Best Under $: Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old
Region: Islay| ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Toffee, Smoke, Brine, Dried fruits
Bringing together the best of Scotlands opposing traditions, this cherrywood-colored scotch from Bowmore, Islays oldest distillery, is made with heavily peated malt from island-grown barley. Its aged primarily in bourbon barrels, but its final three years are spent in oloroso casks, where the scotch takes on its sherrylike layers.
I love that it captures both, says Tardie. Its the perfect balance: salty but sweet. Toffee, dried fruit and swarthy smoke are finished with ocean-water salinity for what Tardie calls a multidimensional treat. Im not big on dessert, but if I were to have a dessert, this would be it,” he says.
Region: Islay | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Smoke, Brine, Umami, Dried fruit
Best Port Cask Finish: The Dalmore Port Wood Reserve
Region: Highlands | ABV: 46.5% | Tasting Notes: Berry, Mocha, Ginger
Many scotch distilleries finish their whiskies in port pipeshuge wooden vessels that previously held port, and named for the Portuguese word “pipa,” or caskwhich provides a different way to enhance the flavor of a whisky. The Dalmores already intensely fruity and complex single malt offers striking notes of ripe plum, cherry and dried apricot in the Port Wood Reserve expression. This non-age statement whisky is initially aged in bourbon barrels before being finished in Tawny Port pipes from W & J Graham’s winery in Portugalexemplifying why port wood is a preferred cask finish.
Region: Highlands | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Espresso, Tobacco, Orange
Glenmorangie offers a wide selection of whiskies, from the 10-year-old core expression to some incredibly expensive vintages. Although the Signet single malt does not bear an age statement, it does not need one .
According to the distillery, roasted chocolate barley malt is used in the mash bill, and the spirit is aged in designer casks. I love coffee and chocolate notes in both spirits and cocktails so this one sings to me, says Meaghan Dorman, bar director at Dear Irving on Hudson. Velvety and sophisticatedthis is a unique spirit, worth the investment.
What Are The Best Scotch Whisky Cocktails
We couldn’t list our favourite Scotch cocktails without starting with the Rob Roy, named after the famous Scottish folk hero. Made with sweet vermouth and bitters, it’s been described by comedian James Acaster as what he imagines whisky should taste like . Many Scotches make for a great whisky sour, too: experimenting with different bottles and the ratio of Scotch to lemon juice is almost as fun as drinking it. Lastly, we wouldn’t be GQ if we didn’t mention Old Fashioneds. Although it’s typically a bourbon-based cocktail, the smoky profile of some Scotches is a great foil for the sweetness of sugar and the bitters. For the smokiest Smokey Old Fashioned, look to Laphroiag’s famous ten-year-old.
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The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old
Macallan is a fixture in the high-end whiskey world. Theyve been around since 1824, and theyre still one of the best-selling Scotch brands in the world. In fact, they were one of the first to mass-produce single malt whiskey.
We like Macallans Sherry Oak 12-Year for two reasons: firstly, its matured in unique Oloroso sherry-seasoned oak casks from Spain. These casks introduce a bit of fruitiness and floral spice to the flavor. Secondly, with 12 years of age, its a mature, premium scotch yet much more attainable than Macallans older bottles .
Macallan makes a Speyside whiskey, meaning theyre distilled in Strathspey, Scotland, which just happens to be the home of the other two best-selling Scotch whiskeys in the world: Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Speysides are characterized by a sweeter and fuller flavor thats more approachable for beginner whiskey drinkers.
What Is The Best Scottish Whiskey
The 13 Best Scotch Whiskies to Drink in 2021
- Best Overall: The GlenDronach Revival.
- Best Under $50: Aberfeldy 12 Year Old.
- Best Under $100: Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old.
- Best Aged: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old.
- Best Single Malt: Lagavulin Distillers Edition.
- Best Cask-Strength: Laphroaig 10 Year Old.
- Best Islay: Ardbeg An Oa.
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Which Is The Best Scotch Whisky
There are far too many variables to denote an all-time best Scotch whisky. That said, statements such as Lagavulin 16 Year Old, The Macallan Fine Oak 21 Year, The Balvenie 21 Year Old Port Wood, and Highland Park 18 Year Old are cherished by seasoned drinkers worldwide. That’s not to mention highly sought-after releases such as the Bowmore 50 Year or The Macallan M, which occupy a category all their own.
Paul John Classic Select Cask
After India was introduced to Scotch in the 19th century, they quickly started making their own. Today, India might not be known as a major whisky producer, but they make liquor thats worthy of any connoisseurs bar. One of Indias best whiskys is Paul John, a premium single malt launched in 2008 to compete in the high-end market.
Paul Johns Classic Select Cask is made using exclusively Indian-grown ingredients in Indian-made equipment. The whisky is distilled and aged in the tropical region of Goa, increasing maturation speed. The end result is a strong, rich liquor that packs a punch.
