Whether you are a lady wondering what to buy for your gentleman / father / brother / son / cousin / uncle / butler / driver / groundsman this festive season; or a gentleman wondering what to request from your lady / mother / sister / daughter / cousin / aunt / maid / tea lady, here is a guide to help you get started. In fact I do believe this is the definitive guide to the modern gentleman’s wish list. After all, I wrote it. For the definitive guide to ladies’ festive gifts, read Girl Thursday’s recommendations. And for gifts to please all, read our aptly (but unimaginatively) named Festive Gift Guide.
Sartorial Eau de Toilette by Penhaligon’s London
The latest fragrance from this London smart-set brand is based on the aromas of a Savile Row tailoring house. It’s a grown up, sophisticated scent for the confident, debonair gent who wants something different from the sporty, aquatic run-of-the-mill colognes that flood the market today. A contemporary interpretation of a classic Fougère, the traditional notes of oakmoss, tonka bean and lavender have been exquisitely stitched together with woods, ozonic and metallic effects, leather, violet leaf, honey and spices to create the illusion of a tailor’s workroom.
The modern thread running through Sartorial is beeswax, echoing the blocks of wax each thread is run across before stitching. This sweet, smudged note ties together the more traditional elements; the oiled flash of shears cutting cloth, the rub of fabric beneath fingers, tobacco-tinted cabinetry, puffs of chalk in the air and old paper patterns that vanilla with age. Different and distinctive, it sits well on a man who is familiar with the heady mist of Havana cigar smoke and the peachy notes of a fine cognac; ideal as an evening fragrance or for reposing in your favourite club, library or drawing room.
Priced at £70, available from Penhaligon’s stores nationwide and online.
Handmade Leather Wallet by Berluti of Paris
The finest custom handmade shoes in the world are made by Berluti, the Parisian ‘bottier’. Specialist suppliers of the highest quality leathers with the most labour-intensive finishes, they also offer a range of leather accessories from wallets to belts to cigar cases. I carry a Berluti card wallet that fits neatly into a trouser or jacket pocket and has enough room for notes, business cards, credit cards and receipts without growing bulky and unsightly. Offered in a variety of colours, finishes and engravings with a lifetime guarantee and free leather treatment at Berluti’s workshop, this is the sort of wallet that one pulls out at a bar and everyone wonders where you bought it. You are unlikely to see another like it.
Prices on request. Available from Berluti at 43 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2YJ or 4 Harriet Street, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 9RJ.
Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac
An independent, small-batch producer, Maxime Trijol offers a refined range of cognacs for the discerning palate. This VSOP Grande Champagne is as delicate and elegant as a much more expensive XO from the major cognac houses. Featuring a sweet nose consisting of vanilla, spice and dried fruit, developing to apricot and oak, its well–structured body is mellow yet rich on the palate with a touch of spice for a lively finish. Full of finesse, this light-amber nectar will satisfy even the harshest of critics; very complementary with a fine Cuban cigar.
Priced at around £45 from Selfridges Wine Shop.
Sancho Panza Non Plus Havana Cigars
Named after the rustic squire to Don Quixote in Miguel de Cervantes’ 1605 novel of the same name, this very old brand was originated by Emilio Ahmsted in 1852. Sancho Panza offer medium-bodied cigars that are exclusively handmade. The brand is admired for the larger sizes in its range, including the enormous Sanchos and the shaped-head Belicosos. The Non Plus is a Petit Corona with a length of 129mm and a ring gauge of 42. An ideal daytime or starter cigar, it’s a mild smoke with medium-tobacco taste, sweet and aromatic, with chocolate, pepper and spicy notes in a perfectly balanced harmony of Havana tobacco craftsmanship. This would make an ideal cigar for post-Christmas lunch or a lazy Boxing Day smoke. Combine with rare whisky, fine cognac or a pleasant stroll around the grounds.
Priced at £9.95 each. Available at JJ Fox in Selfridges, Harrods and at 19 St James Street.
Maduro Leaf Candle by Penhaligon’s London
Presented in a wooden cigar box, this hefty, stylish and masculine candle is packed with essential oils, with a triple-wick that burns for up to 110 hours, filling your home with a scent reminiscent of a smoking room in an elegant gentlemen’s club. Evoking wood-panelled walls, soft leather armchairs, a fire burning in the grate and the heady scent of cigars; this is a warming and comforting aroma suited to the winter months. Spicy top notes lead to a heart packed with Cedarwood, Patchouli and Oakwood, while base notes of Amber and White Musk add a sensual twist. Housed in smoky black glass, the wax is of the highest quality to ensure a superior burn time. An essential accessory for the elegant bachelor pad or a gentleman’s study.
Priced at £80, available from Penhaligon’s stores nationwide and online.
Formal Tailored-Fit Shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt of Jermyn Street
Readers will know that I am mildly obsessed with tailored clothing and tend to buy most of my shirts from my favourite tailors, Timothy Everest and Gresham Blake. But there is another shirtmaker – Charles Tyrwhitt of Jermyn Street – who offers highly affordable and well-made shirts off-the-peg with all the convenience of fit and bespoke sleeve length, which is not normally available from the high street. If you (or your gentleman) are of a reasonably average to slim build, I would recommend opting for the ‘tailored fit’, with measured sleeve size and collar. This is the closest you will get to a fully bespoke shirt from a high street retailer. And Nick Wheeler, the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, is one of the nicest chaps I’ve ever met (that has nothing to do with the G&Ts he bought me), so you should buy his shirts if only for that reason. Charles Tyrwhitt also offers a marvellous range of clothing and accessories; their off-the-peg blazers are especially well cut. I purchased a green country check jacket not too long ago and it’s almost indistinguishable from my fully tailored blazers.
Prices start at £29.95 from Charles Tyrwhitt stores nationwide and online.
Shoes by Harry’s of London
Harry’s of London are one of the finest shoemakers on the market today. Highly individual designs with modern British flair, handmade in Italy and sold exclusively from their stores in Mayfair or online, these are a gentleman’s dream come true. They offer a smart range of shoes with comfort-gel insoles and Vibram outer soles (as seen on walking boots) which make them perfect for the man about town, yet chic and elegant enough to wear with a suit and nobody will be any wiser. In fact Prada did something similar some years ago, but Harry’s have taken this theme and perfected it ten-fold.
Prices start at £325. Available from their Mayfair stores on South Audley Street or in the Burlington Arcade, or online.