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  1. Holiday Gift Guide
December 1, 2023

Wine & Spirits

These are the bottles we’d love to open with friends, family and, of course, one’s self.

By Alex Martin

Throughout the last year, we have been sampling the biggest and best releases from the world of fine wine and rare spirits. In our list of wine and spirits gifts 2023, we have accumulated the greatest hits, the best of the best, some so good you won’t really want to give them away.

The holiday season is the prime time to pop that bottle of champagne that’s been staring at you from the cellar all year. With the incoming colder days and longer nights, a warming Scotch whisky is also made to seem all that more appealing.

These are the bottles we’d love to open with friends, family and, of course, one’s self this holiday season.

[Visit the Elite Traveler Holiday Gift Guide here]

The very best wine and spirit gifts

Dom Pérignon Rose Vintage 2009

Dom Pérignon Rose Vintage 2009 / ©Harold De Puymorin

Let’s start with the obvious. A bottle of pink rose is an absolute must on Christmas Day – the perfect accompaniment to those wild salmon bellinis. This rose is great with shellfish (Scottish langoustines in particular) as it brings out the acidity behind an otherwise fruity palate. For Dom Pérignon, the 2009 vintage is the plucky comeback kid. The year looked like a complete washout for the vintage-only brand. Then, a perfect August pulled it back, resulting in a bumper harvest of high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

$465, domperignon.com

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2014

Belle Epoque bottle, complete with white Japanese anemone / ©Perrier-Jouet

The Belle Epoque bottle, complete with white Japanese anemone, was first released in 1969. Its elegant design, created by Art Nouveau master Emile Gallé in 1902, makes it a wonderful bottle for gifting or marking a special occasion. Ever since its first release, the vintage brut champagne has been synonymous with the art of blending. This year’s creation offers a delightfully creamy texture and notes of ripe pear and rhubarb.

$220, perrier-jouet.com

Armand de Brignac La Collection

La Collection bottles
Armand de Brignac’s La Collection / ©Armand de Brignac

This six-bottle set, complete in a lacquered box, is the epitome of hedonism. Jay-Z’s famous champagne brand continues to set the benchmark when it comes to exclusivity, and this new edition of La Collection has taken it up a notch. This new collection includes the ultra-rare Blanc de Noirs Assemblage No 4, which is limited to 7,328 bottles globally. This 100% pinot noir champagne includes grapes from the 2013, 2014, and 2015 vintages. The bottle is also available in a two-bottle set alongside the brand’s signature brut gold ($1,681) and will be available on an individual basis from early next year.

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$6,550, armanddebrignac.com

Symington Family Estates, Matriarca membership (UK only)

Wine box with a key
The Matriarca membership comes with a biannual case of wine / ©Symington

When it comes to Portuguese wines, Symington Family Estates knows what it is talking about. The premium wine producer is a five-generation family company renowned for producing some of the finest wine and port in the Iberian peninsula. The new Matriarca membership program offers an insight into the company’s expertise. The membership is limited to just 100 founding members, each of whom will receive a curated biannual case of six different premium Portuguese wines and ports to a UK address. Members will also receive access to a private online store, an invitation to exclusive events across the year as well as to one of the family vineyards.

£750 ($950), matriarca-club.co.uk

Penfolds Grange 2019

Penfolds Grange bottle
Penfolds Grange is the ultimate red wine / ©Penfolds

The mavericks of fine wine were back earlier this year with a debut Chinese wine. The Australian brand has already branched out to California and Bordeaux, however, while the Grange continues to be the pinnacle of the luxury side of the brand. This wine is made up of 97% shiraz and 3% cabernet sauvignon and was aged in American oak barrels for 19 months. Penfolds claims this won’t reach peak drinking until 2029, so this is one to put in the cellar. Want one that’s drinking well now? Get yourself a bottle of the 100-point 2008 vintage.

