Cognac aged in bourbon casks is the hottest holiday gift for the cocktail lovers on your list

Cognac aged in bourbon casks is the hottest holiday gift for the cocktail lovers on your list

Try Martell's Blue Swift and get a bottle engraved for free at select LCBOs this holiday season

These days, cognac isn’t reserved solely for your bearded, cigar-smoking friends who like to sit by fires and chat about their investments. The spirit has undergone a total revitalization and is currently a staple at Toronto’s coolest cocktail bars, with bartenders serving it up on the rocks or using the stuff in any manner of creative cocktail.

And while bottles of fancy wine or whiskey are always a pretty safe gifting bet during the holiday season, cognac still sends a slightly more special message to friends and family who mean more to you than, say, a co-worker or client. And if you’re going to splurge on a few bottles this year, you can’t do better than Martell’s Blue Swift, a VSOP (very superior old pale) matured in French oak casks and finished in Kentucky bourbon casks—making it a unique gift for both fans of cognac and bourbon lovers alike.

The brand itself is legendary: Martell was founded in France in 1715 and has been crafting exceptional cognacs in the wine-growing regions of Charente and Charente-Maritime for three centuries. It’s safe to say they know what they’re doing, turning white wine into eaux-de-vie through a rigorous fermentation and distillation process. The VSOP is created from eau-de-vie that’s aged in oak barrels for at least four years. Blue Swift features Martell’s signature VSOP flavour (think: delicate notes of candied fruit and plum) complemented by the subtle sweetness of vanilla and toasted oak, which comes from the bourbon casks.

But don’t take our word for it: until December 21, Torontonians can actually try Blue Swift for free. Numerous LCBOs around the city (26, to be exact) are hosting Martell tasting pop-ups for anyone who wants to test out the aromas, notes and flavours before wrapping up the bottles for their nearest and dearest (or, you know, taking a few home to stock your living room bar).

What’s particularly awesome about Blue Swift—whether you’re giving it as a gift or recruiting it as a new bar staple—is its versatility. It tastes amazing over ice, served neat or as a key ingredient in a custom cocktail. Though there are tons of unexpected cocktails you can make with Blue Swift, one of the most surprisingly delicious is a mint julep. Simply crush mint leaves in a julep cup, add Blue Swift and some sugar syrup, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with berries and a mint sprig. Blue Swift also makes a mean sidecar, and, for the holidays, we recommend a plum spritz for a perfectly festive welcome drink.

A few of the Martell samplings at the LCBO are also offering a more customized experience that will appeal to any Torontonian who thinks PJs should be monogrammed and that homemade cards are better than standard stationery. At 10 of the 26 LCBOs that are hosting the events around the city, including Bayview Village Shopping Centre and Summerhill’s Scrivener Square, shoppers can also get their Blue Swift bottles engraved for free. During specific evening time slots, anyone who purchases a bottle can get up to 60 characters engraved above the label on the back of the bottle. It’s a thoughtful touch, and it ensures your recipient won’t simply recycle the bottle when they’re finished consuming what’s inside (we think the handsome bottle would make a great eucalyptus holder).

The sampling events are on now until December 21. Check the schedule and venture to your nearest participating LCBO to try out a new kind of cognac that’s guaranteed to impress.

Until December 21. Various LCBOs. Martell.com. Please enjoy responsibly.