The Chinese New Year is steeped in tradition, and one of the most fascinating aspects of the cultural holiday is the Chinese zodiac. Each year honors one animal in the zodiac, and in the case of 2018, it is the Year of the Dog. Unfortunately, though, if you were born in a Year of the Dog, that doesn’t mean this is “your year”—the year of your zodiac sign is actually bad luck for you in Chinese culture. So whether you’re a dog sign trying to stave off bad fortune or another sign simply reveling in the Lunar New Year, here are four beautiful, limited-edition bottles of booze that were made specifically to honor the Year of the Dog.
“Good things come in pairs” is a traditional Chinese saying (when said in Mandarin, 好事成双, of course). This saying is exemplified in the Lunar New Year tradition of gifting and displaying pairs of mandarin oranges. To celebrate the Year of the Dog, Scotch whisky brand The Macallan released a limited-edition gift box that features two bottles of their Single Malt Double Cask 12-Year. The box features a Chinese-inspired red and gold label with a dog peering over The Macallan’s Speyside estate from afar. Only 2,500 packs were released, and buying one actually saves you money on whisky in the long run—a single bottle of The Macallan typically goes for around $70.
While Japan doesn’t observe the lunar calendar, Japanese whisky Suntory Royal still released this whimsical special edition bottle in honor of the Chinese zodiac. The light, easy-drinking blended whisky was actually discontinued from regular production, which makes this limited-edition bottle even rarer (somewhat justifying the steep price tag). The bottle, which was produced at the Yamazaki distillery this past October, is made from porcelain and shaped like a dog playing with a ball. It’ll definitely be the most adorable bottle on your bar cart, and you can refer to the whisky as your “best friend” without sounding too weird.
The premium Johnnie Walker Blue Label honors the Year of the Dog with a gorgeous, limited-edition label that features the art of Taiwanese artist Page Tsou wrapped around the entire bottle in the classic Chinese triptych fashion. This is the fifth installment of Johnnie Walker’s annual Lunar New Year bottling. In this edition’s art, the Johnnie Walker Striding Man journeys across the Chinese landscape, both modern and traditional—city skylines and iconic dragon boats are depicted alongside temples, mountains, fireworks and dancing dragons. Along for the journey is a Shar Pei, a dog that was bred for Chinese nobility and “renowned for its rarity,” a trait the brand says that Blue Label shares with the breed. On designing the bottle, the artist Page Tsou said, “This unique design tells the story of the Johnnie Walker Striding Man and a loyal companion as they journey around the world bringing prosperity and rejoicing in the arrival of the New Year. … The design also contains various symbols of wealth and prosperity making this bottle extremely unique and the perfect gift to give this Chinese New Year."
The most popular liquor in the world isn’t whiskey or vodka—it flip-flops between the South Korean spirit soju and the Chinese spirit baijiu. The strong ethanol flavor of baijiu isn’t for the faint of heart, but drinking the traditional beverage on the Chinese New Year would make you far more legit than any Westerner eating a fortune cookie. Just as they did last year for the Year of the Rooster, popular baijiu brand Moutai released a special bottle honoring this year’s zodiac sign. Finding a bottle with the iridescent dog on the label may be close to impossible outside of China, but if you can find a bottle for auction on the internet, you’ll have a very valuable collectors’ item on your hands. And if you keep procuring the bottles each year to complete a zodiac set, that final package will be priceless to devoted baijiu fans.