I tried boozy advent calendars including gin, beer and wine to find the best – my winner had the most unusual flavours | The Sun

FROM gin and beer, to wine and whisky – indulge yourself with one of 2023's alcohol advent calendars and the countdown to Christmas could get very merry.

Boozy calendars for adults have really taken off in the last few years and are sometimes worth hundreds of pounds.

Consumer expert Martyn James said that as boozy Christmas advent calendars can be pricey, you need to make sure you are happy with how much alcohol you are getting before you make a purchase.

“Quantity is the name of the game here,” Martyn says.

“Check to see what the calendar promises and how much you are getting.

"This is particularly important with craft beers, where tiny cans can ruin the countdown to Christmas!"

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I tested dozens of calendars to see how they stacked up – here are my 10 favourites.

Drinks by the Dram Craft Gin Advent Calendar

  • £69.95, masterofmalt.com

Gin advent calendars have been hugely popular in recent years and with so many on offer, it's hard to know where to start.

I loved the look of these little gin bottles sealed with wax.

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There are 24 varieties from different producers with a whole host of unusual flavours.

I loved the Jaffa cake-flavoured gin but there are some for connoisseurs too including the Yuzu dry London gin or offerings from award-winning Cornish producer Tarquin's.

The box is compact, understated but still festive. Loved it.

  • DRINKS: 10/10
  • VALUE: 10/10
  • OVERALL SCORE: 10/10

Virgin Wines Mixed Wine Advent Calendar

  • £89.99, virginwines.co.uk

Behind each door is a mini bottle of wine for you to enjoy each day of advent.

Wines include Tall Gum Australian Chardonnay, The Black Pig Pinot Grigio and Woolundry Road Sparkling Chardonnay.

It's topped off with a full sized bottle of shiraz for Christmas Day.

If you like mixing it up rather than sticking to white or red wine, this is a great option.

I found it really fun trying different varieties and finding some new favourites to enjoy through 2024.

  • DRINKS: 10/10
  • VALUE: 9/10

Nio Cocktails

  • £135, niococktails.co.uk

A 12-day advent calendar designed for sharing with two cocktails in each draw.

Drinks include favourites such as Negroni, Cosmopolitan and Espresso Martini as well as some more usual cocktails such as Tea Sour and Disaronno Sour.

The cocktails were good quality and I liked that there were two each day so you could share and discuss each one with a partner or friend.

It would have been nice to have more of them though and the calendar was quite pricey.

  • DRINKS: 7/10
  • VALUE: 6/10

The Vodka Advent Calendar

  • £89.95, masterofmalt.com

A great gift for vodka lovers, this unique calendar includes an array of flavoured vodkas from around the globe.

There are well known brands including Chase and Ciroc as well as Jaffa Cake and my personal favourite, Chardonnay Vodka.

An ideal choice for vodka fans who want to explore new drinks and are looking for something more exciting than a dull square of chocolate each day.

  • DRINKS: 7/10
  • VALUE: 6/10

Star Wars Original Stormtrooper Beer Advent Calendar

  • £49, menkind.co.uk

If you like beer and you like Star Wars, this is a great option for the countdown to Christmas.

It comes in a sturdy box and you get 12 different beers including Lightspeed Pilsner, Shadow Stout, Galactic Pale Ale and Hoppy Christmas American Brown Ale – reviews on the beers were mixed but most were easy to to drink.

You also get a 'Taste the Galaxy' Stormtrooper glass, some pretzels and beer mats.

A great novelty gift for beer and Star Wars fans.

  • DRINKS: 7/10
  • VALUE: 6/10

Freixenet and Friends Wine and Fizz Advent Calendar

  • £94.95, slurp.co.uk

The most luxurious calendar in our test, this features 24 still and sparkling wines for advent, as well as two alcohol-free option in case you need a day off the booze.

Wines include Freixenet Italian Sparkling Rose, Freixenet Prosecco DOC, i heart Pinot Grigio and Mouton Cadet Classic Boudeaux Red.

All were delicious. Most of these bottles cost around £3.50 to buy individually – totalling £84 – so I thought it was great value too.

  • DRINKS: 10/10
  • VALUE: 9/10

The Fever Tree Gin and Tonic Advent Calendar

  • £65, ocado.com

A good midrange option with 12 gins and 12 tonics inside.

I loved the range of flavoured tonics, which included Elderflower, Spanish Clementine and Rhubarb and Blueberry, as well as the 12.5cl bottles of gin, which include Tarquin's Cornish Dry Gin, Pink Pepper, Sloe and Edinburgh Classic.

The only downside is that each day only has one of each so you'll have to save your gin and tonic for every other day this festive season.

It's well-priced though – we worked out the contents to cost around £55 if you bought them individually, so you're only paying a tenner for the novelty festive calendar.

  • DRINKS: 8/10
  • VALUE: 8/10

Sandford Orchards' Cider Advent Calendar

  • £75, sandfordorchards.co.uk

A great way to ease yourself into the festive spirit, this 24 day calendar allows you to discover a new cider every day made by Sandford Orchards, a craft cider maker in rural Devon. 

Unlike many of the alcohol calendars we tried, it was great to have a full 24 day set and we loved the taste of most of them.

Ciders include favourites from their award-winning range such as Wilde Cherry, Old Blossom and Devon Red.

A real treat at the end of a busy, cold December day.

A mixed case of 12 bottles would cost you just under £30, so the mark up wasn't too bad either.

But be warned, it is incredibly heavy to lift!

  • DRINKS: 9/10
  • VALUE: 8/10

Naked Wines

  • £89.99, nakedwines.co.uk

The last thing you want for advent is 24 days of disappointing wine and you certainly won't get that here.

There are some exceptional wines among the 24 included here, including a flavourful chardonnay from South Africa and a rich cabernet from Chile.

You should know there are no actual doors to open, and no bottles.

Instead, each 100ml serving of wine comes in a cardboard carton arrange in numerical order.

This makes it lighter to move than most of the other boozy calendars and it's ideal if space is tight.

The wines were delicious and you are bound to find a new favourite as you work you way through these.

In fact, I would have loved a bit more of each.

  • DRINKS: 9/10
  • VALUE: 8/10

Whisky 12 Dram Advent Calendar

  • £79.95, drinksbythedram.com

Whisky calendars can be incredibly expensive – we saw some worth over £500!

But if you want something more budget-friendly this is a good choice. 

Behind each door is a wax-sealed dram of whisky, which come from a range of distillers around the world including a Loch Lomond 12 Year Old, The ONE Sherry Expression and Glenfarclas 10 Year Old.

It was a fun and exciting way to try new varieties in the run up to December 25th.

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There are only 12 – so it won't last the whole of December.

  • DRINKS: 7/10
  • VALUE: 7/10

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