Toast away an unconventional year without those staid dinner party stalwarts; instead, look to these splurge-worthy new releases and special holiday sets.
Celebrating the year-end festivities at home this year? Whether you’re looking to clink glasses at home or searching for the perfect bottle to have under your arm as a guest to an intimate soirée, make it as spirited and as boozy as you please with these Champagnes, wines, craft beers and spirits that won’t be your average alcoholic gifts.
Champagne problems? Not when you’re Champagne Papi. Toast to new beginnings in 2021 in true hip hop royalty style with Drake’s very own label, the result of a return collaboration with wine and spirits veteran Brent Hocking, (also behind Drake’s Virginia Black whisky label) and historic Champagne house Maison Pierre Mignon, established since 1892. These new-to-town bottles are the ultimate flex this NYE: Cold to the touch thanks to each bottle’s golden handcrafted embellishments, they’re priced from HK$2,300 to HK$18,000 for a jeroboam of rosé. For a taste of the house style, start with the NV Brut Réserve: Clean, balanced and with a long finish.
HK$2,300, exclusively available in Hong Kong via Ginsberg + Chan
If ‘more is more’ sounds like your type of party, this extravagant iridescent pink bottle of Ace of Spades should fulfill all maximalist whims for extravagant bottles to pop this holiday season. Expect a Pinot Noir-forward cuvée for an intense, fruity flavour. 2009, 2010 and 2012 vintages available, all packaged in a designer gift box perfect to bust out as dazzling house gifts at the next soirée.
HK$3,980 from Lane Crawford
Less an Aubrey Graham stan and more curious about what Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt can have up his wine-swilling sleeve? Check out Fleur de Miraval, unveiled by Pitt earlier in September with the first edition a limited release of just 20,000 bottles worldwide. Five years in the making, Fleur de Miraval is made with mature Chardonnay grapes and a touch of young Pinot Noir using the saignée method to render an elegant flavour profile and a bright blush hue. It’s newly stocked at Altaya Wines in Hong Kong, available while stocks last.
HK$3,500 from Altaya Wines
Thanks to a few record summer harvests in Britain of late, English sparkling wine has been soaring in popularity in the past two years — with a 70 percent increase year on year, in fact. Get in on the trend and sip a glass or three of Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvée this NYE — characterised by its fruity notes and a nice toasty finish. Pairing with canapés? Try the 1086 Prestige Cuvée 2009, England’s first of its kind, demonstrating a sweet nougat and savoury caramel profile that’s ideal with New Year’s dishes such as oysters Rockefeller or a monkfish with lemon butter sauce.
Classic Cuvée, HK$420 from WinePleaseHK
If great value is your New Year’s Eve MO this year, you’ll want to turn to the premium cuvées by Tasmanian makers House of Arras. The new non-vintage Brut Blanc de Blancs is ideal for Chardonnay geeks looking to expand their palates and try something new; combining grapes hand-selected from the best parcels of top vineyards throughout Tasmania. The wine has received a number of winning reviews already — Jancis Robinson awarded it 16/20, while Australian Master of Wine Andrew Caillard gave it 92/100. The House of Arras Grand Vintage 2009 is also worth looking out for in stores: Named a “Grand Marque” by Caillard and 16.5 points out of 20 by Robinson.
Blanc de Blancs NV, HK$899 for six bottles from Watson’s Wine
Long known for its spindly Louise Bourgeois sculptures towering over its vineyards; or a Polka-dotted Yayoi Kusama pumpkin blending into the bucolic hills, Sonoma county’s The Donum Estate has been synonymous with its stellar sculpture collection, making it one of the top destinations for vino and art lovers alike. While a visit in the flesh is probably still a long ways away, the winemaker has recently announced its long-awaited Hong Kong distribution by Vinopolis Hong Kong. What’s interesting to note is that each wine is made from a single vineyard and single appellation within the estate — allowing you to taste the hyper-locality of its terroir. Try the Pinot Noir 2016 vintage with top grapes from the West Slope: a 5.5 acre site in the middle of the estate.
HK$1,000 from Vinopolis
The world’s preeminent Scotch label has recently unveiled a luxurious 21-year-old expression in honour of its rich legacy — now celebrating the house’s 200th anniversary. The exclusive XR 21 blend is crafted from the blending notes from house patriarch John Walker’s own grandson, Sir Alexander Walker II. Aged for a minimum of 21 years — with some from ghost distillery Port Dundas — the whisky also features expressions aged in American oak and single malts from Speyside, to achieve a luxurious, multilayered whisky with a resounding warmth of roasted chestnuts and fruit that’s perfect for the season.
HK$998 from major retailers city-wide.
