Whisky Advocate

What are you drinking over the holidays?

December 19th, 2008

On Christmas Day, after my family opens up their gifts in the morning, we get together with our close friends every year and celebrate by drinking Christmas beers and eating good food.

However, I also crack the seal on an unopened bottle of whisky too! I still haven’t decided on what it will be yet. I’ll let you know what it is when I do. It gives me an excuse to open something that’s been collecting dust for too long.

How about you? Will you be drinking a special whisky on the 25th? If so, what?

53 Responses to “What are you drinking over the holidays?”

  1. Tony Menechella says:

    Hi John,
    I’m going to open my Glenlivet 1969 Cellar Collection and Longrow 18YR that I’ve been saving for Christmas and New Year’s. I also get in to my Glendronach 33YR and Serendipity over the holidays. I hope that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Cheers, Tony.

  2. John Hansell says:

    You too, Tony. Looks like you’re in good shape. I think that Longrow 18 is the best of the post-1973/4 Longrows (to date, anyway).

  3. PRJack says:

    John, we follow the Polish tradition of having a Christmas Eve celebration. That includes plenty of frozen vodka during the meal (Polish, of course, but this year we’re adding some Ketel One to the mix because it’s darn good!). However, Before the meal we’re likely to be sampling some Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve and Bushmills 1608 (and likely some unique samplings my ‘nephew in law’ will have found).

    To one and all have a happy and safe holiday season!

  4. John Hansell says:

    “Unique samplings?” Sweet music to my ears. (Oh, and I broadened the title of this thread to “holidays” not just “Christmas.”

  5. JC Skinner says:

    There will be some fine triple-distilled Antrim poitin in which I have been macerating goji berries for the past six months.
    The bottle will go through a cheese cloth first, and the berries transferred to some excellent vanilla ice cream. The infused poitin will be the dessert dram that accompanies.
    Then post-dinner, there will be my three favourite drams – Bushmills 21 yo, Green Spot and Redbreast 15 yo.
    And I suspect I might crack open one of my two bottles of Midleton’s first ever single cask whiskey, which was bottled for the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin earlier this Autumn.
    Happy holidays to one and all!

  6. John Hansell says:

    Those are some seriously good Irish whiskeys, JC. I never got to try the Midleton single cask. Let us know how much you like it. What’s the ABV on it? I always tried to get Barry Crockett at Midleton to bottle Midleton Very Rare at an ABV higher than 40%.

  7. Robert Banford says:

    Hi John
    Will be opening both Bladnoch 16 yr old cask strength and a 27 year old
    Glen Grant cask strength and hopefully they will do me through to the new year.
    Have a merry Xmas and all the best for 2009 to you and yours and all at Malt Advocate.


  8. Francesca Scalpi says:

    Hi John,

    I am having a holiday open house and will be sharing the following:
    Highland Park 18 year old, Isle of Orkney Single Malt Whisky
    1996 Talisker Distiller’s Edition Isle of Skye Single Malt Whisky
    Parker’s Heritage Collection, First Edition, 1996 vintage, 61.3%
    Wild Turkey American Spirit, 15 year old, 50%
    Deret VSOP, 10 year old, Estate Bottled Petite Champagne Cognac
    Cognac Park X.O Traditional Reserve Extra Old


  9. William Groot says:

    I’m trying to figure out a way to get invited to JC Skinner’s house for the holidays! That is some seriously good whiskey he will be pouring……sigh.

    I think I may try a couple of oddballs, I have a bottle of Frysk Hynder that needs opening, and I ordered a couple bottles of Zepplin Bend, which is from a microdistillery here in Michigan (a sideline for New Holland Brewing) that I hope get here prior to the New Year.

    Whatever you are having, enjoy it, and may you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  10. Marcus says:

    Hi John,

    I am having a Campbeltown Special to celebrate Springbank’s 180th Anniversary:
    Hazelburn 2001 7Y, 49.4%, Cadenhead (Christmas Bottling)
    Springbank, 1997, 11Y, 48.7%, Springbank Society (Anniversary Bottling 1828-2008)
    Longrow, 1987, 15Y, 55%, Samaroli
    Campbeltown Loch 30Y, 40%


  11. Kevin says:

    Along with a case of various beers, I’ll be bringing the following over to my parents house:

    Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rum
    Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Zinfandel Aged Bourbon 14yr
    Willett Single Barrel Bourbon 25yr
    Charbay Whiskey Release I

  12. Kozlo says:

    I recently managed to find a bottle of North of Scotland from Scott’s Selection, which I’ve been looking for ever since having some at a tasting a couple of years back. I love single malts, but found this grain whiskey to be one of the tastiest drams I’ve ever had. I can’t wait until xmas evening to open it up.

