When I was 17, my dad gave me plane tickets to Colombia. It was my grad present.

Now, this might seem a bit of a strange thing for me to be divulging to you. After all, Colombia isn’t exactly famed for its whisky.

But the basis behind this story is that my dad gave me a present far removed from what other kids got. It wasn’t a car or a grad ring. Instead, wrapped up within those plane tickets was a message: go and follow your dreams, take a risk, and have fun.

So, despite the obvious dangers of heading to a rather fractious country, he saw me off on the plane and let me spread my wings. It couldn’t have been easy. You see, my mom passed away just as I was reaching my teenage years, so my father had the arduous task of seeing me through those highly emotional times on his own. I can only imagine that, therefore, letting his teenage daughter go to South America was more nervewracking for him. But he let me do it nonetheless.

What he instilled in me was to take chances. And I’ve been trying to do that ever since. Writing about whisky, for example, was a dream. But my father taught me to take risks – the road less travelled, if you will – to achieve what I wanted.

Therefore, this father’s day I wanted to tell you that little tale in the hopes you take a minute to reflect on what your fathers have done for you. Hallmark card sentiments aside, I couldn’t have become what I am today without his wise words and lack of judgment about my choices (going to university on the other side of the country; hopping on a plane to move to England); choices which have shaped my path in life.

These reflections were recently brought to my mind as I wrote a piece for Whiskeria’s latest edition on, “Things I learned from my father”. In it, I interview people across the industry about what small piece of advice their father gave to them that they have carried with them throughout their lives. It was heartwarming and wonderful to hear other people’s tales and made me want to share mine.

The great thing now is that we both can share in a love of whisky. Every birthday and Christmas I relish in sending my dad small bottles of various drams (though, I tend to wrap them in socks and declare them as such…shhhh). This trip over to Canada, I brought a huge selection of whiskies decanted into little bottles. Nothing made me happier than to see him making thoughtfelt tasting notes as we’ve gone through each one.

And so, before I get too mushy on you all, I’d like to raise a glass to all those fathers out there who have sacrificied, saved judgements, listened, nurtured and cared for their kids. And whether that, to you, is a father, step-father, uncle, grandfather, or even mother who played a dual role in bringing you up, I hope you join me in raising a dram to them or even sit down, pour a couple out and share some tales and memories.