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Sunday 5 December 2021

In high spirits: a cocktail of Christmas gift ideas

Whether you want to splurge on a laptop, drink something special or just want a Santa sack gift of olive oil or balsamic vinegar, here are some great suggestions that I have personally tested or sampled. 

Asus Zenbook UX482 Duo 14

Laptop devices are becoming smaller, faster and sexier each year and I fell in love with a loan version of Asus’s slinkiest newcomer. With a chassis and lid made of magnesium aluminium alloy, this is not only very swift – it looks great.  There are two screens, and the touchpad was easy to use, too. Equipped with 11th Gen Intel CoreTM i7 and CoreTM i5 processors, each model supports up to 32 GB of memory and all this stuff (none of which I understand): 1TB PCIe® 3.0 NVMeTM SSD, two ThunderboltTM 4, full size HDMI, Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 3.5 mm audio jack, and microSD card reader, AAS Plus, New ErgoLift AAS plus (Active Aerodynamic System) hinge design, more ergonomic viewing and touchscreen experience and 49% higher airflow. I just liked the way it performed on the road. ZenBook Duo 14 went through an internal layout redesign and is sophisticated. It weighs only 1.6kg (great if you are flying Jetstar with cabin luggage only) and is lighter and slimmer than the previous generation. This is an idea unit for multitaskers. $2699.

Spirit feels 

The new Feels Botanical gift box includes four different eaux de vie flavours: Feels Bask with hemp, quandong and Kakadu plum; Feels Vivify with turmeric, coconut and ginger; Feels Rouse with rose, Davidson plum and horny goat weed and Feels Revel - ginseng, coffee and Illawarra plum. Small-batch Feels Botanicals are 100% Australian owned and free from grains, gluten, preservatives and added sugars. $130 for x4 200ml bottles, the Feels Botanical gift box is on sale directly from their website

Share a taste of Tasmania

Tasmania is all the rage right now and you can share a range of Tasmanian flavours with gift packs from the Old Kempton Distillery. Options include a 
Christmas Whisky Pack ($85) with Tassie Settlers Whisky BBQ sauce, a whisky mug, an Old Stables single malt whisky, Solera single malt whisky and a classic pinot range whisky, or perhaps a Lavender Malt Liqueur gift pack ($110) containing a 700ml bottle of Lavender Malt, Port Arthur Lavender Farm Honey, a Tasmanian fudge and a Port Arthur handmade candle.

Do some Good

Australian wine brand with a conscience – The Hidden Sea – has released a limited-edition, co-branded bottle of their 2018 Friends of Friends wine to be included in a special six-pack offer just in time for Christmas. 


The blurb says this premium shiraz cabernet blend has historically been reserved for friends, family, and friends of friends of The Hidden Sea. But for the first time in recent years, it is being made available for consumers to purchase for a limited time only as part of the Christmas pack.  


With every sale of their six-packs, The Hidden Sea works with the ReSea Project to remove and recycle 60 single-use plastic bottles from the world’s oceans. Since July 2020, the brand has removed over 7.5 million plastic bottles from the ocean, bringing them closer to their ambitious goal of removing 1 billion plastic bottles by 2030. 

Every purchase of this special six-pack ($150) includes an entry to win a 6-ltre bottle of Friends of Friends 


Aberfeldy Whisky

Aberfeldy is a 12-Year-Old Malt Scotch Whisky that is known for being super smooth. This is a smoky, delicious gift for lovers of premium whisky who might also want to make their own whisky cocktails. Aberfeldy 12YO Single Malt Whisky 700ml, $85, is available to purchase at Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland and First Choice. To learn more:

Victorinox table set  

From the people who make the world-famous Swiss Army knives comes a new range of knives and forks with a serious splash of colour. The new Swiss Modern cutlery sets are fresh and vibrant, bringing a splash of summer to any table setting. The new collection is available in sleek black, mint green and cornflower blue – or you have the choice to mix and match individual pieces. The modern, synthetic handles are made of dishwasher-safe and easy to clean materials. Their geometric design also allows for an anti-slip grip and comfortable feel. Like the earlier kitchen knives collection, the Swiss Modern cutlery sets are made of high quality Victorinox stainless steel and come with ultra-sharp wavy blades. $179.

Edinburgh Gin Distillery Raspberry Liqueur

Based in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh Gin distils much more than bog standard spirits. Among a portfolio of gins and liqueurs you’ll find little gems like this one: a fruity and juicy raspberry liqueur that can be added to sparkling wine, used in cocktails or simply enjoyed over ice. Made in small batches, this impressed my tasting group with its vibrancy. Available from or Dan Murphy’s and selected BWS stores. $36.99.

Grampians Olive Co. treats

Family owned and operated, Victorian-based Grampians Olive Co. has built a big reputation for the quality of its Toscana Olive Oil and other gourmet products and has won several national awards.  All its products are 100% Australian made and festive gift ideas include cold-pressed extra virgin oils, olives, honeys, artisan vinegars and other stocking stuffers. A pantry hamper ($60) makes an excellent gift for any gourmet entertainer. 

Instant Gifts 

Time-poor shoppers can grab gifts from Dan Murphy’s and BWS, who have a range of ready-made Christmas packs, featuring a selection of wine, beer, spirits, ciders, and seltzers to suit all tastes and budgets. Think choices like a Chapel Hill hamper featuring Chapel Hill Mr. Vinecombe Cabernet Shiraz MerlotGlenrowan Macadamia ShortbreadOB Wafer Crackers OriginalLindt chocolate and Geelong confectionary chocolate toffee clusters. $50. Or perhaps a bottle of Cat Amongst The Pigeons Barossa Tawny $29

Warners Honeybee Gin

Released just in time for Christmas, the Honeybee Gin uses hand-harvested honey from the Warner family’s Falls Farm in England, which is combined with 27 other botanicals including lavender, hibiscus, rose and blue cornflower to make this a complex yet delicate gin that paired with a Fever Tree tonic. Warners grows its own fresh botanicals for its gins. Honeybee joins Warner’s Rhubarb Gin, credited with starting the pink gin craze, Available in all Dan Murphy’s stores for $79.95.

Chandon Garden Spritz

So you’d like an instant cocktail? Ready to serve, ready to share, Garden Spritz is a blend of sparkling wine and a unique bitters recipe. Specially crafted with navel and blood oranges and macerated with dried orange peels, herbs and spices. This is deliciously refreshing and perfect for picnics or a day at the beach. Available from all good bottle shops. $27.

# This is an edited version of a story that appeared in Ciao Magazine  




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