Wondering what gift to give the man of the house on Father’s Day? Newsflash: Dad doesn’t want another tie. Or some kind of paperweight for his cubicle. Or a coffee mug. Trust us when we say there are the two, certain-to-please gifts to give. If he doesn’t drink, then get his car detailed for him. For all the rest, get him a nice bottle of whisky.
Here at Proof66, we’re set up to try and make the whisky purchase decision a little easier. But even an aggregate scoring system, obsessive notes, and cheeky categories don’t always help the baffled wife presented with over 440 different selections from which to choose. Scotch? Bourbon? Some other whisky? Where do I start? Are these even available at my hometown liquor store?
These problems came to mind when the folks at Crown Royal provided us with a bottle of their new Extra Rare (XR) to sample and review. Crown Royal has a few different things going for it right out of the gate that make it highly eligible for worried-wife selection:
1) It is a highly recognizable and respected name—it can sit on the shelf with pride;
2) It is widely available—so you can be confident in being able to find it; and
3) It is extremely accessible—you don’t need a highly trained or experienced palate to enjoy it.
All these points are important but that last is crucial. Mrs. Smith can—with the very best intentions—use our website and go out to purchase a bottle of Laphroaig Single Malt Cask Strength scotch, which is a very highly acclaimed whisky. However, there’s peat smoke boiling out the top of these things that can clear a room of the uninitiated who might be wondering why the smoke alarm didn’t go off. She might end up with an equally highly acclaimed George T Stagg Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon, one of the most decorated bourbons around. It also comes in at such manly alcohol proofs and “oakiness” from the aging, that it can leave anyone without years of experience in sipping 90 and 100 proof training bourbons gagging for oxygen and wondering if their end is nigh. Either of these as gifts to Mr. Smith might end up sitting in the cabinet untouched for years. Bummer.
Don’t get us wrong: we love both of those spirits and they’re particularly awesome gifts—but we wouldn’t give them to just anyone. It takes something of a pro to appreciate. Otherwise, it’d be like giving the vintage, autographed captain’s chair signed by William Shatner himself to someone whose only exposure to Star Trek is a passing insult uttered in the general direction of a comic book convention attendees in costume: a waste.
One wants the father in question to sincerely enjoy the whisky and Crown is accessible. Lots of Canadian whisky is accessible (nerd alert: this is because Canadian whisky is allowed a certain percentage of additives that smooth out and sweeten the flavor profile—Canadians long ago decided whisky on its own could use a little help and have a history of very lightly flavoring their whiskies) but Crown is especially accessible. Smooth; clean; no burn… these are the terms generally uttered. The liquor snob will also say “short finish,” “lacking punch” or other snooty remarks but most people are quite happy with smooth.
Now… what about the prestige factor of the gift? It turns out there are several different expressions of Crown. Do you go with:
a) The common Crown Royal in the purple bag at $25?
b) The Crown Royal Reserve with the fancier box and the gold bag at $40?
c) The Crown Royal XR (“Extra Rare”) in the velvet presentation box and the individually embroidered bag at $140?
We would never comment on your ability to pay in these troubled financial times… but Ladies, this is Father’s Day and it’s no time to get weak-kneed. After all, the men-folk face these same problems when buying flowers and jewelry… the price is part of the gift.
To help ease your anxiety in laying out real cash when purchasing your whisky, we executed a vertical tasting (going through each of the above 3 whiskies) to try and assist in your decision. We’ll rate these whiskies on the following criteria: will he know that you love him; will other people know you