How to Pick the Best Whiskey for Father’s Day

The man behind the largest whiskey collection in the Western Hemisphere is here to help.

Dad may not have as big a whiskey collection as Jack Rose (pictured), but you can help add a great bottle for Father's Day. Photograph courtesy of Jack Rose.

Whiskey is a popular Father’s Day present, but how does one pick a thoughtful bottle? We asked Jack Rose owner Bill Thomas—the man is behind the largest whiskey collection in the Western Hemisphere, after all. Though his Adams Morgan temple to brown liquor is stocked with rare finds, he clued us in on favorites that are more readily available.

Selecting a quaffable brown liquor doesn’t necessarily mean blowing your monthly budget–even for someone with a large collection. Thomas says to start with what dad typically likes to drink, and go from there. Specialty local liquor stores like Ace Beverage in Foxhall Square, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Potomac Wines & Spirits in Georgetown, and 1 West Dupont Circle Wines & Liquors carry extensive selections, and often have knowledgeable staff on hand that can help with a purchase.

For the bourbon-loving dad:

“I’m a bourbon guy at heart,” says Thomas. The five whiskeys he’s always happy to drink: Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Four Roses Single Barrel, Booker’s Small Batch, and Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. “In addition to being fairly readily available, they won’t break the bank so you can afford to get him two.”

For the dad who loves classic cocktails:

If dad prefers to pour a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned, Sonoma Distilling Co.’s Cask Strength Rye Whiskey is the bottle to grab. “This 109-proof rye can hold up in a cocktail as well as on its own,” says Thomas. “Wine better watch out, rye is Sonoma’s hottest new export.”

For the dad who fancies single malt Scotch, but is willing to branch out:

“Japan has gained notoriety for its competitive Scottish-style single malt and blended whiskies,” says Thomas. You may recognize the name Suntory—the Japanese distilling company made headlines for its acquisition of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, and also for its famed Yamazaki Distillery. Thomas’s top Japanese pick: the award-winning Yamazaki 18. Can’t find it? “As an alternative, look to second biggest distillery in Japan – Nikka – along with smaller distilleries like Hakushu and Chichibu for unique single malt expressions,” Thomas says.

If your dad is Ron Swanson:

His best bet: Octomore 6.1. This peat-bomb from Bruichladdich Distillery in Islay, Scotland, will conjure images of firing up the grill and smoking meats at a backyard barbecue. Other smoky and readily available peated whiskeys include Talisker 10-year and Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength.

If one bottle isn’t enough:

Thomas recommends a membership to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (SMWSA). The society membership ($229) will get him access to unique members-only bottles, tasting rooms, and events.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.