These Are Some Of The Best Spirit Advent Calendars For 2023
Flaviar’s 2023 Advent Calendar
Photo, courtesy Flaviar
Spirit-based Advent calendars have been steadily growing in popularity over the last decade. They got their start in Europe but are increasingly popular in the U.S. The calendars feature a shot of spirit for each day of Advent; below, we’ll cover some of the more interesting spirit Advent calendars offered for the 2023 Christmas season.
Advent is the roughly four-week period before Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Day. The term is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming or arrival, and is historically the beginning of the liturgical year for most Christian churches in the West. Historically, devout Christians would fast during this period, a practice known as the Advent Fast.
Various other practices also became associated with Advent, including lighting an Advent wreath, erecting a Christmas tree and putting out Christmas decorations.
Wondering what all this has to do with spirits?
Sometime around the mid-20th century, Advent calendars appeared. The calendars contained a chocolate candy for each day of Advent. They were intended for children, since they traditionally did not participate in Advent fasts.
The practice started in Germany and was widespread by the late 1950s. Today, the tradition of candy-filled Advent calendars has spread worldwide, but they are especially popular in Germany and Scandinavia.
In 2012, Master of Malt, the British mail-order spirits retailer, began to offer Scotch whisky Advent calendars. It’s unclear if they were the first, but they certainly popularized the concept. Instead of a chocolate or a candy, each day had a dram, typically one ounce or so, of a single malt from a Scottish distillery. The practice grew from that modest beginning and now encompasses a range of spirits and several dozen offerings.
One of the first American retailers to offer spirit Advent calendars was Flaviar, the online spirits club and retail store. Flaviar’s 2023 Advent Calendar features 24, 50 ml/1.7 oz samples of assorted whiskies from eight countries.
Among the whiskies in the collection are Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whisky; Frey Ranch Bottled in Bond Rye, Famous Grouse Smoky Black Scotch Whisky; Breckenridge Port Cask Finished Bourbon; Bushmills 12 YO Single Malt Whiskey; Chichibu/Ichiro Blended Malt and Grain; and Limavady Single Barrel Irish Whiskey.
Flaviar’s Advent Calendar also includes a tasting journal with product information on each of the 24 whiskies in the collection and two collectible Glencairn glasses. The list price is $250, but it is being heavily promoted on Flaviar’s website. A 12-month Flaviar Black Membership is also included.
Cask Explorers Spirit Advent Calendars from The Really Good Whisky Company
Photo, courtesy The Really Good Whisky Company
One of the best collections of whisky-themed Advent calendars is Cask Explorers from The Really Good Whisky Company. Its Advent calendars feature 25 whisky selections, one more than usual, since, as its founder and president Shelley Kelaty put it, “Who doesn’t want a dram on Christmas day?”
There are ten Cask Explorer Advent Calendars. Seven feature Scotch whiskies, two feature American whiskeys, and one is a mix of Scotch, Japanese, and American whiskies. Price-wise, they range from $127 to $1,130, depending on the age of the whiskies in the collection. Each whisky has a QR code to take you to an online tasting video and background information on each selection.
The Scotch Sherry Cask Collection, $95, consists of 12 different Sherry matured/finished Scotch whiskies. Among the highlights are Tamdhu 12 YO, Ardmore 13 YO, and, for the ultimate “peated Sherry bomb,” a Laphroaig 10 YO Sherry cask expression. Also included are Sherried whisky expressions from Glenfarclas, Glengoyne, and a PX matured expression from Tullibardine.
The 25-Day Scotch Single Malt Whisky Advent Calendar, $165, features 25 different Scotch expressions. The collection includes Glenturret 12 YO, Jura 12 YO, Old Pulteney 12 YO, Speyburn 18 YO, Tobermory 12 YO, and Tomatin 12 YO. If you want to introduce someone to the world of Scotch whisky, this collection is a terrific start.
The Scotch Whisky Luxury Collection Advent Calendar
Photo, courtesy The Really Good Whisky Company
The 25-Day Mixed Region Advent Calendar, $165, features whiskies drawn from Scotland, The US, and Japan. Among the featured American whiskeys are Makers Mark, Balcones, Elijah Craig, Angel’s Envy, and Knob Creek. The Japanese whisky portion includes Chita Single Grain Japanese Whisky, Hakushu Reserve Single Malt Japanese Whisky, Hatozaki Japanese Blended Whisky, and Suntory Toki Blended Japanese Whisky. Among the Scotch whisky expressions are Highland Park 12 YO, Aberfeldy 16 YO, Benrinnes 2008 Moscatel Cask Finish, Deveron 10 YO, Fettercairn 12 YO, and Jura 14 YO.
If you want a more upscale collection of Scotch whiskies, consider the 25-Day Scotch Luxury Whisky Advent Calendar, $505. The whiskies in the set range from 21 to 25 years, with a handful exceeding 30 years.
Among the Scotch whiskies in the collection are Aberfeldy 21 YO, Benrinnes 25 YO Single cask, Auchentoshan 30 YO, Glenlossie 27 YO, Laphroaig 25 YO, Glenfarclas 25 YO, Jura 21 YO, as well as a selection of ultra-aged grain whiskies, from Cameronbridge (30 YO), Strathclyde (34 YO), Girvan (27 YO), and North British (29 YO). The collection offers an excellent opportunity to taste ultra-aged grain whiskies from the principal grain distilleries in Scotland.
There is also a 25-Day Scotch Old and Rare Advent Calendar, $1,130, that features a 50 YO single malt and a 55 YO grain whisky. Also included are 25 YO expressions from Laphroaig, Benrinnes, Glenrothes, and Glengoyne and 30 YO expressions from Bunnahabhain, Blair Athol, and Tomatin.
Cognac Expert, the world’s largest online vendor of specialty Cognac, offers an Advent Calendar that features 24 different Cognacs. All the Cognacs are XO quality (10 YO) or older. Many of the Cognacs are from small producers that are unavailable in the US. It retails for $$359.
The Whisky Exchange (TWE) has a broad selection of Spirits Advent Calendar from various British companies. Prices range from $150 to $300 per edition.
Dekanta, the Japanese internet spirits vendor, has two Japanese whisky Advent Calendars. The Classic Edition retails for $299, while the Premium Edition features top-ranked whiskies from such acclaimed Japanese distilleries as Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, Taketsuru, Chita, and Ichiro’s Malt. It retails for $399.
Overseas shipments will generally take about two weeks to reach the US. Shipping costs will average around $50.
Here’s to counting down the days to Christmas 2023, one whisky at a time!