It’s nearly time to start buying your advent calendar, and if you’re a bit of a whisky buff, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of Drinks by the Dram, a whisky advent calendar going for a pretty eye-watering £10,000 (or, around $13,000 USD if you’re on the other side of the pond).
Sure, it’s not the most expensive advent calendar in the world – Porsche make a calendar that costs $1M USD and contains a custom-built motorboat, while Biegel Schmuckdesign offer an advent calendar of diamonds that costs a cool $2.5M USD – but spending £10,000 of your cold, hard cash on an advent calendar is still a step up from your run-of-the-mill cardboard calendar full of cheap cooking chocolate.
So, is a whisky advent calendar worth the dough?
Of course, there are other whisky advent calendars at less wince-inducing prices. The Old & Rare Whisky advent calendar by Drinks by the Dram is £999.95 and there are other Drinks by the Dram options available from around £150. (Which isn’t such a bad price for a different dram a day.)
However, if you’re here on the Whisky Foundation site, you’re probably not all that interested in trying blends and off-the-shelf bourbons.
Case in point:
The Drinks by the Dram 2017 Whisky Advent Calendar contains a 3cl dram of Buffalo Trace – a perfectly serviceable bourbon that you can buy 70cl of at your local supermarket for about £20.
Some quick maths tells us that the £150 you spend on the 24 days of whisky in the Drinks by the Dram 2017 calendar works out at around £6.25’s worth of whisky per day.
If you buy 70cl of Buffalo Trace for £20 at your local supermarket, you’re paying almost 86p for 3cl of bourbon.
If you buy the Drinks by the Dram whisky advent calendar, you’re paying over £6 for exactly the same amount of exactly the same whisky.
But perhaps the value for money isn’t the point, right?
Chocolate advent calendars usually taste terrible – but they’re worth the money you spend because it’s a little bit of excitement every day in the run-up to Christmas.
Every window you open gets you a little treat and takes you a day closer to the festivities.
However, when you treat yourself to a whisky advent calendar – especially if you’re a whisky buff – you want the whiskies in that calendar to be quite something, don’t you?
You don’t want to open a window and find a dram of a whisky they serve as the house special at your local bar, do you?
And, unfortunately, that can be the case with your run-of-the-mill whisky advent calendar.
For every dram of Macallan, Glenfarclas or Talisker in the Drinks by the Dram calendar, there’s also a window that contains Jim Beam or Evan Williams.
Which is the whisky equivalent of getting a piece of coal in your stocking.
And yet, for all its faults, there’s something we like about the whisky advent calendar.
There’s something exciting about drinking a new, surprise dram every day. And there’s nothing better than sipping a new whisky that you’d never have tried otherwise, only to find out you can’t get enough of it.
(And there’s definitely something nice about having an excuse to drink whisky every single day of December…)
But the very best whisky advent calendars are the ones that are put together by connoisseurs and experts – the ones that aren’t just put together to make money, but carefully considered to give the drinkers a taste of whiskies they’d never have tried before.
And – if you pick the right one – they make the hobby of trying new, exciting whiskies more affordable. (You don’t have to take a punt on a new bottling and hope that you like it.)
Which leads us to conclude that there’s nothing inherently wrong with even the cheapest whisky advent calendars – even the ones that contain Jim Beam – because they’re all about celebrating the wonder of whisky.
To paraphrase William Faulkner, ‘there’s no such thing as a bad whisky advent calendar, some just happen to be better than others’.