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Advent is a Christian celebration heralding the "arrival" of Jesus that begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on the holiday’s eve. This year, the merriment starts on November 29th. For those who want to observe with a tipple, a boozy Advent calendar can be a fun way to prepare and get into the spirit of the Nativity. For the non-observant, a collection of 24 small whisk(e)y bottles is a great excuse to try awesome new drams of Scotch, bourbon, or rye. A tidy package loaded up with hooch also makes an excellent gift for any whiskey lover. 'Tis the season! No matter how you want to celebrate, here are the best whiskey Advent calendars to add a little extra yuletide cheer.
The hugely popular Flaviar whisk(e)y Advent calendar sold out in short order last year. So, if this one tickles your fancy, plunk down that credit card early on a preorder. The set comes with 24 1.7-ounce pours of premium hooch. The firm doesn’t give you any hints on what’s in the box, which adds to the surprise, but it does include a Flaviar Glencairn glass, artwork, and flavor notes for each dram.
It’s all there in the name. There are 25 really good whiskies in 30-milliliter pours (that’s a little over one ounce each) in the box. While a majority of the drams are stunning single malts like Arran Quarter Cask, GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 8, and BenRiach Cask Strength, there are a few Irish small-batch expressions, a pair of American whiskeys, some blends, and a couple of single grain spirits. Excitingly, the collection does include a much-lauded Aussie, Starward Solera, but we’d be most stoked to sample Kingsbarns Dream to Dram, which is both from an upstart Scottish maker and nearly impossible to get stateside.
This Advent collection is another from a United Kingdom purveyor. The Whisky Shop offers this curated box of 24 30-milliliter drams, and while they can deliver all over the UK, their ability to ship to US states is limited to California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC, Wyoming, and some cities in Alaska. Chock-full of excellent single malts like Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dha and a Balblair 2005, the selection also includes some blends, a taste of Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old, and some Suntory Toki Japanese whisky.
For the whiskey fan that prefers hooch made in the USA, this Advent calendar features bourbons, ryes, Tennessee whiskeys, and a malt all bottled in the lower 48 states. The box boasts 24 30-milliliter bottles, which is a great way to broaden any drinker’s American whiskey knowledge. Included are a few omnipresent expressions like Gentleman Jack and Maker’s Mark 46, but there are also some drams that fly under the radar, such as Sonoma Distilling Co. Cherrywood Rye and Blinking Owl 4 Grain Bourbon.
Drinks by the Dram offers several great options when it comes to boozy Advent calendars, but this Japanese version contains a selection of amazing expressions that range from intro level to high end. This calendar offers 24 different, handmade 30-milliliter wax-sealed drams. While the company does offer a caveat that the selection is subject to change, “any dram changed will be of equal or better quality!”
The current make-up includes blends, single malts, and single grain whiskies. As you’d expect, there is a taste of Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt, Hibiki Harmony, and a Suntory Toki, but among the two dozen bottles is a taste of Yamazaki 18—a marvelous treat.
This calendar is an expensive splurge, but it is a fabulous way to sample whiskies that can barely be had at any price. Inside the box, you’ll find 24 different, handmade 30-millilitere wax-sealed drams containing spirits from across the globe. Never had an Old Fitzgerald 15 Year Old, or a Yamazaki 18? Here’s your chance. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to taste a Macallan 25 Year Old 1993, as well as some whiskies aged three and four decades, including Glenfarclas 30 Year Old, Fettercairn 40 Year Old and Caledonian 42 Year Old 1976.
If you’re giving a whisky Advent calendar as a gift and want to personalize it yourself, this DIY version is perfect. Shaped like a fir tree from Baltic birch plywood and sanded smooth, it stands 14 inches tall, and you can select a clear coat or a charred finish. The maker also offers an unfinished option so you can paint or stain it to your taste. Plus, you get to curate a selection of 24 nips to the tastes of your loved one.
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Nicholas McClelland is a passionate whisk(e)y drinker who has written about spirits for Men’s Journal, Fatherly, and Inside Hook. His bar is deep with rare single malts, hard-to-find bourbons, and ryes, but he doesn't believe there's anything too precious to share with friends.