6 gifts for the drinker on your holiday list

From spirits to sparkling wine, there's something for everyone who likes to imbibe

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      Chocolates are great for the food lover on your list, but what about those who appreciate fine spirits and wine?

      Here are a few liquid luxuries that would make a special someone’s holidays especially merry.

      Odd Society Spirits’ Salal Gin

      For the last few years, East Van’s Odd Society Spirits has been putting a West Coast spin on traditional sloe gin by infusing its small-batch Wallflower Gin with salal berries, which grow in abundance in B.C. What makes the 2019 batch unique is that more than 90 percent of the berries were hand-picked in Haida Gwaii.

      There, the ancestral territory of the Haida Nation, Marylynn Hunt runs St. Mary Springs Estate Farm on Graham Island. Odd Society Spirits co-owner Gord Glanz connected with her for the distiller’s biggest batch of Salal Gin to date.

      Resembling a cross between a blackcurrant and a blueberry, savoury, deep-purple salal berries are a bit tart and herbaceous in flavour.  With their tannic properties, they make a solid stand-in for blackthorn berries that are typically used to make British sloe gin, Glanz says.

      More info on Odd Society Spirits Salal Gin, $30 for 375 mL, can be found here.

      Sheringham Distillery/Instagram.

      Sheringham Distillery's tripack of premium gin

      Sooke, BC-based Sheringham Distillery has brought back a holiday trio for locally minded gin lovers. 

      It contains three 100-mL bottles of distinct, premium gins. 

      Rhubarb Gin is a blend of Sheringham’s new London Dry Gin with hand-picked rhubarb. Fresh, tart, and a teeny bit sweet, the gin can be sipped solo or mixed with ice and soda. Currently available only in this holiday pack, it will see a full release in 2020. 

      With hints of lavender, rose petal, and orange peel Seaside Gin won the title of World’s Best Contemporary Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards in London. Kazuki Gin, meanwhile, is an East meets West spirit, mixing dried cherry-blossom petals and yuzu peel from Japan with flowers and green tea leaves from Vancouver Island. 

      The box is $35; more details are here

      Mad Laboratory Distillery/Instagram.

      Mad Laboratory Distilling’s Kombucha Cordial

      Madlab has been crafting spirits from its direct-fire pot still since late 2015. Since then its products have become available in more than 100 locations throughout B.C. (including Everything Wine River District, Broadway Liquor Store, Burrard Liquor Store, and Dollarton Liquor Store.) The local outfit has also earned several awards, including gold for its vodka and Gin6, silver for Mad Dog Single Malt, and bronze for Viking Vodka in the Canadian Artisan Craft Spirits Competition.

      Kombucha Cordial is a collab with North Vancouver’s Kombucha Baby. Made with Madlab’s premium vodka and ever so slightly sweet and astringent, it’s made for sipping as an aperitif or as an intriguing cocktail ingredient. Blueberry is described as fruity, soft, and light. Reminiscent of sherry or sweet vermouth only much lighter, it can be used to make blue Negronis or Manhattans. Cranberry-Orange is crisp and a tad more tart. Both can be simply topped with soda.

      Prices vary depending on the store, but Madlab retails a 375-mL bottle for $17.30 plus tax. Info on where to find Madlab’s Kombucha Cordial is here.


      Bearface Limited Edition One Eleven Series Oaxaca Release

      Based in Kelowna, Bearface Canadian Whisky has introduced a first worldwide: a whisky blended with pit-roasted agave espadín spirit from Oaxaca, Mexico—which is the same agave spirit that’s used to produce mezcal.

      Having racked up nine national and international awards for its 7-year Triple Oak Whisky since the company launched in 2018 (Including Best New Whisky at the 2019 Canadian Whisky Awards) Bearface devised the new spirit by taking advantage of the little-known “One Eleven” rule in Canadian whisky. It allows distillers to blend 10 parts whisky with one part of another spirit, wine, or sherry. The reg allows producers to refine the taste of younger whiskies by mixing them with flavours like apple, cinnamon, or vanilla.

      Bearface’s master blender Andres Faustinelli teamed up with “maestro mezcalero” Pedro Hernández, whose family has been producing mezcal in Oaxaca for more two centuries.

      The single-grain 42.5% One Eleven Series Oaxaca Release is first aged in seasoned virgin French Oak then blended with the artisan agave spirit. The final product is earthy, smoky, and rich.

      More info about Bearface’s latest whisky, $49.99 for 750 mL, is here.

      Volcan De Mi Tierra.

      Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco tequila

      Relatively new to BC liquor store shelves, the spirit (which was first produced in 2017) is made with blue agaves that grow in the shadow of a volcano in Mexico’s Jalisco region that erupted 200,000 years ago. Volcanic ash made the soil especially rich in basalt and iron, making for unique terroir.

      With each plant taking 3,250 days to ripen before being harvested, maestra de tequila Ana Maria Romero Mena blends agaves from the lowlands (with herbal, citrus, and spice notes) and the highlands (cherry, peach, and pear). Her distilling process combines the use of a traditional oven with slow fermentation in wood tanks.

      Volcán can be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail and retails for $71.99. More info is here.

      Veuve Clicquot.

      Veuve Clicquot Colouring Pack

      The holidays just aren’t complete without bubbles. Veuve means widow, and the Champagne takes its name from a 27-year-old woman who took over the family business in 1772 after the death of her husband, François, seven years after they wed.

      With adult colouring books continuing to be all the rage, those who enjoy the finer things in life can now sip the slightly sweet, refreshing bubbly while colouring the poster that comes with a bottle of Brut or Rose. It includes references to Reims (in the heart of the Champagne region), picnics in the French countryside, Pinot Noir (which, the makers maintain, adds structure to its wines), and Madame Clicquot herself.

      More information on the Veuve Clicquot Colouring Pack is here.