Promoted in catalogues and online, and displayed on end cap shelves and in neat stacks near store entrances, wine and spirits gift sets bring festive rings to retailers during the holiday shopping season. “A large part of our business is gift giving,” says Christian Navarro, president and principal of Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. “Our catalogue features dozens of different gift sets that we really specialize in, and our holiday retail displays are large and vast. We specialize in unique, couture, and exciting items—different from traditional gift packs. It’s a good synergy.”
Wally’s specializes in rare and hard-to-find products in their gift sets, such as The Dom Perignon Magnum Candleholder ($,3650), which includes a 1.5-liter of 2008 Dom Perignon Brut designed by musician and actor Lenny Kravitz and packaged in a velvet-lined candelabra box. “It’s an amazing gift set, and Lenny Kravitz hand-signed all of them for us,” Navarro says. “It’s super rare and really cool. That’s one of our most exciting things. That’s going to be what everyone’s chasing. There are only 24 available.”
Wally’s sells about 60% of its gift sets at its two stores and the rest online. “We ship all over the world, so about 40% of our business is online and out of state,” Navarro explains. “We have all these unique goods, so if you want something really exceptional you come to us.”
Gift sets are imperative to Wally’s overall holiday business, with the most popular ones featuring Champagne or Tequila. The company offers a gift set from Casa Dragones Joven Tequila with a personalized hand-written calligraphy label created at the store ($275 a 750-ml.). “We’re in southern California—everyone loves a gift set of Tequila,” says Navarro. “It’s really amazing.”
Another unique Champagne offering being sold at Wally’s this holiday season is the NV Mod Sélection Reserve, Glasses and Roses Gift Set featuring a 750-ml. of the bubbly, two signature Champagne glasses, and 35 preserved roses with the stems cut off ($2,000). “We look for unique things that create a special feeling,” Navarro says. “A lot of these offerings are exclusive or extremely limited. You can only find some of them at one or two places in the country and five places on planet earth.”
In New York, Fishkill Wine & Liquors stocks more than 100 spirits and wine gift sets. When a customer enters the store, one of the first things that might catch their eye is a neatly arranged wall of gift sets displayed on the right. “The gift sets are very important to our overall holiday sales,” says co-owner Jim Panico.
Popular box sets feature Bourbons, liqueurs, and single malt Scotches. Big sellers include a 750-ml. of Bulleit Bourbon with two glasses ($40), a 750-ml. of Maker’s Mark with a muddler ($34), a 750-ml. of Frangelico with a French coffee press ($25), a 750-ml. of Amarula with two glasses ($20 a 750-ml.), and a 750-ml. of RumChata with two glasses ($24). Among Scotches, Compass Box offers a range of five 250-ml. tubes of different whiskies, including Asyla, Oak Cross, Spice Tree, Peat Monster, and Hedonism ($50).
The crown jewel of the store’s gift sets is undoubtedly the Game of Thrones whisky collection, which includes eight 750-ml. limited-edition single malts: Singleton of Glendullan Select, Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost, Cardhu Gold Reserve, Lagavulin 9-year-old, Talisker Select Reserve, Royal Lochnagar 12-year-old, Clynelish Reserve, and Oban Bay Reserve ($1,200).
In the Midwest, Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Cap n’ Cork beer, wine, and spirits stores promotes boxed gift sets in its December newsletter and offers more than 40 at each of its 15 locations. “We normally display gift sets in a special section with end cap shelving,” says co-owner Joe Doust.
Bourbon gift sets are the biggest sellers at Cap n’ Cork, with leaders including a 750-ml. of Knob Creek with two rocks glasses ($35) and a 750-ml. of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel with two rocks glasses ($52). “Bourbon gift sets sell the best,” Doust says, adding that other popular gift sets include the Crown Royal Collector’s Edition, which features a 750-ml. bottle with a glass and coaster ($26), and a 750-ml. of Di Amore amaretto with two glasses ($13). “Just being able to offer gift sets is a huge value add for the consumer and easy for shopping,” Doust says. “Many suppliers do not up charge for the packaging and glassware.”