The 13 Best Scotch Whiskies

There’s nothing better than finishing a hearty meal with a glass of whiskey, especially when the whiskey is smooth and ice-cold. And while there are many kinds of whiskey now available, there’s nothing that can beat a delicious scotch.

Born among the hills and lochs of Scotland, this malt drink has become a particular favorite among whiskey enthusiasts, with the classic blend now being reimagined for the modern age. So if you want to know which scotch whiskey is the best, then you have come to the right place.

These days, the world of scotch is beginning to evolve, with there now being many distilleries that choose to reimagine what the drink can be. And while some of the best scotch whiskies in the world range in both taste and nose, they are all united in their homeland. Because there are so many scotch whiskies on the market, we have decided to showcase some of our favorites in the following guide.

Not only are the whiskies on our list bursting with flavor, but they also make for the perfect addition to a lazy afternoon or a gathering with friends. So if you are ready to learn more about some of the best scotch whiskies currently available, then this article has everything you need to get started…

Overview

If you are in a rush and don’t have time to read the entire article, then we have provided a condensed version of our list in the section below:

  • The GlenDronach Revival - Produced in the Scottish Highlands, this delicious whiskey is aged in oloroso sherry casks and starts off with notes of spiced fruit.
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old - Ideal for everyday consumption, this malt whiskey boasts a hint of cherry cola and comes with a bittersweet finish.
  • Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old - Aged primarily in bourbon barrels, this whiskey spends its last three years in oloroso casks and is known for its sherry taste.
  • Glenfarclas 25 Year Old - This scotch whiskey is made from spring water that runs down from heather-covered hills and boasts notes of chocolate and orange.
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition - Originally made in Islay, this scrumptious whisky embraces the darker things in life and contains touches of smoke and brine.
  • Laphroaig 10 Year Old - Produced by the Islay Distillery, this scotch whisky is undiluted for extra potency and delivers a smoky warmth on the tongue.
  • Ardbeg An Oa - This affordable bottle is one of the most accessible whiskies available, with the final product sporting notes of salt and smoke.
  • Compass Box Hedonism - Deemed a heard-turner by professionals and enthusiasts, this scotch is the perfect choice for any whisky virgin.
  • Glenmorangie Signet - This scotch is produced among the hills of the Scottish Highlands, where it is known for its notes of chocolate and espresso.
  • Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate - Famous for its floral notes, this scotch whisky boasts a honey-blossom nose with hints of vanilla, roasted nuts and orange. 

If you want to know more about these scotch whiskies, then we have provided a detailed overview for each product in the following sections:

OUR TOP PICK

For the first product on our list, we have chosen a classic scotch whisky that comes from the Scottish Highlands, where it has been aged in Pedro Ximenez and oloroso sherry casks to produce a diverse and rich taste.

With the promise to evolve with each new sip, this whisky boasts a unique combination of flavors, with the blend containing notes of honey, cedar, pecans and chocolate-covered cherries.

To achieve the best results, it is recommended that you drink this scotch with a side of milk chocolate or aged cheese. You can also place a single ice cube in your glass and see what happens.

EDITORS CHOICE

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

If you have been searching for a reasonably-priced scotch, then look no further than this amazing product. Distilled in the Central Highlands, this brisk whisky has been made using water from the Pitilie Burn stream, which helps to give the final blend its unique and clean taste.

Considered an everyday pourer, this whisky is notable for its hints of cherry cola, which are accompanied by a bittersweet mouth coating with touches of woody tannins. Due to its smooth and refreshing taste, this scotch can be drunk neat or served on the rocks with a splash of water.

Featuring a 40 percent ABV, this scotch is the ideal choice for anyone who partakes in an afternoon tipple, making it the perfect drink for your post-work treat.

BEST VALUE

Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old

Combining some of Scotland’s most famous traditions, this scotch is produced in one of Islay’s oldest distilleries and is known for its deep cherrywood hue.

Made using island-grown barley, this product is aged in bourbon barrels before spending its last 3 years in oloroso casks, where the blend is infused with a flurry of flavors.

Similar in taste to sherry, this scotch beautifully blends sweet and salty notes to produce a taste experience unlike any other, with the final mixture sporting hints of toffee, dried fruit and brine.

Notable for its pungency, this whisky is the best way to round off a heavy meal, as the drink will provide all the sweetness of a decadent dessert.

