from a distillery named after the Spanish word for “volcano.”
Bushmills 16 Year Old Irish Single Malt
This 16-year-old Bushmills bottle is aged in an Oloroso Sherry cask and then finished in a Port cask, a method unique to this particular release and one that offers tremendous depth of flavour. Its notes of red vermouth, toffee, port, and sherry make this an exceptionally well-balanced malt. Together, the complexity of flavours creates an incredible drinking experience for anyone on your list who appreciates top-quality Irish whiskey.
House of Suntory Haku Vodka
For the travel connoisseur looking to bring their favourite destination home for the holidays, the House of Suntory’s Haku Vodka is the perfect spirit to add a little Japanese flair to your festivities. Its smooth and subtly sweet notes of lemon and pear add an elegant twist to the popular martini. Made with 100 percent Japanese white rice, the name Haku means “white” in Japanese, but can also be read as “brilliant,” a tribute to the craft of mastering the unparalleled soft, clean taste that defines the label.
Canadian Club 43 Year Old
Aged 43 years in an oak cask, this limited-edition bottle is Canada’s oldest aged whisky and the third edition of the Chronicles Series, making it a must-have for any collector and the perfect gift for someone special. Paying tribute to its role in Prohibition, Canadian Club has dubbed this expression “The Speakeasy.” Both smooth and complex with aromas of dried fruit, toasted oak, vanilla, and spice, this limited release offers notes of nutmeg with a warming finish meant to be enjoyed neatly.
Personalize Your Bottle at Atelier on Queen
Add something exceptional to the top shelf this year with a personalized bottle from Moët Hennessy. The perfect gift for the cognac and champagne connoisseur, Atelier on Queen is a new online pop-up shop featuring limited edition bottles from the prolific Moët Hennessy portfolio. Whether for a loved one or yourself, celebrate the season by ordering a bottle of the very brandy that first defined the cognac industry, now customized with a name, date or festive saying.
CEDER’s is on a mission to help you discover the joy of missing out with their distilled alt-gin made with South African gin botanicals. Perfect for anyone on your list who appreciates organic craftsmanship, this juniper-led alt-gin is based on exotic botanicals found only in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa’s Western Cape. These ingredients give CEDER’S a fragrant aroma and make for an excellent base for virgin cocktails and mixed drinks that everyone can enjoy.
Seedlip Grove 42
Seedlip’s Grove 42 offers a zesty, citrus blend made with three types of Mediterranean orange, lemon peel, lemongrass, and ginger, all carefully distilled at Seedlip’s distillery in the United Kingdom. A cool prickle of Japanese Sancho Peppercorn gives this non-alcoholic spirit a bright, dry finish and delivers the perfect alternative to a Campari and soda. Whether it be for a gift, an intimate holiday party, or a treat for yourself, Seedlip’s Grove 42 is the perfect addition to your drink menu.
Lumette London Dry
Inspired by a love for all things natural, Lumette London Dry alt-spirit is a reflection of the brand’s appreciation for cocktail culture. Traditionally distilled using botanicals like star anise, juniper, and lemon, Lumette has created a timelessly iconic London Dry gin-like flavour profile comparable to those from classic distilleries. Made to be savoured in non-alcoholic concoctions like a bramble, elderflower collins or gimlet, this complex but subtle palate of cucumber and rose allows for everyone to experience the perfect cocktail.
Fever-Tree Ginger Beer
Few profiles are more comforting through a cold winter than ginger, which makes this refreshing concoction from Fever-Tree so universally appealing. Brewing a blend of three gingers from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Cochin, Fever-Tree provides an award-winning beer lauded by gastronomes and critics alike. Warm, spicy, not too sweet, and very refreshing, this non-alcoholic ginger beer works perfectly in a Moscow Mule, Dark & Stormy or simply on its own as a standalone beverage.
Coming Together by Moët Hennessy
Find the perfect gift for the mixologist on your list while giving back to the community this season with Coming Together by Moët Hennessy. This limited-edition bilingual cocktail magazine embodies the very spirit that defines the hospitality community – warm, welcoming, and giving. Filled with unique cocktail recipes from Canada’s 50 most prolific mixologists, Coming Together is the must-have publication to keep on display or to give as a gift. At the same time, you can support those whose jobs have been massively disrupted by the pandemic, as all proceeds are donated directly to the hospitality community.