Is your father or your best friend a big fan of spirits? Christmastime is fast-approaching, and maybe you’re trying to think of present ideas? Well, no need to panic, iDealwine is the site for you, with a selection of the most precious and varied bottles at fixed prices. As you know, in 2020 we created Fine Spirits Auction in partnership with La Maison du Whisky, and since then we’ve expanded our expertise and are now proud to offer you top spirits at fixed prices. Let’s take a look at the fine spirits that you could gift to someone or savour yourself at this warm, family-friendly time of year.
But first of all, make sure you don’t forget the most important thing about receiving your bottles in time for Christmas. You can see all the deadlines in our dedicated article.
A true nectar for connoisseurs, this grain alcohol is the result of fermenting cereals such as barley, wheat, rye and maize before being distilled to increase the concentration of flavours and alcohol, and aged for a minimum of three years.
Originally produced in Scotland and Ireland, it has now produced much further afield in places such as the US and Asia (Japan and Taiwan).
Here are some bottles that you won’t want to miss:
Masataka Taketsuru, founder of Nikka, is considered to be the father of Japanese whisky. After training as a chemist, he was taken on by Settsu Shuzo, who sent him to Scotland in 1918 to complete his apprenticeship. It was here that he became passionate about whisky and decided to dedicate his life to it. In 1934, he build his first distillery, Yoichi, which was located on Hokkaido island. Thanks to its growing success he was able to open a second distillery in 1969 close to Sendai called Miyagikyo. It is from the single malts of these two distilleries that the Nikka Whisky group now produces its entire range of Japanese whiskies.
- Nikka From The Barrel (50cl): €45
- Yoichi of Single Malt (70cl): €75
- Miyagikyo of Single Malt (70cl): €75
- Nikka the Tailored Blend (70cl): €109
The Dalmore is a leading name in the single malt world, having built its historic reputation on fine, complex nectars which are matured in hand-picked casks. To taste it is to indulge in a unique moment of privilege. The brand breezed into the world of collectible whiskies in 2014 when master blender Richard Paterson, introduced The Constellation range.
- Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve (70cl): €135
- Dalmore 18 Year Old Edition 2023 (70cl): €290
- Dalmore 25 Year Old: €2,000 (This is the last one! The others became victims of their own success)
Macallan is to a Scottish single malt what Petrus is to French Grand Cru: a monument. In its two hundred year history, The Macallan has established itself as one of Scotland’s greatest distilleries, thanks to an absolute quest for quality that leaves nothing to chance.
- The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old (70 cl): €89
- The Macallan 15 Year Old Double Cask (70 cl): €140
- The Macallan 25 Year Old Sherry Oak Cask (70cl): €2,400
France is certainly not lacking in this either and has found its fair share of aficionados with the likes of Michel Couvreur and Roborel de Climens.
Continue reading: How Is Whisky Made?
Rum is made from the juice of molasses or sugar cane and these are then fermented before being distilled in an iron or column still. White rums tend not to be aged, and if they are it’s only slightly, and in oak casks, whereas dark rums can be left to age for a long time in used bourbon casks.
Here are some examples to try on iDealwine.
Experience the Plantation range from master blender Alexandre Gabriel. Rum selection, blending, double ageing and true craftsmanship are all key to the success of this brand. According to him, “The most important element of a great rum is the sharing of strong emotions through perfect execution. And for that reason, in some ways, we are the craftsmen of rum.”
- Gran Anejo: €34
- Xaymaca Special Dry: €34
- XO 20th Anniversary: €59
- Trinidad 2009 Double Aged 12 years: €68
- Venezuela 2010: €72.90
- Guyana 2007: €85
- Fidji 2004: €86
- Long Pond STCE Antipodes 1995: €315
It was in 2017, when the Italian family business Velier and the French family business LMDW began distributing their first old rums, that Hampden took off and became one of today’s greatest rums.
- Hampden 8 Year Old Velier (70 cl): €59.90
- Hampden HLCF Classic Giftset with 2 rocks glasses (70 cl): €94
- Double magnum of Hampden 4 Year Old 2018 LROK The Younger: €279
“The House Above the Clouds” is where this iconic rum is patiently aged. It is more than a poetic formula, it’s a true one: it is in fact on the Guatemalan summits that Zacapa rum is aged to deliver flawless purity and complexity. Behind this masterful work is Lorena Vasquez, one of the few female cellar masters in the spirits world. She is dedicated to creating ever more audacious and subtle nectars.