$850, penfolds.com

Cloudy Bay x LAFCO, Gift Set

©Cloudy Bay

Cloudy Bay is renowned for putting New Zealand wine on the map. Today, it remains one of the most popular sauvignon blancs in the US. Anchored by its uncompromising values on quality and tradition, Cloudy Bay proudly produces a wine that is distinctly Kiwi. Alongside a bottle of signature sauvignon blanc, this gift set includes a luxurious LAFCO candle designed in conjunction with Cloudy Bay. The candle’s fragrance is inspired by New Zealand’s beautiful vineyards, including essential oils that mix the earthiness of the soil, the sweetness of the grapes, and the saltiness of the sea breeze. Enjoyed together, they succeed in transporting you to the southern hemisphere.

$99, reservebar.com

Buffalo Trace Antiques Collection 2023

Buffalo Trace bottles
The Buffalo Trace Antiques Collection / ©Buffalo Trace

We’ll have to get one thing straight: you will do very well to get one of these bottles at their official price of $125. The five-bottle collection from Buffalo Trace is absurdly sought after and sells for well over the distillery price. A full collection would likely set you back around $10,000, 16 times its SRP. You’ll have to get your whiskey hunter hat on for this, but finding even one of these bottles would be a dream for connoisseurs. The collection includes expressions from George T. Stagg, Sazerac Rye, Thomas H Handy and William Larue Weller. Our pick of the collection, however, is the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old bourbon, which marks the oldest release of the spirit in the collection’s 23-year history. With notes of dark chocolate and maraschino cherries as well as that cigar box finish, you can expect to pay upwards of $2,000 on auction sites for this remarkable liquid.

$625 (circa $10,000 at auction), buffalotracedistillery.com

BlockBar, 12 Days of Macbeth

Blckbar’s 12 Days of Macbeth / ©Livingstone and Elixir Distillers

Mixing the old with the new, this eclectic collection of 12 single malt Scotch whiskies, each inspired by a character from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is available to purchase via blockchain specialists BlockBar. The online platform is revolutionizing the way we collect wine and whisky by storing them safely in a state-of-the-art vault in Singapore. When you buy a bottle, you get an NFT that can be cashed in for the physical product whenever you like. The collection, which was originally launched by Livingstone and Elixir Distillers earlier this year, features 12 whiskies chosen for their similarities to certain characters in Macbeth. The illustrations on the labels have been drawn by fabled artist Quinton Blake, making this the perfect gift for lovers of whisky, literature and, of course, blockchain technology.

Available from November 23 on blockbar.com

The Dalmore The Vintages Collection 2023

dalmore 2023 vintage collection
The 2005 vintage matured in ex-bourbon casks / ©Dalmore

Made up of two limited-edition releases – The Dalmore Select Edition 2005 and The Dalmore Select Edition 2008 – the new Dalmore Vintages 2023 collection stands as one of the finest expressions of the Scotch whisky brand’s character. Marking the third edition of the prestigious collection series, both casks were hand-selected by master whisky maker Gregg Glass and master distiller during a time-honored cask selection week. The timing for selection is crucial – November is the golden month when the casks have benefitted from the warmth of warmer months (consider ‘warm’ with a pinch of salt – this is still Scotland we’re talking about), allowing their true flavors to come to light. Only the finest casks are selected; the 2005 vintage matured in ex-bourbon casks and is rich with dark chocolate and hints of citrus, while the 2008 is a touch lighter with whispers of peppery spice.

The Dalmore Selection Edition 2008 $225, The Dalmore Select Edition 2005 $490, thedalmore.com

House of Hazelwood The Accelerator & The Brake

Whisky bottle
The Accelerator & The Brake Scotch whisky / ©House of Hazelwood

Made in partnership with whisky expert Dave Broom, this blended Scotch champions the qualities of the lesser-appreciated grain whiskies. With the market dominated by single malts, highly-aged grain whiskies offer huge bang for your buck. House of Hazelwood takes its stocks from the private collection of the Gordon family – owners of William Grant & Sons – and this release has been made with the visionary brothers Charles and Sandy in mind. Traditionally, blended whisky contains majority malt whisky and a bit of grain. For this blend, Broom inverted the ratios to gain more tropical fruits, toffee and a decadent texture. It is a beautiful whisky, perfectly balanced and, considering the work and expertise that has gone into it, is extremely well priced. The perfect gift for a true connoisseur.

