Best whisky advent calendars that will warm the cockles this Christmas

From malt to scotch, specialists like Master of Malt and Drinks by the Dram are spreading the festive cheer 

Nick Moyle
Wednesday 21 October 2020 14:38
We’ve assessed each one based on the quality of the packaging, contents and value for money
We’ve assessed each one based on the quality of the packaging, contents and value for money

If you like whisky; you’re eager to sample a wider range of tipples, but don’t want to shell out on full bottles; and, for you, the festive season begins on 1 December, then it sounds like a whisky filled advent calendar might just be your thing.

Of all the boozy options for advent calendar contents, you could argue that whisky makes the most suitable window filler.

Besides offering good value sampling opportunities, the miniature bottles are easy to load into neat, portable boxes that can safely sit on a prominent shelf without causing too much obstruction (unlike advent calendars that contain beers, for example).  

Each dram is also enough of a measure to fully appreciate the whisky’s flavours, without overdoing the booze-count.

Over the past few years, Drinks by the Dram has been leading the whisky advent calendar market, but more recently other suppliers have also been getting in on the act, meaning there’s now a good choice of products for dram-seekers.  

To come up with this list we’ve assessed each calendar based on the quality of the packaging, contents and value for money. Make your choice, but try to hang on until 1 December and enjoy a month of whisky sampling fun.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Drinks by the Dram scotch whisky advent calendar

The Drinks by the Dram range includes calendars from several countries including Japan, Ireland and America, but we think this year’s Scottish selection takes some beating. The neat packaging, with perforated windows, contains a mix of single malts and blends. Among them, we found some familiar tipples (including The Balvenie double wood 12 and Tamdhu 12), some that might become new favourites (such as Wolfburn langskip and Ailsa Bay 1.2 sweet smoke), and a few extra special releases that we’ll keep secret. A top notch offering from the boozy advent calendar experts.

The Really Good Whisky Company malt teasers advent calendar

This calendar features innovative packaging – each of the 25 drams has its own small presentation box that shows the advent numbers when viewed from above and whisky information printed on the sides, hidden from view until the box is lifted from its nest. The selection is mostly Scottish single malts, with drams from Deanston, Glen Scotia, Tobermory and Arran, but the brand has also snuck in quality offerings from Australia, America and the always excellent Irish distillery Kinahans.

The Whisky Shop 24 advent drams

This calendar contains some of the best-loved whiskies around among its 24 x 30ml bottles. It’s mostly a Scottish selection (four global drams are also included) with all six regions represented from a diverse range of distilleries, and notes included on each whisky. You’ll also get a chance to try The Loch Fyne living cask release, a limited edition from a cask that is only partially emptied for bottling before being topped up with a different whisky each time – making it a unique and intriguing product.

Flaviar whiskies of the world advent calendar

Flaviar has travelled the whisky world to source its calendar selection and then gone to town on the presentation. Inside you’ll find 24 generous 50ml vials, a Glencairn glass, a fancy tasting notes booklet and coaster. The Flaviar team has asked that we keep the whisky contents a secret, but we can reveal that you’ll find American bourbons and ryes along with whisky from Japan, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland and an excellent release from Israel. It’s a truly international affair. Pre-order now.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company advent calendar

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent bottler, snaffling up quality booze from around the world and distributing it under its own label, much of which is very limited in numbers. Among the 24 drams here you’ll find young whisky (such as a two-year-old bourbon from Virginia's Reservoir Distillery); old whisky (including a 31-year-old Strathclyde dram); familiar names (Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and Ledaig); and some extra special blends. If you have a taste for exclusive releases, then this calendar is a bargain.

Drinks by the Dram old & rare whisky advent calendar

For this entry, we’ve returned to Drinks by the Dram and a calendar that is very much the dream – one loaded with 24 old and rare releases. Do the maths and you’ll calculate that each 30ml bottle has an average price of over £40, so you can guess the level of rarity you’re receiving. Whisky nerds might tremble with excitement at the mention of a Caledonian 42-year-old, Macallan 25-year-old and Rosebank 26-year-old – but calm any trembling hands before pouring as you wouldn’t want to risk spilling even one golden drop.

Jack Daniel distillery holiday countdown calendar

Fashioned with a carry handle and predominantly black and white livery, this calendar from the Jack Daniel Distillery has the feel of a suitcase, albeit one that’s subtly festive and loaded with booze (which may well be all some folk need for their Christmas holiday packing). The whisky is a mix of the brand’s most popular products served up in 24 x 50ml bottles, including gentleman jack, single barrel and, of course, the famous Tennessee whiskey, all at a very affordable £60. 

The verdict: Whisky advent calendars

At just £99, the 24 advent drams calendar by The Whisky Shop is great value, but with a few extra gems thrown in, Drinks by the Dram’s Scottish calendar provides the best December whisky drinking.

Looking to raise a glass to the festive season? Turn to our round-up of the best wine advent calendars 

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