- Zacapa Solera 23 Year Old (70cl): €55
- Zacapa XO Box (70cl): €98
- Zacapa Royal (70cl): €240
“Would you like a Mirabelle plum?” Who among you has never heard this phrase before, that is used to conclude a hearty meal and refers to a brandy taken from your host’s sideboard? This is because brandy is the result of distilling fruit that has already been fermented and macerated. France and regions like Alsace have made it their standard-bearer.
In fact, we can’t recommend the pear brandy from the Burgundy Roulot estate highly enough. Jean-Marc Roulot’s grandfather was a “bouilleur de cru” (heritage distiller) and would tour the villages to produce different nectars after the harvest. A tradition perpetuated with its famous apricots, pears and raspberries, which are so popular with iDealwine.
Considered to be the oldest brandies in France, Armagnac owes its name to the region from which it comes, and is slowly rising from its ashes. The pride of the South-West, it is produced in the Landes, Lot-et-Garonne and Gers regions from a wide variety of different grapes, including the Folle Blanche, Baco, Ugni Blanc and Colombard. Made to be kept indefinitely, it always satisfies connoisseurs looking for an anniversary vintage.
But what is the difference between Haut-Armagnac and Bas-Armagnac? Haut-Armagnac is distinguished by its slight altitude and clay-limestone hills. The vines fell victim to phylloxera at the end of the 19th century and so, vines are planted less here and production is rarer. In contrast, Bas-Armagnac is essentially made up of tawny sands that retain the rainfall which nourishes the vines, and is where the vines are most abundant.
One thing is certain, the aromatic power, flavour and persistence of these nectars will charm you. You’ll experience notes of cooked prune, dried fruit and smokey notes in the work of the Jaurrey, Boingnières and Paguy estates.
Can’t spend an evening with friends without bringing along a cider or a perry? Then why not treat yourself to a Calvados, a cider and perry brandy. An ancestral beverage that has been matured in oak barrels for at least two or three years. As with whisky, there are age classifications which vary depending on to the youngest brandy used in the blend.
- VS for Very Special: the youngest brandy used in the calvados must be at least 2 years old.
- Vieux, Réserve: the youngest brandy in the calvados must be at least 3 years old.
- VSOP for Very Superior Old Pale: the youngest brandy used in the calvados must be at least 4 years old.
- XO for Extra Old: the youngest brandy in the calvados must be at least 6 years old.
Enthusiasts at iDealwine will be amazed to discover the work of Normandy distiller Christian Drouin. Its Calvados Pays d’Auge 1989 was aged in oak barrels that had previously been used to produce sherry, a fortified wine made in Andalusia.
Chartreuse always fascinates with its mysterious aura, turbulent history and unusual colour. The secret of its production at the Aiguenoire distillery in Isère is jealously guarded by the Carthusian monks, who blend around a hundred different plants here.
Continue reading: Chartreuse – The Queen of Liquors
Do you like wine and want to discover the world of spirits? Then cognac is a great place to start as, like wine, it is also made from white grapes. The wine is distilled twice in a special still (an iron still) and the brandy extracted is then matured for a long time in oak barrels. Three categories of cognac have been created according to the age of the youngest brandy in the blend:
- VS for Very Special: the youngest brandy in the blend must be at least 2 years old.
- VSOP for Very Superior Old Pale: the youngest brandy used in the cognac must be at least 4 years old.
- XO for Extra Old: the youngest brandy in the cognac must be at least 10 years old.
On iDealwine, you’ll find a multitude of bottles in a variety of shapes, as well as distilleries each more prestigious than the last. Delamain and Vallein Tercinier are just two examples of this.
Aaahh, gin! Although the production of this drink made from juniper berries is thought to be centuries old, it was actually during the interwar years that it had its heyday, in the form of a cocktail, and it has only recently resurfaced. Today, enthusiasts are beginning to make ever more complex, haute-couture beverages from plants that are more or less rare and carefully cultivated.
In France, enthusiasts can try gin from the Christian Drouin distillery, which, proud of its Norman origins, flavours its drinks with cider brandy created from over thirty different varieties of apple macerated in a host of herbs such as juniper berries, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom.