Whisky Advocate

What are you drinking over the holidays?

December 17th, 2009

Are you drinking anything special? Opening any special bottles? Or are you just having  one or two of your favorites?

I always open a bottle of something special over the holidays, but I haven’t decided yet what that’s going to be. While I’m figuring this out, please share with us what you’re going to drink.

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

  1. G Llaguno says:

    Highland Park 18!

  2. Texas says:

    Finishing the Glen Ord Signatory 1998 (John I wish you would review that one..very interesting and tasty young whisky), Dalmore 12 (new one), and Old Weller 7 year/107. I am also thinking I will get a gift card from Spec’s in Houston for Christmas so I can get something special for New Year’s with that.

  3. Eric Falardeau says:

    For the holidays, there’s nothing better than a big, creamy, mouth filling dram!

    Edradrour Natural Cask Strenght or Glenfarclas 105 for scotch malt and Blanton Single Barrel for Bourbon. Amazing!

    Maybe a shot of Talisker that I bought at the distillery last year just to remind me I was there last january…


  4. I will probably do a tasting of some whiskies I recently bought. Some Japanese, American and Scottisch stuff. Heavily Peated and Heavily sherried (or both) have my preference for such wintry times.

    The Pe1 “Element of Islay” (Port Ellen) is one that will top everything off!

  5. Jeff Frane says:

    I will allow myself a dram or two from the valinch bottle I drew at Bruichladdich in 2007. Ghost Ship, distilled in 1990. It sits way back in the cupboard and requires some effort to get to, just to help me restrain myself.

  6. Steve says:

    Hedonism and the Jefferson’s Presidential Select 17yo. I’ve tasted the former but haven’t opened my bottle yet. I’ve only read about the latter (thanks, John) and am very much looking forward to it.

  7. K Dyvik says:

    I think I’ll open the Balvenie Golden Cask for some warmth and sweetness in the cold Norwegian season 🙂

  8. Louis says:

    The Compass Box Peat Monster Reserve and Four Roses OBSO Single Barrel from Binny’s. I’ve sampled both, but now time for more in-depth evaluation.



  9. BigMac says:

    One for the sweet toot…
    I’ll be drinking:
    Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask – Probably Speyside’s Finest 42yo @48,8% a single sherry butt from cask#4541 – 272 bottles total – yummie ! :-))

  10. Red_Arremer says:

    Compass Box Peat Monster Reserve rocks, doesn’t it Louis? I’ll probably be killing my second bottle of that sometime later this week.

    I’m going down to maryland for Christmas. This is a bummer because I won’t be able to legally bring what would’ve been my pick Glenfarclas 1965.

    I have a big bag of samples, that I might dip into though. Maybe I’ll try to bring down a Glen Grant 30 and a Benromach 25 c/s.

    It’s legal to being alchohol on a plane as long as it’s in a less than 150 ml container right?

  11. Steffen Bräuner says:

    Every Christmas I have a december dram advent calendar. Every day, from December 1st to December 24th I have a dram, one different from the other. The dram of the day… and I usually makes this an opportunity to spend more time with the dram that is usually allowed during tastings and the likes. I use this as occation to clean up low level bottles and open new ones. Lining up the 24 drams before december is always a joy :p
    Highlights this year has been Rare Malt Selection 1977 Bladnoch 23yr, Bladnoch OB 8yr 55%, Black Bull 30yr and some Rosebanks. Lowpoints ..none, I guess I like whisky to much for that 🙂

    Merry Xmas to John and everybody else here


  12. BigMac says:


    don’t know about the rules in the US for bringing liquids onboard – but here in the EU it’s max 100ml containers and only as many as you can fit in a 1-liter re-sealble clear plastic bag

    BTW: the 25yo Benromach is a craking dram 🙂

  13. John Hansell says:

    Red, it’s 100ml (3.4 oz.). From the TSA website:

    3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

  14. Brian says:

    When you’re in Iowa, any whisky you can get your hands on is “special”.

    Hopefully, I’ll be enjoying some Talisker 10, and possibly something new to me – maybe a Pappy Van Winkle.

