ScotchBlog's 2017 Father's Day Gift Buyer's Guide

Father's Day is just around the corner and has compiled a baker's dozen of affordable gift ideas for the whisky-loving Dad(s) in your life! 

If you can, it's worth noting what bottles are in your recipient's existing collection. What types of whiskies occupy the shelves? Blends, single malts, bourbon, Canadian whisky? This will help you avoid duplicates (unless you've already been given a clear signal to buy yet another bottle of the fave) and will lend some context to your decision-making. 

For Ontario readers, make use of the embedded links to check stock (look for the hyperlinked price!) before heading out to your local store. Remember, for any locations showing one bottle of something, be sure to phone the store confirm availability. As always, every attempt has been made to ensure that all whiskies listed herein are available in the LCBO at the time of publication. With many of the whiskies listed, the title links to a full write up of the bottle - if we've reviewed it - in case you want a little more detail. 

Wayne Gretzky Red Cask Whisky - $33.15
Released last fall, the Great One's whisky was made with locally sourced grains which were individually distilled, matured and blended, then finished with premium red wine casks from the Wayne Gretzky winery. Not to worry, your whisky won't taste like red wine and only a light amber tone has been imbued to the spirit. Wine cask finishes can be a gamble but it here it pays off big time; expect an approachable dram with a flavour profile that includes notes of marzipan, light citrus, vanilla, oak and spice before fading into a long, warming finish. 

Dating back to the 1960s, the recipe for this 5 year old blended Scotch whisky contains a high proportion of Speyside malt making it as smooth and "soft as a pig's nose." While the malt content may have dropped over the years, Pig's Nose offers exceptional value and generally sells out quick when it hits the LCBO shelves. True to it's namesake expression, the blend is smooth with an almost creamy body yet still quite youthful in its flavour profile with sweet malt and cereals, marzipan, a light fruitiness tinged with citrus and a gentle finish. Why not bring this one over to Father's Day dinner as an aperitif to be enjoyed neat or in a classic cocktail?

After an extended absence, Bernheim is back but this time a little older at 7 years old and almost $20 cheaper than a couple of years back! Chances are your recipient Dad has probably never tried this one and here's a great opportunity for you both to take a sip of the glory of grain whisky. Containing at least 51% wheat in the mashbill, this Bernheim is delightfully smooth and shows soft aromas of vanilla, honey and a whiff of cherries. Medium-bodied, the dram begins with a toffee sweetness that's quickly overtaken by bright and fruity black cherry flavours. Tucked in right behind the cherries, is walnut oil and a hit of spice in the form of cloves and oaky pepperiness that heat things up a bit on the way to a lightly fruity finish. Neat or mixed in a cocktail, it's the perfect gift for fans of "wheater" style bourbons like Maker's Mark, Old Fitzgerald, Rip Van Winkle, Weller and so on.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon - $54.90
It's uncommon to see single barrel expressions of anything in the LCBO and so its unlikely your recipient Dad has tried this one before. While it may only be about 8-9 years old, the whisky is bursting with flavours of charred oak, tobacco, chewy toffee and orange zest before trailing off with a distinct cocoa note on the finish. Each year the Master Distillers select barrels to be bottled for this release and then every bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak, along with the year it was bottled and the serial number of the barrel that the Bourbon was drawn from. Single cask offerings are special because they've not had their "rough edges" or unique characteristics blended out for the sake of consistency and so every batch is a little different. Evan Williams' yearly single barrel releases are a treat not to be missed for any serious bourbon fan.
This one always seems to sell out and rightly so; it's a delicious single malt that plays very well with food. Notes of honey roasted almonds, brown sugar, red apples, and just a hint of smoke throughout make this Speysider a superstar. Impeccably balanced from beginning to end this whisky is arguably one of the best standard expressions coming out of Scotland right now and the small size of the distillery means that not all that many people are familiar with it. In case you run into difficulty finding this one, you can always trade up for the peated version, Benromach Peat Smoke, for $85.20 in the LCBO

Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years Old -  $60.15 on sale now for $56.15
Matured in a 50/50 split of European and American oak casks for 12 years and bottled at 40% ABV, the Singleton of Dufftown is polished and approachable. Offering fantastic value, this dram serves as a great entry point for those who might be new to the world of single malt Scotch whisky. Likewise, those with a taste for sherried Speysides might find themselves with a "new house whisky" in this very quaffable expression of Dufftown with its food-friendly flavours of toasted coconut, dried fruit, marmalade, toffee and woody spice. 

