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November Cover Story: 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

By November 5, 2017Top News

Text by W. R. Tish & Marlena Hoffman, photographs by Samuel Bristow.

It’s November. You are already well on your way to having your store in shape for the holidays. Decisions regarding staffing, displays, floor plan, signage, publicity, social media and in-store tastings have been made or are in the works. And with the calendar ticking, big inventory decisions loom. Time to clear out and stock up.

As is the case every year, suppliers are digging deep into their sacks of merchandising and marketing tricks to create gift-worthy pre-packed wines and spirits. The idea behind Value Added Packs (aka VAPs), as they are often called, is simple—make gift-giving even easier for shoppers. People love shortcuts. People love “extras.” VAPs deliver both. Whatever their motivation, VAPs offer prepackaged routes to gifting success—a resolution to which merchants and shoppers alike aspire.

The range of VAPs a given store stocks depends greatly on floor space and layout. Here are a few tips to incorporate these seasonal special-editions into your store.

  • Whatever you decide to carry, make sure your staff is given the details they need to explain the “added value” item; it’s not always obvious.
  • Avoid overkill. Huge piles of any product tend to make them look cheaper. One table or shelf section devoted to gifts will require less shifting of product and still score shoppers’ attention.
  • Be prepared to accommodate a good-ol’ bottle gift. Have gift bags available—as simple as mylar bags with yarn or as fancy as a spinning floor rack of decorative bags.
  • Keep small items near the cash register as impulse buys. This includes corkscrews and accessories that take up little space, as well as stocking-stuffable 50ml miniatures. This year maybe try some canned wine.

No matter how many of this season’s VAPs you stock, it’s important not to overlook perhaps the most important added-value of all when selling product to the public: Don’t forget to smile!

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Tequila Revolución sports a dramatic crystal top and metal cage. 2 Dandy duo—Henriot Champagne NV Brut Souverain and Blanc de Blancs in prism boxes. 3 Camus VSOP “Borderies” Cognac in a fittingly elegant gift bag. 4 Two 50ml minis of 10YO whisky & a 750ml of Bird Dog Bourbon. 5 Zignum Mezcal is not fooling around—those are Riedel tasting glasses. 6 Hine Cognac breaks the mold this year—with two ice sphere molds. 7 Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch with two branded glasses. 8 Perennial favorite Ketel One Vodka is dressed up with a window box and glasses. 9 Solid: the Bolla varietal wooden gift box. 10 Aviation Gin is gift-packed with a hip muddler. 11 Amarula Cream, Africa’s most awarded cream liqueur, with two logo glasses. 12 Basil Hayden Bourbon is housed in a handsome wooden canister. 13 RumChata two ways: 15 “Singlecup” packs (25ml each); and trio of 100mls. 14 Crystal Head Vodka is a no-brainer when two “skull” glasses sweeten the deal. 15 Frangelico hazelnut liqueur is paired with branded glasses and recipes. 16 Some like it sweet and nutty! Gozio Amaretto Liqueur comes with two branded glasses. 17 Cesari checks in with a gift-pack of two Pinot Grigio and one Merlot.

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1 José Maria da Fonseca 2010 “Alambre” Moscatel dessert wine makes an exotic gift. 2 The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve comes packed with blackstrap bitters and a barspoon. 3 Broker’s Gin beckons with a stemless martini glass. 4 Chivas Regal 18 Year Old in modern casing appeals to multiple generations. 5 The Absolut Cocktail Kit features Mason jars and recipes. 6 Brrrrrrr! Put a sweater on that Skyy Vodka! 7 Grey Goose Vodka has four olive picks inside the box. 8 Cool blue is hot; Tarantula Azul Liqueur comes with Mason jar shot glasses. 9 The One ‘n’ only Dark ‘n’ Stormy, featuring Goslings Dark Rum and Ginger Beer. 10 Island treasure: Camus “Île de Ré” Cognac shows its ocean influence. 11 Class act: Johnnie Walker Blue with heavy crystal glasses. 12Tomintoul 16 Year Old “Gentle Dram” Whisky with a pair of tasting glasses. 13 This Bartenura Moscato practically has “Hostess Gift” written all over it. 14 Heaven Hill Brands’ “Distillery Tasting Experience” has 100mls of Larceny, Bernheim, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Pikesville Rye. 15 Bombay Sapphire (700ml) makes a versatile gift in a handsome tin. 16 Royal Salute Whisky’s case was illustrated by a renowned British wallpaper designer. 17 Absolut Vodka—decked out in sparkly sequins—goes from sapphire to silver with a swipe. 18 Crown Royal is gift-boxed with two etched-base glasses.