  13. Bill Andrews says:

    It’s not quite Christmas yet, but we’re being hammered with a pile of snow.

    I’ve just come in from shovelling, and the Laphroaig QC is going down nicely as I type….

  14. Sam S. says:

    I don’t have anything I was keeping aside just for the holidays.
    I’ll probably enjoy the Highland Park 25 I opened recently.
    Happy Holidays to everyone, and a heathy, safe 2009.

  15. JC Skinner says:

    The Midleton Cask 95991 is bottled at 46, which I think everyone who’s had a taste of it so far concurs is a significant improvement on the Midleton VR.
    The thoughts of a fellow whiskey blogger are here:
    I have yet to taste it, but I promise to give you my thoughts when I do.

  16. John Hansell says:

    I would like to second William Groot’s comment: I want to go to JC Skinner’s house for the holidays. I would have a very merry Irish Christmas.

  17. David S says:

    I am not opening anything new but am bringing a few that I wish to share with the family. The traveling list so far is a Clynelish 1971 from Old Malt Cask, a Dallass Dhu 1979 from Murray McDavid, and an OB Old Pultney 1990 single cask bottling for Park Ave. Liquors.

    There will also be a case of Innis and Gunn beer.

  18. Mike Dereszynski says:

    Does Ole ST. Nick have room on his sleigh? I want in,he can have all the milk n cookies,I want a wee dram of all the spirits the clan has been offering up!!
    My Holidays start tommorrow,we will be celebrating the Solstice for the 35th year in a row. BIG BIG BONFIRE,eating and drinking till the SUN comes up on SUNDAY. (weather forcast snow,wind,whiteout conditions and subzero temps)
    We will be well fortified though.Big Homebrew Beers: GOATSCROTUM ALE, Black Albert in bottles, Blackwood Viking Vodka, Bruichladdich Blacker Still,Widdar Bar Laphroaig,various Springbanks,FourRoses for Hot Toddies and what else? I’m still packing oh yeah some local Yahara Bay Deaths Door.
    We will “toast” you and all the other sons and daughters of JOHN BARLEYCORN.

  19. Jimi says:

    I will open a Highland Park 25yo 50.7% abv. I’ve had the 53.5% a couple years ago. Also have a Scott’s Selection Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967 I save for special days.

  20. Greg Gilbert says:

    Recently, I’ve been hesitant to open an “new” bottles since I have a small collection already open. I focus primarily on bourbon; especially ones that are out of production and limited release offerings. So, I’m thinking what’s a nice bottle to open on Christmas day? One of two bottles comes to mind. An 8 year old Old Fitz BIB distilled Fall ’72 or a 6 year Seagrams Benchmark bottled ’74. I think either of those would do nicely.

  21. John Hansell says:

    Greg, I just finished my first, last and only bottle of Very Very Old Fitzgerald BIB. Miss it already.

  22. JAZZ LOVER says:

    This year Glenfarclas 68.

  23. sam k says:

    I’ll break into my stash of Michter’s and celebrate the holidays with six year old, 86 proof Pennsylvania whiskey history!

  24. John Hansell says:

    Sam, since I was born in the same county as the Michter’s distillery, I am sitting on a half gallon Bicentenary jug of the stuff, bottled back in 1976 (which I discovered in its original box collecting dust on a shelf in a small Boston liquor store). I think this will be the year I open it. Not sure when though. Let me know how yours tastes.

  25. B.J. Reed says:

    Whatever my wife bought for me from Monique at the Dundee Dell 🙂

  26. Louis says:

    December 25th comes out in the middle of Chanukah this year. After the festivities (and the candles) fade out, it would be a great time for my 100 proof Bourbon vs Scotch shootout, Four Roses Single Barrel vs Springbank 10year/100prof. That’s because I have off on Friday, not due to having the family over 🙂

  27. Red Arremer says:

    I’m the only one in my family who’s into whisky and I’m also the poorest person in my family, and based on that you can all guess what’s coming next– While everyone else gives gifts, I conduct a whisky tasting as my gift to everyone. The last one that I did was The Balvenie 15 Single Barrel. It worked out real nice, except for the fact that my grandfather just could not wrap his mind around the idea of nosing. While everyone else nosed, he just drank.
    As far as my own drinking plans on the holiday go: I always have trouble justifying a dram of my Laphroaig 30. Christmas seems like as good an excuse as any.

  28. Adam H. says:

    Just got a bottle of the new 27yr Parker’s Heritage — thanks Mom! I’m gonna drink that with the remainder of my (well-preserved) BT Experimental Twice-Barreled.

    John, don’t worry about opening that half-gallon of Michter’s. You don’t want to drink that old, stale stuff. Just send that bottle out to LA, I know some guys who will responsibly recycle it for you. We’ll send you a nice, clean, new handle of Ten High.

