It's our 7th year of doing this calendar and each year there are a few changes based on your feedback. In other words, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules. As always, please don't take them too seriously.

The most notable change is in the scoring for the proof guesses. This year we'll introduce tiered scoring for the proof guess. Read on to learn more, but pay attention to the Scoring section.

Quick note:
If your spouse/partner wants to participate, just have them sign up on the homepage and I'll approve them on my end. If they participated last year, they should already have an account setup. Just email me if you're not sure.

Tasting Tips

  • Look at the whiskey. Gently roll the whiskey around in the glass once or twice (not too much). The color and the way the whiskey runs down the sides of the glass are great clues to what you'll be enjoying.
  • Smelling is key - don't skip the nose! As weird as it feels, opening your mouth and breathing in with both your nose and mouth gives a bigger blast.
  • Don't forget the finish - If you haven't heard of the Kentucky Chew, it's worth a try. Take a small sip then roll the whiskey around in your mouth and “chew” on it. This allows the whiskey to reach all the mouth's surfaces, which pick up different flavors.
  • Before adding water or ice, take a couple of small sips neat then try with a touch of water/ice to see how the flavor changes.
  • Have a whiskey you know alongside each day's bottle (usually Elijah Craig Small Batch for me) to use as a benchmark. It really helps identify the differences while you’re tasting blind. I'd suggest going with a medium to low-proof benchmark whiskey.
  • If you get behind, well...don't. On the off chance you find yourself needing to catch up, the site will restrict you to 4 tastings in a day. We had a guy a couple of years ago drink 8 in one day (including a $133 whiskey) and said he couldn't remember anything after the third one. Take your time and enjoy each whiff and sip.
  • Drink half of the bottle and then fill out that day's form to find out what you're drinking and enjoy the rest with a few tasting notes. Some have saved about half of each day's bottle and went through the full calendar again later the next year.

The Lineup

  • Bourbon / Tennessee
  • Irish
  • Japanese
  • Rye
  • Scotch
  • Other

Like most years, bourbon is the most common whiskey in the calendar, but it is less than half of the total. Each of the whiskey types above is included in the calendar at least once. Don't overthink it. If you'd like to check out a summary of last year's selection, click here.


On the rating form, you'll guess which type of whiskey you're drinking AND what the proof of each is. Each day, you can score up to 6 points. Here's how it'll work:

Whiskey Type: Each correct guess will be worth 3 points. If you get it wrong, you get 0 points.

Proof Guess: These are worth 1, 2, or 3 points depending on how close your guess is to the actual proof.
+/- 7 is worth 1 point
+/- 4 is worth 2 points
+/- 1 is worth 3 points

Example 1: The whiskey you're tasting is 90 proof Scotch. On your rating form, you correctly guess that it's a Scotch (worth 3 points), and guess that the proof is 87 (worth 2 points since the difference between your guess and the actual is 3). Your total for the day would be 5 points.

Example 2: Same whiskey as above. On your rating form, you guess that it's an Irish whiskey (worth 0 points), and guess that the proof is 91 (worth 3 points since the difference between your guess and the actual is 1). Your total for the day would be 3 points.


The top 3 scores will receive $50, $30 and $20 off next year's calendar. To be eligible for the prizes, the cutoff for all ratings is December 25.

Some Stats

The average bottle in this year's calendar is $68 which is slightly higher than last year, but not by much. Whiskey is still a hot industry, but increased competition is everywhere and seems to be keeping prices stable. Fingers crossed that continues.

As for total price range, our cheapest bottle is $18 and our most expensive is $118*.

The group tends to grade Scotches pretty hard and give bourbons a few bonus points. I get it. I'm a sucker for the sweet stuff too. Over the years, our average score for bourbon is 6.52 while our average score for Scotch is 5.60. Let's play nice everyone. Bourbon wouldn't be here without Scotch.

* Higher price does not necessarily mean higher quality.

Rating Guidelines

You might struggle with how to score the first few because you don't have anything to compare it to. To help with this, Day 1 (December 1) will be last year’s winner (Belle Meade Reserve). You can still rate it as you normally would, but that should give you a way to calibrate your ratings before the current year lineup starts on December 2. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Add your comments and rate with your gut.

  1. Awful. So bad I poured it out.
  2. Bad. Multiple flaws.
  3. Poor. I wouldn't consume by choice.
  4. Sub-par, but drinkable.
  5. Good. Would drink neat, but wouldn't feel bad mixing it in a cocktail either.
  6. Very Good. A cut above. Would buy this one.
  7. Great. Well above average.
  8. Incredible. One of your favorites.
  9. Excellent. Really quite exceptional.
  10. Amazing! One for the record books.

Who are these people?

This whole thing came about from a cigar club I started in 2004 called The High Rollers. I know it's not the most creative name, but it was ironic at the time and arguably still is. Anyway, each member from that group has submitted 2 whiskeys to be included in the calendar. You may notice some cheesy nicknames on the whiskey reveal page and the leaderboard, but just know they're actual people that I know and are a pretty good representation of the rest of the whiskey participants. Like all of us, some are very knowledgeable about the whiskey world, and others...are not.

Final Thoughts

Please keep up as best you can. It's been a turbulent few years and nothing helps more than a nightcap.