BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (TheStreet) -- It may be one of the most popular holiday business gifts, but few things say "I didn't give this much thought" more than an ordinary bottle of wine. Sure, there are the obvious exceptions of a 1970s Margaux or a bankable Chateau La Fete Rothschild, but those are a gift-giving rarity -- pricey and difficult to find in a pinch.
Luckily, the alternative is surprisingly easy to find, given a boom of premium spirits in recent years that has included a few brands that are good to drink and sometimes ever better to look at. They make the perfect gift for the holiday season.
It's difficult to improve on the already impressive Gran Patron Platinum line, but America's top-selling premium tequila maker is trying.
was launched in Southern California in 2008 by actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd, whose interest in the supernatural led to the story of an archeological find of 13 disputably pre-Colombian Crystal Skulls. The vodka is packaged inside a glass reproduction of a human skull designed by artist John Alexander to mimic the original crystal heads, which are said to project enlightenment, positive energy and mystical properties. Most simply hope they mix well with soda or tonic, which they do. The vodka is derived from glacial waters in Newfoundland and free of such additives as glycerin, citrus oil and sugar. Its triple processing uses Herkimer diamonds in its last distillation, resulting in the brand's clear and unique taste.
From Russia comes an aristocratic and even pricier vodka,
, the distillation and manufacturing of which takes place literally in the middle of nowhere -- the far reaches of Siberia, almost 200 miles from any factory or industrial zone. It has become the it-bottle for billionaire Russians looking to show off at the hotel bars or places such as Moscow's Soho Rooms. Derived from malt alcohol in lieu of cheaper and more common grains, a natural fermentation is achieved free of synthetic additives. There are only 900 bottles per day, sealed with a metal label in individually marked bottles built for sturdiness and elegance, of the high-end Beluga Gold Line.
is one of the most famous and distinguished purveyors of bubbly from France's Champagne region, but it's not as obvious a gifting a bottle of Dom Perignon, a sister spirit also owned by LVMH. One of the most popular champagne of sommeliers and spirit writers, Krug Grande Cuvee is fermented in small casks and known as "non/multivintage," meaning its blended composition results in a more uniform flavor from year to year. Krug is pricier than Dom, although that might be lost on anyone unfamiliar with premium champagnes. If on the receiving end, don't hesitate to enjoy the bottle over a weekend, allowing the bubbles to subside and the fruity and smoky flavor to prevail.
For Scotch lovers looking for something in the over-$150 price range,
is an impeccably packaged hourglass-shaped bottle with black box emblazoned in gold lettering. Inside, the Signet is made up of older single malts ranging from 25 to 30 years blended with a substantially younger 10-year malted barley that yields one of the most magical and intense flavors perfect for the holiday season. Drinkers remark that the flavors mimic that of dark chocolate with an espresso essence, resulting in rave reviews from scotch lovers and this year's Double Gold Award from the San Francisco World Sprits Competition.
It's difficult to improve on the already impressive
line, but America's top-selling premium tequila maker is trying with the unveiling of
, a limited-production anejo tequila aged in oak barrels sourced from Chateaux Margaux and throughout France. The tequila begins by being aged for a year before it's distilled again and placed inside the oak barrels, adding another dimension to the aging process for a quintessential woodsy flavor and signature color. A sipping tequila or decadent mixer, the bottle, complete with a crystal stopper, is packed inside a collector's black walnut box that will impress any tequila or bottle connoisseur.
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.