Just because there’s a pandemic, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy new tastes for the holidays!


By Dave Gordon

With Winter 2020 on the horizon, you know it won’t just be the weather outside that’s frightful. Because with coronavirus, things haven’t been very delightful.

And so, with the holiday time is approaching, and though many of us – for obvious reasons – aren’t celebrating with a full house and a full feast, we can still clink some bubbly with those in our bubble. In fact, we can also toast to the holidays and New Year’s with new flavours that have just been released. Here at Pie, we have tested and reviewed some new arrivals, and couldn’t wait to recommend them to you.

So, since we now have someplace to go… let the drinks flow, let them flow, let them flow!


18.8 Vodka and Gin
Niagara Region, Ontario
Both 18.8%

Upon observing the spirits market, Fluid Assets CEO Jakob Ripshtein noticed there was a glaring gap between traditional spirits with 40% ABV and the ready-to-drink options at 4-6% ABV, many of which are less flavourful, taste artificial, or are packed with sugar and extra calories. That, as well as a shift towards health consciousness, became the main motivation for creating 18.8.

The 18.8 Vodka has been distilled eight times to reach that magical 18.8% ABV, while also containing less than half the calories of a typical vodka drink. The same can be said for the 18.8 Gin, which provides a prominent elderflower aroma while blending with tastes of Juniper almond and angelica to results in hints of spice and citrus. The vodka has already won a silver medal in the International Spirits Challenge 2020 for commitment to quality and innovation in the vodka category.


Gray Jay Deluxe Canadian Whiskey
Niagara Falls, Ontario

As bourbon is surging in popularity, Gray Jay wanted to make a Canadian-made drink that rivals its US tastes. Designed for less experienced and new whisky consumers, it is a light-tasting beverage that doesn’t cut the throat when going down. The company decided not to follow industry norms, not adding colouring, a sweeter blend, and a more accessible liquid profile for better tasting cocktails.

Woody notes of vanilla and caramel are the calling card for this whiskey, which is bound to work well in classic mixed drinks and craft cocktails.

Their campaign concept is “Your Whisky. Your Rules” encouraging people to “tear up” the old rule book and drink Gray Jay in whatever way they want. Many people don’t know that Gray Jay is Canada’s national bird (and is appropriately also known as “Whiskey Jack”) and exhibits some unique characteristics that the creators felt would be appropriate for this unpretentious brand.


Graffigna Pinot Grigio and Malbec
San Juan, Argentina
Pinot Grigio: 13%, light & crisp
Malbec: 13.7%, full-bodied & firm

Graffigna is celebrating their 150th anniversary and this is a timely milestone as their new labels were just released in LCBO. Graffigna was founded in 1870 by the Italian immigrant, Santiago Graffigna, with his vision and entrepreneurial spirit, planted the first vineyards of the region. The winery is considered the oldest in San Juan and one of the most historic wineries in Argentina. They released a new label in celebration of this milestone. The Pinot Grigio and Malbec are the perfect bottles to pair at home with an Argentine meal like an “Asado,” which is Spanish for BBQ.

The Pinot Grigio provides a fruit bowl’s worth of aromas, including fragrant melon, apple, citrus, pear plus a hint of white peach apricot along with floral nuances. Those fruits are felt in the taste, providing a soft, yet balanced finish.

The Malbec goes strong on the dark fruits – with dark plums, red berries and blackberries with hints of vanilla, black pepper, sweet spices and toasted notes. What results is a rounded taste of dark fruit and coffee flavours with a tannic finish.



Glendalough Double Barrel Irish whiskey
42%, medium & sweet

A single grain whiskey that has been aged twice – first in American oak Bourbon barrels for three years, and again in very special Spanish oak Oloroso barrels. Oloroso imparts unique aromatics into the double barrel whiskey: dried fruit, sweet spices, leather and tobacco.

Irish oak has a longer growing season which results in a more pronounced grain that imparts more woodiness into the spirit. The casks are made from 130-year-old trees that Glendalough sustainably harvests from the Wicklow mountains surrounding the distillery.

Glendalough Distillery has numbered each bottle back to the batch, the cask, and right back to the tree, it came from. A neck tag on each bottle directs you to a link, where you can input the numbers from your bottle and see a short, personalized film of the specific tree being felled and the actual cask being coopered. This bottle was a gold medal winner at the 2017 World Spirits Competition.



Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition by Faith XLVII
Cognac, France
40% alcohol

Faith XLVII is global, visual artist, with roots from South Africa, who has dedicated her craft to understanding and expressing the human condition. After two decades connecting with urban space, Faith XLVII has designed a new emblematic Hennessy VS bottle, meant to evoke the same emotions as the drink itself. Bridging the artistry of Faith XLVII and the mastery of Hennessy VS, this very special, limited-edition parallels the time, exacting sensitibility and nature that go into each blend.

Rich notes of toasted almond, grapes, and citrus zest allow for a sense of harmony from a process accentuated in the seasons. The earthly brownish-red colour is a stagnant reminder that Hennessy VS does not rush in its environment of creation. Hennessy VS, straight from Cognac, France, is a product of the indulgence.

And finally… enjoy the perfect mixing tool with Control.

If you’re hunting for the perfect gift for the cocktail connoisseur in your life or a thoughtful present for a holiday party host, go beyond the traditional bottle of top-shelf liquor with Control Bottle. The carafe-like new mixology tool is designed to provide you with a perfectly personalized cocktail in a single pour. Thanks to a patented dial, each individual can set the strength of their cocktail choosing from light, mild, medium, strong, and extreme. Whether you stick to mellow Margaritas (light) or prefer a festive White Russian with a kick (strong), everyone can sip their libations exactly the way that they like it. Control Bottle is available in three striking designs (prices start at $39.95), each with an easy refill system so the party never has to stop. Cheers to the holiday season with an uncompromising cocktail in hand.