What makes a Christmas whisky? Sherry bombs, blends and cocktails to celebrate with

As the countdown to Christmas get shorter, Rosalind Erskine takes a look at what makes an ideal festive dram.

I was recently at an event where we voted on what whisky Santa would like left out to warm him up on Christmas Eve (Glenfiddich Grand Cru won), which got me thinking about what makes a Christmas whisky. The obvious answer would be those matured in ex sherry casks as they’ll tend to give off the flavour profile of Christmas cake - raisins, dates, and spices such as cinnamon. If you’re looking to try some over the next few weeks, three distilleries you can’t go wrong with are the Dalmore, Glendronach and Glefarclas, Aberlour A'bunadh is also a sherry bomb that packs a punch with its ABV.

Port pipes are also being used more and more in whisky maturation, and are another obvious choice for Christmas. The Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a budget-friendly and delicious option to try this Christmas. The Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old is also worth a try, as it’s been matured in bourbon casks before being moved over to ruby port casks.

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If you’d rather drink what Santa’s having, Glenfiddich’s Grand Cru is an ideal dram for a celebration. It’s a 23 year old single malt, which has been aged in American and European oak casks before being finished in French oak cuvée wine casks for up to six months. For a blended whisky, try the Whisky Exchange’s A Good Old-Fashioned Christmas whisky, which is made up of a blend of hogsheads and sherry butts from Glen Elgin, Linkwood, Blair Athol, Strathclyde and Cameronbridge.

A limited edition old whisky may not be festive per say, but they’ll make great gifts for the enthusiast. Glenfarclas has recently launched a limited edition 50 year old, and Glenfiddich will release a series from their archive collection in 2023 - one to keep an eye out for.

Finally if cocktails are more your thing, Bruadar, a Malt Whisky Liqueur, has a range of recipes from a refreshing spritz to boozy hot chocolate. For a twist on a classic, try Bramble’s mince pie old fashioned, made with Lidl’s Highland single malt and a simple, festive, syrup.

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