Father’s Day Whiskey DramsBy Brad Japhe
Finding the perfect gift for Father’s Day is a notoriously difficult endeavor. It’s not that dads are finicky, per se. But having to choose between bourbons, ryes, single malts, blends … it’s exhausting. Just remember: your shopping shouldn’t be informed by a style, or even a specific price point. Ideally you’re searching for a story. The happiest fathers on Sunday will be the recipients of a bottle that represents the lasting bond between father and child. Here’s some help on where to look.
Speyburn single malt scotch is making it easy to provide a personal touch this holiday. Throughout the month of June, the Speyside producer is offering customizable plaques on its website. After purchasing any of the brand’s core products—Speyburn 10 Years Old, Speyburn 15 Years Old, Speyburn Arranta Casks and Speyburn Companion Cask—head over to Celebrate Speyburn, where you can enter in your address and how you want your plaque inscribed.
If you prefer your story in the liquid rather than on the label, consider a bottle of Glenkinchie. The lighter, Lowland scotch is produced by a father and son tandem. Distillery Operators Adam and Shawn Christie are equally responsible for the so-called Edinburgh Malt—nicknamed for its proximity to the Scottish capital city. This entry level liquid is a straw colored, slightly nutty 12-year-old expression, which retails for $40. Few other drams are as appropriately shared with your dad on his special day as one crafted by a father and his son.
Dads who prefer American whiskey will surely appreciate the tale behind Peerless Distilling Company out of Louisville, Kentucky. Corky Taylor along with his son, Carson, revived a brand that was initially started by Corky’s great-grandfather, Henry Kraver. The distillery will soon release a four year-old bourbon which will be named in honor of the patriarch. But in the meantime, there’s the 2 year-old barrel proof rye, which has quickly become a hit with casual consumers and connoisseurs, alike. Slightly sweet with a touch of maple and citrus zest in the finish, it’s a remarkably smooth-drinking rye with a hefty price tag to match ($100 SRP).
Kentucky bourbon making is practically synonymous with family. At Wild Turkey, Master Distiller Eddie Russell took over the task from his legendary father, Jimmy — who’s been in the business for over sixty years. Decades is a decadent expression honoring both generations of whiskey producers. It combines liquid aged between 10 and 20 years into an elegant juice laden with deep caramel notes. Perfect when held in a tumbler with one hand, a lit cigar in the other.
Several miles up the road, the Noes have been barreling spirit for 8 generations. There’s a good chance you recognize their family label: Jim Beam. Last year, Freddie Noe—son of current master distiller Fred—stepped out from beyond his dad’s shadow to craft his own bottle of booze. Little Book, named after his late grandfather Booker, is a unique blend of bourbon, rye, malt and corn whiskey. The result is a robust and spicy barrel strength release that’s bound to please any seasoned American whiskey drinking dad. This is the first in a series of annual releases debuted last October at $80.
In Ireland, the theme of family runs deep with Brothership—a unique blending of Irish and American whiskies. Robert Cassell pulls double duty, splitting his time as master distiller and blender at both the Connacht Distillery in Ballina, Ireland, as well as the New Liberty Distillery, in Philadelphia. The ten year-old homage to his shared heritage is an easy drinking dram, rounded and slightly sweet.
Off the eastern edge of the Emerald Isle, Lambay Island has been the private home of the Baring family for over a century. In celebration of their founding father, Alexander, his kin teamed up with another prominent clan—the Camus family of France—to form an unexpected partnership. A triple distilled, sourced liquid, the single malt finishes its maturation on-island in Camus cognac casks. As a result, the softer notes of the underlying spirit are spiked with honeyed notes from the French oak, and a tinge of saltiness from the ocean air.
Although some Japanese whisky is becoming increasingly scarce, if that’s what your dad likes, it’s what he deserves. But don’t dismay; certain bottles aren’t nearly as difficult to procure as you might suspect. And one such release—Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old—is quite a fitting choice indeed. A rich, slightly smoky blend of whiskies from Nikka’s two main distilleries, it’s named after the company’s founder, Masataka Taketsuru, the “father” of Japanese whisky. Retail prices range from $200-$400 a bottle (and climbing). It’s a gift your dad is sure to cherish.
Land any one of these lush liquids this June and your dad will be treated to more than any sort of predictable present. He’ll get to sip on a story that honors and symbolizes him in a very personal way. Like the bond between father and child, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.