Father’s Day Whisky: Choose Your Fighter


Whisky for Father’s Day is the perfect marriage of gift suitability, price point, and the sheer pleasure of sipping and bonding over old boiled beer. The Arb’s whisky aficionado, Tom Bangay, offers a selected sextet of favourites – depending on the personality of the dad in question…

The Rule-Breaker: Isle of Rassay Signature Single Malt

The Hebrides are for life, not just for the shipping forecast. Distilling whisky in the Hebrides was straight up illegal until very recently. Doesn’t mean they didn’t do it though. So when the government finally waved it through and lifted the ban, the Hebridean distilleries had decades of pent up Scotch tekkers to unleash on a willing public.

Isle of Rassay single malts started to appear in shops recently, in beautiful dimpled glass bottles with exceptionally attractive packaging. So far, so enticing. But then you drink it. Bottled at 46.4%, lightly peated, light in colour, heavy on flavour – it’s delicate, it’s balanced, it’s not too hefty but it’s running way ahead of the pack. Give your dad something he’s never had – legally, at least – and take a gastronomic trip to the Hebrides.

The Individualist: Bruichladdich 12-year-old (The Single Cask)

The folks at The Single Cask just don’t have time for mediocrity. They only deal in cask-strength bottlings, all taken from the same barrel (hence the name), with a Taste Master panel in place to maintain sky-high quality.

Sky-high is an apt description of the Bruichladdich 12-year-old, coming in at a tidy 60.4% and blowing the cobwebs off any downtrodden Dad. The nose is sweet, the taste is salty and the finish is deeper than an Islay whirlpool. I used to lean Speyside in the summer and Islay in the winter, but some rules are meant to be broken and Bruichladdich being unpeated makes it a natural fit for sunnier climes.

The Traveller: Kavalan Podium (main picture)

I held a grudge against Kavalan for years after they wouldn’t let me try their Soloist Vinho Barrique at a whisky show (I found it later, it’s spectacular). But try as I might, that Taiwanese nectar is just too bloody good to stay angry. The Podium is aged in virgin oak and refill casks, bottled at a fairly accessible 46%, and it’s a fruity number that glides down easily and stretches out into a lovely long finish.

Pretty much everything in Kavalan’s Soloist collection is terrific, but this is a nice price point and an easy dram on the throat. Dads deserve drams – this one’s a fine choice for the father in your life.

The Non-drinker’s Drinker: Talonmore

Non-alcoholic revelry is mainstream now and quite rightly so. I myself sunk so much Lucky Saint in January that I now choose it anywhere it’s on tap: the angels of our better nature, and all that.

While Seedlip has made amazing progress in the gin market, whisky (or the deliberate lack thereof) remains a volatile space. Into that void steps Talonmore – fuelled primarily by the ever-burning fire of ginger, finessed by earthy notes (it all comes back to root vegetables) and delivered with clean, stylish panache, Talonmore is the non-alcoholic droid you’ve been looking for. Put it in your cocktails, sip it after dinner, put it on the playlist. If dad’s off the sauce, get this on the trolley. Retailing at £25, for more information, visit www.talonmoredrinks.com.

The Mixologist: Four Roses Bourbon Small Batch Select

Good lord, I drank a lot of bourbon in lockdown. It wasn’t the healthiest way to get through the pandemic but it certainly made all those spreadsheets and ‘next slide please’ press conferences on the telly easier to stomach.

During that steep learning curve I found out that Four Roses is one of my favourite labels, and its Small Batch Select, bottled at 52%, packs a real punch. Quite a messy nose, a deep, resonant taste and an elegant finish – whether you’re sipping contemplatively or sloshing it in your Old Fashioned, it’s going to get the job done. And at £55-60, it does a little less damage to your wallet than trusted luminaries like Blantons or (gulp) Pappy Van Winkle.

The Conscientious: Yellowstone Select

Sticking with the bourbon theme, Yellowstone, or, to give it its dues, Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, comes from the genus that is Beam. In this case, Stephen, great grand-nephew of the more famous Jim, it represents seven generations of expertise in distilling. A blend of 4 and 7-year, this is made with a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, and it makes for an easy-sipping, deceptively full-bodied, bourbon.

Banana and liquorice open the batting on the nose, before the first hint of buttery caramel. There’s peanut brittle on the palate and flamed orange zest before a smooth, solid finish of smoky oak and brown sugar. If Dad likes his whiskey sweet, with a hint of spice, then this is the one for him. What’s more, he can sip knowing a proportion of proceeds from this quality American whiskey are donated to the National Parks Conservation Association, which helps support its eponymous National Park in Wyoming. Have a deeper dive at www.yellowstonebourbon.com.