RUNNER UP

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Produced by a sixth-generation family-owned distillery, this 25-year-old scotch is an affordable and balanced whisky that offers a refreshing and clean taste.

Made from spring water that has run down from the heather-covered hills of Speyside, this blend is known for its natural flavor, with the name itself meaning ‘the valley of the green grass’.

Like the other whiskies on our list, this scotch has been aged in oloroso casks, which gives the final product a distinctive nutty finish, with the blend also containing notes of chocolate and orange.

Because of its sherry-like nature, this is yet another whisky that can be sipped after dinner, with the delicious aromas making it more than worth the money.

RUNNER UP

Made on the island of Islay, this scotch whisky is often highlighted for its distinctive terroir-driven character, with the delicious blend featuring notes of seaweed, iodine and smoke.

While aging this particular scotch, the distiller decided to transfer the 16-year-old blend into Pedro Ximenez barrels, giving the final product the nuance and layers as a well-made sherry. The final result is a bottle of whisky bursting with strong peaty notes, as well as a sudden fruitiness that will tickle your senses.

Because of its complex mixture, this scotch is easily one of the best single malts on the market and should be sipped as a palette cleanser after lunch.

RUNNER UP

With the sudden rise of cask-strength whiskies, we are seeing more and more pourers trying to match the growing competition. For example, this scotch has been left undiluted for extra potency, with the ten-year-old blend now boasting a proof of around 112, although this number can vary depending on the bottle.

Aged in bourbon barrels to produce a bold and pungent drink, this whisky sports a variety of earthy notes, such as grass, smoke and island brine. While this whisky is just as powerful as its lighter counterpart, it also comes with a distinctive taste, which is laced with just a hint of fire.

There’s truly nothing else like this scotch on the market, which is why it has earned a pivotal placement on our list.

RUNNER UP

While Ardbeg distillery is known for its range of delicious whiskies, this scotch is its first new addition in over a decade, with the product taking its name from the Mull of Oa, a rocky peninsula located on the Kilodalton Coast, where the distiller is currently based.

Considered an affordable option for any whiskey enthusiast, this blend is as accessible as an Islay scotch can get, with the finished product being aged in sherry barrels to produce a rich and smoky taste.

Ideal for tourists hoping to experience the best of Scottish culture, this whisky is distinguished by its strong peaty tones and salty aftertaste.

RUNNER UP

For hundreds of years, scotch whisky was made using grains such as corn and wheat, although this method began to decline in popularity with the advent of single malts. However, it seems that John Glaser has decided to return to the old ways, using grain barrels to produce this unique and flavorful blend.

Considered a particular favorite among whisky enthusiasts, this scotch is notable for its distinctive notes of coconut and caramel, which are then combined with touches of smooth vanilla and burnt toffee.

If there was ever a whisky to add to your bucket list, this is the one - as Glaser’s traditionalism and determination have produced one of the best scotch whiskies in the world. 

RUNNER UP

Glenmorangie Signet

When it comes to scotch whiskies with a creative twist, there is no better candidate than this stunning blend, which has been produced in the Scottish Highlands.

Unlike other whiskies that we have mentioned, this scotch is made using the distillery’s oldest blend, which has been aged in American white oak barrels to ensure a crisp and woody taste.

However, the thing that truly sets this scotch apart is the addition of chocolate malt, which infuses the final product with its characteristic notes of mocha, raisins and cinnamon.

When you sample this particular blend for the first time, you will be greeted by the burning taste of alcohol, which will then fade to impart a heady finish of dark chocolate and ground coffee. 

RUNNER UP

Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate

If you want to purchase a scotch that pairs well with food, then look no further than this delicious blend of Glenmorangie, which seems to have been made for wine drinkers rather than whisky enthusiasts.

Made from estate-grown malted barley, this whisky is matured in American oak barrels for a duration of 15 years, with the final product beautifully complementing a range of summertime dishes.

Personally, we would recommend watering this whisky down at your next barbecue, as it tastes especially good when served with chicken, ribs and fresh salads.

Notable for its strong floral notes, this whisky contains powerful hints of honey blossom, vanilla and nuts, with a final hint of citrus rounding everything off. 

Honorable Mentions

While these following scotch whiskies did not find their way onto our list, we have still decided to showcase them in the following sections: 

RUNNER UP

Developed on the Isle of Skye, this scotch whisky is a relative newcomer to the market, with it being made by only the second licensed facility on the island. However, what it lacks in age it makes up for in taste and nose.

