The same 40% rule applies for vodka and here it also pays to choose your brand carefully. After
all, great vodka isn't neutral, but a clean elegant sipping spirit. Of the most widely available
brands I like Finlandia's ft, clean, slightly citric drive, but have yet to be shaken
from my belief that the needle-sharp Wyborowa the best-priced high quality vodka on
That's not to say it's having things all its own way. A challenge is coming from
France and Belarus. France weighs in with the cult super-super-premium
Grey Goose's lush and silky with subtle hints of pear and white chocolate.
More obscure but equally impressive is the herbal, grainy Chadorev ich will be getting
a major listing very soon. Chill 'em all and sip.
Why do people forget about rum? It's a hugely versatile spirit that mellows you out in the summer
heat and warms you up better than a log fire in winter. Mark my words, next year we'll all go rum
mad. Set the trend with some of these top-end brands. It's hard to beat the gorgeous, elegant,
perfumed Barbadian Doorly's XO the bizarrely overlooked El Dorado
15-year-old om Guyana, a rich, slightly smoky rum. Both are a snip. Where
could you get a malt whisky or a Cognac of similar quality for under £20?
Pricier, but equally good are a typically weighty Jamaican example, Appleton 21-year-old all
dark toffee, raisin, spice and chocolate, while Bally's 1982 vintage is a classic example of the
more restrained style that comes from Martinique: rose petals, prune, nutmeg and good oaky tones. If
you are looking for top-class rum cocktails treat yourself to the lush, coffee and banana flavours
of Havana Club añejo.
Malt remains the spirit world's fastest-growing category. They are around 15 new releases every month
which means the chances keeping up to date with every new brand is
well-nigh impossible - So here's the best of the most recent. The
first would be an ideal way for non-whisky drinkers to start. It comes from the
now closed Lowland distillery of Rosebank, has been aged for only nine years and bottled by Adelphi.
As an entry point into the wild charms of Islay whiskies, why not check out the new look and new taste
of Bruichladdich? The best of the new range is the 15-year-old, a softly fruited dram with the merest
hint of the seashore. For those already in love with peat, look no further than Ardbeg
Ardbeg Uigeadailich has been matured in Bourbon barrels and older, rare Sherry casks.
Initially sweet with a savoury finish and unmissable for Ardbeg drinkers.
For a bit of everything, canny malt drinkers should check out Famous Grouse Vintage Malts. A
'vatting' of malts from more than one distillery, it's fragrant, honeyed and
beautifully soft. One to sip neat while contemplating what Santa might bring.
THE MORNING AFTER - PILL OR PARTY?
CHRISTMAS CHAMPERS - FIZZ OR FIZZLE?
RED OR WHITE? - CHOOSING THE BEST WINE