  29. JON HIEB says:


  30. John Hansell says:

    Adam H.: I wonder if your mother will adopt me? When I do open up the Michters, I promise that it will be it will be shared with as many people as possible. A piece of liquid history, that whiskey.

    Jon Hieb: I’m sitting on a few from ’86 & ’87. They might still be okay. The last time I had an ’87 (a few years ago) it was still in good shape. (Can’t say the same for an ’88 I had last year.)

  31. Barry Jay says:

    Ah Christmas day….lets see. While at the table, probably will be a tall cold glass of Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale. Afterwards….that is tough. Either a 12 yr old Aberlour or Clynelish 14 yr.

    BTW all, need your help. My mother in law gave me a bunch of blended scotches..and I can’t find much about them on the net.
    Take a look here and let me know what you fine folks can tell me.

    Names like Dawson, John Begg, Black and White, MacKeggie, Hedges & Butler. I’m totally clueless…

    Merry Christmas!

  32. lawschooldrunk says:

    besides for some good Cab during the meal, I’ll be having talisker 18, Lagavulin DE 1991, laphroaig 15 and QC, glenfarclas 12, and may open bowmore dusk.

  33. Oscar says:

    I am going to open a round of Van Winkle bourbons.
    Old Rip Van Winkle 10yo 107prf
    Pappy Van Winkle 15yo
    Van Winkle Family Reserve Lot B

  34. Luke Gough says:

    After Christmas dinner I’ll be opening:

    A 500ml bottle of 38 YO Longmorn (SMWS 7.36)
    A bottle of 26 YO Single-Cask Bunnahabhain (Cadenhead)
    And finally (and most indulgently given its rarity) a bottle of the last of the 15 YO Redbreast that resurfaced this year.

    Unlike the Skinner fella my stash of this years Single Cask Midleton will remain safe, sound and unopened for the time being. The sample I got in Celtic Whiskey was magnificent – the Pot Still used in this bottling is reminiscent of Dungourney 1964 (and I’m not opening my bottle of that nectar for a good long while – believe me!)

  35. John Hansell says:

    Luke, My Dungourney 1964 is long gone, but I am still sitting on my Redbreast 15 and will save that (along with my limited edition Green Spots) for a future date.

  36. John Hansell says:

    I think I figured out what I’m going to open later this week. One of the factors I use in deciding what special bottle to open is whether a bottle is losing any volume while I’m storing it.

    One of the reasons why I opened my Black Bowmore close to a decade ago was that I noticed that the volume started going down while it was unopened due to evaporation. (Yes, some whiskies do lose volume through the cork even if the bottle isn’t opened.) I didn’t want to chance it getting too low and “collapsing in the bottle” to the point where the whisky would taste dull and flat. I did the same for a 21 year old Springbank a few years back that I noticed was losing some of its volume.

    I was checking out my whiskies (which I have on shelves) and I was looking at my vintage Aberlours which I have lined up next to each other (1964, 1969, 1970, 1971, etc.) and I noticed that all of the whiskies were keeping their volume except for the 1969 vintage. It’s starting to lose volume a little bit, and I want to drink it while it’s still good. Plus, I haven’t tasted one of those older vintage Aberlours in quite some time. So, the 1969 Aberlour it is for me this holiday season. I’m looking forward to opening it later this week. And I will toast to all of you, wishing everyone all the best in 2009.

  37. Mark Stanley says:

    Blanton’s & locally made egg nog as good as homemade…yummy

  38. Clay Risen says:

    I’m down in Nashville, and I’ll be taking advantage of stuff I haven’t been able to get at home, namely the Four Roses Barrel Strength. Along with my brother, I’ve also rounded up most of the Antique Collection, and we’ve already broken into that. All of which are fantastic.

  39. Ben says:

    Hello John,

    tomorrow i will open a sample of Aberlour 1964 over 8 yo, on 25th decemeber an Milton-Duff 12yo (grenn bottle clear label) and on 26th an Highland Park 1984 Cask 45

  40. butephoto says:

    Just bought a bottle of this year’s Lagavulin 12yo Special Release, and it is nothing short of stunning. I will be drinking this over the holidays and nothing else, I think.


  41. John Hansell says:

    butephoto, I don’t think you can do any wrong there. Can you have too much of a good thing? Maybe. But I don’t think you’ll get to the point of “too much”. Cheers!

