A great bottle of whisky has always been the ultimate holiday gift, but this year Scotch brands are leveling up with immersive whisky experiences that include exclusive tastings, food pairings and even hotel stays. If your whisky tastes run more local, snap up a presale bottle of Sheringham’s rye-forward whisky, coming in 2024: it’s bound to be as stellar as their award-winning gin.
The Macallan at Four Seasons Whistler
Picture an après-ski moment in a modern library, with a crackling fire and some of the world’s most luscious single malt. That scene is set for you this winter at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, in the collaboration space The Library by The Macallan. Tastings of The Macallan range of Double Cask, Sherry Oak and Limited Edition bottlings are available, as well as unique, literary-themed cocktails tuned to the Whistler setting. For instance, The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 years old stars in Cloud Atlas, along with rosé vermouth, tarragon, pine honey and plum notes and a dreamy, cloud-like sherry-infused foam. Reserve your seats for a tasting, or in anticipation of a whisky-ful evening, book a room and stay the night!
Don’t miss: thoughtfully made zero-proof mocktails like Plot Without Proof (ginger, coconut, black tea, lemon and white cranberry).
When: 4 to 10 p.m. daily from December 15, 2023 through end of March 2024.
The Dalmore at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
A 30-year-old Scotch is a memory-making sip, and this year the Dalmore 30 (2021 edition) is exclusively available at Notch8 in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, in a bespoke handcrafted glass. To extend that one-ounce pour into a memorable evening, the Dalmore Dinner experience pairs it, along with pours of The Dalmore 12, 15, and 18-year-old, with Notch8’s elegant cuisine (reserve for six to 12 people). Add a night in the Lieuetenant Governor Suite on the hotel’s luxe Heritage 14th floor.
Don’t miss: The Glenturret Heritage Suite Experience, coming in the new year. Notch8 is the only place in B.C. where you can sample the golden elixir from the Highland Scotch distillery that bills itself as the world’s oldest (founded in 1763).
When: the Dalmore dinner continues through 2024.
Johnnie Walker Blue Room at Yorkdale and Park Royal
That obligatory trip to the mall gets a major glow-up this holiday season, with arrival of luxe blended-Scotch brand Johnnie Walker at two Canadian shopping centres. In Toronto, the blue-velvet ropes of the Blue Room are up at Yorkdale, in partnership with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. You can taste sips among the Johnnie Walker Black, Double Black, Green and Blue Labels, and purchase your favourites on site. The Johnnie Walker Blue Room kiosk outside the BC Liquor Store at West Vancouver’s Park Royal offers guided tastings of Johnnie Walker Black, Gold or Blue with paired bites to enhance your sipping, with bottles for sale next door at the BC Liquor Store.
Don’t miss: the chance to have a purchased bottle custom engraved with a personal gift message.
When: Toronto, through December 30: Mondays to Thursdays 3 to 9 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays and Boxing Day 12 to 9 p.m.; Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 12-6 p.m. (closed on December 25).
West Vancouver, through December 23: tastings Wednesday to Friday 3 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 12 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 6:30 p.m.
Glenfiddich at the Park Hyatt Toronto and W Toronto
Choose your adventure with Glenfiddich this winter in Toronto: will it be a cozy cabin-inspired evening, or an urbane hotel sip-cation? At the elegant Park Hyatt Toronto, the seasonal pop-up bar Holiday Bothy at the Park celebrates Scottish cottage (bothy) culture, with warming décor inspired by highland hideaways: think twinkling lights, fur throws and rustic wood, stone and leather. The cocktails, comfort food and setting are modern-cool, though: nightly DJ sessions are the soundtrack for sublime snacks like truffle grilled cheese and lobster poutine and drinks like Where is Santa (Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Reserve, Park Hyatt tea, Chambord, Disaronno, mint and pine, clarified milk and maple syrup).
Don’t miss: the hot chocolate bar for a spike of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old and fun toppings.
When: Thursday to Sunday, through January 1, 2024 (no reservations).
You’ve “Made The List” (the Good List, that is) if you find yourself staying at the W Toronto this holiday season. Hotel guests can savour a complimentary arrival dram of Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve at check in, a promise of the tasty things on offer as part of the Made the List experience. In the Living Room, sip a Highland Harvest cocktail (Glenfiddich 14 Year Old, mint, apple cider, Aperol and bitters), or indulge in a Highland Heritage Flight (tastings of Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve, 15 Year Old, and Orchard Experiment, $50/person). Pair them with the Living Room’s festive bites, from turkey-stuffing croquettes and sweet potato “trees” to seasonal fondues (Savoury serves molten cheese with bread, sausage, shrimp, fruit and veg; Sweet is dark or ruby chocolate with marshmallows, brownies, fruit and nuts).
Don’t miss: the complimentary, Glenfiddich holiday-inspired selfie station in the W Hotel Living Room.
When: through December 29.
Whisky Vault Tasting at Cask Whisky Vault, Club Versante
Year-round, make the trip to Richmond and enter Club Versante’s Cask Whisky Vault for umami-rich snacks from the robata grill and well-curated whisky flights (like Island, Mainland or sherried Scotch and Japanese whisky) from a 200-plus bottle menu. But the heart of this dark, elegant bar is an actual bottle-lined whisky vault private dining room. It’s there that you want to settle around the round table with up to nine whisky-loving pals to enjoy the Whisky Vault Tasting menu ($59/person, plus $49 for pairings that you definitely need). Opulent starters like an oyster with caviar, ebi tartare and a Kurobuta pork skewer soar alongside The Macallan 12, and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a lush companion to steak with a truffle potato okonomiyaki-style cake. Matcha cheesecake for dessert pairs with a fine Irish whiskey (often Rebreast 12, but Teeling on my most recent visit).
Don’t miss: special hotel rates for diners at Cask or the hotel’s fine-dining room, Bruno.
When: Wednesday through Sunday, year-round (closed on December 24, 2023).
—by Charlene Rooke