Bartenders Tell Us Their Favorite Small Batch Whiskeys For Father’s Day

Father’s Day is almost here. Like any holiday, it’s going to mean something different to everyone. If you’ve got a good relationship with your dad/ father figure, consider yourself lucky. Bask in that feeling of appreciation for a second. Consider a call, a card, or maybe a gift. And if you’re going the gift route, ponder a bottle of whiskey. Small batch whiskey, in specific.

Why small batch? Katie Nierling, general manager at Ska Street Brewstillery in Boulder, Colorado, sums it up pretty well.

“Small batch whiskey is a treasure,” she says. “It highlights the nuance of place and the talents of the distiller. Our dads are special people, shepherding us while we are young and then letting us grow to be individuals on our own. You could say the same for small-batch whiskey — watched closely and tenderly year after year in the barrel, then carefully selected and sent out into the world.”

If you’re looking to give the father figure in your life a bottle of small batch whiskey, you don’t want to grab the first one you see. You want quality. That’s why it’s always best to ask the experts. Here’s what a few of our favorite bartenders deemed the most gift-worthy small batch whiskeys for Father’s Day.

Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen Bourbon

Barry Enders, general manager at Philadelphia Distilling in Philadelphia

If you can get your hands on a bottle of this, do not think twice. Dad will love it. Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen is a collection of barrels of 13 year-old bourbons that are influenced by the greatly varying temperatures and humidity levels of their original source and their time in Widow Jane’s rick house in Brooklyn. The different rickhouse positions, combined with climate variations, have led to subtle deviations in flavor and alcohol strength.

Blanton’s Bourbon

Danny Caffall, lead bartender at The Mansion Bar in Dallas

I like Blanton’s, one of the original single barrel bourbons. Vanilla, caramel and butterscotch all come together with perfect balance. As of late, it is becoming harder and harder to obtain so giving this as a gift is an act of pure selflessness. Truly heroic stuff.

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon

Nancy Conaway, bartender at Cassidy’s in Fort Worth, Texas

Garrison Brothers. This small batch bourbon is not only delicious and rich, but also has an incredible history. It’s faced many challenges by being the first legal distillery in Texas, as well as locally sourcing to deliver an amazing product. Truly special.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Zack Musick, Beverage Director at Merriman’s in Hawaii

Obviously, there are many great small batch whiskeys out there, but when it comes to a gift for a father figure, in my eyes, there is a clear answer; Elijah Craig Small Batch.

A baptist preacher in Kentucky, Elijah Craig is credited with being the first to char the inside of oak barrels to make bourbon. Today this is one of the practices that separates bourbon from other whiskeys, so in many ways Rev. Elijah Craig is considered the father of bourbon. The mash bill will usually come in around 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% barley, which makes the dark amber spirit rich and round on the palate.  Not only will this bottle not break the bank I consider it to be the perfect whiskey for an Old Fashioned.

Black Maple Hill Small Batch Bourbon

Kenneth McCoy, chief creative officer at The Rum House in New York City

The best small batch bourbon if you can get your hands on a bottle in my opinion is Black Maple Hill Small Batch Bourbon. That being said, it’s extremely pricey and super hard to get but if you want to impress your father-in-law this is it. Liquid gold, it’s super smooth, rich in wood and burnt orange and the right amount of sweet.

The next in line if you don’t want to break the bank is a bottle of Noah’s Mill Small Batch Bourbon, an incredibly easy-drinking whiskey that’s super smooth with a beautiful nose, considering the proof of 114 — a blend of 4 to 15 year whiskeys.

Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve

Anna Mains, brand ambassador at Monkey Shoulder

The Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve will secure your status as favorite child for sure. It has a lot of the approachable vanilla bourbon notes that We all Love, but with the finesse of a perfectly aged single malt. It will be enjoyed by both Scotch and bourbon lovers, so you can’t go wrong.

The Balvenie Sweet Toast Of American Oak

David Powell, brand ambassador at Hudson Whiskey

I think I’m going to get my dad a bottle of the Balvenie 12 Year Stories: “The Sweet Toast of American Oak” this year. He started to get into bourbon about 8 years ago when I was head bartender at Red Rooster Harlem, and it was always fun to open up bottles from our back bar for him that he hadn’t tasted yet to help accelerate his journey into the category. The Balvenie just brought on their apprentice malt-master, Kelsey McKechnie, to train under the legendary David Stewart as they push on towards the future of the distillery, and I think it would be a perfect bottle to introduce him to Scotch.

Peach Street 10 Year Bourbon

Katie Nierling, general manager at Ska Street Brewstillery in Boulder, Colorado

Peach Street’s Ten Year Bourbon is Colorado’s oldest original bourbon and only needs one single cube of ice and orange twist to sip and savor. It’s a perfect gift for the father figure in your life.

Weller Antique 107

Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director at Yellowbelly in St. Louis

I recently gifted my father-in-law a bottle of Weller Antique 107. I gifted it because I had consumed the majority of his Evan Williams Single Barrel and I definitely owed him. I love the Weller Antique 107 as a gift because it has a classic Kentucky bourbon flavor profile with just a little more heat than your standard bourbon. I think it bridges the gap between standard and over-proof whiskeys really well and can introduce a father figure to something they haven’t tried much of.

Nikka From The Barrel

Todd Johnston, beverage director at Thompson Nashville

Japanese whiskey is becoming increasingly more recognized as a refined and unique expression of whisky. There are many collectible Japanese labels out there and one that is decently easy to find is Nikka Whisky. Nikka From The Barrel would make a great gift if your dad is a whisky guy and looking to try something new.

Jefferson’s Small Batch Bourbon

Brock Schulte, bar director of The Monarch Bar in Kansas City

When I think gift-worthy, I think unique, one of my favorite local brands is J. Rieger and Co Kansas City Whiskey. I also really enjoy the different cask finishes of Jefferson’s Small Batch Bourbon, Rum Cask Finish and Pritchard Hill Cab Finish are two of my favorites.