December spirits

‘Tis the season indeed. December is a wonderful month to huddle up inside, and either dream of getting out and about in the great outdoors - whether a nice walk, bundled up with your favourite scarf and some new mitts, a skate around a neighbourhood rink – perhaps some shinny?  Or even hitting the slopes or snowshoeing in the mountains. Maybe instead you’d rather sit by the window or by the fire and pretend that summer is only weeks away. However you plan on spending your December, we have some good ideas of what to put in your glass or “adult-up” your eggnog. 


Gray Jay Deluxe Canadian Whisky, Ontario

Mmm… this is one smooth whisky! It’s from a craft distillery in Niagara Falls, where they call it ‘approachable’, but we’d call it ‘fast disappearing’ – it’s so easy to drink! We suspect it will be appreciated by enthusiasts and aficionados alike, with its vanilla and butterscotch candy profile, and silky mouth feel. We might add a touch of ginger ale/beer to spice it up, but it’s a great sipper, and easily versatile enough for the base of your favourite whisky cocktail.


CSPC +837346 $35-40

Distillery 291 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Colorado, United States

An exceedingly classic, barrel strength bourbon, but with some remarkable, unique qualities, including that these are spirits from Colorado, where clean, mountain water, high altitudes, and small batches are part of the charm (sound familiar?). Clean cereal flavours, a bit of toffee, and a lingering finish round out an excellent bourbon experience that is off the beaten path.


CSPC +855235 $125-135


Brecon Chocolate Orange Gin, UK

This might not be for everyone, but if you like to wake up on Christmas Day and dive straight into your stocking hoping to find a chocolate orange - and find a bottle of Brecon Chocolate Orange Gin instead - then you’re in luck! It’s all there without being overbearing, there’s a distinct cocoa flavour and bittersweet oranges, but on the palate it’s rather creamy and smooth. The bottle suggests mixing with tonic, but I’d just sip it neat and smile!


CSPC +842308 $49-52

Distillery 291 Colorado Bourbon Barrel Proof
Colorado, United States

Right up around 128 proof (62.5 percent ABV), this might be best with a few drops of water here and there. A rye whiskey with all the spice we love in them, but also some unique barrel characters including some finishing in charred Aspen staves. It’s a little too hot – certainly for enjoying neat, but a little chilled water eases the heat and lets the spice and honey/cereal flavours come out.


CSPC +855236 About $135-145 


Burwood Winter Gins

Following the success of their small batch summer gins, those clever folk at Burwood have brought out a trio of winter gins. Our fave is the Spiced Apple Gin, it reminds us of cupping our hands round mugs of hot, spiced cider at Christmas markets, with tempting baking spice aromas of cinnamon and clove, and old-fashioned apple pie. In the bottle it’s blue, but watch what happens when you add a splash of tonic – or even better, add prosecco!


CSPC + 859821 $50-56

Burwood Bee Whisperer 
Alberta Prairie Whisky 

I love hot toddies at this time of year, and Burwood’s second edition of their Grains Of Truth Series, The Bee Whisperer, has the same effect – a beautifully warming combination of whisky and honey that is so perfect for these chilly evenings when it’s lightly snowing outside. The first edition, The Scientist, sold our pretty quickly, and with a limited run of 2,500 bottles, you might not want to wait too long to stake your claim to one of the Bee Whisperers!


CSPC + $70-75


Disaronno Velvet Cream Liqueur  Italy

Can there be anybody that doesn’t love amaretto? So how to kick it up a notch? Make it an amaretto cream. And boy, is it delicious! In the recognizable square bottle with the flat, square cap – but in white - this is just as good as you’d hoped for – maybe a little lighter than you might expect, (which is a good thing in cream liqueurs), but with all that lip-smacking almond flavour. Add a dash of this to your pancake batter and watch their faces!


CSPC + 832276 $34-38

Wayne Gretzky No 99
Maple Canadian Cream Liquor

Ha! Just when we feature the Salted Caramel Cream in our Holiday Gift Guide, Wayne Gretzky Distillery has brought out another cream liquor – the Maple Canadian Cream, and it’s a stunner! It’s still got those delicious whisky-caramel notes, but with the burnt sugar flavour of maple… besides sipping over ice, I can think of many uses, from adding it to your crème brûlée and pouring over ice cream and pancakes – but do try it in an espresso…


CSPC + 852648 $34-39


Zuidam Velvet Dream Cream Liqueur  The Netherlands

What do you get when you blend Dutch dairy cream, rich chocolate, sweet caramel, and real vanilla with rye whisky? The stuff real whisky cream liqueur lovers dream about! And it’s all here in this bottle from Zuidam Distillers. It’s easy to see why this took an award in this year’s Alberta Beverage Awards: it’s classy and sensuous, rich and unctuous, sweet and chocolatey – and you’ll want it in your coffee any time of day!


CSPC +845670 $54-58

Tia Maria Matcha

We’ve always associated Tia Maria with coffee, so it’s fascinating that it’s now associated with tea – Japanese matcha to be precise! Add some alcohol and Dutch cream, and a little sugar (though it’s not sweet), and you’ve got a most unusual – yet most delicious - smooth and delicate, elegant, pearlescent, sage green cream liqueur. Try rimming your glass with a little sweetened matcha to complete the drink! 


CSPC + 845919 $32-36