Guy Warner

Spread­ing the fes­tive cheer

Cotswold Life - - CONTENTS - Lo­cally-owned com­pany Warner’s Bud­gens have six stores in the area Bid­ford-on-avon, Broad­way, Moretonin-marsh, Quedge­ley, Tewkes­bury and Winch­combe. More in­for­ma­tion at warn­ers­bud­gens.co.uk GUY WARNER

The Christ­mas pe­riod is a mine­field. As you get caught up in the elab­o­rate dance of sidestep­ping the nu­mer­ous in­vi­ta­tions that start to pile up, there’s the dan­ger you’ll also fall vic­tim to panic present buy­ing. We’ve all been there: last-minute gift for the hosts who are ‘kindly’ hav­ing you for din­ner on the 22nd, the ‘what do you get the in­laws’ trauma, the ‘small but don’t want to look stingy’ thank yous for ev­ery school teacher, foot­ball or ten­nis coach and mu­sic teacher you cross paths with in your daily life. As I said, a mine­field!

This year, though, I’m tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. And it’s largely due to all the fan­tas­tic lo­cal drinks pro­duc­ers on our doorstep. If, like me, you strug­gle to buy presents, a lo­cal­ly­made bot­tle of booze ticks all the right boxes – ex­pen­sive enough to feel spe­cial but not the sort of crazy prices that would break the bank, it’s thought­ful and per­sonal, and, most im­por­tantly, comes with a huge dose of the feel-good fac­tor.

Here’s what’s top of my gift list this year: 1. Sib­ling Win­ter Edi­tion Gin

As with all Sib­ling gins, this win­ter edi­tion is made from scratch at the Sib­ling dis­tillery in Chel­tenham. In­fused with fresh cran­ber­ries and cle­men­tine peel, it has heady bit­ter­sweet flavours and makes the per­fect win­ter G&T, served with orange peel and ginger ale over lots of ice. These dis­tinc­tive square bot­tles would fit neatly into the suit­case of any houseguest – and be much ap­pre­ci­ated (hint hint!) sib­lingdis­tillery.com, also avail­able at Warner’s Bud­gens stores and Stroud Farm­ers’ Mar­ket

2. Gift Pack of Stroud Brew­ery Beer

These or­ganic, ve­gan beers are top of my list for the hard-work­ing sports coaches who give up their week­ends, no mat­ter what the weather, so our chil­dren can har­bour dreams of be­com­ing the next Ron­aldo or Fed­erer. They come in at­trac­tive se­lec­tion boxes with either three bot­tles of beer or two bot­tles and a glass. The best thing is that you can per­son­alise each gift by choos­ing the beers you’d like to in­clude. stroud­brew­ery.co.uk, also avail­able at Stroud Farm­ers’ Mar­ket

3. Cotswolds Dis­tillery Sin­gle Malt Whisky

Launched last No­vem­ber, the first whisky to be dis­tilled in the Cotswolds is a corker and just the ticket to coax any bah hum­bug fa­ther-in-law into the fes­tive mood. The whisky con­tains Odyssey bar­ley, grown in the Cotswolds, and is full of honey and but­ter­scotch sweet­ness, with spicy, tan­nin-rich notes and a hint of trea­cle on the fin­ish. The 700ml bot­tle comes with a pre­sen­ta­tion box, or you could opt for the gift box con­tain­ing 12 minia­ture bot­tles. cotswolds­dis­tillery.com, also avail­able at Warner’s Bud­gens stores

4. Tipsy Fruit Dam­son Gin

Home-made dam­son gin is al­ways a win­ner, but if you haven’t got round to mak­ing it your­self this year, this is your best bet. The damsons are picked from Tip­sage Farm’s own or­chards and the liqueur is made to an old fam­ily recipe dat­ing back from 1848. The fruit is mixed with a lit­tle sugar and then left to ma­ture for at least a year to pro­duce a rich, smooth liqueur with a great bal­ance of flavour. The mini Christ­mas tree-shaped bot­tles are sure to bring some fes­tive cheer to any long-suf­fer­ing teach­ers out there! tip­syfruit­gins.co.uk, also avail­able at Warner’s Bud­gens stores

5. Wood­ch­ester Val­ley Cotswold Pre­mium Se­lec­tion

Once upon a time, giv­ing a gift of English wine was un­think­able, but these award­win­ners are just the thing to in­trigue party hosts this sea­son. Wood­ch­ester Val­ley wines are go­ing from strength to strength, with this year’s Sau­vi­gnon Blanc (the only UK sin­gle va­ri­etal Sauv Blanc) and Pinot Rosé both win­ning Sil­ver at the In­ter­na­tional Wine and Spirit Com­pe­ti­tion, while the Bac­chus won Best in Show at this year’s SWVA com­pe­ti­tion. So­phis­ti­cated la­bel­ing just adds to the ap­peal. wood­ch­ester­val­leyvine­yard.co.uk

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