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George Dickel Barrel Select
George Dickel is the second-largest Tennessee whiskey distillery, but its far less well-known that the largest, Jack Daniels. However, George Dickel is often considered superior in quality, and this Barrel Select is the brands finest bottle. Its first steeped in charcoal, mellowing the bite, and then aged 10 to 12 years. Finally, ten barrels are hand-selected by George Dickels Master Distiller, John Lunn.
The award-winning flavor is marked by caramel and corn with hints of vanilla, oak, clove and rye. These fade slowly, leaving a satisfying finish of caramel, cinnamon and vanilla. Its a premium bourbon, so its best enjoyed neat with a drop of water, but also works for making upgraded bourbon cocktails.
Top 15 Scotch Whisky Companies
Scotch whisky is worth around £5bn to the UK economy and there are many companies involved in the industry. At this moment in time, there are 69 registered members of the Scotch Whisky Association, as well as other distillers, blenders and bottlers outside of the organisation.
Two companies account for approximately 58% of all whiskies sold worldwide: Diageo and Chivas Brothers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. Diageo is the owner of Johnnie Walker, which accounts for over one-fifth of all Scotch whiskies sold worldwide, while Chivas Brothers own Ballantines and Chivas Regal, the second- and third-largest brands of Scotch whisky respectively.
WhiskyInvestDirect currently has maturing whiskies available for investment from the following companies: Diageo, La Martiniquaise, Beam Suntory, Whyte & Mackay, Distell, Picard Vins & Spiriteux, John Fergus & Co, The Three Stills Company and Bladnoch.
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Best Blended Grain: Compass Box Hedonism Whisky
Some Scotch snobs eschew blends entirely. Thats their choice, to be sure, but its always a good idea to keep your mind as open as your palate when youre searching for truly excellent whisky. Otherwise, youre apt to miss out on some quality hooch. Hedonism from London-based blender Compass Box is one such expression. The recipe is 100 percent grain whisky from a trio of distilleries using first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and re-charred American oak casks. The result is a beautiful dram, fruity, and chock-full of vanilla notes and a touch of coconut on the finish that will leave you clamoring for another glass.
What Is The Best Selling Scotch
Johnnie WalkerData shared by The Spirits Business shows that Johnnie Walker remains the most popular Scotch whisky label, with more than double the number of cases sold in 2020 compared to Ballantines, its closest competitor. Grants, William Lawsons, and Chivas Regal rank third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively.
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Is Chivas Regal A Good Scotch
Chivas Regal, 12 YO, 40% ABV, 750 ml, $30 Another consistent multiple award winner, Chivas 12 YO is a very refined, blended whisky replete with notes of honey, fruit and dried herbs. Exceptionally rich and creamy it offers a complex and nuanced array of aromas and flavors. An exceptional value for the price.
What Does 12 Year Old Scotch Mean
Moreover, as Brryson explains, the age on the label relates to the youngest ingredient used in the final product. Therefore, even though we put our hypothetical bottle of Macallan in a cabinet, our hypothetical whiskey was 12 years old from the first moment of contact with the wood. As whisky ages in the bottle, it becomes less potent.
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The 20 Most Popular Scotch Whisky Brands In The World For 2021
Popularity is a subjective topic open to interpretation, especially regarding Scotch whisky brands, but if sales data is anything to go by, there are 20 clear winners.
Data shared by The Spirits Business shows that Johnnie Walker remains the most popular Scotch whisky label, with more than double the number of cases sold in 2020 compared to Ballantines, its closest competitor.
Grants, William Lawsons, and Chivas Regal rank third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively. Black & White and William Peel follow, Label 5 and Dewars are neck and neck behind, and J& B rounds out the top 10.
Diageo-owned White Horse was by far the biggest mover of the year, selling 2.1 million cases, a jump of 18.9 percent. The label is buoyed by a stellar reputation in Brazilian, Japanese, and Russian markets.
Pandemic-related disruptions to bars and restaurants combined with a trade war that increased tariffs on exports to the U.S. negatively impacted the Scotch industry last year. Exports were down 23 percent, amounting to a drop of $1.5 billion, and only a handful of the top 20 brands experienced year-to-year growth. With tariffs temporarily rescinded and bar businesses reopening around the world, numbers are expected to rebound in the coming months.
Ranked by the number of 9-liter cases sold, Scotch lovers can see how their favorite brands rate in the list below.
Single Malt Or Blended
Scotch whisky falls into two main categories, single malt and blended. Single malt is made from water and malted barley, and blended Scotch whisky is malt whisky mixed with grain whisky. Single malt is the priciest and most sought-after Scotch whisky, but that does not necessarily mean that it’s the best choice for you. The majority of Scotch whisky sold is blended Scotch. Single malt is smooth, but it also has a peaty, smoky flavor. A blended Scotch whisky is less strong, gentler, and a tad sweeter. It is also more affordable.
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Isle Of Raasay Distillery And Hotel
Isle of Raasay Distillery
One of the newer establishments on our list, the Isle of Raasay Distillery is located in the Western Highlands region. It is the only distillery in Scotland where guests can spend the night in the same building where whisky is produced.
