Father’s Day is rarely observed in our house for some reason, unless you count that time I was let off dishwasher duty a decade or so ago. Mother’s Day, on the other hand, is greeted with bells, whistles and klaxons, my boys having had it drummed into them that flowers, breakfast in bed, a spa day and matinee constitute the bare minimum considered acceptable by their mother.
This ghastly year, though, dad deserves a bit of a fillip too (hint, hint boys). Buy him a fine bottle, one that you wouldn’t mind drinking yourself. After all, he’d love a bit of company and a natter and nothing warms the cockles better than decent liquor shared.
Here, then, are my top ten tipples for Father’s Day. Drink them with the old man and make him feel special.
Innis & Gunn Caribbean Rum Cask Scottish Red Beer, 6.8%vol, (£1.90 per 33cl; Sainsburys)
A gloriously lush, spicy, malty Scottish ale with hints of enriching toffee and vanilla thanks to brief maturation in former rum barrels. Serve it ice cold and watch the grin spread swiftly across your pater’s chops. Warning: he’ll want a second.
No.1 Reserve Tawny Port, 20%vol, (£13.99; Waitrose)
Given the provenance and effort gone into making it, this major medal-winning port from the Symington family (of Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, Cockburn’s fame) is ridiculously under-priced. Aged for seven years in oak, it’s chock full of nuts, figs and candied fruits. Dad (and mum) will lap it up.
2019 Vondeling ‘Babiana’, 13.5%vol, (£15.95; Davy’s)
Broaden dad’s horizons with this seductive number (5 stars in Platter’s South African Wine Guide) from Voor-Paardeberg, north east of Cape Town. A perfectly poised blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, it’s creamy, citrusy, apricotty, herbal, honeyed and endlessly tasty.
2021 La Gitana Manzanilla ‘En Rama’, 15%vol, (£16.95; Lea & Sandeman)
Only just released, this gem from Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana is bone dry sherry in its purest form – fresh and unfiltered – and makes the perfect, crisp, salty, invigorating, one-is-never-enough, appetite-inducer. Every father should wake up to find one of these in his fridge.
Churchill’s Dry White Port, 19.5%vol, (£18.50 per 50cl; Tanners)
Smooth, nutty, spicy, this latest release from Churchill’s Port makes a glorious aperitif served on its own. But why not give dad a break from his usual G&T and serve him a Porto Tónico instead? Just mix half and half with tonic and serve over ice with love and a twist of orange.
2019 Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, 13.5%vol, (£22; Bon Coeur Wines)
Shower the old man with a bit of Super Tuscan stardust with this disarmingly accessible wine from fabled Ornellaia. Made from estate fruit by the same winemaking team that produces the grand vin itself – one of the most coveted in all Italy – it’s richly flavoured, fresh, fruity, succulent and spicy.
Louis Pommery England Brut NV, 12%vol, (£26.99 if you mix six; Majestic)
Father’s Day falls in the middle of English Wine Week and there’s no finer way of both pampering pa and supporting our native vino than by grabbing this delectably frothsome fizz from mighty Champagne Pommery’s new enterprise in Hampshire.
Dima’s Ukrainian Three Grain Vodka, 40%vol, (£35; www.dimasvodka.com)
I’m not usually a fan of vodka since I’ve never completely understood its nuances, but – crikey – I couldn’t get enough of this! Brand new, it’s fresh, creamy and spicy and sublime on its own neat over ice; as the driest of Dry Martinis (served with pickled cornichons) or as a Bloody or Beetroot Mary.
John Paul Jones Lowland Rum, 40%vol, (£38; www.johnpauljones.uk)
Named after the so-called Father of the US Navy rather than – as I had thought and had hoped – the incomparable bassist/keyboardist of nonpareil Led Zep, this novel Caribbean rum is aged and lightly spiced in Scotland and swirls with delicate, smoky pepper, toffee and vanilla, followed by a teasingly saline, sea-going finish.
The GlenAllachie 12 Year Old Sauternes Wine Cask Finish, 48%vol, (£60.95; Whisky Exchange)
All dads love fine single malt and this new expression from one of Scotland’s last remaining independent distilleries is a corker. Aged in former Bourbon barrels and finished in old Sauternes barrels, it’s mouth-fillingly rich, honeyed and spicy. Rare, too, with just 6,000 bottles made.