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Put Down That Necktie! A Bourbon Picking Guide To Delight Dad This Father's Day

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When I was a kid, I always wondered why the traditional, clichéd Father's Day gifts -- things like ties or cologne -- were so popular. "Why would Dad want this?" I'd ask myself as I'd hand over another uninspired gift that my mother had helped me pick out (they were divorced when I was six, so perhaps that added to the lack of inspiration on her part). Most years, my dad managed to feign at least a little excitement as he unwrapped his new paperweight or cufflinks. I surmised at the time that, well, maybe adults just like boring gifts.

Now that I'm older than my father was when I was born, and I'm about to celebrate my second Father's Day as a father myself, I know that adults do not like boring gifts. In my own dad's case, he simply never bothered to tell me what he wanted. Well, I'm not going to make that mistake, and I'm not going to let Dad Nation make that mistake for another year, either. Hear me now, wives and children, and hear me clear: Put down the tie. Step away from the cologne. What we want this Father's Day is whiskey. And not just any old rotgut, either. We want the good stuff.

Now, you can't go wrong with a good Scotch or rye, but I'm going to keep things simple. After all, we don't want the wife and kids to have to traipse through multiple aisles of the liquor store looking for that perfect bottle of hooch, do we? (Actually, don't answer that question.) For this particular day, I'm going to stick with bourbon. As a spirits reviewer, I have to drink a lot of the stuff. As a dad, I need the occasional glass of distilled, corn-based goodness at the end of a day spent running around with my daughter. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of very fine bourbons made all over this great land of ours (contrary to what many believe, bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky in order to be called bourbon), with more new brands making their debut every month.

What follows are eleven bourbons that have been floating my boat of late. If you like bourbon, whether you prefer it sweet, dry, smooth, spicy, high-proof, or what have you, at least a few of these brands should appeal to you. If you want more choices, check out this bourbon round-up I wrote a couple of years ago for the Kentucky Derby. Hey, if it's good enough for the Run for the Roses, it's good enough for Dad, right? As always, feel free to add your own favorite brand in the Comments section in case I missed it.

And wives and children, don't forget -- the gift of bourbon isn't worth the paper in which it's gift-wrapped if you don't give the father in your lives a little quiet time to drink it. No matter how good the bourbon is, he'll probably appreciate that most of all. I speak from experience.

Father's Day Bourbon-Picking Guide
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