From Shepherd Neame. This year's version of the Kent brewer's festive ale, it has national listings in the major multiples. Price £1.99 Abv: 6.7% TARGET CONSUMER Tom Joynson, 33, is a corporate sculptor who lives in south-west London This is rather smart packaging for something I wouldn't normally class as a smart product, which suggests it is trying to make a mongrel into a pedigree. It's a nice shaped bottle but the content looks more like whisky than beer. It smells quite mild and it reminds me of American redwoods with an overtone of pear drops. The initial taste is woody and mellow and it is soft and honeyed in the mouth, but the aftertaste is unpleasantly bitter. I think the idea of a limited edition is quite good, but I think calling it a Christmas ale is too narrow a definition. It's not the most amazing beer in the world but it might do as a stocking filler. Rating out of 25 ­ 15 Sally Easton Master of Wine and wine buyer for Berry Brothers and Rudd This ale has an attractive golden amber hue with an intense nose of malt, caramel and fragrant spices. On the palate it has a smooth attack with a medium bodied bitter-sweet flavour profile with characters of cherries, cinnamon and allspice. It is nicely balanced with a level of acidity which leaves the palate refreshed and lifts the aromas on the finish. Its medium body supports its high alcohol level of nearly 7%; this is good quality at any time of the year. The packaging is clean and smart with a festive card box and a clear bottle which shows off to good effect this ale's attractive colour. Success rating out of 25 ­ 24 Graham Shearsby Board creative director, graphics, at Design Bridge Imagine the anticipation. Underneath the Christmas tree lies a carefully wrapped gift box. Your name is on it. Season's greetings. What can it be? Feels heavy and substantial, could it be a bottle of single malt, or a port, or an armagnac? When you reveal the treasure inside, your heart sinks. It's a bottle of beer. The disappointment of it all. An overpackaged twee Christmas ale with all the yuletide clichés. The obvious cost and effort that went into producing this depressingly predictable offering makes me yearn for the excitement of Auntie Elsie's monogrammed handkerchiefs. Success rating out of 25 ­ 2 Steve Mayes Category controller at Landmark Most of this Christmas Ale should be sold by now. However if you are looking for a last minute stocking filler you can't go far wrong with this. It looks OK ­ what you would expect really ­ tastes fantastic and represents good value for money at £1.99. There appears to be an increasing demand for festive ales in the UK, although the market is not as developed as in Denmark, where up to 50% of beer sales at Christmas are traditional Christmas beers. However companies such as Cains, Bateman's and Shepherd Neame make quality festive products which offer an excellent margin. Success rating out of 25 ­ 18 Total score out of 100 ­ 59 {{DRINKS }}