A Quick Guide To All Of The Whisky 'Holidays'
Felipe is an award-winning London-based whisky writer, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He is also a musician and co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo that fuses live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events and multimedia.
Did you raise a glass and enjoy a whisky on National Scotch Day on Friday?
I hope you also did the same on National Bourbon Day before that, and World Whisky Day before that. And there are others, too. If you’ve been keeping track of your holidays correctly, you may have realized that there seem to be multiple dates in the year dedicated to enjoying whisky (and whiskey).
So to help you mark your calendar for when you need to have a glass and tipple ready for a toast, here’s a quick guide, in calendar order, to the different whisky holidays, their history, and what exactly they commemorate.
International Scotch Day – February 10th
International Scotch Day was unveiled this year by drinks corporate giant Diageo, which owns the largest Scotch whisky portfolio in the world including blends Johnny Walker and single malts Lagavulin and Talisker, among many others. The day was launched with a bang. Supermodel Coco Rocha served as the face of the campaign. The hashtag #lovescotch became a thing. And all 30,000 Diageo staff were encouraged to spread the word and share generously with friends. The day served as a way to proselytize to a millennial market, which the whisky industry is pushing hard to attract.
International Whisk(e)y Day – March 27th
Announced in 2008 by top whisky writers and then officially launched at the Whisky Festival Northern Netherlands, International Whisk(e)y Day honors the man considered to be the best and one of the most influential whisky (and beer) writers ever, Michael Jackson. The initiative encourages you to enjoy a glass or few of lovely whiskies and to donate to charity, with an emphasis on those that fight Parkinson’s disease, which Jackson suffered from.
It was also described on the whisky humor website Whiskysponge - yes, this excellent site actually exists and is extremely popular with whisky geeks - as being "the one for people who actually like whisky."
World Whisky Day – Third Saturday of May
World Whisky Day is probably the best known and biggest of this bunch. It started innocently, founded in 2012 by Aberdeen University student Blair Bowman (he's now a whisky writer and consultant). The idea was simply to mark a day when anyone who loves whisky, anywhere in the world, creates an event that encourages anyone to try whisky. He launched a website that helped coordinate events around the world and it took off from there. The day has been continuously recognized by the Scottish Parliament, and a tasting was held in Antarctica in 2016, meaning that all seven continents have been covered.
National Bourbon Day – June 14th
This one is still gathering steam, with promises of event listings, merchandise and more. From what I can tell through extensive research (ok, a little googling), the day was started by the website partyexcuses.com, which literally picks random days, assigns a "holiday," makes a quick, easy website for the particular day, and creates the excuse for anyone to create a themed party. August 15th, for example, is "relaxation day." And today, July 30th, is National Cheesecake Day, apparently.
National Scotch Day – July 27th
The most recent of the whisky holidays, I couldn’t really find an origin to National Scotch Day despite my hard in-depth research (a little more googling). What seems clear is that it’s American, though I’m willing to bet that it’s OK if I were to celebrate it here in Scotland as well. The earliest mention I found was a brief listing on a food website in 2005. Not much else until after 2013 or so, and now it seems to have gained some traction. However, it has no website and no one coordinating any events or branding, unlike some of the others. It simply has mysteriously appeared, and given us an excuse to drink.
By Felipe Schrieberg
Felipe is a London-based whisky writer, musician, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He writes for internationally renowned publications such as Forbes, Whisky Magazine and The Whiskey Wash. He has been awarded the Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year award at Whisky Magazine's 2022 World Whiskies Awards.
He is the co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo fusing live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events, and multimedia. His past projects encompass performances at the Edinburgh Fringe of the band's own show Two Guys, Three Drams which combined live blues with whisky tasting, and building the world's first bass drum made from an entire Scotch whisky cask with a barrel of Lagavulin.
He is also a judge for the World Whiskies Awards and The Independent Bottlers Challenge. Through his online tastings hosted at The Virtual Whisky Masterclass, he has welcomed over 3,000 guests across 250+ tasting events.
His first book, London Cocktails, is now available worldwide. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram @schriebergfr, or at www.felipeschrieberg.com
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