Whiskey, bourbon + chocolate—oh my! A guide to the best tastings this holiday season

Always down for a tastings event. Photo via Dread River Distilling Co.
Always down for a tasting event. Photo via Dread River Distilling Company

I don’t really know what it is about a tasting that is always so much fun to me. Maybe it’s the feeling of trying something new and getting out of my comfort zone or maybe it’s simply the fact that it’s always a fun activity to do with friends.

We’ve rounded up six of the best whiskey, bourbon and chocolate tastings of the season to get you thinking about your holiday outings with those who just make the season even brighter. Plus, get ready for some events later in the season that you don’t want to miss.

1. Dread River Distilling Company

Check out this gorgeous space to taste! Photo via Dread River Distilling Company
Check out this gorgeous space to taste! Photo via Dread River Distilling Company

Dread River is one of Birmingham’s newer spots to dip your toe into dark liquor tastings. They distill their own alcohol and are serving up delicious cocktails you know will be a hit this holiday season. Good news—tastings are come and go, so guests are more than welcome to taste a variety of spirits.

They serve up three different types of whiskeys and bourbons, so everyone in your group can find their favorite. Head on in to get a taste of what Dread River is pouring.

Our pick: Distiller’s Select Straight Whiskey- Oaky, smoky, freshly grated cinnamon spice

2. LeNell’s

For all your beverage needs, LeNell's hits the spot. Photo via Jacob Blankenship
For all your beverage needs, LeNell’s hits the spot. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

You can’t talk about local tastings without talking about LeNell’s. This beverage boutique hosts special events and themed tastings that make for a fun night out with a group of holiday visitors.

Up next on their calendar? A special tasting featuring George Dickel 15 year barrel pick that was actually selected by LeNell’s Whiskey Women. We love to see it. To top it all off, word on the street is that the Master Distiller for George Dickel, Nicole Austin, is making an appearance to sign bottles. Be sure to head in Friday, 11/19 from 5-7PM to check it out.

Can’t make it Friday? Be sure to stay posted on LeNell’s website for all of their events in December. They are a can’t miss.

Our pick: The George Dickel Single Barrel 15 year old, obviously. It won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021.

3. Big Whiskey’s—Hoover

All about presentation. Photo via Big Whiskey's Hoover
All about presentation. Photo via Big Whiskey’s Hoover

Just by the name alone, we know they mean business. Meet Big Whiskey’s—Hoover’s destination for craft whiskey. They serve a signature whiskey flight with an elegant presentation. In the flight are Highwest Midwinter Night’s Dram, Little Book and Knob Creek 15.

Our pick: Highwest A Midwinter Night’s Dram, described as proper Christmas plum pudding with lovely mulling spices, dried fruits, and crème anglaise.

4. Watkins Branch Bourbon and Brasserie

This cozy bourbon bar is a can't miss. Photo via Watkins Branch
This cozy bourbon bar is a can’t miss. Photo via Watkins Branch

If you’re looking for a tasting experience for your out-of-town guests, this one’s for you. Watkins Branch, Mountain Brook’s cozy bourbon bar, serves an ever changing whiskey and bourbon list. In addition to bourbon, they serve elevated classics and Sunday brunch. Bourbon with a side of truffle fries? Double yes.

Stay tuned for announcements on their social media for details about their mid-December bourbon and whiskey tasting—their tastings are always a hit.

Our pick: One of their new selections: Stranahan’s Diamond Peak. Features subtle scents of cinnamon, spiced apples, and cinnamon.

The sweet stuff

5. Birmingham Candy Company

This was a limited edition release of their bourbon balls in partnership with Old Forester.
This was a limited edition release of their bourbon balls in partnership with Old Forester. Photo via Birmingham Candy Company

This local candy shop is making headlines everywhere. Known for its creative confections, Birmingham Candy Company is the the key to holiday gift giving. If your recipient is craving more of an experience, check out the tastings that Birmingham Candy Company offers. While their holiday tasting menu has not been yet unveiled, check back for more details as the holidays draw near.

They recently opened a pop-up shop at The Summit, so if you are in need of a sweet treat mid-shopping day, you know where to stop.

6. Chocolatá

What's even better than a chocolate tasting? A chocolate tasting AND local beer. Photo via Chocolata
What’s even better than a chocolate tasting? A chocolate tasting AND local beer. Photo via Chocolatá

Chocolatá serves up unique, seasonal chocolates that taste just as heavenly as they look. This sweet flight that will be perfect for that person in your life with a die-hard sweet tooth. They offer a four piece South American bonbon flights that consist of a white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and specialty bonbon.

These sweet bites are perfect to taste and participants are invited to dive into the world of craft chocolate.

“This is a flight we did with Cahaba Brewing that went swimmingly and we are always happy to help someone pick out the right pieces to pair with their favorite beverage. People can swing by anytime to ask for a flight but if they want to place large orders they can contact us at orders@chocolatachocolate.com.”

– Chocolata on Instagram

Local events that you can’t miss

1. Queen’s Park—Annual Miracle Event

Inside Queen's Park with Miracle on 24th Street decorations. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now
Inside Queen’s Park with Miracle on 24th Street decorations. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

While Queen’s Park isn’t into the tasting scene, they certainly know how to throw a holiday party! Complete with an extensive bourbon and Tennessee whiskey list, this place has a yearly event called Miracle on 24th Street. They transform Queen’s Park entirely—complete with lights, decor and a seasonal menu of 12 drinks in custom glassware to top it all off.

PS—the glassware is for sale and a portion of the proceeds go to charity. You can’t beat a holiday celebration that gives back.

2. BourbonHam 2022 at “The Club”

Birmingham, Alabama, Momentum Leadership Breakfast 2019, The Club
We can’t wait for BourbonHam at The Club. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

BourbonHam, Birmingham’s premier bourbon and barbecue event will be hosted in January of 2022 (which is closer than you think). Benefitting the MS Society, this event features many different bourbons that will be a hit whether you’re a bourbon aficionado or just now getting started in your tasting experience.

Tickets are on sale now, so make sure to round up friends or family and “cheers” for a good cause this January.

We’ll cheers to that, Birmingham. Stay up to date with fun events and all the buzziest news by subscribing to our newsletter.

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Olivia Moses
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