  15. John Hansell says:

    Macdeffe, a “December Dram Advent Calendar”? What a great idea!

  16. Amit says:

    I’m hosting a 4 course whisky dinner at a friend’s restaurant next tuesday in the bay area. French food spiked with whisky (the chef is also a friend of mine) and 8 whiskies; 2 drinks per course. And then of course, followed up by a very special cigar and a dram of something special form my collection. The Cadenheads bottling of the first release of the Hazelburn or just the Supernova perhaps. Maybe just maybe, the leapfrog.

  17. John Hansell says:

    Ah, the Leapfrog (Laphroaig). I still got me one of those…

  18. Hans Ole says:

    Laphroaig 1991

  19. JW says:

    Talisker 25yo

  20. Luke says:

    Over this Christmas I’ll be opening:

    2008 Single Cask Midleton (46% NCF)[Celtic Whiskey Dublin]

    2009 17 Year Old Single Cask Connemara Sherry-Finished (46% NCF)[Celtic Whiskey Dublin]

    And, most probably ANOTHER bottle of the Laphroaig 18 Year-Old. Good for what ails ye!

    Nollaig Shona Dhuit!

  21. maltakias says:

    I’m going for the exceptional Talisker 20 y.o. sherry cask & the peat bomb PC7

  22. WolfgangU says:

    Talisker 20 yo (bourbon refill) and Brora Rare Malts 20 yo – because they are the same age, were distilled in the same year (1982), have the same strength (around 58% ABV), and, above all, as I visited both of them one after the other this past spring.
    And if I feel really lucky, I might just open my first Port Ellen as well (OB 2nd release)
    By the way, this is my first post here (one of those ‘shy ones’ I guess) but I’ve been following many of the threads with great interest.

    Warm greetings to everyone from frosty Austria

  23. John Hansell says:

    Luke, you’re killin’ me with those rare Irish whiskeys!

    WolfgangU, welcome aboard! Nice to hear from you. (It’s pretty frosty here in Pennsylvania too!)

  24. WolfgangU says:

    John, thanks for the welcome! Appreciate that it came so quickly.
    Luke, I envy you for the Talisker 20 yo sherry matured! Heard it’s a stunner, but now just beyond my price range. Enjoy!

  25. WolfgangU says:

    Sorry, that was Maltakias with the Talisker!

  26. Joe Maissel says:

    I’ll be tapping in to my small stash of AH Hirsch 16 and sharing it with some good friends. This year’s Weller Antique will come out as well.

  27. Kevin says:

    For Christmas: Jefferson Pres. Select. 17yr & Van Winkle 13yr Rye (first bottle of this and I’m quite excited to open it up!)

    For New Years: Old Rip Van Winkle 23yr (assuming my bottles come in on time). Gotta start the New Year off right!

  28. butephoto says:

    I’m still not sure. There are a few options. It should really be something special so I want to make sure I get it right. Oh, decisions, decisions…


  29. Peter Benkoczki says:

    I shell open an Ardbeg Uigeadail, if it arrives in time…if not, the one will be a BenRiach Aromaticus Fumosus.

  30. Scott Mansfield says:

    I’ve been enjoying my Lark LD76. Lots of fresh barley and botanics. Sitting on the patio, enjoying the sea breezes sweeping in from Brisbane’s Moreton Bay, all the better with a Tassie drop to take the edge off another steamy evening.

  31. DaveU says:

    I’m looking forward to trying something new this Christmas season, perhaps Hudson Manhattan Rye.


  32. Aaron says:

    Macallan Amber in eggnog is amazing…

  33. Quentin says:

    I have been saving the Berry Bros bottling of a 1989, 19 year old Bowmore from my trip to London last May. I got to try the four bottlings and thought this one was fantastic.

  34. I’m going to Red_A’s, Hans’, and JW’s places.

    Since I don’t know where they are, I’ll do the new Springbank 18.

