The Best Single Malt Scotch to Buy Your Stereotypical Father-in-Law

So, you’ve checked off everyone on your gift list, except for one. The one. Your father-in-law. The man who gave you your significant other, but still seems to hold it against you on some level. The man who refuses to laugh at your jokes. The man who greets you not with a hug but with a brief, disinterested handshake. The man whose respect you want even more than that of your own father.

What do you get such a man? A tie? A set of monogrammed golf tees? A framed picture of the two of you? Hell no. You get him scotch. And you make sure it’s the right scotch. Which bottle that is depends on where you are in your relationship. Here is our guide to not screwing up your most important decision of the year:


You want to impress this guy, lay the groundwork for a lasting friendship based on trust and mutual respect. You need something good natured and easy going, just like you, something friendly with just that hint of smoke. You can just picture it now, him tearing open the tall, rectangular box and looking up at you with a slight but knowing smile. Maybe, later that night, he suggests cracking it open. He pours you a glass. Maybe, just maybe, he lets you call him dad.

Best Bets: The mildly peaty Highland Park 12-year ($55), the mild and soft Aberfeldy 12-year ($43) or the round, caramelly Auchentoshan American Oak Scotch ($35).

Just Married

All that bonding and toasting and smiling last year? Didn’t happen. Guy didn’t even fully unwrap the dang thing. Just muttered thanks and put it aside. This year, it’ll be different, though. You’re family now! Time to step up the price and buy him a serious bottle from one of the noble scotch houses. He’ll scope the label, lift his eyebrows, nod approvingly and internally feel a pang of regret about giving you that Sweaters Of The World coffee table book that clearly came from a discount bin. Then you’ll finally have that one-on-one drink.

Best Bets: The complex Laphroaig Triple Wood ($75), the rich, sherried Macallan 12-year ($60) or the briny, robustly peaty Lagavulin 16-year.

Married One Year

So that didn’t do it either. What does this guy want? Money? It’s money, isn’t it. Oh, you’ll give him money. Time to splurge on a magnificent bottle. And he’ll respect you for it. Finally.

Best Bets: The shockingly light, yet beautifully complex Highland Park 17-year Ice Single Malt ($325), the orange-laced peaty punch-in-the-mouth that is the Talisker 18-year ($150) or the oaky, soothing, roasted coffee-tinged The Balvenie Tun 1509 ($400).

Married Two Years

OK, so he didn’t want money. That’s fine. At least someone enjoyed that spectacular whisky: You. But only because you snuck down to the living room in the middle of the night and grabbed that bottle from next to his chair where he unceremoniously dropped it. And you drank from it. Oh did you drink from it. Right from the bottle. While you sat in his chair. And you did not feel great the next morning. And you did not look great, which you think your mother-in-law might have picked up on. This year, though, you’ve got it figured out. You’ll catch his eye with something esoteric—a distillery even the great scotch expert himself has never heard of before. More importantly, you’ve given up your hopes of sharing a drink with him. Haven’t you heard? “Huh” is the new “this is amazing, thank you so much.”

Best Bets: The apple-scented, edgy Craigellachie 13-year ($50), the light but malty Loch Lomond Single Grain ($30) or the toasty, uniquely vintage Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009 ($55).

Married Five Years

Hey, you tried. It’s not your fault he can’t appreciate your thoughtfulness. Not to mention your wit, intelligence, charm and general decency. Scotch? Ha! Wasted on this guy. He’ll make do with a bottle of cheap whiskey shipped to his house. Because now that the twins are here, Christmas is at your place. One day, of course, they’re going to grow up and get married. And you’ll be on the receiving end of the scotch bottles. Good luck impressing you. Little shits.

Best Bets: For the definition of what he is not, get the Kentucky Gentleman ($11). For the raw, fiery embodiment of your relationship with this tormentor, buy George Dickel White No. 1 Corn Whisky ($24). Or if you’d rather remind him that no matter how many pull-ups he says he can do, he is aging, nothing beats Old Grand-Dad ($19).