Serious Eats: Drinks
Liquor Gift Guide for Father's Day
As the father of two, and on behalf of fathers everywhere, let me be frank about this upcoming Father's Day: please don't buy a lame gift. As a dad, I don't ask for much.
I do the baseball games, the play dates, I pack lunches in the morning and hear the arguments night after night about the tasty and nutritious yet, in my children's eyes, horrid and inedible meals I prepare (except when it's lasagna night, and no, we're not making that every night), all without much complaint at all. So, really—for the one day a year set aside to honor fathers, you're gonna get your dad a weed whacker?
If your dad likes to sit back on occasion with a glass of something that wears its age well, here are a few suggestions for Father's Day. (All of these are widely distributed and should be available at well-stocked liquor stores.)
Scotch and Bourbon
You know whisky is going to be on the list—but c'mon, few gifts are more appropriate for Father's Day than a decent bottle of scotch or a nice bourbon. If dad's a single-malt kind of guy, good bets include the rich and honeyed Highland malts from The Dalmore; the Dalmore 12-year-old has surprising gravitas for its age, with flavors of orange peel, cocoa and toffee, while the Dalmore 15-year-old really steps up with a fragrant nuttiness from sherry casks and notes of citrus, ginger and spice. Good stuff.
If your dad is like me and really digs that sherry character in a single malt, another natural choice are the Speyside whiskies from The Macallan. Aged entirely in used sherry casks, the Macallan 12-year-old has a rich, grapey fruitiness with a graceful mix of orange zest and chocolate, and the Macallan 18-year-old has much the same character but a deeper flavor of dried fruit and winter spice.
Blended scotch is sometimes overshadowed by the star power of single malts, but there are some extraordinary blends that would make a great Father's Day gift. Johnnie Walker has been selling whisky for 150 years, and its red label and black label blends are ubiquitous.
For something a bit more special, aim for the Johnnie Walker Gold Label, composed of whiskies aged a minimum of 18 years—it has a rich balance of stone fruit, citrus and chocolate. Or, if you've missed a Father's Day gift or call in the past and really need something noteworthy, go for the Johnnie Walker Blue, a rich and graceful whisky with flavors of tobacco, marmalade and spice, with a faint trace of smoke.
If Dad's more of a bourbon drinker, there are plenty of exceptional whiskies that would make great gifts. Elmer T. Lee from Buffalo Trace is a single-barrel bourbon with an intense aroma of vanilla and butterscotch, and a deep, layered flavor of leather, spice and honey. Another single barrel, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, is a 101-proof bottle of indulgence, with a full flavor of almonds and blackberries and a smooth, lingering finish.
Of course, not all aged spirits are whisky, and there are a few other great choices for Father's Day. For a touch of grace, look for Remy Martin 1738, a fine champagne cognac that is dry and fruity, with a fragrant intensity of apples, candied fruit and ginger and a full, lingering finish.
Or, if Dad's more the type for a Hawaiian shirt and a hammock, a good aged rum may be the answer; a rich, approachable choice is Zaya Gran Reserva, a 12-year-old rum from Trinidad lush with flavors of vanilla, allspice and mocha.
Those are a few bottles I wouldn't mind finding in my hands on Father's Day. Do you have any favorite spirits that you think would be great for your dad?
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.