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 this Sunday.
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, and the impact of these new sources of great juice has been to inspire the ‘old guard’ – Scotch, bourbon, Irish – to up 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 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 Islay dram, a spicy American rye, or a tangy Irish single pot still. They might even be persuaded to share…
Best whiskies for Father’s Day
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Distiller’s Edition 92 Proof
Virginia-based Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye whiskies are uniformly excellent, but this Distiller’s Edition is the pick of the bunch thanks to its higher proof, which carries the rich, spicy rye character on the palate, and makes this great for decadent Manhattans and Old Fashioneds – or just late-night sipping. Alc 46%
Glen Moray Warehouse 1 2005 Tokaji Finish
This Speyside distillery is shaking off its old workhorse reputation, thanks to an impressive run of releases such as this, the first of three Warehouse 1 expressions scheduled for 2021. It’s sweetly hedonistic thanks to the use of Tokaji casks, which combined with Glen Moray’s gentle distillery character yields crunchy toffee apples, coconut cream and peanut brittle. Alc 53.6%
Lagavulin 13 Year Old Feìs Ile 2021 Edition
The Islay Festival – Feìs Ile – is an annual celebration of culture and whisky that transforms the Hebridean island into one giant party. Sadly virtual for the past two years, it spawns a clutch of special editions, of which this is a highlight: sweet, fiery chilli pepper, decidedly maritime, and with a dry nuttiness that is most un-Laga-like, but undoubtedly appealing. Alc 54.4%
Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish
Peat and Sherry casks, when done well, are a match made in heaven. This is everything you want from Laphroaig, with the bonus of oodles of treacle toffee, high-cocoa chocolate and golden honey layered on top of those familiar scents of medicine cupboard, iodine and smoked bacon. A terrific addition to the range. Alc 48%
Powers John’s Lane Single Pot Still
This great-value whiskey showcases the Powers house style at full throttle: 100% single pot still, Ireland’s greatest gift to the whiskey world. Headily fragrant, richly spicy, with that unmistakably unctuous pot still texture. A mix of ex-bourbon and Sherry casks adds a biscuity toastiness and notes of Jamaica ginger cake. Alc 46%
The Singleton of Dufftown 54 Year Old
This is a Hallowe’en whisky – filled into cask at Dufftown distillery on 31 October 1966 – and, as the oldest Singleton yet released, has a predictably spooky price-tag. The good news is that it’s a remarkable, delicate and fragile whisky, redolent of fresh-turned earth, spiced cherry syrup and dark treacle – plus you’ll get change out of £30,000… Alc 41%
This is a new wave whisky in many senses, showing the increasingly impressive quality of Antipodean malt (there’s some great stuff coming out of New Zealand too). Maturing whisky in wine casks can be hit-and-miss, but here the locally sourced wood delivers a hugely fruity, richly chocolatey whisky of true character. Alc 41%
If you think you know rye whisky, think again. This Danish floor-malted example is a world away from the American template – you can taste the grain character in its distinctive warm rye bread notes, alongside bags of plummy, sweet dark fruits and spice that’s as much about the cask as the grain. American oak softens the edges with milk chocolate and vanilla. Alc 48%
Teeling Single Malt
Dublin was the epicentre of the whisky world 150 years ago; now distilling has returned to the city, thanks in part to the Teeling family, formerly owners of the Cooley distillery. This is a richly fruited, spicy and beguilingly sweet whiskey matured in an array of wine casks, some of it for two decades and more. Alc 46%
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Wild Turkey recently launched a virtual tasting on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, featuring father-and-son master distiller team, Jimmy and Eddie Russell. This full-on bourbon combines whiskeys that are between six and 12 years old, delivering a remarkably smooth but powerful mix of tropical fruit, vanilla and smoky oak. Alc 58.4%