Eat North Gift Guide: 13 unique spirits to toast with over the holidays

Thirteen tasty spirits to buy for the home bartender (or professional barkeep) in your life

We’ll take just about any opportunity we can to sip on spirits, but when the holidays roll around we like to dial our festive cocktail-making up a notch or two. If you or the home-bartender in your life plan to do the same, we suggest starting with the most important ingredient of all, the booze!

Just like cooking, if you want to serve up a memorable drinking experience, using high quality ingredients is key. The following spirits all employ a similarly high-standard approach—along with a few quirky characteristics that only add to their allure—to all but guarantee your guests will be asking for seconds.

From Vancouver Island to the coast of Cape Breton and beyond, here are 13 terrific spirits that will make a great gift for the mixologist or cocktail-enthusiasts in your life.

Black Fox Farm and Distillery - Winter Berry Gin

Few Canadian distilleries celebrate Prairie terroir with more festive fervour than Black Fox Farm and Distillery. This year’s holiday release is a bright and beautiful Winter Berry Gin that features a flavourful blend of haskaps, raspberries, chokecherries, and rhubarb.

Burwood Distillery - Spiced Apple Gin

Burwood Distillery always brings its best regardless of the season, but winter is without a doubt one of its most popular times of year, and for good reason. This year’s holiday lineup features a few stunners, but the spirit we’ll be stuffing in our loved ones’ stockings is the colour-changing Spiced Apple Gin

Distillerie Mariana - Avril almond-nut liqueur

Distillerie Mariana’s sweet almond-nut liqueur is a versatile amaretto blend that features iconic Canadian flavours of maple syrup and sweet gale. Perfect as an aperitif, digestif, on ice, or in cocktails, the Quebec-distilled spirit is an ode to both its local terroir and the tradition of Italian amaretto.

Eau Claire Distillery - Batch 006 Single Malt Whisky

Sipping on Eau Claire Distillery’s Christmas Gin has become something of a holiday tradition here at Eat North, but the spirit we have our eyes on this year from Eau Claire is the Batch 006 single malt whisky. Aged for six years in New European, ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, the new Batch 006 offers a subtly complex and smooth sip.

Glenfiddich - Orchard Experiment Whisky

While obviously not a Canadian company, when the world’s most-awarded single malt Scotch whisky releases a unique experimental spirit that is only available in Canada, well, let’s just say they've got our full attention. 

The Orchard Experimental Whisky was matured in American Oak and finished in a Somerset Pomona Spirit Cask, which is a first for Scotch whisky. In addition to elevating the natural notes of apple and pear, the process resulted in a balanced blend of ripe fruits, sweet creamy toffee, caramelized apple, and woody spice.

Hendrick's - Neptunia Gin

Speaking of Scotland, another cool non-Canadian spirit that we’d be remiss not to share is the Neptunia Gin from Hendrick’s. The limited release is infused with a blend of locally-sourced coastal botanicals and offers a smooth sensory drinking experience. What’s even cooler is that the famed distiller regularly supports and contributes to the Project Seagrass initiatives which help to conserve and restore seagrass ecosystems.

Les Spiritueux Iberville - Amaro Amernoir

Whether served as an aperitivo to set the stage for dinner or as a nightcap to close things out in style, the Amaro Arrmernoir’s smooth blend of coffee, cocoa, mint, and orange will more than suffice. 

Newfoundland Distillery - Seaweed Gin

Another close call between two incredibly cool spirits, but in terms of taste alone, Newfoundland Distillery’s Seaweed Gin just edges out the Cloudberry Gin. Made using seaweed harvested from the Grand Banks, the Seaweed Gin is slightly salty, bursting with juniper, and as refreshing as an ocean mist.

Skrewball - Peanut Butter Whiskey

Another non-Canadian spirit we couldn’t resist including in our list is the Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey. The unique spirit features several uncommon components, but manages to come together in beautiful harmony for a sip that is salty, sweet, savoury, and seriously smooth.

Sheringham Distillery - Sirene Chocolate Liqueur

If decadence is what you’re looking for in a holiday liqueur, Sheringham Distillery’s Sirene Chocolate Liqueur has it in spades. Created in collaboration with Sirene Chocolate, the luscious Sirene Chocolate Liqueur offers a layered dark chocolate drinking experience with notes of fruit, citrus, fudge, and leather.

Steinhart Distillery - Maple Vodka

Steinhart Distillery has several solid spirit options, but we needed at least one quintessential Canadian offering on our list, and the award-winning Maple Vodka is as Canadian as it comes. While maple is the obvious star here, the sweetness of the spirit is nicely balanced with a bitter blend of cocoa and burnt caramel.

Strathcona Spirits - White Oak Pinot Gin

Strathcona Spirits has a killer collection of cool barrel-aged spirits, not the least of which is our personal favourite, the White Oak Pinot Gin. Aged in meticulously selected French and American white oak Pinot Noir casks, the Alberta distillery’s White Oak Pinot Gin is truly one of a kind.

Wise Acre Farm and Distillery - Cranberry Rosemary Liqueur

It was tough to choose just one from Wise Acre’s 2022 holiday lineup, especially since one doubles as a mesmerizing snowglobe, but the crimson-hued Cranberry Rosemary Liqueur stole our hearts thanks to its versatility as a standalone spirit, a cocktail elixir, and a delicious reduction for a holiday sauce.