GIFTS FOR THE GOURMET
1. Hibiki 35-year-old Whisky
For your favourite collector, the ultimate coup will be to get hold of Suntory's newly released Hibiki 35 Year Old - an extremely limited release with just 200 bottles available world-wide, in two designs. It's the first time the 35-year-old is being released outside of Japan, and is a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged for three and a half decades. Described as having top notes of aloe wood, dried fruits, vanilla and honey, it has an alcohol content of 47 per cent and best drunk neat.
The Hibiki 35 Year Old is housed in two different bottle designs made by artisans in Arita and Kutani. The Arita bottle follows a traditional blue and white design, while the Kutani bottle boasts bold brushstrokes and vibrant colours. The only problem is that the stockists haven't been revealed yet, so stay tuned.
Matthew Shang, Principal at HASSELL
"I have received and love the customised fabric covered notebooks from Bode (bode.com.sg). They have a good story - they are made by people with disabilities at SPD (spd.org.sg), a great charity organisation. I'll be getting one for my Mum this year.
I really like the idea of uniquely Singapore items - and I love food - so I would be thrilled to receive a curated hamper of exclusively Singaporean foodie items, like some of the great
flavours of ice cream from The Daily Scoop!
The perfect gift always relates to the person - so the more you know about them the better. We have a great friend who's craft-obsessed so whenever I'm travelling somewhere exotic and see something crafted, I pick it up straight away.
This Christmas we are staying home with a group of great friends and sharing the day with some orphans. Then we set off to New Zealand to celebrate a friend's birthday."
2. Nutrinest Honey
Xavier Tan is a local beekeeper who provides humane beehive removal services and rehouses the bees in his eco garden. The honey he harvests is 100 per cent raw and unprocessed, and sold in limited batches. Bees are crucial to balancing the eco-system and their numbers are rapidly dwindling, hence his mission to create greater awareness about the creatures while you get to enjoy the fruits of their labour. With flavours like cinnamon and bitter gourd, the honey is priced from S$19 to S$89. Mr Tan has recently started using the honey to brew mead - the very first alcoholic drink created by Man and the tipple of choice for the Vikings. It's also starting to catch on with hipster drinkers, and he has done a small batch to start, priced at S$38 a bottle.
For orders and enquiries, go to www.nutrinest.com or call Xavier Tan at 9147-4065
Simone Macri, Restaurant manager, Jaan
In Italy, we have many traditional sweets that make great Christmas gifts, such as Torrone (Nougat), and of course Pandoro and Panettone. I would also recommend a nice traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena aged 100 years, priced at $280. It's so intense, a few drops add a whole new dimension to a simple risotto or strawberries.
My ultimate Christmas present would be a nice bottle of Karuizawa whiskey; the 1984 which is my birth year, is a single malt aged in sherry cask and goes for around S$9000. Also on my wish list is anything from the tableware collection from Nousaku, handcrafted in Takaoka, Japan. Everything is made of tin and you can shape it as you like. It is said in Japan that water poured into tin is instantly purified!
That said, I received the perfect gift from my wife last year - a weekend in Tokyo!"
3. Five X.P Riesling Brandy
If you prefer a 'Singapore-made' spirit, Five X.P is a super niche digestif developed by wine importer Alan Wong and his friends, made specifically from the German Riesling grape, instead of the conventional grapes used for cognac. Launched in 2016, they wanted to challenge the conventions of cognac-making, hence the acronym XP, which stands for Extra Pure. Vacuum-distilled and matured in oak casks for six years, there are only 5000 litres in production, lending to its exclusive nature. At 38 per cent alcohol content, it boasts a subtle bouquet and flavour of stone fruit, honeysuckle and lemon zest. They offer a customization service so you can put your recipient's name on it. You can even pick your box design and carrier bag, so there's no mistake who the lucky recipient is. Priced at S$160.50, with an extra S$6.42 to print a name on it.
To order, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fivexp.com
Chang Theng Hwee, CEO of Scott Dunn Asia
"I have a love for old antique maps and was once given one by a dear friend for my
birthday. It was a very touching gift as they aren't necessarily easy to come by. It took a lot of thought and time to source which makes it so special.
I wish I could be a mind reader when it comes to buying gifts - there's nothing better than seeing someone's face light up when you get it just right!
But one way to make a gourmet happy would be a gift holiday to one of the top food capitals of the world. I would recommend Provence in France or the Spanish Pyrenees. Spend your days hiking
through stunning landscapes and your evenings savouring delicious local delicacies.
As for me, I'll be spending Christmas seeking out tigers in India!"
4. At home with Emmanuel Stroobant
Private home dining is all the rage now as budding professional chefs show off their skills while hosting you in their own homes. But when have you ever heard of a Michelin-starred chef inviting you to a personally-cooked Christmas dinner in the privacy of his own home?
Now you have. For the ultimate bespoke opportunity, chef Emmanuel Stroobant of the one-starred Saint Pierre opens his home in Bukit Timah on Christmas Eve to a party of six to eight, for an exclusive meal cooked by him and hosted by co-owner and wife Edina Hong.
Priced at S$999 per head, you will be chauffeured by limo from your home to the Stroobants' semi-detached home where their beautifully-appointed open kitchen takes centrestage, flowing into the living area. Champagne and caviar are a must to start off, followed by a tailored meal (with wines) featuring seasonal ingredients including seafood of the same quality that their two Michelin-starred Shoukouwa sushi restaurant is known for.
For Christmas Eve only. Call 6438-0887 or email email@example.com
5. Classic Gourmet
There are hampers and there are hampers. If you're gifting to an avid gourmet, fine restaurant quality is the least you can offer. Think organic turkeys from Wales; seasonal white Alba truffles and caviar flown in to order; award-winning burrata voted the best in the world by the Italian Cheese Association. For years, Classic Fine Food has been the go-to supplier for Michelin-starred restaurants here but it will also sell to individuals for a minimum purchase of S$500. Highlights include turkey from Rhug Estate; Bresse chicken from Mieral; white truffles from Tartufi Morra; cheese platters from affineur Hervè Mons and Italian cheesemonger Luigi Guffanti. Don't expect gift packaging but nothing says Christmas like a styrofoam box filled with delicacies from around the world.
For more information and orders, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the header "A Bespoke Experience" or follow them at @classicfinefoodssg.
6. Frame Series Tableware
For the consummate hostess, there's nothing like serving painstakingly prepared canapés or beautifully composed salads and appetisers on exquisite customised tableware crafted by Japanese craftsmen. The "frame series" by Arita Plus is a line of dinner crockery made in Arita in Saga prefecture, synonymous with porcelain ware production for over 400 years. It's not as delicate as it looks because this particular series is three times stronger than normal porcelain. Glazing and painting are done by hand and its strength means that the craftsmen can get away with making ultra thin edges for even more refined designs. It's a hot favourite for professional chefs but its local distributors Huls Gallery accepts customisation requests from individuals, with a two month lead time. Your recipient will have to wait for his or her gift, but it will at least be in time for an elegant reunion dinner.
HULS Gallery is at 24 Duxton Hill. Tel: 6225-6331. https://huls.com.sg/