The last chapter in Macallan’s highly collectible Edition series, this year’s release features a striking cerulean blue label that takes it back to the roots of the Macallan distillery itself: the River Spey that forms the beating heart of the house as well as of the whole Scotch industry. Bottled at 48.6 percent ABV, the Edition No. 6 starts with a splash of refreshing citrus and fresh fruits — almost savoury and mouth-watering, calling to mind the energetic wild Atlantic salmon that call the River Spey home. That’s all rounded off with vanilla, nutmeg, toffee and oats — it pairs wonderfully with chocolate, and will make for an after-dinner treat this NYE.
From HK$1,103, available at retailers city-wide.
Saving your quota to celebrate the Year of the Ox instead? This Glenfiddich special edition is sure to please. Working with Shenzhen-based Rlon Wang once again this year for a contemporary Chinese New Year Pack, the Glenfiddich stag takes on a vibrant new coat alongside other auspicious illustrations bearing good fortune, such as dancing lions and barrel-carrying balloons; an important Chinese symbol of homecoming each year during Chinese New Year. Certainly a gift worth sharing with loved ones. The special edition design is available with the Reserva Rum Cask 21 Year Old — finished in Caribbean rum casks for an extra toffee sweetness and warmth — as well as the 12, 15 and 18 year old single malt expressions.
There are few things worth toasting away 2020 with than a spectacular new bottle of Blue Label — made from one out of 10,000 hand-selected casks. Whisky aficionados who prefer to stick to time-honoured tastes will want to snag this new bottle in the limited edition design. Emblazoned with the number ‘200’ and vivacious fireworks, it’s made for one heck of a celebration.
HK$1,465 from major retailers city-wide.
Celebrating its first anniversary, the Hong Kong gin distillery has put together a gift set for the season that all gin aficionados will adore: A 700ml bottling of the signature dry gin is presented in an elegant box-set with a copper coaster (a nod to the in-house copper still, nicknamed ‘Luna’). Those yearning for a sip and a bite from anything but another takeaway box should check out the limited-time Two Moons gin cocktails available at The Park Lane Hotel’s Skye lounge and Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House.
HK$598 from Two Moons Distillery
Gifting for a known gin aficionado who seemingly has everything? This kit offers a fun selection of five 30ml gins — great for if you want to organise your own G&T flight or hosting a (socially distanced) get-together. Highlights include Aurantia Gin, handmade in the Netherlands, which offers a sweet citrus flavour and smooth, thick flavour profile; while Old Raj Gin is a Scottish gin distiller that’s been making it since 1972.
HK$250 from Timeless and Tasty
Looking to try something really unconventional? Turn to the rising trend of baijiu spirits that have adapted to fit the contemporary mixology scene. Inspired by baijiu culture since arriving in China 25 years ago, Baijiu Society founder Craig Butler has been reinventing the pungent traditional Chinese spirit with new blends — and even a Baijiu Beer — now available for the finicky Hong Kong spirits market. Try the original ‘The Spirit of Society’ — bottled at just 40 percent ABV with a delicate spice blend of star anise, clove, cinnamon and natural orange; or our second favourite, ‘The Spirit of Life’ rife with juicy peach notes and a light citrus and honey undertone. Sip it neat, over crushed ice or shaken in a cocktail.
HK$598 from HK Liquor Store
Got a craft beer lover on your hands? A beer subscription programme might be right up their alley, or perhaps a party set will help ease the headache of stocking your fridge. An assortment of 12 Aussie craft beers run for HK$499, and come with three biltong snacks that are perfectly paired for enjoyment. Prefer a mix of local and international breweries to explore? Check out monthly subscriptions with one-, three-, six- and twelve-month packages available, starting from HK$538.
HK$499 from Blaze Beer Club
Do a little good ahead of the new year and support local breweries as well as those in need. Launched by The Bottle Shop founders, Good Beer Project is a philanthropic beer label that is bringing the community together through a shared love of entertaining. It’s launched its first two Hong Kong-brewed beers, the Captain Wonder low-carb lager, and Char Siu Man lemon iced tea IPA — proceeds from the former go to a children’s charity, whilst the latter to Feeding Hong Kong.
HK$30 from The Bottle Shop
The result from a highly commendable exercise in efforts of narrowing the loop in food production, Breer is a local craft beer brewery founded by four HKUST students looking to reduce the global food waste crisis, which reportedly accounts for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Hong Kong’s own food waste also amounts to astonishing numbers, with an estimated 3,600 tonnes of food thrown away per day; of which 1,692 tonnes are surplus bakery products from chain supermarkets and bakeries. It’s these extra loaves of bread that Breer uses to make their upcycled lager and pale ale. Following its October pilot, Breer is currently yet to launch its first official product, but stay tuned for more.