Part three: Phillip's perfect Christmas tipples

11th December 2015

Brandy sometimes struggles to be as cool as all the exciting new gins, vodkas and whiskies, but for me, Christmas, wouldn't be complete without a bottle in the house. When you rush in after doing all those last-minute jobs, it's a comforting, 'Calm down, it's all OK' type of drink. Very civilised.

Our Christmases are very noisy and although I love it, I'm very thankful that, every now and then, I can pop out to 'fetch some more wood for the fire'. Someone else who wants to get away from it all will come with me, and we might just have a little tumbler of whisky along the way.

Pere Magloire Calvados VSOP
£22.49/50cl
Calvados is made from apples, of course, and there's a real apple character when you smell this one. It would be particularly nice on your Christmas pud, leaving just a hint of apple after the blue flame has disappeared.

Chateau du Tariquet XO Bas-Armagnac
£32/70cl
Armagnacs are fruitier and a little bit more rustic than Cognacs, and there's a barley-sugar fruitiness to this. On a cold winter's evening, a small glass would put you in the right place.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch
£28.50/70cl (was £33.50, offer ends 3 Jan 2016)
The style of whisky I love best is an Islay malt. As soon as I smell Laphroaig, I see
a stormy sea and smoke drifting out of chimneys. It's my go-to whisky.

Aberlour 10 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch
£24/70cl (was £32, offer ends 3 Jan 2016)
If you're not into the peaty flavours of Islay, this is a very different beast. It's more subtle, orangey, and the sherry casks it's matured in give it a lovely sweetness.

Waitrose Cognac VSOP
£24.50/70cl
There's a definite cherry note to this - it's nowhere near a cherry brandy but it does have a lovely fruity character. It's good quality, warming, characterful and complex - everything you'd want from a Cognac - and it's fantastic value too.

Hennessy XO
£135/70cl
The absolute upper echelons of the craft of making Cognac. When you get to this level you realise how smooth a Cognac can be - it's like silk in your mouth. If you're generous enough to give
it away as a Christmas gift, make sure the lucky recipient offers you a glass in return.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
£50/70cl (selected stores)
I love rye, and I always have a bottle of this at home. There are no hard, bitter edges and when you smell it, you get the aroma of soft oak it's matured in. My dad was a French polisher and it always makes me think of his workshop.

Hudson Manhattan Rye
£37.99/35cl (selected stores)
This is superb. It's spicy, almost medicinal, with
a touch of cloves and cinnamon, and something pleasingly tough about it.
It makes me want to walk into a saloon, put my cowboy hat on the bar and say, 'Get me a glass of rye, barman.'

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