Made from 100 select barrels, this single malt whisky is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, which helps to give the final product its strong peaty taste.

Fortunately, these powerful notes are then undercut by the brisk sweetness of fresh spring water, which is used to refresh the scotch during the distillation process.

The final result is a heady mixture of vanilla char and island seagrass, which can be sipped after dinner or watered down for an afternoon tipple.

RUNNER UP

This classic Islay scotch has been subjected to a unique Highland treatment, which involves aging the blend for the second time in Amoroso sherry barrels.

Because of this method, the final product takes on a powerful fruity taste, with the drink itself boasting notes of iodine, earth and smoke.

While some may find the notion of fruit whisky to be a strange concept, we promise that the final taste is delicious, as the flavor is softened by the peaty undertones to create a beautiful balance that will make your taste buds sing.

However, one of the best things about this scotch is its versatility, with the blend pairing particularly well with a variety of different foods. Personally, we recommend serving it alongside some fresh seafood, but it can also be paired with meat and cheese.

RUNNER UP

When it comes to making cocktails, there is no better scotch for the job than this delicious blend from the hills of Speyside. Not only is the whiskey brimming with floral notes, but it is also affordable and will add a layer of sophistication to any mix.

Aged in bourbon barrels, this scotch is notably lighter than its local counterparts, with the final product also being relatively low in alcohol. Distinguished by its floral nose, this scotch is known for its delightful sweetness, with the blend sporting hints of walnuts, honey and cake.

While this particular scotch falls on the weaker side, it can still be enjoyed neat or with a single ice cube, although it particularly excels when used to make a refreshing rusty nail. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing the best scotch whiskey currently available, we have to consider how the blend has been made. For example, if you wish to sample a scotch that captures the traditional spirit of the distillation process, then the GlenDronach Revival is the one for you.

Not only does this blend embody the complexity of making whiskey, but it also offers an accessible flavor that everyone can enjoy.

The 13 Best Scotch Whiskies

Frequently Asked Questions

Now let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions concerning scotch whiskey and its production:

What Makes Scotch Different From Other Whiskies?

While it is easy to say that all scotch is whiskey, this does not mean that all whiskies are scotch. In fact, Scotch whiskies are usually characterized by one component and that is their geographical location. For a whiskey to be considered a scotch, it has to have been made in Scotland, as that is what the term scotch means.

How Are Scotch Whiskies Made?

Scotch whiskey (like all whiskey) is made from grain, which is then fermented to transform the natural sugars into alcohol. In order to access the starch, the grain is usually malted or soaked until it sprouts, with the sprouted grain then being dried in wood or a peat-fired kiln. Following this, the malt is milled and added to hot water, which is then allowed to ferment until the alcohol has formed.

When the grain has fermented, the wash is strained into a copper port and distilled in aged barrels, which can take many years depending on the blend. This helps to produce the strong spirit that we know as scotch.

What Kinds Of Scotch Are There?

These days, there are several kinds of scotch available for purchase, with each one ranging in its production, taste and nose. For example, scotch that has been made with malted barley is known as single malt scotch, while whisky made from a combination of single malt and other grains is commonly referred to as blended scotch.

While these are among the most basic distinctions to consider, there are other components that can be used to determine the kind of whiskey you are drinking. When it comes to scotch, the different varieties are often distinguished by their geography, with Highland blends usually being sweeter than their island counterparts.

Another significant component that can affect the taste of scotch is the barrel it was aged in, with different woods and mixtures often yielding different results. For example, sherry barrels will often deliver a sweeter scotch than a bourbon barrel, which is why you should always consider the barrel as an important part of the process.

What Is The Most Popular Scotch In The World?

Studies show that the most popular scotch in the world is currently Johnnie Walker, which still remains the number one scotch brand with over 14.1 million cases sold. Following this, other notable competitors include Ballantine’s, Grant’s, William Lawson’s and Teacher’s Highland Cream.

What Is The Most Popular Scotch In Scotland?

Interestingly, none of our entries is considered the most popular whiskey in Scotland, which is probably because of their obscure nature. Currently, the brand that holds the title is The Famous Grouse, which remains one of the most widely circulated whiskies in the United Kingdom.

This reigning king is then followed by other commercial brands such as Dewar’s, Bells, Whyte & Mackay and Johnnie Walker.

Mandy Winters
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