By Michael McCarthy By Michael McCarthy | December 1, 2022 | Food & Drink
Break out the holiday gift list—these exceptional bottles will immediately impress.
There are bottles that will be regifted like a battered fruit cake during the holidays, and then there are these: wine and spirits that deliver the proverbial goods. So, whether it’s a holiday housewarming, a gesture of gratitude or a toast to the New Year, the sips below will be remembered throughout the season.
2020 Cabernet Sauvignon
Legendary winemaker Sam Kaplan created an unconventional blend from some of Napa’s most storied vineyards (Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras and Vine Hill Ranch), and the result is a balanced sip that has been aged 22 months in 100% new French oak. Expect the flagship wine (dark fruit, rocky mineral, black currant, finely grained tannins) to age well, but it’s the holidays: Indulge now.
They had me at the cobalt blue bottle. It’s a decanter festooned with feathered motifs—25 painted in platinum to celebrate 25 years of tequila-making—complete with dandelion seeds symbolizing Clase Azul’s globe-trotting popularity. A mere 9,125 decanters were recently released worldwide. Inside each bottle, fans of the brand will find master distiller Viridiana Tinoco’s reimagined 100% blue weber agave reposado.
The Sonoma winery, which celebrated 50 years in 2022, continues a tradition of producing exceptional cabernets and chardonnays. Laudable vintages here always include aromas of Fuji apple layered with lemon, Asian pear and persimmon, and this one hits all of the high notes with fine acidity anchored by French oak.
1989 Fine & Rare
This rare whisky, presented at natural cask strength and filled on Dec. 12, 1989, is a showstopper. Each bottle features the cask number, year of distillation and year of bottling. Handwritten labels also reveal the age, strength and volume—keeping with the tradition that began when the collection was born. Aficionados will immediately notice the single malt’s balance and depth of character.
Limited-Edition Advent Calendar
A sippable calendar? We’re on board. The mezcal brand recently introduced its calendar collection, which includes 24 200 milliliter versions of the label’s ceramic bottles with a mix of current and debut mezcal expressions, two proprietary copitas (traditional mezcal drinking vessels) and ceremonial tea lights.
Limited-Edition Cowboy Bourbon
The first legal whiskey distillery in Texas keeps producing the hits, including 8,600 bottles of this rare bourbon. Master distiller Donnis Todd used 25-gallon barrels to produce a 134.8-proof spirit, with memorable tasting notes like spring jasmine, dark cacao chocolate, brown sugar and blackstrap molasses.
I visited this distillery this fall, and beyond touring the family-owned, 2,000-acre farm on the Northeast Scottish coast, I learned about the impressive spirits-making process here. The distillery produces carbon-positive bottles, including Nadar, which is crafted from peas. Planting this crop floods the soil with nitrogen, which the farm’s other crops use to thrive. Arbikie’s team even grows its own gin-flavoring botanicals: lily, coriander, licorice and angelica. The secret is getting out: Nadar was a hit at this year’s Met Gala.
Photography by: Photos courtesy of brands