Purim means community, celebration and a touch of holy, whisky-infused inebriation

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Purim means community, celebration and a touch of holy, whisky-infused inebriation

Scotch or Bourbon? Japanese or Israeli? Our definitive guide will help you choose your libation with aplomb

Photo: Anastasia Zhenina
Photo: Anastasia Zhenina

Purim is the one day on the Jewish calendar where it’s practically a mitzvah to party hard enough to mistake your rabbi for Queen Esther. Enter whisky, the liquid courage that has been warming hearts and confusing Purim revellers for ages.

Whisky is what happens when grains decide to have a midlife crisis, get fermented, and end up aging in barrels. There’s Scotch, which is like the wise old man of whisky, peaty and profound, often found brooding in an oak barrel. Irish whisky is the friendly chap, triple-distilled to avoid any rough mornings after. Bourbon is the sweet, corn-fed American, bold and unapologetic, while Rye is its spicy cousin, always ready to kick up a Purim party a notch. Not to mention its strict neighbour, Japanese whisky, which behaves in a similar manner to Scotch whisky but with a deeper bow. Israeli whisky, produced in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, was a year ago given the accolade of being the best malt whisky in the world. Each type brings its own vibe to the Purim table, proving that diversity is not just a societal virtue but a key ingredient in our drinks cabinets.

Most whisky is as kosher as your bubbe’s matzo ball soup, but the plot thickens with sherry casks. Aging whisky in sherry casks is like sending it on a Spanish vacation, but some worry about importing a non-kosher souvenir. The debate hinges on whether the wine’s influence makes the whisky trayf. Some say it’s fine, invoking the ‘I can’t even taste the sherry’ defence, while others look for a kosher certification as eagerly as a child searches for the afikoman. It’s a topic that can fuel many a spirited Purim debate, ideally over a glass of the contentious whisky itself. Fruitful Spirits excels in the art of whisky maturation, strategically sourcing the finest casks of whisky in the market at the most competitive prices. They can help you build your own portfolio of whisky casks, for investment, enjoyment or a bit of both.

“Why did the Rabbi refuse to invest in whisky barrels? He said he couldn’t put his money where his mouth is.”

Purim isn’t just an excuse to drink; it’s an art form. The key is to nose your whisky as if you’re trying to discern Haman’s secrets, then sip it as slowly as Esther deliberated her approach to the king.  Adding water is acceptable; it’s like letting Moses part the Red Sea right there in your glass. Remember, Purim is a marathon, not a sprint. Drinking with appreciation for the craftsmanship and tradition of whisky ensures that you fulfill the mitzvah without ending up like King Ahasuerus after Vashti said “No.”

In the end, the bond between whisky and Purim is a testament to Judaism’s ability to sanctify joy, community, and even a bit of mischief. Whisky, with its diverse expressions and rich heritage, mirrors the complexity and vibrancy of Jewish life itself. Whether you’re pondering the kosher implications of sherry casks or simply looking for the perfect spirit to lift your spirits, remember: Purim is the time to celebrate our survival with laughter, a good dram, and perhaps a slightly irreverent joke or two. So raise your glass high; just make sure you can still tell Haman from Mordechai by the end of the night.


Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky: DS Tayman Blair Athol

Peat’s sake! Presented at a robust 51.31% ABV, with a full spectrum of flavour from its double wood maturation, this exquisite Scotch entices with indulgent notes of white chocolate chunks, spicy red wine, and a hint of aniseed, balanced by the influence of Bordeaux wine barriques. Don’t let its high ABV intimidate you – it surprises with a smooth yet complex character, wrapping into a full-bodied and lingering finish. From £59.99

Blended Scotch Whisky: Johnnie Walker Blue Label

For when you want to impress your in-laws, or make them jealous. A premium and luxurious blended Scotch whisky, offering a velvety combination of sweet, fruity flavors with a hint of peat smoke, delivering a remarkably smooth and rich taste that showcases the exceptional depth and complexity of its rare and aged whiskies. From £146

Japanese Whisky: Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

As harmonious as a karaoke night in Kyoto. Smooth, with a chance of enlightenment. A pioneering single malt from Japan, offering a harmonious blend of fruity and spicy flavours, with a woody finish. From £130

Canadian Whisky: Crown Royal XR

So smooth, it’s almost apologetic. Classic Canadian. An extra-rare blend of Canadian whisky, known for its smoothness and richness with notes of vanilla, spice and dried fruit. From £105

American Whisky: Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year-Old

Rarer than a quiet day on the internet. A bourbon treasure. A highly sought-after bourbon known for its complex flavours of caramel, spice, and fruit with a smooth, long finish. From £972

Israeli Whisky: Milk & Honey Apex Dead Sea

Aged in the Dead Sea, so it’s basically a spa treatment for your liver. An innovative whisky aged in the unique climate of the Dead Sea, offering a rich and complex profile with notes of fruit, chocolate, and sea breeze. From £122


Ardbeg Uigeadail

Like a bonfire party in your mouth. Smoky, peaty, and unapologetically Scottish. A deep, rich whisky combining smoke, sea salt and sweet caramel flavours. From £57

Hibiki Harmony

The Spice Girls of whisky; a perfect blend of personalities. A blend of malt and grain whiskies, offering a symphony of at least 10 malt and grain whiskies, aged in five different types of cask, with a harmonious blend of honey, orange, and a hint of smoke. From £73

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish

Pirates’ choice, if they had exceptional taste and an expense account. A unique single malt Scotch whisky finished in Caribbean rum casks for a sweet and exotic flavour profile. From £146

Buffalo Trace

American spirit in a bottle. The eagle’s choice, if eagles drank bourbon. A classic Kentucky straight bourbon, known for its rich flavours of vanilla, toffee, and candied fruit. From £20


During a Purim spiel, a Rabbi joked: “In every generation, one must see themselves as if they had personally been liberated from Haman’s decree. This whisky is just my way of getting into character.”


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