Time is getting short! If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, better get motivated, get desperate, and get moving.
Whether you need some major gifts or simply some thoughtful stocking stuffers for your spirit-loving friends, there are plenty of nifty things out there. So let’s simplify your life, relieve your stress and solve those agonizing last minute gift worries.
First tip: Did you know that no matter how crowded the Oregon Liquor Stores get, they’ll never be as crowded and brutal as….oh, Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Avoid those places; you’ll just get frustrated and feel so herd-driven you’ll start to moo.
Second tip: Did you know that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission actually makes it easy to shop, find an item, find a price, and find a store where there is inventory—anywhere in the entire state!—so there are no wasted trips to make? Yep. Just Google “OLCC”, go to the site that pops up, and click on Oregon LIquor Search. You can look up any product individually or by category, click on it, and find out how much it costs, which stores have it—and the location and telephone number of each store, because just to make sure you should call first. What could be easier than that?
Well, how about some timely tips on tasty products that would make any booze-lover delighted? We have those too.
Let’s take a look at some great ideas for gifts, most as close as your neighborhood liquor store. Mind you, these aren’t impersonal grab-a-bottle-off-the-shelf choices; they are, each and every one, a thoughtful gift which will be appreciated by the receiver.
Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaca
Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaça
You may have had Cachaça, probably in a caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil, since the national spirit of Brazil is cachaça, a brilliant rum from Brazil made from fresh raw sugar cane juice. Mmm mmm mmmh. You may have had Novo Fogo Cachaça Silver, which would be a smart move on your part. But you really need to try the Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaça. There’s a reason why most of the best bartenders in Oregon rave about Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaça: because it is rich and oh-so-smooth, blends well with almost anything but loves fresh juices, and has that wonderful brown sugar-and spice character that makes it delicious blended or straight. If you have friends who like good rum, and you haven’t seen this in their liquor cabinet, be their hero by turning them on to it.
Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky
Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whiskey
If you have whiskey-loving friends—and by whiskey I mean Bourbon and other American whiskies—become their most respected friend by scoring a bottle of Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky. Most Japanese whisky is in the purposeful style of Scotch, but this one isn’t. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with coffee. It’s not coffee. It’s Coffey, as in one of the guys who perfected the column still that revolutionized the spirit industry. This is without question one of the most charming and downright likable whiskeys, regardless of type, regardless of origin. It is simply one of the great whiskies in the world. There’s one danger: your gift buddy won’t ever stop raving about you and the Nikka. Seriously, it’ll be gratifying at first, but then you’ll really get tired of it. It’s that kind of whiskey.
Teeling Irish Whiskey
Teeling Irish Whiskey
Another whiskey-lover’s whiskey, but this time it’s Irish, and a far different kind of Irish than you may have ever had before if you’re hanging with the Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore D.E.W. brands, not that there’s anything wrong with those, mind you; it’s just that the Teeling is an Irish Whiskey with very significant differences. Teeling has three great whiskies in the market. The Small Batch Rum Cask Finish, which is a revelation in a bottle. The Single Malt, which Wow! Aged Irish Single Malt finished in five separate pre-used barrels, then blended. Remarkable! And a rare Single Grain (which means grains mostly other than barley malt), also finished in select pre-used barrels—this time California Cabernet Sauvignon. Any one is a winner.
If you’re looking for something completely different which your drinking buddies probably haven’t ever had, unless they’re Scandinavian and then they probably have had and will appreciate the gift, take a walk on the squarehead side and grab a bottle of Linie Akvavit. Akvavit (or Aquavit) is what Scandinavians drink more than any other spirit. And even in Akvavit, Linie is something special. It has one of the best backstories imaginable; and as a bonus, it’s all true! Akvavit is a loose category that covers any neutral spirit flavored with caraway and/or dill, although there may be and usually are other flavors in there, such as bitter orange peel. Linie—which means “line”—came about when the company sent a shipload of casks of their akvavit to Australia. When it didn’t sell, they bit the bullet and shipped it back. When it got back, after having traversed the globe on sailing ships…twice…they tasted the Akvavit and did a little dance of happiness: they had serendipitously, out of failure, created a brand new style of akvavit. So today, every bottle has to cross the Equator twice on a ship during a voyage that takes several months, and they put the map on each bottle. Thing is, the akvavit is tasty stuff too, so your friend who receives it will have a win-win situation.
del Maguey Mezcal
Del Maguey Mezcal
If you have been keeping track, tequila is just so old fashioned with the hipsters these days. They’ve moved on to the more exotic and esoteric mezcal version of agave spirits. And if they’re really cool, they know all about the Single Village Mezcals pioneered so expertly by the indefatigable Ron Cooper. If they don’t know yet about del Maguey Mezcal, get the Vida, their entry level, a deliciously smoky delight. Sample it Oaxacan style, with a little Vida muddled up with an orange slide and a touch of sea salt. If they do know del Maguey Mezcal already, then get one of the pricier expressions. A favorite is the Chichicapa Single Village. Your friends will know the value and appreciate your excellent taste.
Cognac Park XO Traditional
Cognac Park XO Traditional
Nothing says luxury and sophistication more than Cognac, that ineffable grape brandy from the eponymous region in France. The finest of Cognacs, those well-aged, slowly-matured, and carefully blended, become XO (Extra Old) designation. Try Cognac Park XO Traditional. You’ll love it. So will any cognac-loving friend. Because if you don’t like Park XO, then you don’t like cognac.
Bradley’s Kina Tonic
Bradley’s Kina Tonic
Okay, this one may or may not be in the OLCC stores. But it is available via the internet and in some of the better shops around Portland, such as The Meadow up on Mississippi, New Deal Distillery, or any of the Total Wine stores in WA.
Bradley’s Kina Tonic is a powerful, spicy and flavorful concentrate mixed up by hand in small batches by Bradley, a distiller who also loves his gin and tonic. If you think that thin and acrid mass-produced swill in 2 Liter bottles—Schweppes and Canada Dry—is ‘tonic water’, you have an education in store when you try Bradley’s Kina Tonic. Just pour a bit in a glass, add either gin or vodka to your taste, and a splash of soda water (although the soda water is optional). You will have one of the finest, tastiest tonic drinks ever. It’s not pricey, a bottle goes a long way, and it makes an absolutely perfect small gift or stocking stuffer.