Christmas offers of good-quality single malts at around £12 angered many in the whisky industry last year. The Glenlivet, in particular, was accused of undermining competitors with its £12.99 12-year-old at the Co-op.

Christmas offers of good-quality single malts at around £12 angered many in the whisky industry last year. The Glenlivet, in particular, was accused of undermining competitors with its £12.99 12-year-old at the Co-op.

There is now an antidote: the malt that costs "around £100". This is the price-point for two new bottlings. The Macallan, having acquired an 1861 bottle from a collector, has tried to achieve the same character in a replica edition. This is a vatting of 28 casks, chosen from 1,600. There are about 17,500 bottles. The early Macallans seem fruitier, more delicate and leaner than the present-day style. The original 1861 reminded me of apricots and custard. The replica captures the style, but is perhaps more perfumy. A good drink, and possibly a better investment: a replica 1874 was released in 1996 at £65, and was selling at £240 a couple of years later.

The other £100 whisky is a vatting of Ardbegs with a minimum age of 25 years. In line with fashion, this has a "brand name": Ardbeg Lord of the Isles. It has an evocatively sooty aroma, an oily body, and long, peppery flavours. Elegant, but not as earthy and sensuous as some Ardbegs from that period.

¿ Most Spanish cava I can take or leave... OK, leave, but it's amazing what a difference chardonnay can make, especially in an organic blend like the Albet I Noya Cava Vendrell Brut Reserva (£7.99, Sainsbury's), a fruity, textured Spanish champagne-method fizz whose creaminess is cut by sherbet lemon fruitiness. Over to the pukka stuff, the 1995 Champagne de Saint Gall premier cru Brut (£19.99, Marks & Spencer) is the outstanding vintage champagne in the current M&S line-up, with honeycomb flavours and creamy texture.

For just £1 more, you can pick up arguably the best non-vintage champagne around – Louis Roederer's Brut Premier, a riot of bubbles forming a mouth-filling cushion of stylish, biscuity fruit (Waitrose, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up and Thresher, £20.99). Charles Heidsieck is also making a bid for best non-vintage champagne, having produced an aromatic, almondy mouthful of full-flavoured bubbles in the Brut Reserve Mise en Cave 1997 (Waitrose, £19.99, from Monday).

¿ There's something rather Irish about Marks & Spencer's hot boozy tipple. Irish Perfection (£4.99), comes in a box with two glasses of microwaveable, ready-prepared Irish coffee. Simply pierce the foil, whack them in the microwave, as Jamie might say, for 45 seconds, and out come two piping-hot glasses of coffee, topped with cream, or at least something cunningly resembling cream, and the added warmth of a nip of Irish whiskey. I can see this winter warmer lending a thrill to Tupperware mornings.

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