J.P. Wiser's Dissertation - $64.95
Did you know that the wood character of a barrel is one of the most important factors when it comes to producing an exceptional whisky? Is more or less char on the barrel better when aging whisky? This is what J.P. Wiser's Master Blender, Don Livermore, discovered when writing his Dissertation thesis in 2005, which focused on the rate at which the flavours of vanilla, toffee and spice are drawn into the spirit when aging in barrels of various depths of char. By using infrared sensor technology (a technique pioneered by Livermore), he was able to determine exactly how much "wood character" would be extracted into the whisky after just a 30 second scan of the empty barrel, thus streamlining the traditional process of whisky maturation. All this to say, that the latest offering from Wiser's Rare Cask series is on point and offers up a delicious and approachable blend of fruity rye flavours, warming spice with generous amounts of vanilla, maple syrup, that last right through to the rather long finish. With only 12,000 bottles produced and no more ever to be made again, this limited run whisky has cache for days making it a perfect gift option for Dad.

Another red wine cask finished whisky? You betcha! Double Barrel Bourbon was among the first offerings from Houston-based distillery Yellow Rose Distilling after their launch in 2012. Produced as a limited run, the bourbon was first aged in new oak barrels then finished in ex-Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels between 2-5 months before being bottled at 43% ABV. Showing big, dessert-like, aromas of roasted peanuts, plums, brown sugar, and dark chocolate with a smooth, full-bodied texture leading to a refined, almost dry, finish. It's an impressive whisky; approachable, flavourful, and well-balanced with a good interplay between the spirit and the cask finish. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is, so far, the best wine cask finished bourbon I've sampled yet! There are still a few bottles left in the province but when it's sold out, it'll be gone forever.
Sweet, slightly salty, and superbly balanced with hints of honey, oatmeal, leather, and cocoa. It's not often that people outside the hardened Scotch collectors have much more than a passing knowledge of this distillery, which is to your advantage when selecting. Located in the tiny fishing village of Wick on the farthest reaches of Scotland's Northern coast, this distillery's releases aren't readily found in many places, let alone most home shelves.Thankfully, you can rectify that for him this Father's Day.

There's a reason why this one keeps popping up on our lists; it's that damn good. Showing rich flavours of vanilla fudge, dried fruit and honeycomb that's smooth as silk with a lengthy chewy finish; what's not to love? Well-known and much-loved, this popular dram has seen a steady price increase of nearly $3 dollars a year in the LCBO over the past 5 years; up $16 since 2012. If this keeps up, Glenfiddich 15 might become another Dalmore 12 - a great whisky that's priced beyond the reach of most. It's still a very common, near standard, sight on LCBO shelves so while this might have been your "backup option," there's a pretty good case to be made for locking in a bottle for Dad at this price before it gets stupid. 

Bowmore Darkest 15 Years Old - $93.35 on sale now for $83.35
Finished in Oloroso sherry casks, this smoky single malt is layered with "manly" flavour perfect for celebrating Father's day. Pungent scents of tarry rope and smoke mixed with fruit leather, burnt sugar and menthol with peat smoke lingering long into the somewhat chew finish. Darkest is a great bridge whisky for those who aren't total peat freaks or for those fathers who might be new to the world of peated whiskies. The sherry influence offers a smooth introduction to peat and your recipient might have just found a foothold on Islay.

An uncommon sight on LCBO shelves, Jura's 16 year old bottling is guaranteed to please any whisky-loving father. Distilled on the Isle of Jura, populated mainly by deer with a few humans dwelling in Craighouse, this whisky shows some coastal influence in its flavour profile and scarcely any peat compared to the neighbouring distilleries on Islay. Rich and buttery, with strong overtones of oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar, cocoa nibs and orange marmalade. 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 cereal-heavy character and food-friendliness.

Last Great Malts of Scotland - Finally, if you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary consider getting tickets to a whisky nosing event here in Toronto on June 21, 2017. Matt and I went to the first of these theatrical tastings last year; part play, part nosing, we learned about the stories behind Dewar's five "Last Great Malts of Scotland." Until recently the production from these distilleries was mostly destined for various formulations of Dewar's blended Scotch whiskies. Last year they released a core range of whiskies with varying age ranges from Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla, Aultmore, and the Deveron. While the price tag might seem a bit spendy at $150, you'll give Dad the chance to try the whole product line with a buffet meal and a few exclusives: a 19yr old single cask Aberfeldy, a cask strength Craigellachie and a super old Dewar's blend. Dinner, a show, and all the whisky; it's a win all around!

We hope this has helped narrow down your choices for gift whiskies, but if you find yourself struggling and short on time, please do reach out via Twitter for the most immediate response. We're @scotchblog on there, and a quick picture of the recipient's whisky shelf, the bottles you have in mind as a gift or simply ask "what should I get this person?" is all we need to start working with you to help guide your gift-giving in real time! 

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