£1,700 (approx $2,100), houseofhazelwood.com

Louis XIII, The Drop

The Drop by Louis XIII / ©Louis XIII

A bottle of Louis XIII is an extravagent gift by anyone’s measure. If you’re not prepared to spend around $4,500 on one of the crystal decanters, then opt for a collection of The Drop – a miniature version of its signature blend. The scaled-down bottles will be filled with 1cl of the precious liquid and are available in a set of five. Each ‘Drop’ sits within a tiny decanter, topped with a colorful cap available in red, vine green, gold, clay and sand. Best of all, the tiny decanter makes it easy to take the precious liquor with you on your travels, whether you’re heading to a friend’s house for a nightcap or hopping on a plane for a weekend away.

$865, us.louisxiii-cognac.com

The Singleton 40 Year Old

The Singleton whisky bottle
The Singleton 40 Year Old is the third and final whisky in the Epicurean Odyssey Series / ©The Singleton

The Singleton of Glen Ord brought an end to its flavor-focused Epicurean Odyssey Series earlier this year with the 40 Year Old, the third and final inductee into the series. The Epicurean Odyssey Series has pushed the boundaries of secondary maturation, with each whisky release spending an inordinate amount of time in secondary casks. This whisky spent an initial 12 years maturing in ex-bourbon casks; the liquid was then placed in a combination of ex-rum, ex-bourbon, and seasoned Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry casks for almost three decades. The result? A taste explosion.

$3,755, malts.com

The Macallan Colour Collection, 30 Year Old

The Macallan Colour Collection
The Macallan Colour Collection comprises five scotch whiskies ranging in age from 12 to 30 years / ©The Macallan

Released earlier this year, this new collection is designed to illuminate the wonders of The Macallan’s 100% natural color whisky. With a new logo design, this travel retail exclusive collection stands apart from the standard core collection with a refreshingly simplified label. Should you be traveling during the holidays, be sure to pick up a bottle from The Macallan Boutique. There are several age statements to choose from and the 15 Year Old in particular is a lovely example of The Macallan’s sherried style. However, if you want to impress with your choice of spirit gift, the 30 Year Old, which comes in a wooden presentation box, is a sure pick.

$4,445, themacallan.com

GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 12

GlenDronach Grandeur whisky
The GlenDronach Grandeur / ©GlenDronach

The GlenDronach is renowned for producing heavily sherried Scotch whiskies, and the Grandeur is the epitome of its signature style. Created with a selection of its best Olorosso sherry casks, this whisky carries all the hallmarks of master blender Rachel Barrie. The Batch 12 29 Year Old is perfect for those who love their whisky to be dark in color and rich in flavor. Expect notes of coffee beans, dark chocolate and stewed plums. And as an added bonus, the Grandeur also comes in one of our favorite decanter designs. It’s a beautiful addition to any drinks cabinet.

$830, glendronachdistillery.com

Littlemill Vanguards Collection Chapter 1

The Littlemill Vanguards Collection Chapter 1 / ©Littlemill

When it comes to ghost distilleries, Littlemill is about as spectral as they come. The distillery was dismantled in 1997 and the remnants were destroyed in a fire in 2004. The few casks that remain are the only tangible evidence of its existence. No wonder then that this 45 Year Old is limited to just 250 decanters. This new four-part collection aims to celebrate the vanguards of their time with Chapter 1 dedicated to Robert Muir. Muir should be held in high regard by all who like Scotch as he obtained the first legal right to distill whisky in 1772. The whisky, aged in ex-bourbon casks for 40 years, is a lovely example of Lowland character – sweet and floral – with added spice infused by a final five years in Oloroso sherry casks.

