Yes, Father’s Day is important, but let’s be honest – it’s not quite as important as Mother’s Day. I mean, the guy didn’t carry you in his womb for 40 weeks before physically expressing you out into this world. Sure, he was there while it happened – hopefully – and since then he’s been a guiding force and beacon of responsible masculinity in your life. And that’s all great, but it probably equals a gift with a monetary value capped at about $80. And I say this as a father of two young children myself. Fortunately, there are plenty of really good bottles of booze that are much cheaper than that, so here’s a guide to various picks from different categories to consider for Father’s Day this year.
Single malt scotch is a classic Father’s Day gift, and one that is hard to go wrong with – even in a lower price range. Look for the newly launched (in the U.S.) Jura 10 ($54.99), from the only distillery on the Isle of Jura. This island whisky blends unpeated with peated liquid, and is aged for a decade in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Oloroso sherry casks. Another new release, just hitting markets across the country this month, is the new Glenfiddich XX ($79.99), the second release in the brand’s Experimental Series. The XX stands for “20” – 20 whisky experts worked with malt master Brian Kinsman to select casks, from port to sherry to bourbon, which were then married together for this release. For something a bit cheaper, try the Speyburn 10 Years Old ($29), a bargain at that isn’t always easy to find in the single malt world. This under-recognized malt comes from Speyside and is matured in American oak, ex-bourbon, and ex-sherry casks. Highland Park has just launched a new expression called Valkyrie ($80). This special edition, part of a series celebrating the history of the Vikings, is a bit smokier than the regular 12 year, and comes in a cool Viking-inspired bottle. Finally, Royal Brackla 12 ($60-$70), “the king’s own whisky” as the label states, is a nice bottle from John Dewar & Sons. It’s part of the company’s Last Great Malts of Scotland series, and is a lovely, approachable whisky aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in sherry butts.
There is no shortage of good, affordable bourbon, rye, and American whiskey for Dad this year, or any year. If you are looking for something really high-proof, try a bottle of the new Wild Turkey Rare Breed ($44.95). This blend of six, eight, and 12-year-old bourbon comes in at 116.8 proof, a bit higher than previous releases. It’s got that familiar Wild Turkey nutty flavor, but bigger and more powerful than what you’re used to. If rye is Daddy’s poison, the new Basil Hayden’s Rye ($44.99) is a good option. It’s relatively low proof at 40 percent ABV, but is nicely complex – the result of having been aged for four years before being re-barreled in quarter casks for an additional seven years. For something a little different, High West’s new Yippee Ki-Yay ($80) is out now. It’s a little pricier, but it’s a very interesting whiskey. It drinks almost like a Manhattan in a bottle, the result of the sourced rye whiskey being finished in vermouth and Syrah barrels. Finally, you can never go wrong with Maker’s Mark, and for something a little more special look for Maker’s 46 ($39.99) – regular Maker’s that’s been rebarreled for few months with the addition of French staves for extra flavor.
Teeling Whiskey Co., located in the heart of Dublin, is celebrating two years of operation this month. In the meantime, the distillery has been sourcing some really excellent Irish whiskey. If Dad hasn’t tried it before, look for a bottle of the Single Malt ($59.99). This NAS whiskey is made from a blend of liquid, including a whiskey distilled in 1991, and whiskey finished in five different types of wine casks. Slane Irish Whiskey ($29) is a newcomer on the scene, and its co-founder, Alex Conyngham, has a family history steeped in rock and roll – they created the Slane Concert series, and he remembers Bono hanging around the house back in the day. The Tripled Casked expression just launched here in the U.S. and is a good value Irish whiskey. The Connacht Whiskey Company launched some a new expression this spring – Brothership ($39.99), a blended whiskey made from both Irish and American whiskey (Dad’s definitely never tried anything like this before!). There’s also Spade & Bushel ($34.99), a sourced, cask-strength liquid that is ten years old and 115 proof, much stronger than your typical Irish whiskey.
Some dads like to feel really sophisticated, brandy snifter in hand, perhaps a cigar as well, seated in a leather seat by the fire in the study. Or at least they fantasize about that. If your dad’s like that, or even if he’s not, get him some cognac. Pierre Ferrand Reserve Double Cask ($79.99) is a new release from the French producer that is doubled aged – first in French oak, then in ex-Banyul fortified wine casks. This is a lovely, flavorful sipper that is best enjoyed slowly. If your dad just likes the words “single malt” on his whisky, get him a bottle of Martell VS Single Distillery ($34.99). The eaux-de-vie comes is aged for only two years and comes from one distillery, and it works quite well in cocktails or on its own. From Armagnac comes Tariquet Blanche ($49.99), an un-aged Armagnac that is sort of like moonshine, a style that is said to be the secret favorite of Armagnac distillers. Serve this one nice and cold. On this side of the pond, Louisville’s Copper & Kings makes well-regarded American brandy. The new Floodwall ($40) aged brandy is a stellar example of the distillery’s range. It clocks in at 100 proof and was aged in bourbon and sherry barrels for a minimum of four years.
Dad should know – the secret to making a good margarita is as simple as buying good tequila. Use crap, your drink’s gonna taste like crap. So get him some good tequila. Start with Tequila Corralejo, distilled at Hacienda Corralejo in Guanajuato using the Charentais method developed by the French for cognac production. This 100 percent blue agave spirit comes in Silver ($21.99), Reposado ($25.99), and Anejo ($32.99). Also, George Clooney just had twins, so why not celebrate Father’s Day by getting Dad a bottle of Casamigos ($40-$50), Clooney’s labor of love/premium tequila brand. The Anejo (aged for 14 months) is extra tasty, perfect for the dad who likes whiskey. Finally, El Tesoro ($40 – $60, depending on expression) is a Beam Suntory owned brand that makes premium tequila using the Tahona method (the agave pinas are crushed by a giant stone).
The weather is getting hotter, and gin cocktails are getting easier to suck down, especially for hardworking dads. San Francisco’s Junipero Gin ($33) was one of the first of the American small craft distilled gins, flavored with botanicals like orris root, Seville orange, and grains of paradise, in addition to juniper of course. For a London dry style, Portobello Road ($35) buttresses its juniper backbone with licorice root, cassia bark, and nutmeg – this is great in a martini, always a dad favorite.
Japanese whisky is having a big moment these days, and there are many, many excellent (and expensive) expressions for Dad. But one of the cheaper options, and the perfect ingredient for a classic highball, is Suntory Toki ($39.99). This blended whisky is made from a selection of malt and grain whisky from Suntory’s various distilleries. Crack it open, pour it over ice, add some soda water, and enjoy the summer.
I know certain dads that will only drink Crown Royal. Whiskey snobs may scoff, but there’s a certain appeal to this eternally popular brand, especially when it comes to the higher end and more interesting expressions. For example, check out the new Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finished ($59.99) that takes the multitude of whiskies that go into Crown Royal and finishes them for six months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from California. The result is smooth and fruity, with some spice hidden just underneath.