Vintage Ad Archive: Whiskey For Christmas!


The holiday season is well underway, and by this point, we here at Alcohol Professor HQ are fully immersed in the celebratory spirit: there’s a wreath on our door, colored lights are twinkling in every direction, a giant evergreen looms ominously in the corner, and our Hi-Fi is loaded with countless hours of Christmas tunage.  And, of course, our bar is well-stocked with all kinds of delicious drinkables.

So it seems the perfect moment to take another deep dig through my files, and present a suitably seasonal selection of visuals for you to gaze upon and enjoy. Last year, I walked you through a Bourbon-themed holiday history, so I figured this time around I’d expand the scope a bit to take in all styles of Whiskey, and look at the myriad ways this most warming of liquors has been incorporated into spirits company Christmas campaigns.

Seagram's, 1944
Seagram’s, 1944

Scotch is, of course, a perennial favorite for both wintertime sipping and festive gift-giving, and pretty much every major brand (and a few less-major ones) tried their hand at Christmas-centric advertising.

While various Canadian and American Whiskeys took turns fighting for a share of the holiday spotlight.

Southern distilleries focused on their spirit’s versatility, offering some campaigns that exhibited complex concoctions, and some that showcased Bourbon’s strength as a stand-alone sippable.

Different companies did their best to find a niche, and come up with an approach to set them apart from the crowd.  Imperial, for example, focused on the coveted “people who like to carry heavy things” market…

…While Johnnie Walker went for the “creepy guy bursting in your door without warning” demographic.

Johnny Walker, 1951
Johnny Walker, 1951

Tennessee’s favorite spirit, on the other hand, exercised restraint, and focused on presenting a down-home, traditional atmosphere.

But no matter the tack they took, these companies succeeded in their goal, and established Whiskey as a wintertime perennial, a beverage suitable for drinking at family gatherings or office functions, perfect for wrapping and giving to loved ones, and as much a part of the holiday season as mistletoe and tinsel.

Bell's, 1954
Bell’s, 1954

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to slip away.  I have some last-minute Christmas shopping to finish, and figuring out which Whiskeys to buy for my friends and family is no easy task – but I’ll return soon, for another intoxicating spin back in time!

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