  35. Paul M says:

    Tonight, I will be at my scotch groups’ holiday meeting. Beginning with something a little different: beer aged in Highland Park casks and beer aged in Lagavulin casks. Then a ‘beer’, of which some has been aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon cask, Sam Adams Utopias.

    I will probably finish with either a Laphroaig 18 Binny’s hand selected cask or Highland Park 33 Binny’s hand selected cask or a little of each. Choices, choices.

  36. Ray Newsom says:

    I will be enjoying more of my Parker’s Heritage Collection Golden Anniversary. John got his rating right (97 out of 100) highest rated Bourbon thus far on Malt Advocate!

  37. Louis says:

    Red, you’re polishing off your SECOND bottle of Peat Monster Reserve?!?!? I do agree though, that it rocks. And adjusted for proof and bottle size, about the same proce as the regular PM.

  38. thomas mckenzie says:

    I will be drinking our very on Mckenzie Rye Whiskey.

  39. Todd says:

    My favorite dram of late is a 1:1 vatting of Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Ardbeg 1990 ANB (L7 326 bottling code) – tastes remarkably similar to mid-1970s distilled 25 yo Ardbeg. This has the forceful character and the darker peat notes from the Corry married with the complexity of the Beist. This is a marvelous must-try dram for all of you who have both of these in your cabinet.

  40. David G says:

    After four years of subtle hints, my Uncle finally opened his bottle of Dalmore 30 on Thanksgiving. I’m thinking of inviting him over for Christmas…

    I bought a bottle of Glenmorangie Signet that my friends and I will enjoy on New Year’s Eve. Love that bottle. And it’s contents, too!

  41. Neil Fusillo says:

    I tend to have many whiskies open at once, as my mood for any one particular one varies widely (currently, I use a wine pump to keep the air out — any idea how that compares to your inert gas?).

    However, I’ve a special bottle of Laphroaig 25 that I shall be opening this year to celebrate the passing of another decade. I’m quite looking forward to it.

  42. Go for the gas, Neil F.

  43. sam k says:

    I’ve come to my conclusion. I’m going to sample a flight of Bottled-In-Bonds, including Old Fitzgerald, Heaven Hill,Old Grand-dad, and the recently (and sadly)discontinued Ancient Age. Three were recently imported from Kentucky by one of Santa’s helpers, and were incredible values at $11-13 each! The “expensive” one was the Grand-dad, purchased from the PLCB at $18.

    Big, bold bourbons that all remind me why BIBs are a special breed. Every one I’ve ever tried has been a quality whiskey with lots of flavor and limited heat. It’s too bad that they seem to be an endangered species. They are really one of the benchmarks that established the quality of American whiskey.

  44. Robinski says:

    Has to be Glenrothes 1991. I hear that it will soon be unavailable… boo hoo. What a fantastic dram

  45. brian mac gregor says:

    I am opening and drinking any and every expression of Coal Ila I can get my hands on. just got a bottle of the distillers edition and a bottle of the double barrel from mc gibbon’s.

  46. sam k says:

    Whooo, Glenrothes! Tough to beat any of them.

  47. Tim McCann says:

    Anticipating a reunion with some college friends and have been saving a bottle of Highland Park Bicentenary for the occasion.

  48. Scott says:

    I picked up a bottle of Templeton Rye and I have been saving a bottle of Balvenie 15yr Single Barrel for my birthday (the 27th).

  49. Constantine says:

    I am thinking about getting Glenmorangie Signet. I had a chance to try it at a tasting, and it blew me away. It’s rich and spicy, with hints of cinnamon and other “holiday” flavors.

  50. Michael says:


    How do you mix Macallan Amber and Eggnog? How much of each? Any other things to mix Macallan Amber with?

  51. bozzy says:

    I think it will be a good time to open the Bruichladdich Sherry Edition 1992, Fino I brought all the way from Islay last month..! I cannot wait..! 🙂

  52. Gary says:

    I will be working on my second bottle of Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye. “God bless us everyone.” 😉

  53. Whisky Party says:

    Great question. I’ve got an unopened Laphroaig 18 that will probably get cracked. A fresh Macallan 18 that will likely be opened as well.

