There’s no doubt that by now you’ve bought your dad at least a couple of ties and countless dress shirts over the years. He probably has all he needs, and let’s face it: They make for pretty boring gifts. But one gift that never goes out of style and is always welcome is booze. Store shelves are brimming with spirits in a multitude of categories and the selection has never been more diverse, with everything from low-end, mass-produced products to high-end craft offerings and nearly everything in between.
We tasted a number of bottles looking for some gift ideas for a wide array of budgets and tastes and distilled it down to eight choices ranging from $30 to $125. Some are well known and highly regarded names, while others are less known producers. The common denominator is that all eight are highly recommended, quality products that your dad will be glad to have as part of his bar.
The Street Pumas’ Rum ($30)
This white rum was distilled in Panama from molasses. This impressive spirit is suitable for sipping, and that’s saying a lot — most white rums don’t have the depth to be interesting enough to sip neat. The nose is incredibly expressive with white flowers, burnt brown sugar, and hints of spice. The palate shows off dark chocolate, mission fig, and continued spice notes. The finish is above average and layered. This will certainly elevate any rum-based cocktail, but try it neat or on ice too.
Gold Bar 889 Blend Whiskey ($45)
This blended whiskey was finished in French oak barrels that were previously used to age cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley. The distillery is located on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco bay. The whiskey used for the blend was sourced from three distilleries. The nose is incredibly gentle with hints of raspberry and yellow melon. The first sip is reminiscent of jelly doughnuts; bits of vanilla bean and touches of spice are present as well. This is a pleasant whiskey which certainly meets the company’s stated goal of producing an “easy sipping” whiskey. The bottle literally looks like a gold bar and it will sparkle on the shelf of your dad’s bar.
Paul Beau VS Cognac ($59)
This cognac is made entirely from ugni blanc grapes, and the fruit is fermented using indigenous yeasts. After pot still distillation, aging takes place over six years in barrels; the minimum required for the VS grade is two years. Taking the extra time allows Paul Beau to release each barrel when it’s genuinely ready, which makes an impressive VS Cognac. The quality and deliciousness greatly outweighs the price. Dried stone fruit aromas and a gentle hint of leather emerge from the nose. White pepper and cinnamon are evident on the palate as they underpin white peach, papaya, and apricot flavors. Mesquite honey, wisps of chocolate, and toasted pecan are evident on the long finish.
Padre Azul Añejo Tequila ($99)
Though Padre Azul is, of course, based in Mexico, co-founder H.P. Eder hails from Austria, and his family’s history distilling spirts there has served as an influence. He founded this tequila brand after he fell in love with Mexican culture and met his wife. This añejo, produced from Weber blue agave, is aged in oak for over 18 months. Citrus and savory herb aromas leap from the nose along with bits of dried peach. The palate shows off pineapple, toasted pecan, white pepper, and cinnamon. The finish here is long, mellifluous, and layered. All of the prior characteristics reverberate. As a bonus, in addition to being a terrific expression of añejo, Padre Azul comes in fun and striking packaging.
Domaine D’Esperance XO Bas-Armagnac ($94)
This small family-owned brand only distills for about a week each year. Four vintages are blended into this bottle, and the youngest is 10 years old. Orange rind aromas are present on the nose along with baked apple and baker’s spices. A cornucopia of spices dominates the palate alongside orchard fruit flavors and bits of black walnut. Molasses, nutmeg, and bits of date are evident on the impressively long and persistent finish.
Navazos Palazzi Overseas Malt Whiskey ($100)
This whiskey is produced from all-barley blended malt from Scotland with three years of age at purchase. It is then aged for an additional four years in casks formerly used for oloroso sherry. This offering comes from a single cask and is limited to 900 bottles. Toasted nut and bits of toasty oak emerge from the nose. Hints of chocolate and dried fruits dominate the palate alongside tons of spice. Brown sugar, cocoa, and bits of mesquite honey are all present on the lengthy finish. This is an exceptional whiskey that you’ll want to keep on sipping.
Ardbeg Grooves Single Malt Scotch ($110)
This special release is targeted to retailers who are committed to carrying the entire Ardbeg range — each special limited release from Ardbeg is something to look forward to, as they’re always unique. Aging for this release took place in casks that previously aged wine and were then re-toasted. The nose is inviting and explosive with spice, hints of vanilla, toast, and a touch of tobacco leaf. Green apple, salted caramel, smoked chile pepper, and a bit of coriander are each evident on the engaging palate. Smoked meat and bits of honey emerge on the long finish.
Peerless Straight Rye Whiskey ($125)
Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. was first founded in 1889 and flourished for a time before closing due to Prohibition. After a 98-year hiatus, the family revived the brand a couple of years back. Peerless utilizes a sweet mash and the distillate enters the barrels at 107 proof, by adding water prior to aging instead of before bottling. Savory herbs, white pepper, and dried apricot are the dominant aromatics. Brewed tea, bitter chocolate and vanilla are present on the palate alongside toasted hazelnut and dried peach. Toast, earth, black tea, and bits of maple syrup are present on the long finish. The Kentucky Peerless expression of rye is impressive both in its layers of complexity and in its relative gentleness for a rye. You dad can sip this whiskey neat or use it to up his cocktail game. Need more ideas for Father’s Day? Here are gift ideas that even picky dads will love.