Limited Edition Whiskies for the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is welcomed with fireworks, lanterns, lion parades, gifts, amazing food, and of course, some fine whiskies. Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, Lunar New Year is a 15 day celebration based on the lunar calendar and is one of the most widely observed holidays in the world. The festivity lasts about two weeks—this year’s Lunar New Year runs from February 1 to 15—and is capped by the appearance of the full moon.

Each year is named after an animal from the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. This is the Year of the Tiger, and those born under this sign are believed to be courageous, enthusiastic, and ambitious. Families travel great distances to be together to feast, drink, pray, exchange gifts, and honor the traditions and superstitions of the season in order to bring health, prosperity, good luck, and a bountiful harvest in the year ahead. The celebrations begin with the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner and culminate with the Lantern Festival. Beyond China, the Spring Festival is celebrated in many different countries around the world—including the U.S., where events are planned in San Francisco, New York, and numerous other cities.

Luxury items ranging from limited-edition sneakers, beauty products, and designer apparel are released in the run-up to Lunar New Year, and special whiskies are also part of the mix. The Year of the Tiger has inspired some of the most vibrant whisky gift sets to date, with the number of Lunar New Year whiskies in ascendance as more distilleries join the party. Bold splashes of color are unleashed with thematic swathes of red and gold wrapped around exuberant label designs. Whisky companies have sought out Chinese artists to work on their Lunar New Year designs. Shenzhen-based illustrator Rlon Wang was commissioned by William Grant & Sons to create the Glenfiddich designs, while Royal Salute brought in Feifei Ruan, a New York-based illustrator originally from Shenzhen. Diageo approached Shan Jiang, the Shanghai-born artist now working in London, to design the Johnnie Walker releases.

These bottlings are mainly sold in global travel retail stores and Asia-Pacific countries, though there is a market for them in other parts of the world. They make an eye-catching addition to any collection. One Lunar New Year release is going digital too, as 200 NFTs (non-fungible tokens) of the Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva Chinese New Year Limited Edition have been minted for the distillery’s second release on If the whisky you want is not available where you live (the Johnnie Walker and Royal Salute bottlings are available in the U.S.), then online whisky auctions are the next best place to hunt down these limited editions, though you will need patience as they filter through to the secondary market.

Most bottles are limited designs rather than new whiskies, so don’t expect them to rise in value substantially, even if demand outstrips supply initially. Realistically, drinkers are unlikely to prioritize the 2021 Year of the Ox releases over the latest bottlings, though we expect unopened bottles to be stashed away as keepsakes of births and weddings. As these releases are a relatively recent phenomenon, we can only speculate whether any remaining bottles that go under the hammer in 2034 during the next Year of the Tiger will net their owners a great fortune. The Lunar New Year is about looking forward and new beginnings—it’s about family, tradition, and the joy of sharing good food and fine spirits. So drink in the whiskies in our Year of the Tiger lineup and feast your eyes on the colorful packaging. We wish you xīn nián kuài lè (Happy New Year)!

18 Chinese New Year Releases for 2022

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Tiger, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 97

One of this year’s best designs, Shan Jiang’s winged tiger design adds vibrancy to all sides of the carton and bottle.

John Walker & Sons King George V Lunar New Year Limited Edition, 43%
Whisky Advocate rating: 94

In most markets, this will be the most expensive limited-edition Lunar New Year whisky around, but its rich flavors make it worth every penny. Shan Jiang’s pack illustrates the Bai Ze, a sacred mythological creature.

Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva Chinese New Year Limited Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 93

One of the finest 21 year old single malt scotches on the market, its packaging for this special release has been dressed in more traditional colors of red and gold.

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Lunar New Year Gift Set, ABV varies
Whisky Advocate rating: 92

The packaging of this cask-strength expression is dominated by the image of one of Kavalan’s Forsyth’s spirit stills.

Kavalan Classic Lunar New Year Gift Set, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 90

Against a pinkish-red background, a crane flies over the decorative twin pagodas of the Kavalan Distillery in Taiwan.

Glenfiddich 12 year old Chinese New Year Limited Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 89

A riotously colorful green packaging by Rlon Wang for the definitive Glenfiddich, this is one of the most affordable Lunar New Year whiskies released this year.

Royal Salute 21 year old The Signature Blend The Chinese New Year Special Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 89

Royal Salute has a reputation for mischievously filling the interiors of its solemn navy whisky cartons with joyfully vivacious designs, like glimpsing a scarlet lining inside a drab business suit jacket. Here the color is on the outside, with a pair of dragons weaving figure eights across the red box.

Glenfiddich 18 year old Chinese New Year Limited Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 88

Rlon Wang’s 2022 design has been reproduced in four colorways, and the small-batch Glenfiddich 18 year old comes in teal, helping to highlight the color of the apples and paper lanterns against the busy visual landscape.

John Walker & Sons XR21 Lunar New Year Limited Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 88

A silver dragon curls around the top of the gold packaging of this expression, which is typically found in global travel retail stores, and honors the concept of master of the pen and sword.

Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Year of the Tiger 2022, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 87

Jack Daniel’s has a solid presence in global travel retail channels, and its limited-edition label incorporates the tiger and a coin motif to symbolize the red packets of money elders give to the young members of their family during the Spring Festival.

Glenfiddich 15 year old Chinese New Year Limited Edition, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 86

Instead of the regular plum cartons for Glenfiddich 15 year old, the bold use of indigo makes for a striking limited edition, creating a dramatically colored canvas for the symbolic graphic of the phoenix on the back of the carton.

Dewar’s 18 year old Chinese New Year Gift Set, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: 85

This blended scotch delivers flavors of vanilla, spice, lime zest, and bitter orange and has been splendidly repackaged in this limited-edition carton.

Berry Bros. & Rudd 11 year old Craigellachie 2010 Chinese New Year 2022, 60.6%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

Berry Bros. & Rudd has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore and has a history in single cask releases for Lunar New Year. This cask-strength Speyside scotch was distilled in 2010, the last Year of the Tiger. (550 bottles)

Kavalan Triple Sherry Lunar New Year Gift Set, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

Kavalan’s newest release marries whisky from oloroso, PX, and moscatel casks. It debuted in Taiwan in late 2021 and Kavalan is expecting to launch Triple Sherry in the U.S. within the next year.

Kurayoshi Sherry Cask 5 year old 2022 Special Release, 46%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

A distinctive tiger design for the label and carton, this whisky was finished for a year in Spanish sherry casks and is presented in individually numbered bottles.

Macallan A Night On Earth in Scotland, 40%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

Serving a dual purpose of marking the traditions of Hogmanay in Scotland and the Lunar New Year, the packaging was created in collaboration with noted graphic designer Erica Dorn.

Scallywag Year of the Tiger Edition 46%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

This limited-edition blend of Speyside single malts has been matured exclusively in Spanish sherry casks for Lunar New Year, unlike most Scallywag bottlings, which are normally drawn from a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. The label’s famous fox terrier has been given an unmissable tigrine makeover. (3,188 bottles)

Wolfburn Chinese New Year 2022, 46%
Whisky Advocate rating: N/A

This lightly peated Highland single malt scotch was matured in first-fill bourbon casks and second-fill bourbon quarter casks. From the description, this whisky should appeal to fans of Wolfburn Morven.

More From New Releases