£12,500 (approx $15,000), littlemilldistillery.com

Glen Scotia 48 Year Old

Glen Scotia 48 whisky
The Glen Scotia 48 Year Old / ©Glen Scotia

We have had a close eye on Glen Scotia for a number of years as it has been widely tipped to join the likes of Bowmore, The Macallan and Springbank in collectors’ eyes. The Campbeltown distillery has been producing some great whisky recently, including its 25 Year Old, which won best in show at the World’s Spirits Competition in 2021. This 48 Year Old is a step towards the fine and rare market. Following on from last year’s 47 Year Old, this premium whisky is one of the oldest ever released by the distillery. The whisky spent 43 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being moved to Oloroso sherry casks for five. It was then given a final six months in PX sherry casks, injecting a final level of complexity. Expect plenty of citrus, dried fruits and wood spice.

£11,000 ($13,500), glenscotia.com

The Macklowe Black Edition: Private Collection

Macklowe whisky
The Macklowe is the first American single malt whiskey / ©The Macklowe

American single malt whiskey is a growing market and The Macklowe is the pioneer. As the first official American single malt, The Macklowe has been earmarked as a future collectible as the movement gains momentum. We recommend the Black Edition: Private Collection, a 9 Year Old whiskey from a single American oak cask. The whiskey won the double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a superb feat for such a young brand. Expect plenty of bite from this whiskey – it’s oily, spicy and full of zesty lemon.

$1,500, themacklowe.com

Halcyon Spirits Auchentoshan 32 Year Old

Whisky on rocks
Halcyon Spirits released it’s second whisky, a 32 Year Old from Auchentoshan / ©Halcyon Spirits

Halcyon Spirits, a new independent bottler, made a splash earlier in 2023 with a wonderful 30 Year Old single cask from The Macallan, sold at a fraction of the price had it come from the distillery. Its second release, while not as reputable, was just as delicious. Limited to just 140 bottles, this single cask Scotch is genuinely rare. It doesn’t hold much weight in terms of collectibility, but that’s very much a good thing when the liquid inside is as good as this. Best of all, Halcyon Spirits plant 10 trees for every bottle sold, so you’re putting something back into the planet with every sip. Cheers to that.

£550 ($700), halcyonspirits.com

Courvoisier Mizunara 2023 Release

Cognac on a cask
The Courvoisier Mizunara 2023 is the second release in the series / ©Courvoisier

Innovation is not a word that comes to mind when talking about the Cognac industry, but Courvoisier is one brand attempting to freshen up a staunchly traditional product. The Mizunara edition was first released in 2022 to much acclaim, so much so that the brand came back with a second release earlier this year. Limited to 500 bottles, this special cognac was aged in a traditional French oak cask for 10 years before spending several years in a hyper-rare virgin Mizunara oak cask. Mizunara oak casks are highly prized due to its ability to impart a distinctive spicy flavor profile. The mizunara tree, otherwise known as Japanese oak, grows very slowly and has a tendency to twist, so just a few are produced every year. All that adds up to a lot of work. And the result is a cognac with a style unlike anything to come out of the region before.

$2,500, courvoisier.com

Tequila Komos XO

Komos XO is a tequila inspired by cognac / ©Komos

From a premium cognac to a premium tequila aged like cognac, this new highly-aged tequila from Komos was aged for 10 years – an exceptional amount of time for the spirit. The name is taken from the cognac industry, which designates liquids aged for 10 years as XO. The tequila spent eight years in American ex-bourbon barrels before being split between red and white wine casks and sherry casks for two years. The result is a tequila like nothing you’ve tried before. Expect super sweet notes from those wine casks as well as plenty of oak influence. However, that original agave profile remains strong, suggesting tequila can handle much longer in the cask than is traditionally afforded.

$2,000, komos.com

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