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Best whiskies for Father’s Day 2023: 10 top bottles

If your dad is a whisky lover, a special bottle will make his day. From single malt Scotch to Tennessee whiskey, rye and Irish pot-still, Richard Woodard recommends a varied selection of bottles to buy.

Giving dad a bottle of whisky on Father’s Day might seem predictable. But with a little research and a bit of imagination, you can still spin a surprise on his special day.

There’s arguably never been a better time to buy whisky in the whole of history. More and more countries are getting in on the distilling act, to create a brave new world of whisky. From Tasmania and New Zealand to India and England.

The impact of these new sources of great drams has been to inspire the ‘old guard’. Producers of  Scotch, bourbon and Irish whisky are now upping their game as never before.

With experimental cask finishes and innovative approaches to distillation, a brave new generation of whisky makers is not afraid to rip up the rulebook. They are showing real creativity in the pursuit of fresh flavours and distinctive new tastes.

The result is that there’s something here for every paternal taste, whether their penchant is for a smoky peated Islay dram, a spicy American rye whiskey, or a tangy Irish single pot still. They might even be persuaded to share…

A hand pouring whisky into three glasses

Best whiskies for Father’s Day

Berry Bros & Rudd Glen Garioch 2011 Cask #08028

Amid a host of young distilleries, here’s one that could just be the oldest in Scotland (late 18th century). Garioch has shifted in character over the years, but this showcases how well its powerful, muscly spirit combines with a two-year oloroso Sherry finish. The cask brings fruit cake, prunes and dark chocolate; the spirit hits back with dark forest fruit and lipsmacking lapsang. Alcohol 58.4%

Bunnahabhain Fèis Ile 2023 Mòine 17 Year Old Triple Cask

A lesser-spotted peated Bunna, bottled for this year’s Islay Festival. This cask strength malt marries three wood types (oloroso Sherry finish, bourbon and rum finish) to conjure a sweetly smoky whisky brimming with juicy tropical fruit notes, alongside vanilla ice cream with a twist of salted caramel. A decadent and hedonistic summer dram. Alc 52.6%

Cardrona Full Flight #114 PX Sherry Butt

Like children, distilleries grow up too fast. This high-strength bottling from a terrific operation on New Zealand’s South Island was bottled at seven years old, and doubles up on Sherry maturation via a González Byass oloroso butt, plus a ‘finish’ in a Pedro Ximénez cask. It’s another opulent, rich whisky, combining sticky stone fruit flavours with sourdough toast slathered with butter and honey. Alc 62.7%

Dad’s Hat 6 Year Old Rye Whiskey, That Boutique-y Whisky Company

The name fits the occasion but, more importantly, the whiskey lives up to the billing. Pennsylvania rye is one of the great ‘lost’ American whiskey styles – and this shows why. Plenty of traditional American rye pep and heft, but also delicious notes of black cherries dipped in chocolate, plus baking spices and a lift of anise. Powerful, but also complex. Alc 64%

Green Spot Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir Finish

If you don’t know the Green Spot family of single pot still Irish whiskeys, you should. Irresistibly silky, characterful and excellent value for money, this combines the unmistakable pot still notes of spiced, tangy apple and pear with sweeter red fruits (raspberry, sweet cherry) from a finish in Pinot Noir casks sourced from the Quails’ Gate winery in Canada’s Okanagan Valley. Alc 46%

Inchdairnie RyeLaw 2017 Fife Single Grain Whisky

The first release from the hugely impressive Inchdairnie operation in Fife, this mix of malted rye and barley is run through a bespoke still to create a grain whisky of huge character. Rich spice from the rye element, but nicely balanced by lighter notes of verbena, malty cereal notes and gentle vanilla. The oily, silky texture carries the flavours beautifully in the mouth. Alc 46.3%

Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 1

Among the new breed of Scotch whisky distilleries, Lochlea in South Ayrshire is fast emerging as one to watch. Using its own barley and the expertise of Master Blender John Campbell (previously at Laphroaig), this is the first in an annual series of cask strength releases. A mix of ex-bourbon and Sherry casks gives intensely zesty citrus alongside aromatic leaf tobacco and assertive oak. Alc 60.1%

Mackmyra Brukswhisky

This trailblazing Nordic distillery has been operational since 1999. Some of its early releases seemed to be trying too hard to be quirky, but Brukswhisky is an accomplished core expression that shows Mackmyra’s growing confidence and maturity. Accessible but deceptively complex, it’s lightly fragrant with fresh notes of raspberry, a resinous, juniper-scented undertow and warming flavours of spice and custard from the cask. Alc 41.4%

Mossburn Vintage Casks No.31 Benrinnes 2008 14 Year Old

The latest tranche of Mossburn Scotch releases celebrates distilleries that are flavoursome and characterful, but less-than-famous. It also includes Teaninich, Blair Athol and Strathmill. All four are worth seeking out, but this in particular is an absolute belter, softening Benrinnes’ meaty, uncompromising old school spirit style with a sweetly fruited finish in an ex-Moscatel cask. Cracking value too. Alc 54.9%

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest marks the legacy of Nearest Green, a black slave who played a pivotal role in the creation of America’s most successful whiskey, Jack Daniel’s. Blended from sourced Tennessee whiskeys by Green’s great-great-granddaughter, Victoria Eady Butler, this is a no-holds-barred example of the style. Unctuous tropical fruit, caramel and golden syrup with bucketloads of pepper and spice. Alc 50%

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