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Twelve Spirited Days of Christmas

Twelve great spirits to get or give on Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas...
1 My true love gave to me Cruzan Estate Diamond Rum. 
Cruzan is finally breaking out of the cheap rum image it had for Virgin Island vacationers. This is delicious stuff, a blend of aged rums (five to ten years old) that still retains youthful notes of coconut and citrus. If youíve never had aged rum, itís a beautiful way to find out what youíve been missing.

 

On the Second Day of Christmas...
2 I went out and bought a bottle of Hendrickís Gin
Funny brown bottle, funny botanicals: a gin made in Scotland with rose petals and cucumbers. Funny? No, youíll find that the cuke and rose really rounds off the angular juniper for a softer, more civilized martini.

 

On the Third Day of Christmas...
3 I bought for my dad Wild Turkey Russellís Reserve
Jimmy Russell, the master distiller at Wild Turkey, finally let some bourbon age a bit, and this Russellís Reserve Ten Year Old is fine, fine stuff, with the classic "hot honey" character of Wild Turkey, and of course, the 101 overproof bite.

 

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...
4 I savored with my priest a bottle of Highland Park 18 Year Old
For the contemplative moments, Highland Park provides beautiful answers to questions like "Why do we drink Scotch whisky?" Thereís something for every lover of Scotch whisky here: honey, smoke, oak, malt, and peace.

 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...
5 Sean the bartender gave to me Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey.
A whiskey that changed my view of Irish whiskey completely. Redbreast is all about the barley, malted and unmalted, and this is soft, sweet whiskey with bounteous fruit notes. An astonishing mouthful.

 

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...
6 I drove down to Rehoboth for a bottle of Dogfish Head Vodka
Really. Dogfish Headís been distilling for a few years now, and his new distiller, Mike Gerhart, has the vodka absolutely dialed in: dry, crisp, distinctive. If you have to buy premium vodka (and if you do, sip it, donít mix it!), try this one.

 

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...
7 I gave everyone I know bottles of Jim Beam Rye
Possibly the best liquor deal on the market. Jim Beam Rye is packed with spicy, minty, explosive rye flavor, and dirt cheap. Great neat or on the rocks, and absolutely brilliant with ginger ale and a twist of lemon.

 

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...
8 My uncle got from me a bottle of Wiserís Very Old
Sure, only geezers like Canadian whisky. Right. You might want to get a bottle of this for your favorite geezer and steal a sip to find out what youíre missing. Itís smooth as silk, grain-sweet, and deep. But it really is Canadian.

 

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...
9 My mechanic got from me Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon
A rich, even lush whiskey, full of corn sweetness, oaky vanilla and smoke, and a hint of rye spiciness, Elijah Craig is a bargain and a beauty, a bourbon that can blend with mixers or stand on its own with ease. A great "table bourbon" to drink every day.

 

On the Tenth Day of Christmas...
10 I gave to the mailman a bottle of Ardbeg 10
Peat in Scotch whisky is like hops in beer: the more thatís in there, the better some folks like it. Ardbeg 10 is the Arrogant Bastard of Scotch whisky. It smells like a fire in a peat bog, it rocks your mouth like a sledgehammer.

 

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...
11 I put on a mask and purchased Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila
Okay, stupid name, itís Sammy Hagarís tequila and all, but itís the hot smoking nut of tequilas. What a shock to find out that Sammyís tequila was actually good!

 

On the Twelth Day of Christmas...
12 I finally sat down and relaxed with a Clear Creek Pear Brandy
I love pears, and this eau-de-vie is the very essence of them, in a quite literal way. Water-clear, solidly aromatic, and knife-to-the-tongue immediate, this spirit is pears, fresh pears caught in an icy grip of alcohol and kept for your enjoyment at any time. Simply delicious.

 

 
Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: December 23, 2004