Purchasing whiskey can be daunting, especially if you're shopping for another person's tastes. For instance, what do you get dad for Father's Day? Never fear—we’ve made it easy with this simple guide!
The first step is to figure out what style of whiskey your dad enjoys. If you purchase a style of whiskey you know he likes, but one notch better than he usually purchases, you’ll be in good shape.
If you don’t know what style of whiskey your father likes, or if he’s new to the beverage, we can help! Below are a few common styles of whiskey, along with recommendations from our pros.
American bourbon whiskey is smoother and sweeter than other whiskeys. “Straight” bourbons cannot have added colors, flavors or other spirits, must be distilled from at least 51% corn grain and aged at least two years in charred, new oak barrels (plus a handful of other rules). Some whiskey (like Leopold Bros. Small Batch Whiskey) cannot be called “straight bourbon” due to the minimal aging, but should not be discounted as excellent whiskey. The rules can get a bit complicated, but don’t let them get in the way of purchasing good whiskey.
For seasoned whiskey drinkers, we recommend unique, small-batch or single-barrel whiskeys like Rowan’s Creek Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s or Leopold Bros. Small Batch Whiskey. For fathers new to whiskey, we recommend Buffalo Trace, Bulleit Bourbon or Knob Creek Bourbon.
Rye whiskey is sharp and spicy, and has similar rules to straight bourbon, but must be distilled from at least 51% rye grain. Rye is the classic mixing whiskey for many cocktails, including the Manhattan. Rye was popular during prohibition, since Canadian rye distillers remained open while their US competitors shut down.
For seasoned rye lovers, we recommend Masterson’s Rye, Whistlepig Rye or High West Rendezvous Rye. For rye newbies, we recommend Redemption Rye, Bulleit Rye or Templeton Rye.
Single-Malt Scotch Whisky
Single malt Scotch whisky (the “e” was dropped in the Atlantic at some point) is made in Scotland with malted barley, and often has a strong, smoky, peaty profile not for the faint of heart. These range from light and delicate like the Glenlivet 12-year-old, to rich and peaty like the Lagavulin 16-year-old. The US, Japan and other countries produce single malt whiskey, but it can’t be called “Scotch” unless it is from Scotland and follows specific rules.
For seasoned Scotch drinkers, we’d recommend getting something with more smoke and peaty character, most of which will say “Islay” on the bottle (like Laphroig, Lagavulin, Bowmore or Ardbeg). For dads just beginning to explore single malts, take a look at the wide variety of Glenlivet or Glenfiddich single malts.
Selection varies by store.