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Dear friend of fine spirits,

This time of year, folks ask us to suggest holiday gifts. Here goes:

Stocking-stuffers. #1: at tastings, I’ve watched people fondle the 200ML bottles of Fluid Dynamics barrel-aged mixed drinks ($20). A cocktail becomes incredibly deeper and richer after it spends 6 weeks in oak. This is Omigod product. #2: turn someone on to G-R XO in its jewel-like half-bottle ($65/375ML). First-timers simply do not believe that they have never heard of this brandy. Best distilled spirit in the world, said Robb Report in 1966.

For tequila lovers. The two Mezcalero bottlings, #3 & #4 ($84), are based on semi-wild and wild agaves. They show you why good mezcal is so wonderful: the level of sophistication and richness cannot be matched by anything distilled from tequila’s agave Weber. These bottlings are bargains: closest product is Del Maguey’s mezcal tobalá (usually $120). What we shipped to our distributor in NY sold out in four hours.

Whiskey drinkers. The Compass Box (artisan Scotch whisky) Hedonism ($100) is one of the finest whiskies in bottle: barrel-aged grain, unbelievably soft. Give someone a very pleasant surprise: the Low Gap clear wheat ($45), distilled on an antique cognac still. The Malt Advocate reviewer told us it was the best white whiskey he had ever tasted. Put simply, this isn’t hooch: sophisticated craft-method whiskey without the oak. We have a few bottles of Clear Creek’s rare Oregon malt ($50, very peaty), sold out at the distillery.

Brandy. Any of the Germain-Robin single-barrel bottlings ($150 or $180) are singular and of extraordinary quality: world-class wine grapes focused and purified by passing through a small potstill. Pacult called one of the earlier pinot noirs “perfect”. Old Havana ($105) is a rich and mouthfilling blend originally assembled to pair with fine Cuban cigars. It’s over 20 years old. “One of the world’s great spirits” Men’s Journal.

A very special aperitif. Remember the surprise of the first taste of St Germain elderflower when it hit the market 2 years ago? Andy Quady’s Deviation ($29) is even better.

Extra special: one of the casks, either the Minnesota oak 10-liter with a case of Low Gap inside, or the Limousin 9-liter with a case of Germain-Robin inside. Call me at 707 468-7899 for info/advice.

Many, many good wishes for the holidays and for a meaningful 2012/Ansley Coale