Chances are that since you are a person of impeccable taste and curiosity that you have friends who share your passion for wine & spirits.
December has arrived and the clock is running. BevX has made it easy to make your holiday buying decisions today. Why procrastinate? Did you know that last-minute shoppers represented 36 percent of the overall total? There is no reason to wait until the final moments.
We have assembled a modest list of stellar wine & spirits ranging in price from $9.99 to $65 (and beyond). It will be hard to resist picking up a bottle or two for yourself so why try? End the year by being generous with yourself as well. Have a great holiday season.
Unique American Whiskies
Years ago in the heart of California wine country was born a vision to age and finish American Whiskey in seasoned wine barrels. Today that vision has become reality as John Wilkinson and renowned winemaker Bob Cabral (formerly of Williams Seylem) skillfully blend Whiskies created by small-batch American distilleries. In our view this group is crafting a new wave of American Whiskies in the same way that Compass Box revolutionized Blended Scotch Whiskies more than a decade ago. It’s all about the art of blending and the use of top grade French oak barrels that have been previously used to mature ultra-premium wines. The results are delicious, unique, and ground breaking.
Currently Splinter Group Spirits offers three Whiskies: Bourbon, Rye, and a nine year-old, corn-based American Whiskey. Additionally they have created a Sweet Vermouth because it’s happy hour someplace!
Van Gogh Vodka
Van Gogh is made in small batches at Distillery Cooymans International in Tilburg, Holland by third generation master distiller Tim Vos. Van Gogh offers 16 expressions, 15 flavors, and their flagship, unflavored triple wheat Van Gogh Vodka. The unique Van Gogh flavor expressions are considered by many in the industry to be among the very best flavored Vodkas.
We have been longtime fans of the Van Gogh Vodkas as their range of flavors cannot be beat. In the holiday season while entertaining and exchanging gifts a delicious and versatile Vodka is always in demand. We recommend the Van Gogh Vodka for its pure and clean flavors and the beautiful bottle doesn’t hurt.
Van Gogh Vodka — $24.99, See the Featured Review
Caorunn Small Batch Scottish Gin
Caorunn is crafted at Balmenach Distillery that traces its origins back to 1824, making it one of the older distillers in the Scottish Highlands. The name, Caoruun, is the Gaelic name for Rowan Berry, one of the botanicals utilized. The grain spirit base is triple-distilled. The pure spirit is vaporized and passed through a chamber in the still with four large trays containing the unique blend of botanicals. The well-defined flavors found in the Caorunn are clearly a result of their unique approach. The Caorunn brand was introduced in 2009 and has since earned a truck full of medals and critical acclaim.
Caorunn Small Batch Scottish Gin — $35, See the Featured Review
Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish Rum
In 1934, the Don Q brand is created. The name pays homage to fictional character Don Quixote. This is an old-school brand that is quietly leading the way in innovation in a number of areas from product development to their stellar environmental initiatives. Don Q has earned a loyal following of those seeking honest, quality Rums. The Don Q Vermouth Cask Rum is one of their latest inovations. It’s made with beautiful Don Q Rums aged five to eight years in seasoned American white oak casks are rested in Italian white oak casks that had previously aged sweet rosso Vermouth for four to six weeks. This brief cask finishing adds amazing flavors and aromatics that you simply will not encounter in any other spirit.
Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish Rum — $49.99, See the Featured Review
Handing the moniker of most beautiful distillery in Scotland to any one distillery will surely spark debate but there are many who would hand that title to Speyburn. Speyburn opened for business in 1897 producing just one butt of spirit on the last week of December. The goal had been to create a a Whisky in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The mission was accomplished in an unfinished distillery that was still in need of windows and doors. Like so many others, Speyburn was closed for a period during the Great Depression and in the Second World War the distillery was a base for two artillery units. In 1992 Speyburn was acquired by Inver House signaling the current era. Today Speyburn is renowned for creating delicate and floral malts that are the perfect aperitif.
Griffin’s Wharf 1773 Coffee Liqueur
After the rebels stormed Griffin’s Wharf in Boston in 1773 to take part in what we now call the Boston Tea Party, coffee became the drink of patriots. Griffin’s Wharf 1773 Coffee Liqueur takes its name from this historic place giving honor to the movement for liberty. This Coffee Liqueur is made with a blend of beans from Central and South America roasted at high temperatures in order to produce a full-bodied brew with smoky accents. We love the balance and complexity found in this tasty Coffee Liqueur with restrained sugar and bold coffee flavors.