    Beyond that, who know! Depends on what I get as Xmas gifts, and what me and friends plan for New Years.

    I also pitched in with folks to buy a 3 gallon barrel of single malt from Tutthilltown. I put in for 2 bottles and one of them will definitely get opened.

  54. John Hansell says:

    Todd, I’ll have to try your vatting of the two Ardbegs.

    Neil, definitely go for the gas. I use Private Preserve, which we also sell. (But I used it a long time before we started selling it.)

    Sam, A flight of Bottled-in-bonds. Good theme.

  55. Holysinner says:

    I’ll be opening Campbeltown Loch 25 on Christmas Day (a 25yo for the 25th!). I’m looking forward to trying this as I’ve heard good things about it and have a second bottle in reserve.

    I’ll crack a Balvenie 15 Single Barrel on New Year’s.

  56. Toon says:

    I will be opening two bang-for-your buck whisky’s next week: The 2009 Lagavulin 16 and the Clynelish 1996/2009 by Malts Of Scotland (had to search for this one). I can’t wait to try out the Clynelish!
    Happy Dramming John!

  57. bgulien says:

    Have a Glen Elgin and a Craigallachie open, and I have bought a bottle of my favorite bourbon, The Johnny Drum Private Stock 15 yo.
    And I have an Invergordon Single Grain 36 yo that needs to be tasted.

  58. Stefan says:

    Here in Norway we have been blessed with an exceptional range of Arran single Bourbon casks distilled in 1998. I’ll be enjoying casks 672# and 693# and maybe even open my bottle of 673#.

  59. Jon W says:

    I’ll be up at my mother’s house next week, far away from my main stash. However I do have bottles of Glenmorangie Astar and Longrow CV tucked away up there for such an occasion.

  60. Mark says:

    Sig. Un-chillfiltered 1992 Bowmore (cask 2228)

    Manhattan Rye

    Sig. Cask Strength 1989 Mortlach

    Also, hot apple cider with Canton, the ginger infused cognac, which my wife and I both enjoy in various drinks across the seasons

  61. Vince says:

    I will be opening a bottle of Wild Turkey “Tradition”. I will also have a Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old, Parkers 27 year old and George T Stagg.

  62. Red_Arremer says:

    Jon W., that’s some real discipline– Myself, I could never bear to stash anything that nice at my parents’ place. At grandmother’s where I’m going I’ll probably be stuck with her same bottle of glenlivet 12 that I had 2 drinks of last year and the year before…

  63. David says:

    Hosting my Scotch of the month tonight, Highland park 21 by Signatory, 1987, hogshead and Arran Bourbon Cask.

  64. B.J. Reed says:

    OK, either the 1977 or 1971 Glenmorangie and the Fiskavaig 27 YO – What is that you say? – It is a Lagavulin bottled by Glenkeir Treasures I picked up at the Whisky Shop in Edinburg – Scottish Field raved about it but I have not tried it yet….

  65. John Hansell says:

    Jon W., my parents are missionaries, so I don’t leave any whisky at their house. If I did, they would take the bottles, pour the contents down the drain, and chuck the bottles in the recycling bin.

    In fact, I rarely drink in front of them.

  66. John Hansell says:

    BJ, a 27 year old Lagavulin? Nice! Merry Christmas to you!

  67. OudErnest says:

    Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Binny’s Laphroaig 2000 7-yr, perhaps s Julio’s hand-selected Four Roses Single Barrel or William Larue Weller after dinner.
    How does the gas preserver work exactly. Is it one can per bottle and does that replace the cork stopper? Like Neil I have a number of whiskies open at once and wonder about the cost of putting them all on a blanket of gas.

  68. I have to ask: has anyone had a chance to try the new Edradour Caledonia? From what I’ve heard it would make a very nice Christmas dram.

  69. Luke says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention non-whiskey treats We’ll be opening over Christmas dinner:

    Taittinger Compte de Champagne as an apertif.

