ScotchBlog's 2013 Father's Day Gift Buyer's Guide

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If you are not already aware that Father's Day falls on this coming Sunday, then this guide should help you with a few last minute gift ideas for a whisky loving dad. If you were already aware and were waiting for us to publish a list of suggestions, then your long wait is over. 


Regardless of your reasons for reading this, there are always a couple of steps you should take prior to heading out to purchase anything on this list: 
  1. Examine your intended recipient's existing collection as I will do my best to provide you with some benchmark bottles to provide a frame of reference in determining which palates a particular whisky will likely appeal to. 
  2. For Ontario readers, make use of the embedded links to check stock before embarking. It is important to remember that as one of the last redeeming features of its existence, the LCBO does provide for free inter-store transfers of bottles, though delivery times will vary from 3 to 7 days depending on distance between your store and the store of origin. So you may not need to drive several hours to get a bottle. Lastly, for any locations showing one bottle of something, be sure to phone the store confirm availability. 
For those reading this from elsewhere, there will be links at the end to other shops in select cities that will likely offer these bottles, and in the event that the specific ones listed are not there, their whisky knowledge is sound enough to provide a viable alternate. Should you not have the most educated personnel at the ready in your location, please do not hesitate to reach out to us in real time on Twitter, via email by using the address supplied to the right, or any other form of communication you feel will be effective. Personally, I would love to receive a note via Carrier Pigeon as my knowledge of smoke signals is limited. 

Anyway, on with the list! 

Under $70

Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert by Davin de Kergommeaux.  A book? Yes, a book that is only $15.67 on Amazon, meaning you can tack this on to any bottle for a complete experience, or simply opt for the book alone as it is the ideal companion to a fine glass of the good stuff, whatever that stuff may be. While its subject matter is entirely about the under-studied and often misunderstood world of Canadian whisky, it is by no means diminished as a gift for the Scotch or bourbon lover. Expansive in its detail, yet easily understood by the lay-person; it touches on everything including the history of the spirit, the process of making whisky of any kind, distilleries past and present, as well as offering reviews on dozens of existing whiskies. Suitable for fans of: whisky, whiskey, bourbon, Scotch, Canadian Whisky, and general knowledge

The Famous Grouse: The Famous Jubilee Special Edition Constructed using greater proportions of both Highland Park and Macallan in the blend than the average Famous Grouse bottling, this one has something for everyone. Rich, sweet, and deeply layered with toffees, cocoa, light spice and a hint of smoke, it is very hard to find anything to dislike about it, especially at just $39.95 and with loads of bottles in stock right now.  Suitable for fans of: Macallan, Highland Park, Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker, and just about any whisky.

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old In a truly rare act of sensibility, the LCBO has not only brought this beauty back to Ontario's shelves, but has done so at $10 less than the last time. Spending $69.95 on this one is an opportunity not to be missed, as its perfect combination of salt and sweet carries with it notes of pears, cocoa, leather, and honey all wrapped in a big, velvety mouth feel. Suitable for fans of: Glenfiddich, Tullibardine, Scapa, Glenrothes, and Arran.

$70 to $100
 
Isle of Jura 16 Year Old Rich and buttery, with strong overtones of oatmeal that has been sweetened with honey and brown sugar. Closing with just a whisp of smoke, this is the ideal dessert whisky, although we've also been known to call it "breakfast whisky" due to its gentle cereal-heavy character. Coming in at a reasonable, if not odd, $85.30 this whisky is suitable for fans of: Oban, Highland Park, Cardhu, Balvenie, and Hazelburn.

South Island Single Malt 18 Year Old These days it is rare to find an 18 year old single malt whisky from an extinct distillery for under $100. Couple that with the fact that this single malt hails all the way from New Zealand and you have yourself a bottle full of intrigue and cachet before it has even been opened. The contents of this bottle are no less interesting than their origin, as tangerines and caramel dance with honey and barbecue-esque wood smoke to deliver a truly unique experience for $99.00. Suitable for fans of: Benromach, Highland Park, Oban, Isle of Jura, and Johnnie Walker Gold. 

The Macallan Cask Strength Earmarked to be discontinued all together for reasons I cannot comprehend, this whisky is arguably the quintessential modern Macallan. Brimming with raisins, candied fruits and dark chocolate oranges while exploding at nearly 61% ABV, it never ceases to entertain even the most seasoned whisky palate. A surprising combination of pedigree and value at $99.95, this one is suitable for fans of: Macallan, Aberlour, Glengoyne, Dalmore, and Edradour.

Over $100

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old With a nose that smells like banana nut bread, a palate rich with toffee and vanilla, and a nutty nutmeg infused finish, this is a whisky for those with a sweet tooth that enjoy a bit of spice as well. While its price has increased slightly in the past two years, it is still an excellent purchase at $103.45. Suitable for fans of: Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Arran, Cragganmore, and Dalwhinnie.

Wemyss Caol Ila 1996 Buttery and sweet with a briny smoke, big vanilla, and lovely floral notes, this release from independent bottlers Wemyss (pronounced "Weems") may just be the best expression of this Islay distillery in the LCBO right now. A great buy at $122.65, this single cask Caol Ila is ideal for those with more extensive whisky collections who prize rare and unique bottles over standard official distillery releases. Suitable for fans of: Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Laphroaig, and Kilchoman.

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur's Choice Bladnoch 1993 Another independent bottling, this time from one of the biggest independent bottlers in Scotland, this one will be a challenge to come by as there are but 3 bottles left in the province at time of writing. A wonderful Lowland whisky, it is loaded with the scents of spring and citrus, a palate full of tropical fruits and floral tones, and a finish that surprises with peppermint and a light, ashy smoke. Don't let it's $140 price tag scare you away from what will undoubtedly be one of the most unique bottles in the recipient's collection. Suitable for fans of: Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, Red Breast Irish Whiskey, Glenfiddich, and Cragganmore.

So that's that then. 9 gift ideas of varying degrees of cost and availability. For those of you not subject to the restrictions of the LCBO, here is a select list of locations and the respective retailers that should be able to help guide you to a suitable alternative to the bottles listed above:

United KingdomThe Whisky Exchange 
Without question, the world's top whisky retailer. For any whisky fan passing through London, this is a must-see destination. For those residing in the UK, but not in London, fear not, as TWE also provides online shopping.
Canada's finest retailer of spirits, and arguably the best in North America. 
VancouverEdgemont Fine Wines 
Located in North Vancouver's Edgemont Village, it is worth the trip to find bottles you can't get anywhere else.
This is Chicagoland's whisky El Dorado. With multiple locations, hundreds of bottles to choose from, and even their own whisky festival, you'll be hard pressed to beat Binny's.
Home to the one and only  Joe Howell (Federal's whisky-mad manager), this is my go to shop every time I'm in Boston.
New York CityPark Avenue Liquor Shop 
While there are many places to buy whisky in NYC, none have the selection or staff to top Park Avenue Liquor. 
Johannesburg, South Africa: Whisky Brother 
Recently opened by whisky fanatic and still part-time blogger Marc Pendlebury, you can be assured of the type of personal service and attention to detail that is more akin to having a personal assistant than dealing with a shop-keep. THE place to shop in South Africa.  

On behalf of everyone at ScotchBlog.ca, I wish you and your family good luck, good health, and great whisky!

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