  42. John Hansell says:

    I just opened up my special whisky for the season. I’m drinking it (with my wife) as I jot down this quick note. It’s the Aberlour 1970 (not 1969, as I suggested above). Aged in bourbon casks, no sherry at all. We had an ice storm last night and we coudn’t get out of our driveway to go to my in-laws for the annual Christmas Eve reunion. I needed to do something to make the evening special, so I opened up the bottle. I’ll sign off now so I can enjoy another dram of it (with the wife) and add another log to the fire

    Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you for tuning in. — John

  43. B.J. Reed says:

    Well, the 30 YO Tomatin was Monique’s recommendation to my wife, and that was what was under the tree on Thursday so now that it is safely in my whisky cabinet I will break it out tonight for a taste – Yum!

  44. Michael Shoshani says:

    The weather here in Chicago turned suddenly springlike, and with the rolling mists last night there was only one thing to drink: Springbank.

    The last time I had Springbank was at least 10 years ago; a lovely 21YO, back when Springbank may have had more age-expressions available than Glenfarclas! Sadly that all seems to have been done away with; but I did get some very nice 10YO Springbank 100 proof…which, to my great curiosity, is 50% ABV – 100 *US* proof, not UK proof.

  45. Barry Jay says:

    Well, I know what I will be drinking on New Years eve. Was given a bottle of Balvenie 17 yr New Wood which I love! Almost cordial in its sweetness. Being the lover of the wood finish scotches, this is now amoung my favorites.

  46. Eric in PA says:

    Didn’t do much special Whisky-wise for Christmas, but thinking about opening a Limited Edition Isle of Arran Champagne Finish for New Years. Been holding on to that one for a couple years, but suppose Champagne and New Years should go hand in hand. 🙂

    Here’s to a great 2009 Everyone!

  47. Rick Duff says:

    I had two on Christmas eve – A glass of Aberlour Single Barrel (Jack Daniels) that I bottled at the distillery (wife had that too), and also opened the bottle I had of BenRomach (single barrel) that I bottled at the distillery. Both were awesome. Both about 60%… I nosed and tasted full, then watered down. The BenRomach had some butterscotch that faded with the watering.

  48. I had a couple of interesting drams over the Holidays. Christmas Eve I finished off a bottle of Blackadder Raw Cask Glendullan 1994. It was a big, rich sherry bomb that still had some of its youthful vigor. Christmas Day called for something a little more peaty(we’ve had a bit of a cold spell up here in Western Canada) Signatory Port Ellen 1982 Cask 2847. The only way to describe this whisky is that it is obnoxious (in the best possible way). The first few seconds of the first sip lull you into a false sense of security and then the whisky takes off like the Big Ban accelerating in depth and intensity all the way to the finish. Easily one of the best Port Ellen’s I’ve ever had…

    Merry Christmas


  49. John Hansell says:

    Andrew, it’s cold here too. I think that Port Ellen would work fine here too right now (but I just had a Cask Strength Caol Ila that also worked fine.)

  50. Michael Shoshani says:

    Andrew, Blackadder has some amazing bottlings when you can find them. I once had an unfiltered cask-strength 11 or 13 year old (can’t remember which) bottling of Highland Park from Blackadder that was truly impressive.

    …That being said, I actually brought in the new year sipping a blend: Dewar’s 12 Year Old Special Reserve. Some real finesse in that one.

  51. Gary Gillman says:

    A pot-pourri over the holidays down south. In Key West, rum still has sway due to the old Caribbean connections. I tried in a specialty rum bar Ron Zacapa 23 years old (big and sweet and woody), Gosling Family Reserve (interesting, a velvety combination of port and aged rum tastes due to finishing in port casks, very good), Cubano Anejo and also a reserve version (a most unusual (in my experience) Dominican Republic rum with nutmeg and wild berry notes), a circa-1980 Seagram 7 Crown (rich and flavoursome, a quasi-bourbon, at the time anyway), Maker’s Mark on the rocks (a much improved bourbon IMO), and a few beers including a couple made in Melbourn, Florida by a micro there (one was a pomegranate-flavoured Imperial Stout). No Scotch or Irish whisky, it seems more suitable in the cold north!).


  52. Rich says:

    well, around here it turned out to be a lovely mix of the old and the new, very fitting for the season i guess. my friends and i finally said goodbye to my 1967 Highland Park 37 year (Duncan Taylor) and my 2000 Laphroaig 7 year (Signatory), and my friend’s Laphroaig 30. at the same time, we said hello to a 1960 Strathisla 44 year (Gordon and MacPhail), my friend’s Clynelish Distillers Edition, and my dad’s Christmas present from yours truly, a Tullibardine 1992/2007 (Queen of the Moorlands). not a disappointing dram in the bunch, and it helped more than a little with the below zero temperatures… 😉

  53. John Hansell says:

    Gary, Key West? I’m jealous! I’ll take a few days of rum and Key West over icy Pennsylvania and whisky.

    Rich, great cold weather whiskies. I am familiar with nearly all of them. Nice selection!

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