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Adding to Jägermeister’s Millennial vibe, this 3-in-1 smartphone lens kit is the bomb. 2 Buchanan’s 12 Year Old Blended Scotch comes with two branded collector’s glasses. 3 Bird Dog Peach Whiskey comes with two bonus 50mls: Apple and Blackberry. 4 A Caipirinha kit from Novo Fogo Cachaça includes muddler and two drinking jars. 5 Pallini Limoncello with an authentic Deruta ceramic cup from Umbria. 6 The Bitter Truth Cocktail Travelers Set in the nostalgia metal tin; new Bar Pack features 20ml bottles of Tonic, Peach, Olive, Cucumber and Chocolate bitters. 7 Opici’s straw-bottomed Bottaro Chianti makes a loveable throwback gift. 8 Two sets of Scrappy’s Bitters: Orange, Aromatic, Orleans, Celery; and Lavender, Chocolate, Cardamom, Grapefruit. 9 Casamigos Añejo Tequila is party-ready with two shot glasses. 10 Glengoyne’s 10 Year Old is holiday-ready in a decorative tin with original art. 11 Speyburn “Bradan Orach” honors the world-class salmon fishing found on the River Spey. 12 Creamy, chocolatey Kerrygold Irish Cream is gift-boxed with two glasses. 13 The phrase “party in a bottle” has found new meaning: Heineken cork-finished magnum (1.5L) of the inimitable lager. 14 Diplomático Rum comes with two glasses. 15 A wee nip: 375ml Claddagh Irish Whiskey with branded glasses. 16 A trio of Jamesons—Caskmates, Black Barrel, Triple Distilled—in a handy carrier. 17 Jameson Irish Whiskey is all the more giftworthy in a custom tin. 18 Hey, fashionistas: Disaronno is wearing Missoni, with two matching glasses. 19 Hpnotiq promises a blue Christmas, plus two tinted glasses. 20 1L Patrón Silver Tequila inspired by Mexican folk art. 21Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt has both pedigree and age. 22 Liquore Strega in a metal case makes a stylish, offbeat gift.

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1 Southern Comfort checks in with whiskey stones in burlap pouch and two rocks glasses. 2 & 3 Riedel’s M Decanter (packed in box on right) and Riedel’s latest handblown flutes with colorful stems (individually boxed). 4 Beefeater’s collectible tin connects back to the gin’s origin in London. 5 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne is dressed in a thermal red jacket. 6 For the big vodka lover in your life: 1.75L LVOV Vodka from Poland. 7 The Tippy Cow stocking is pre-stuffed with four 50mls of cute and creamy liqueurs. 8This RumChata set with a split-chamber shot glass is just what Millennials ordered. 9 Kahlúa checks in with a playful coffee mug. 10 Stoli is gift-ready in a bright red box and two glasses. 11 Brut in a box: Alfred Gratien Champagne. 12 As a special holiday initiative called “Generosity Amplified,” this 12 Year Old Chivas Regal raises funds for Starkey Hearing Foundation. 13 Grand Marnier’s gift set features the classic orange liqueur with shot glasses. 14 McCormick Irish Cream has two branded glasses and recipes. 15 The Macallan Rare Cask was aged in Sherry barrels, as is the house signature, but this represents less than 1% of the single malt casks maturing at the Highland distillery. 16 Pink power: Alfred Gratien Champagne NV Brut Rosé. 17 Martell Cognac pairs their VSOP with two snifters.