Griffin’s Wharf 1773 Coffee Liqueur is extremely versatile with countless hot and cold cocktail options, as well as being a lovely when sipped neat. Try it in coffee by the fire for the perfect winter warm up.
Griffin’s Wharf 1773 Coffee Liqueur — $35, See the Featured Review
Troon Vineyard started quietly over four decades ago when Dick Troon planted vineyards in Southern Oregon. He converted his barn to a winery and slowly built the brand until he sold the winery to his friend Larry Martin in 2003. Today, Troon Vineyard is owned by Dr. Bryan White and Denise White. The Whites along with Craig Camp, general manager, and winemaker Steve Hall lead the innovative wine making efforts at Troon. Craig is a wine industry veteran with a sharp palate, encyclopedic knowledge of the wines of the world, and relentless energy. Troon offers a wonderfully diverse selection of varietal wines and blends ranging from Malbec to Tempranillo and Vermentino to name just a few.
If you would like to sample some cool and innovative wines in 2019 we recommend that you consider Membership in Troon’s wine club. It’s a great gift too.
Troon Vineyard Cuvée Pyrénées Applegate Valley 2016— $60, See the Featured Review
(Our Top Red Wine of the Year)
Troon Vineyard Cuvée Côt Malbec Applegate Valley 2016— $35, See the Featured Review
Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc Applegate Valley 2017— $25, See the Featured Review
Troon Vineyard “Orange” Vermentino Applegate Valley 2017 — $25, See the Featured Review
Tongue Dancer Wines
Tongue Dancer Wines is the latest project from James and Kerry MacPhail. If you are a California Pinot Noir lover you likely know James’ previous work with MacPhail Family Wines. In over two decades of work MacPhail built a well-deserved reputation as a Pinot Noir guru. Tongue Dancer Wines are Pinot Noir specialists but they do offer a unique Pinot Noir Rosé and I reliably hear that there is a Chardonnay on the way.
The wines are made in small quantities and best found at their website —https://tonguedancerwines.com.
For the holidays we recommend that you check out their large format (1.5 liter and 3 liter) bottles. These make a statement of good taste and holiday cheer!
Samson Estate Wines
Samson is a unique winery built on a generations old fruit farm in the Nooksack River Valley in the northernmost corner of Washington’s Puget Sound Appellation. In 2000 they began converting an old, dirt-floored dairy barn into a modern winery and tasting room at one of the family’s raspberry fields near Lynden, Washington. Canadian-born and UC Davis trained winemaker Ron Taylor worked to develop fruit wines that would surpass expectations. He succeeded. In June of 2002 Samson Estate, so named to honor their father Sam, opened their doors. Today Samson offers a selection of vinifera (vitis vinifera – the family of classic wine grapes) wines, as well as off-dry and sweet, fruit based wines.
You can find their wines at their website — http://www.samsonestates.com
Nia translates as intention or will in a number of languages. The intent of the creators of Nia was to create the best value Pinot Noir. The wines are crafted by Ed Killian, a veteran California winemaker with over 30 years of experience. Killian has been the lead winemaker at Chateau Souverain since 1995. Nia’s creator, Phil Laramore, had a line on some great Pinot Noir in Mendocino County just north of Ukiah. In addition to their tasty Pinot Noir, Nia offers a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. These wines are undisputed Best Buys. If you are entertaining a crowd this holiday season but these wines by the case and your guests will be delighted.
Nia Pinot Noir California 2016 — $9.99, See the Featured Review
Plow & Stars Chardonnay
This charming Napa Valley Chardonnay was bottled exclusively for Total Wine stores having been sourced from a Napa winery that is familiar to many of our readers. The fruit for this Chardonnay was harvested at night and in the morning in order to capture the coolest fruit. It was primarily fermented in stainless steel and then aged in French oak barrels (45% new) for a period of nine months. Ninety percent of the Chardonnay is sourced from the Napa Valley with 10% coming from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. This bold and complex Chardonnay is ready to drink.
Winemaker Jane Halahan Valentin, owner and winemaker at boutique Vellichor Wines, has crafted the Plow & Stars Chardonnay.
Plow & Stars Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley 2017 — $34.99, See the Featured Review