Port, Stilton and grapes (walnuts are a traditional addition) add up to a great last-minute gift. / iStock photo.NOW, ON THIS LAST holiday shopping day, is the time to hit the liquor store. Maybe not the little guy on the corner, maybe one of those megastores instead, the ones with the square footage to stock all the holiday combinations that wineries and distillers come up with to turn grain and grape into gifts.
One of my favorite ideas—because I fancy it shows a bit of thought and even, dare I suggest, sophistication—is a bottle of port, a hefty chunk of Stilton cheese and either grapes or walnuts in the shell. The combination harks back to boards more groaning than most modern ones plus the round-the-table-counterclockwise affectation that is sure to engage guests, or annoy them, or maybe both. Interactive, at any rate.
I recently wandered the cluttered aisles of Total Wine and Bottle King, both along the Atlantic seaboard, and peeked in on the offerings of Wines & More in Massachusetts. In jurisdictions with strict liquor laws (talking about you, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Montgomery County, Maryland), you may find only wine and beer at the big stores, but there are gift sets to be found in those categories as well.
In my ramblings I saw Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey (shown on the front) in a gift package with two branded ceramic mugs for about $35-$40, depending on where I was browsing. Casamigos Tequila Añejo (on the front) was packaged with a quartet of attractive coasters for about $70. Pallini Limoncello (see left) came cheerily packaged with a pair of branded shot glasses for about $30. Suntory Whisky Toki was twinned with a Toki highball glass for about $50. (Another Suntory gift set paired a bottle of Toki whisky with four Waterford crystal highball glasses. That package was a little over $100.) And a bottle of Baileys Original Irish Cream (shown on the front) was accompanied by two ceramic tidbit bowls labeled “Yours” and “Mine” in the Baileys signature font. That was about $35.
The vogue for single-malt Scotch has not escaped the attention of candy makers who fill chocolate “bottles” with all sorts of imbibables. The big player in the field is Denmark’s Anthon Berg, whose gift collection of single malts (Oban, Talisker, etc.) can be found at large wine and spirits stores and at the Vermont Country Store.
And what if two (or more) of us decide to treat Uncle Bill to his new favorite single malt, Oban Little Bay (anywhere from $45 to $70)? Not to worry: As my sister points out, Booze doesn’t go bad.
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