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1 Some like it hot: Khortytsa Pepper Honey Hot Vodka with100ml of Platinum Vodka. 2 Brockmans Gin is ready to please in a classic tin. 3 Big Peat Single Malt is now in its 7th Christmas Edition, proving Scotch in a neat package is a winning combo. 4 The name is fun but the whiskey is serious: Boondocks 8 Year Old and American Whiskey, each 375ml. 5 J. Mossman has three age-statement blended Scotches, each handsomely packaged: Gold Crown (aged 12 years), Platinum Crown (15), Pink Gold Crown (18). 6 Amaros are sweet again; Fernet-Branca is looking hip with two pop-art style glasses. 7 Stoli’s ultra-premium elit Vodka dives deep with a snow globe encapsulating the entire bottle. 8 Prima Perla Prosecco comes in a handy two-pack. 9 Mionetto Prosecco Brut makes a trendy hostess gift. 10 With winter coming along, Graham’s Six Grapes kicks it into gear in a timeless tin. 11 Highland Park’s Valkyrie single malt packs added appeal with its connection to Norse mythology. 12 Trading up from Prosecco? This Ferrari NV Brut shows off the quality of TrentoDOC bubblies. 13 Baileys Irish Cream comes ready to please with “mine” and “yours” ceramic bowls. 14 Cardenal Mendoza Spanish brandy comes in a handsome tin. 15 Johnnie Walker Black with two rocks glasses will be embraced by Scotch lovers.

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16 Tequila lovers can get behind this: Avión Silver with 50mls of Reposado and Añejo. 17 Stella Rosa Imperiale Black Lux is sweet, red and festive in a decorative tin. 18 The Glenlivet 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, keeps it classy with two glasses. 19 Tito’s Handmade Vodka in a tiny sweater will have the brand’s fans oohing and ahhing. 20 Gift-boxed Mionetto 130 Anniversario Cuvée. 21 Herb-enriched Amaro Silano, in a 1L bottle, is designed to “Drink Below Zero.” 22 Bartneura Sparkling Rosé features a stylish reusable mesh bag. 23 Big cat: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame by Charlotte Olympia sports leopard accents for the holidays. 24 Stolichanya’s elit Vodka goes classic with this Martini glass set. 25 Avant garde: Cooper & Thief wine is aged in bourbon barrels for extra taste and cachet; complete with two tumblers (not stems). 26 Khortytsa De Luxe features modern, upscale packaging to complement its ultra-premium vodka. 27 Mount Gay XO Reserve Cask, collectible on its own, makes a great gift for rum enthusiasts. 28 Bonus time: a bottle of Twenty Grand comes with two 50ml minis of Peach and Apple vodka. 29 Magnifique: 750ml decanter of Camus XO Cognac with two tulip glasses. 30 Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream features two decorative shot glasses and recipes. 31 José Maria da Fonseca has gift-packed a pair of Periquita bottles; a good pick for the everyday wine lover.

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1 Ron Añejo Dos Maderas ‘Luxus’ fuses the rum culture of the Carribean with the Sherry culture of Jerez. 2 Back by popular demand: the Dogajolo Tuscan wines, a Bianco and Rosso. 3 Pyrat XO Reserve in a limited-edition old steamer trunk case. 4Benromach 10 Year Old Speyside Single Malt in a stylish canister. 5 This Carolans Irish Cream set has two glasses that can double as ice cream bowls. 6 Evan Williams Peach comes with a companion highball glass. 7 Novo Fogo Cachaça offers three mini cocktail kits, each with a 50ml bottle plus bitters and recipe. 8 Bayou Rum gets in the holiday spirit with a faux alligator skin box. 9 Mount Gay Rum offers two crafty 375mls, one made with copper pot stills, one copper column. 10 The holidays are bright for Moët & Chandon’s shimmery golden gift box and bottle. 11 The holiday edition of Woodford Reserve Bourbon includes a crystal Glencairn glass. 12 Dos Maderos “5+5” Rum features a complex barrel aging system. 13 Calvados Boulard for the apple lover, comes with two glasses. 14 This wood-case vertical of Vega Sicilia “Valbuena 5º” 2006-2011 might cause collectors to swoon. 15 Duval Leroy’s Femme de Champagne 1996 is exceptionally elegant, in a numbered box. 16 Fruity, full-bodied and classy: Fonseca “Bin 27” Port in a tin. 17 Templeton 4 Year Old Rye comes with two branded glasses. 18 With a striking design by John Maeda, Hennessy Cognac VSOP “Privilège” makes a great display. 19 Shhhh! Santa Rita’s Secret Reserve Red Blend is gift-boxed. 20Jefferson Reserve’s “Very Small Batch” is ideal for upscale bourbon lovers. 21 Château de Laubade offers XO Armagnac in an elegant gift box. 22 Barceló Dominican Grande Añejo Rum comes with a glass and cocktail recipes.

Note: Bottles are all 750ml unless otherwise indicated. Prices and availability may vary by market; check with your sales representative.

Download 2017 Holiday Gift Guide PDF here.

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