The Isle of Raasay is known as one of the most scenic areas in Scotland. From the town, you can also take a short ferry ride to visit the nearby Isle of Skye, another popular tourist destination.
The distillery is known for its whisky, scenery, and chocolate pairings that make for quite a luxurious experience. Founded only in 2014, the Isle of Raasay Distillery and Hotel has quickly become one of the best places to visit in Scotland.
New Distillery And Visitor Experience
In July 2019, the £140 million new distillery and visitor experience, on the Easter Elchies estate near Craigellachie, made the shortlist for the for excellence in architecture. It was designed by . In 2019 the distillery won the 2019 , and was nominated for the .
The distillery has 36 , comprising 12 wash stills and 24 spirit stills.
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Best New: Torabhaig 2017 Legacy Series
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Isle of Skye | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Salt, Honey, Smoke, Bitter herbs
Want to get in on the ground floor with a new distillery? Only the second-ever licensed facility on the Isle of Skye, Torabhaig opened in 2017, and its first release, this single malt blended from 100 select barrels, is young but delightful. The heavy peat character is tempered by a brisk sweetness from the pure island spring water used to make it and the Kentucky bourbon barrels used to age it. The honeyed vanilla char of the wood mingles with isle seagrass and iodine for a whisky made for sipping or stirring into drinks.
Glen Alba 22 Year Old
As chosen by leading whisky expert Charles MacLean: “I wasn’t surprised when Lidl’s range won all of their awards, they really are excellent drams that are incredibly reasonably priced.
“The Glen Alba has a rich aroma, dry overall, with a trace of white pepper: fruitcake moistened with rum and decorated with glacé angelica, with white coffee on the side. It really is remarkably good.”
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Glenmorangie House & Distillery
Glenmorangies Highland distillery offers the chance to learn of the past and look forward to the future of whiskey. Tour the old, damp cellars, and explore the Lighthouse with Dr. Bill Lumsden, one of the most innovative minds in Scotch whiskey. In this modern glass structure, Bill toils away on single malts that wont be enjoyed until the 2040s or 2050s!
Glenmorangie House is about ten miles from the distillery, always ready to provide a warm welcome into its whiskey-inspired interiors. Enjoy a private lunch or dinner in the woodland area behind the distillery or treat yourself to a tasting with members of the whiskey creation team, who will regale you with story after story about their craft.
Best Scotch Whisky Brands
From smoky blends to sherry bombs to everything in between, the best Scotch whiskies bring ample flavour with every sip. Each one comes to us from the best Scotch whisky brands, who respectively hail from a specific region in Scotland. For anyone just discovering this wonderful spirit, youre in for a genuine treat because theres no shortage of quality statements. And for all the seasoned sippers out theresurely you can always use a refresher.
Truth be told, there can be no definitive list of the best Scotch whiskies or the top Scotch whisky brands. Thats because a number of the smaller producers keep some of the best Scotch in the world right there at the distillery, making it quite hard to come by. Once you bring in limited-edition one-offs, experimental finishing programs, and other unique variabilities, searching for the top Scotch becomes darn near impossiblenot that its going to stop us from trying.
All were saying is that you should take the following list of best Scotch whisky brands as a starting point and not a final destination. For the most part, were sticking with globally recognised names that you either know and love or should know and love, such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, The Macallan, Glenfiddich, and so on. Nearly all of them deliver good Scotch on a regular basis and, on occasion, some of the best Scotch whisky that will ever cross your lips. Lets get into it!
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Types Of Scotch Whisky
Weve previously covered Scotlands beloved whisky regions, so if you want to know more about them, check out our article. And while youre digging, check out this in-depth article about single malt Scotch whisky and how it gets made. Last but not least, heres an intensive guide to peaty whisky, which isnt an official type per se, but nevertheless exists in a category all its own. Putting all that aside, Scotch whisky breaks down according to the following types:
- Single Malt To qualify as single malt, the Scotch must be made from a mash of 100% malted barley and distilled at a single distillery by way of a pot still distillation process.
- Single Grain Despite the name, single grain Scotch can incorporate other whole cereal grains into the mash. The whisky must be distilled at a single distillery and it can be distilled continuously in continuous stills or column stills.
- Blended Malt A blend of single malt Scotch whiskies from at least two different distilleries.
- Blended Grain A blend of single grain Scotch whiskies from at least two different distilleries.
- Blended Scotch A blend of single malt and single grain Scotch whiskies.
Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Chicken Cock was originally established in 1856 out of Paris, Kentucky. It wasnt until years later during prohibition, however, that Chicken Cock became popular as the house whiskey of the Cotton Club, one of the most legendary prohibition speakeasies. Because the brand survived through Americas prohibition, they still know how to make whiskey as they did in the good old days.
This bottle of Kentucky straight bourbon is overseen by Master Distiller and 40+ year veteran Gregg Snyder. The flavor is complex, ends with a smooth finish and boasts a spicy pepper taste. At 90 proof, theres some real heat, so we suggest enjoying this Chicken Cock neat and slowly.
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