We love Single Malt Scotch! But with such an enormous selection, it can be tricky to know where to start. Here are our top 10 single malt whiskies, at all price points, to make it super simple, whether you’re buying a treat for yourself, or a lucky gift recipient.
Nothing beats discovering a delicious new dram. But with more than 130 distilleries in Scotland producing whisky, it can be a challenge to know where to start your next flavour adventure.
We’ve started by narrowing down whisky type. Nowadays, which is produced all over the world. We’ve already honed in on Scotland, but we’re sticking with single malt, too. (Don’t panic! There are plenty of incredible blended Scotch, blended malts and grain whiskies out there, too.)
So. Single malt. To be able to carry the ‘single malt’ label, the whisky must have been made according to a series of rules to ensure it’s of a certain quality, and has that signature character. It’s kind of like a control measure – if you know you like single malt, you shouldn’t be in for an unpleasant surprise. Here are three of them: it must be made using 100% malted barley; it can only be made at one distillery; and it must be aged in an oak cask for at least three years.
All the whiskies on this list are made according to those rules – and they’re all delicious. Read on, and enjoy!
We just love this bottle – and the whisky inside is pretty delicious, too! It’s from an undisclosed Islay distillery, and has been aged for at least 10 years. Excitingly, 25% of it has been finished in a first-fill Oloroso sherry octave (a teeny little cask), so you’ve got lots of Christmas cake notes in with all the smoke. Mouth-watering stuff, indeed.
A much-loved expression from Speyside’s The Balvenie distillery. The whisky here has been aged in traditional casks, before being finished in a bunch that previously held Caribbean rum. The result is a slightly sweeter spirit, but one that’s wonderfully well-rounded, and bursting with tropical fruit, toffee and vanilla notes. Tasty!
Loch Lomond makes all kinds of whisky at its distillery, including this zazzy gift pack! Highly ideal for the experimental spirits drinker in your life, or a tasty treat for yourself. The 12 Year Old expression (creamy with orchard fruit notes) is accompanied by a duo of 50ml bottles: a delicious Inchmurrin, and a peated Inchmoan.
A fancy-pants release from the Macallan, this 2019 release of the classic 18 Year Old Sherry Oak has been matured in sherry-seasoned oak casks all the way from Jerez, Spain. It’s bursting with spice, citrus and dried fruit notes, wrapped up in ginger and orange zest. An absolute treat if you like your whiskies luxuriously mouth-filling.
A long-adored whisky from one of Scotland’s highest distilleries, Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old offers wonderful value for money. It’s lushly crisp, with loads of fruit salad, apple blossom and cereal notes. We also detect a teeny hint of smoke with the honey and soft spices, too. It’s a gentle dram, and definitely one for sunny, summer sipping.
Here we have another expression from an undisclosed distillery, this time from the Character of Islay Whisky Company. It’s been aged in a whole host of vessels, including bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks, and its name is amusingly an anagram of ‘ten year old Islay’. It’s also deliciously smoky, too!
A superbly silky whisky here from Glenmorangie! It’s made using two different types of malted barley (a single-estate Cadboll variety and malted chocolate barley, the latter often used in craft beers), and has been matured in bespoke virgin American oak casks. As well as mocha coffee notes, it’s also gorgeously smooth, and something different indeed.
Back we hop to the magic island of Islay, and to Kilchoman, the farm distillery founded in 2005. Machir Bay has become a favourite, matured in both ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks, for a beautifully balanced flavour profile. We like the biscuity vanilla notes, along with the big beach bonfire peat quality. Enjoy!
If you like your single malt Scotch whiskies on the nuttier side of life, they Aberfeldy 12 Year Old is likely for you. It’s distilled in the Highlands, and is known for its nougat-like, cereal-led palate. You’ll find subtle oak influences in there too, along with custard notes, and a hint of smoke. Multifaceted and marvellously tasty.
Right here we’ve got a celebration of a cask’s influence on whisky. And there’s a triple-whammy here, to be precise! This Auchentoshan expression has been matured in ex- Pedro Ximénez sherry, ex-bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry casks, and it’s a fruity fiesta indeed. There are chocolate notes too, along with gentle fruit spices. Delicious!
There we go! Ten tasty single malt Scotch whiskies to add to your drinks cabinet now. Cheers!
Updated 29th June 2020