    2006 Lynch Bages with the entreés.

    Finally, with dessert, a private bottling of Aszú Eszencia from a Hungarian friend in Dublin.

    I think you’ll agree, we all need a lift after this past year!

  70. John Hansell says:

    OudErnest, one can is good for hundreds of squirts. You just blanket the air above the whisky with it and put the cork back on the bottle. It displaces the air with inert gas. We sell it on our website here.

  71. lawschooldrunk says:

    Some cabs, merlots, and my open bottles of whisk(e)y. (check my signature on the “forums.”) Not sure yet if I’m going to open a special single malt; I have too many bottles open.

  72. Todd says:

    Ditto on the inert gas, whisky is expensive, inert gas is cheap – and very effective. I have been using it to preserve a particular bottle that I have had open for 15 years and it is still fresh, remarkably it has not lost any of the original character. Many years before, I used the vacuum sealer system, but the seals eventually give up and there is no way of telling when they go. Furthermore, the vacuum system does not work on unusual bottles like the old wide mouth Highland Parks or the current Signatory Cask Strength series bottles. The gas is heavier than air, is non-toxic (unless you manage to empty the contents of a 1000 or so cans in an enclosed space) and the gas doesn’t go anywhere unless you open the bottle and pour.

  73. Jimi says:

    I’ve had a tradition the last few years to open different versions of Highland Park 25yo. This year it’s the 48.1% abv. Hope it compares well to the 50.7% & 53.5% Wishing now I had held back samples for a side by side.

  74. Thomas says:

    Yoichi 20 and Highland Park 18

  75. Jon W says:

    Red – I’m up there frequently enough where keeping a couple of nice bottles makes senese. The practice actually started a couple of years ago on one trip where I bought more bottles than I could lug back to PA. Living in a liquor controlled state, any trip to a place with an actual selection can turn into a dangerous shopping spree. Plus my “home stash” (the one in PA) is robust enough where honestly, I don’t miss them (too much).

    John – I feel your pain. My mother isn’t really thrilled with my hobby as my father had a bit of a drinking problem (liked Glenlivet 12 a little too much). But I’ve gotten her to come around. Perhaps I’m a missionary in a different sense? (really, really sorry for the tasteless joke).

  76. Oliver says:

    I’ve just opened a 2005 Sazerac 18yr Rye Whiskey which is fantastic! I also plan on opening and comparing 2007 and 2008 versions of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.

    I have a Hirsch 20yr and a Very, Very Old Fitzgerald yet to open, but I’m waiting until I meet some fellow bourbon lovers in Knoxville, TN. Any takers?

    I’ve also been using Private Preserve inert gas in my bottles. I’m hoping this will extend the shelf life of my expensive whiskeys. Glad to hear it is working for other folks.

  77. John Hansell says:

    Congrats everyone. This is the second highest commented post here at WDJK. (The infamous Diageo’s Managers Choice post leads with a whopping 175.)

    Oliver, that 2005 Sazerac 18 was Malt Advocate’s Whisky of the Year. A great whiskey!

  78. Texas says:

    Add another to the list..I picked up Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 vintage last night. This was from Barrel # 24. I really, really like it, but drank neat it has more of an alcohol burn than the 1999. It’s more robust than 1999, though, so I’d have to call it a tie.

  79. Josh Kolchins says:

    I’ve got an unopened bottle of 12 year old Springbank from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (27.75) bottled in 1996 – one of 150 sold in the States. Also, I have a bottle of Buffalo Trace Exerpimental Collection – Fine Grain Oak that John scored as a 94 a while back. That will be a fun one to try!

    – Josh

  80. Marcus says:

    Has to be The Campbeltown Malts 3 Pack:
    Hazelburn CV
    Springbank CV
    Longrow CV

    + Brora Rare Malt, 1977, 24Y


  81. tim says:

    Midleton very rare 2001 or 2005 still deciding!!Thinking of getting Midleton single cask for new year

  82. John Hansell says:

    Josh, I hope you like it as much as I did. It’s subtly complex, so you might need to give it a few goes before really appreciating it. It won’t slap you in the face.

