The Manual’s 2016 Holiday Spirit Guide

spirits gift guide

If whiskey isn’t your thing or the thing of the guy you’re buying for, never fear, you’re in the right place. Check out our non-whisk(e)y holiday spirit guide for everything you need that isn’t, well, whiskey. Like gin? We’ve got you. Rum? Don’t you worry. Vodka? Oh, we’re there for you, too.

Gin

Sipsmith Sloe Gin ($49.99)

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For the anglophile. The first London Dry Gin made in London in almost two hundred years, Sipsmith Gin is seen by many as the distillery that launched a distilling renaissance in London. For their Sloe Gin, they harvest Sloe Berries (otherwise known as blackthorn, a relative of the plum) and let them rest with the London Dry Gin. This produces a gin not only with a wonderful, fruity flavor, but a brilliant color as well.

Doc Porter’s Gin ($33)

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For the lover of all things local and craft. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina this craft distillery is poised to help make Charlotte not only a beer destination, but a spirits one as well. Utilizing local grains, this family-run distillery epitomizes the craft ethos. For their gin, big citrus notes combine with herbal notes like chamomile and cardamom to create a very vibrant, very drinkable gin.

Vodka

Backwards Distilling’s Ringleader Vodka ($35)

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For the man who always stands out. With some of the most visually-striking labels out there, Mills, Wyoming’s Backwards Distilling backs up the art with delicious-tasting spirits. Incredibly smooth with hints of butterscotch sweetness, this is a great vodka for mixing or sipping straight. You might not think “Wyoming” when you think vodka, by Backwards is does a damn good job of making you reconsider.

Elit by Stoli ($59)  

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For the man who always wanted to be James Bond. A premium sipping vodka, elit by Stoli is perfectly paired with some caviar or other savory foods. Pour a slightly chilled shot and get ready to toast to everything that is great in life. Medium-bodied, smooth and topped with great citrus notes, this is the complete opposite of the vodka you used in college that sat in your freezer for weeks at a time. For the holiday season,

Sugar Cane Spirits 

Havana Club Añejo Clásico ($21.99)

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For the rum historian. Mellowed in oak for between one and three years, Añejo Clásico is then blended and mellowed a second time, allowing the sweet flavors to work with the vanilla and oak notes of the barrels they’re stored in. Compound this with a rich history that starts during Cuba’s Golden Age, and this is a good all-around rum for any number of cocktails.

Novo Fogo Single Barrel 152 Cachaça ($49.99)

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For the man who didn’t get to go to Rio this summer. As with many bourbons who do the same, Novo Fogo has released a series of five different single barrel editions. Each one is limited to 53 gallons and a yield ranging from a little over 100 bottles to around 300 per barrel. For Barrel 152, only 204 bottles were produced. With notes of toasted coconut and black walnut, consider this Brazil distilled.

Facundo Eximo ($60)

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For the whiskey lover who wants something new. Aged 10-12 years, but blended before aging, Eximo is a mix of medium to heavy-bodied rums that stands as a testament to the expertise exercised by the company’s Master Blender. With walnut and vanilla notes, the nose and palate of Eximo will be very familiar to those that are used to drinking bourbon or other whiskies.

Agave Spirits

Tequila Cabeza ($37.99)

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For the home or professional bartender. Made “by bartenders for bartenders” Tequila Cabeza (as well as Ford’s Gin, Aylesbury Duck Vodka, and Cana Brava Rum) were all created by the 86 Co. with mixologists in mind. From taste to bottle design and beyond, every step of the process was worked on to ensure that not only could a bartender make a delicious drink, but it could be done expediently yet still with care. Made by the Vivanco family, who have been cultivating agave for five generations, Tequila Cabeza is full-bodied with notes of citrus and black pepper. 

Herradura Port Cask ($89.99)

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For the man who dreams of sweet and strong. The fifth in Herradura’s Reserva collection, this port cask-finished reposado tequila is aged for eleven months in medium char American oak barrels before being finished for two additional months in hand-selected casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal. The usual amber color is tinted oh-so-slightly by rose and copper from the finishing process, but the palate is where the port cask finish shines through—rich plum and syrupy port flavors blend well with that of the blue agave tequila.

El Silencio Espadin ($40)

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For both the mezcal novice and the expert. As we’ve written about before, think of mezcal as tequila’s smokier, older cousin. With El Silencio, you have a mezcal that’s Handcrafted by ninth generation master mezcalier Pedro Hernandez in San Baltazar Guelavila. You get the smoky notes, but also the citrusy notes that you might be more familiar with in tequilas.

Cognac

Remy Martin XO ($150)

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For the man who already knows how good Remy is and wants to show it off. For this holiday season, Remy Martin collaborated with the French kinetic artist Vincent Leroy to produce a visually-stunning collector’s box for their XO expression. Designed with the cascade of ripples of cognac in mind, the box is meant to bring to mind the cognac production process, as well as the myriad of eau-de-vie colors.