Picking out the right bottle of booze to give as a gift can be tough. There are lots of great-tasting spirits on the market for $20 or $30, but these everyday bottles aren’t always special enough to make a meaningful present. On the other hand, you could break the bank and spend thousands on an incredibly old or rare curiosity, only to find that it’s just not that great.
To help ensure your success in spirits-giving, I’ve come up with a very general, fairly vague rule: The ideal price for a gift bottle is roughly a hundred bucks. At this price, you’re getting something special enough that your giftee probably hasn’t tried it before, but common enough that it won’t force you to drive to dozens of stores to track it down. On top of that, the low-three-figure range is where most brands tend to price their special-but-not-too-special spirits, limited editions and higher-quality bottles pitched at average consumers as opposed to obsessive collectors.
And who’s a better person to buy a bottle of booze right now than your dad? With Father’s Day coming up, here are a few special spirits you can pick out for your dad that will make his day (and he might even offer you a sip). Just act fast: These are new and limited-edition spirits that aren’t likely to last very long. Oh, and the pricetags for each? Roughly a hundred bucks.
THE MACALLAN EDITION NO.2 ($100)
Scotch can age in all sorts of barrels, but sherry casks make for the most highly sought-after whiskies these days, and the 2017 release in The Macallan’s Edition series is all about sherry. The brand teamed up with Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, the brothers (and chef, sommelier and pastry chef, respectively) behind Barcelona’s El Celler de Can Roca—a three-Michelin-star joint twice named best restaurant in the world—to pick out the seven different types of barrels from four different sherry bodegas used to age this spirit. It’s got lots of the dried-fruit notes characteristic of sherry-cask Scotch, along with hints of spice, vanilla and citrus.
RIEGER’S MONOGRAM WHISKEY ($100)
Back in the late 1800s, when Kansas City was the gateway to the Wild West, Monogram Whiskey was the wildly popular flagship spirit from local distillery Jacob Rieger & Company. Prohibition killed off the original Rieger distillery, but in 2014 a KC bartender teamed up with Jacob Rieger’s great-great-great grandson to open a new J. Rieger & Co., and this year they’re reviving the Monogram brand. This is a very special spirit, a mix of 11-year-old rye and 9-year-old corn whiskey finished in century-old barrels from Spain formerly used to age oloroso sherry. It’s got deeply nutty and fruity flavors from the sherry casks, along with rich caramel notes typical of American whiskey.
GLENFIDDICH PROJECT XX SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY ($80)
The second release in Glenfiddich’s aptly named Experimental Series, Project XX recruited 20 whisky experts from around the globe, who each tasted through the distillery’s stocks to choose one favorite cask. Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman then created a blend designed to capture the unique flavors of each barrel. The final mix includes single malts aged in bourbon, sherry and port barrels, and it offers appropriately complex flavors from apple and pear to almonds and licorice.
ORPHAN BARREL RHETORIC 23 YEAR OLD KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY ($120)
The complex series of distillery and liquor-brand mergers and sales over the years means that spirits giant Diageo has amassed an extensive stock of heavily aged bourbon that it’s been bottling since 2013 under the Orphan Barrel banner. The latest of these releases is a whiskey distilled in the early ‘90s at Bernheim Distillery in Louisville (which is today owned by Heaven Hill). Rhetoric 23 definitely tastes its age, showing huge chocolaty oak flavors and a rich sweetness.
HIGHLAND PARK VALKYRIE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKEY ($80)
The northernmost Scotch distillery, Highland Park is located in the Orkney Islands, an archipelago that was settled by Vikings in the Middle Ages and still has significant Scandinavian influence on its culture today. The brand teamed up with Danish designer Jim Lynvgild for a planned series of three Viking Legend bottles, and the first of those is Valkyrie, which rolled out at the beginning of June. It incorporates more peated barley than is typical for Highland Park, so it offers an assertive smokiness, balanced by bright fruit notes, plus a very cool label.
NOVO FOGO SINGLE BARREL CACHACA, BARREL 87 ($100)
Whiskey is certainly traditional for Father’s Day, but if your dad’s on the wilder side, try this rum-like Brazilian spirit instead. Cachaça is produced from fresh sugar-cane juice and has a distinctive funk that’s usually enjoyed unaged or after just a few months in wood, but this new bottling spent a full five years in American oak (in Brazil’s aging-accelerating tropical climate, to boot). The result is a unique mix of cachaça’s vegetal qualities with bourbon’s butterscotch-and-toffee richness. You’ll find everything from creme brulee to bell peppers on the palate of this one-of-a-kind spirit.
HIGH WEST YIPEE-KI-YAY ($80)
Utah’s High West Distillery is a darling of the craft-spirits world thanks to its creative whiskey innovations, and this is definitely no exception. It’s the same pair of rye whiskey mashbills (both distilled elsewhere) that goes into High West’s delicious Double Rye, finished in barrels that previously held two California wines: Vya Vermouth and Qupé Syrah. The wine gives the spirit a bright fruitiness and acidity that whiskey usually lacks, and it makes a really amazing Manhattan. Yippee Ki-Yay’s been available at the distillery since last year but just rolled out nationwide in May.
SCOTCH MALT WHISKEY SOCIETY FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL ($199)
This one’s only for dads who really love Scotch. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a worldwide club of whisky fans that bottles only cask-strength, single-barrel single malt, from dozens of different Scottish distilleries. This Father’s Day special includes a bottle of Cask 85.42, a barrel the club dubbed “put your feet up” for its powerfully chocolaty, nutty and honeyed notes, as well as a year’s membership in the Society. Members get exclusive access to buy SMWS bottlings (there are about 10 new ones in the US each month), invites to tastings and other special events, a subscription to the quarterly magazine Unfiltered, and access to a trio of private bars in the UK. (And this still fits my roughly-a-hundred-bucks rule! Membership is usually $99.)