  83. John Hansell says:

    Texas, I have only tasted barrel #1, which I am sure was cherry picked for us writers. I am going to pick up a bottle from a different cask and see hot that one tastes too. Glad you liked yours (with a bit of water).

  84. Marc says:

    Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist for me, along with some Bowmore Darkest and Bunnahabhain Darach Ur batch #26 (at 60.6% ABV). Bring on the festive season! Cheers to you all.

  85. Marc says:

    Sorry, meant to say Aberlour A’bunadh batch 26. You’d swear I’ve already started drinking..

  86. Luke says:

    Tim, the best of luck finding Midleton Single Cask. Celtic Whiskey have a single bottle here in Dublin for €350.00(!)

    These limited releases (300 bottles total) sell out fast!

  87. John Hansell says:

    Luke, €350.00? Ouch! That’s a lot of money for a bottle of Midleton. I would love to see it with my name on it under the tree on Christmas morning. Amy (my wife), are you reading this blog comment?? 🙂

  88. […] some of it is not available in the U.S.).  John Hansell opens his suggestions up to the readers of What Does John Know.  The Dizzy Fizz even gets into the game with gifts for your favorite cocktail crafter or […]

  89. Henry H. says:

    Late to the party here. Due to a holiday loosening of the purse strings (thanks go to my womanfriend for that), along with a solstice birthday gift from a generous friend, not to mention that same friend’s whisky, we’ll all be drinking from an embarrassment of relative riches over the holidays.

    The gift was a bottle of Macallan 18. I continue to marvel at the resemblance of its nose to that of my Aberlour A’bunadh batch 27. (A whopping 60.1% abv for that bottling.)

    We’ll side-by-side the Cragganmore 12 OB with Signatory’s 1997 unchillfiltered bottling of same. Next will come the Edradour 10 OB up against its Signatory unchillfiltered “competitor.”

    Then we’re on to three Ardbegs: the Airigh Nam Beist, the Uigeadail, and the Corryvreckan. The Oogie is the only one familiar to us thus far.

    Along the way, we’ll enjoy drams of the Mortlach Flora & Fauna (just arrived from across the water, as we don’t see it in the States, and surely not here in Washington state) the Benromach 10 OB, and the Glenmorangie Astar.

    If the memory survives these sessions, I’ll report back. Happy holidays to all, and thanks to John Hansell for this excellent resource.

  90. John Hansell says:

    Henry H., We’re still reading…

  91. Texas says:

    Well I ended up having the EWSB 2000, Weller Special Reserve 7 year (90 proof), and I got my favorite SMSW for Xmas..Talisker 10! Also I bought a relative Pappy Van Winkle 12 year for Xmas and they were kind enough the share. That is some good stuff! I think the lawhiskeysociety guys are out to lunch in giving it a C+.

  92. Red_Arremer says:

    Ended up getting a hold of some of that Juniper Green Organic Gin for my girlfriend, which is nice because the stuff’s disappeared in my neck of the woods.

    Also a blended scotch– an oddity bottled exclusively for the Hilton Hotel chain 20 or 30 years ago. It was just sitting in my uncle’s liquor cabinet– a green bottle with a cream colored Label bearing a few words in small font and a miniscule ink sketch of a Highrise Hotel. The screwtop on it was a little loose and the whisky was extremely flat, but if I were to guess at how it was when it was still alive I would guess that it was pretty decent. Probably would’ve had a profile similar to an the old Passport’s or Clan MacGreggor’s.

  93. Neil Miritello says:

    Well, I know it is a bit late to report but I opened one of my remaing bottles of the original bottling of the Pappy Van Winkle 23. Have been savoring it with my Dad over the past few days and loving tha fact that I have converted a former JW Black drinker!
    Four bottles left of the Pappy that are being treasured for future milestone occasions!

  94. John Ross says:

    Cleaned out a storage locker and found opened bottles of Longmorn and Glenmorangie 18 (fortunately stored laying down so corks were moist); will work through those lest the angels take some from the bottle.

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