Unique whisky celebrations for the festive season

Whisky has long been a beloved tipple during the festive season. When the weather turns cold and the days grow short, there’s nothing quite like sipping on a dram by the fireplace to warm up.

While many stick to time-honoured traditions like cracking open a bottle of Scotch on Christmas Eve or New Year’s, there are also unique and creative ways to celebrate with whisky this festive season that are sure to liven up any gathering.

From hosting inspired whisky tastings to boost your knowledge of this complex drink to concocting cheeky cocktails for loved ones as a way to celebrate as a crowd, here are a few ways to let your tastebuds journey through a veritable wonderland of festive whisky-driven cheer this year.

Host a whisky tasting party

One unique way to enjoy whisky this holiday season is by hosting a festive whisky tasting party with friends and family. It’s a great opportunity to sample a variety of whiskies and experience different flavours and styles that you may not have tried before.

When planning your party, make sure to stock up on a diverse selection of bottles, such as single malts from various Scottish regions, Irish, bourbon or rye, and set up a tasting sheet at each place setting so guests can jot down notes on the aroma, taste and finish of each dram. Provide small bites to cleanse the palate between pours, like cheese, chocolate, nuts or smoked meats.

To make your gathering even more celebratory, source some decorative glassware like Glencairn glasses rather than basic tumblers. You could even offer festive ice spheres instead of plain cubes. By the end, your party will be imbued with whisky knowledge and that warm, convivial feeling the Christmas period is made for.

Make festive cocktails

For a more festive way to enjoy your whisky this holiday season, why not concoct some creative cocktails? Put a seasonal spin on the classics by infusing traditional mixes with warm spices, herbs and winter flavours.

Give an Old Fashioned an extra kick by swapping plain sugar for spiced demerara or honey syrup infused with cinnamon, garnishing with star anise. Or heat up some mulled apple cider and add a splash of whisky for a comforting hot toddy when the weather turns blustery. Alternatively, make your Rob Roy even more robust with the addition of chocolate bitters, or don your Santa hat and mix up some ‘Christmas in Manhattan’ cocktails with cherry brandy and festive garnishes.

Festive cocktails are the ideal way to celebrate a special occasion, be it a Christmas party, a unique proposal or ringing in the New Year with friends. If you’re expecting a crowd, you could even whip up some spiced whisky punch with cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange slices, or set up a DIY cocktail station and let your guests create their own concoctions.

Visit a whisky distillery

One memorable way to mark the festive season is by planning a visit to a whisky distillery in the lead-up to Christmas day. Many renowned distilleries offer special festive tours and tastings, allowing you to explore the production process and sample drams straight from the cask. It’s also the perfect way to decide on which bottle to buy for the whisky lover in your life. Many distilleries also release special Christmas bottles only available for purchase on site, making for ideal festive gifts.

Beyond the tours and tastings, visiting a distillery allows you to soak up the cosy atmosphere to get you in the Christmas mood. Take in the amber hues and smell the mash fermenting as you learn about the whisky-making tradition first-hand. End your outing on a high note by relaxing over dram next to the crackling fire of the on-site pub. Visiting a distillery is a uniquely immersive experience for any whisky enthusiast and the perfect way to soak up the festive atmosphere.

Plan a whisky-fuelled New Year’s Eve party

Ring in the new year in style by hosting a whisky-centred celebration. A whisky-themed New Year’s Eve party allows you to break out your finest bottles and bid farewell to the year with a dram in hand for a truly memorable night.

Set up a properly stocked bar with a range of whisky varieties and cocktail fixings, and have whisky-based drinks ready to serve like Rob Roys, Rusty Nails and Penicillins. It’s a good idea to have a mix of chilled and warmed festive whisky cocktails as well like Hot Toddy, Whisky Sours and Whisky Mac mulled cider.

Make sure to have food on hand that pairs well with whisky. Hearty hors d’oeuvres like smoked salmon, meat and cheese boards, and oysters are perfect. To top off the night’s celebrations, arrange live music or a classic ceilidh for entertaining between pours.

As midnight approaches, be sure to do a countdown toast to welcome the new year with your top shelf dram. After the noisemakers sound, you can keep the night going with whisky into the wee hours. Your guests are sure to leave in high spirits!

Whisky has long been synonymous with celebration and hospitality during the festive season. While time-honoured traditions certainly have their charm, there are also endless creative ways to incorporate this beloved spirit into your holiday gatherings. From enlightening tastings that awaken your senses to clever cocktails brimming with yuletide spice, the opportunities to craft memorable whisky experiences are plentiful.

However you choose to mark the season, letting whisky work its familiar magic will ensure your celebrations hit all the right notes. This festive time of year is about creating joyful moments with loved ones, and whisky is the perfect vehicle for bringing people together. So as the days grow merry and bright, let whisky help guide your way and make spirits even brighter.

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Tags: Festive Seasonwhisky celebrations
Picture of Greg


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

You might be interested in

More from the blog

Leave a comment

Follow greatdrams

latest articles

Latest whisky

exclusively from GreatDrams

GreatDrams Whisky Subscription
Sign up to the awesome GreatDrams Whisky Subscription

Login / register