Single Malt Scotch Whiskies You’ll Love
Scotch drinkers like to keep things simple. Sure, you can make a fantastic whiskey cocktail, but most aficionados want to enjoy the smoky flavor unadorned — except perhaps for ice, water or a splash of soda. Instead of looking for the best mixers, connoisseurs are trying to find the top distilleries in Scottish towns from the Highlands to the Lowlands that produce the best single malt scotch.
Whether they’re from Islay, Aberdeenshire or Speyside, the brands featured on GAYOT’s Best Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are sure to provide a sublime sipping experience.
Craving a blended scotch whisky? You’ll love this list of the Best Blended Scotch Whiskies for a simpler and less expensive way to enjoy this supreme spirit.
Aberlour A’Bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Taking its name from the Gaelic word for “the original,” A’Bunadh celebrates Aberlour’s founder, James Fleming, a steadfast believer in traditional distillation methods.
The old-school production makes for a heavier, creamier style. Aged in Oloroso sherry casks from Spain, this Scotch offers a rich spiciness with notes of orange, cocoa and oak. This bold bottling is batch-limited and cask strength.
AnCnoc Cutter Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Oily and ashy, sweet and spicy, this limited edition Scotch is heavily peated, unlike AnCnoc’s standard offerings.
Using drier peat that burns more easily, AnCnoc Cutter offers a medium-heavy smokiness with a phenol content of 20.5 parts per million. The name “Cutter” (a hand tool used to harvest peat from shallow bogs) hints at the Scotch’s smoky nose and flavor. The smoke is balanced by light, fruity flavors of ripe peach and citrus, as well as vanilla and spice. The peaty profile continues into the finish, but Cutter never loses its gentle sweetness.
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Founded in 1892, The Balvenie was one of the first distilleries to introduce various wood finishes to its malts.
Their aptly named DoubleWood is a 12-year-old single malt that spends most of its life in second-fill bourbon barrels prior to being transferred to first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. There are three levels of flavor in this single malt. The original Balvenie imparts heather, honey and clean barley flavors. The bourbon barrel adds vanilla and a sort of cookie-like taste, as well as marshmallow, caramel and toast. The Oloroso sherry cask’s influence is expressed via peach, marzipan, clover, a bit of honey and prunes.
Bowmore 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the most storied distilleries in Scotland, Bowmore has created yet another memorable malt.
The elegant, salty smokiness marries with the peat on the nose to draw you in. On the palate, a ripe lemon zest accompanied by a touch of pecan and hazelnut is followed closely by rich cocoa and orange. A distinguished finish lingers, leaving a sherry-infused chocolate crème brûlée essence with a stream of peaty smoke. Single malts like this exemplify the subtle artistry of the distiller.
Bunnahabhain 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The 25 Year Old is another delicious offering from Bunnahabhain.
Aromas of dried fig, fruitcake, toffee and date make for an intoxicating nose. Along with its naturally darker amber hue, this non-chill-filtered offering is remarkably balanced, showing little of its heat from the 46.3 percent alcohol by volume. It boasts flavors of almond paste and flan, along with some chocolate-covered orange peel and ginger spice. A spectacular combination of lighter Islay peat and subtle smoke is rounded out by a gentle sherry finish.
The Glenlivet Nadurra Peated Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Glenlivet peated? Yes. Nàdurra Peated is the first of its kind in over a century for the The Glenlivet collection.
The whisky takes its cues from founder George Smith’s original method, using peat to dry the malted barley. This old-school process inspired the distillers to call the special offering Nàdurra, meaning “natural” in Gaelic. The Scotch is non-chill-filtered and bottled at cask strength; the barrels themselves previously held strongly peated whisky. The smoke is subtle, and marries citrus with vanilla while still recalling The Glenlivet traditional notes.
Jura 30 Year Old Camas an Staca Single Malt Scotch Whisky
This bottling is an ode to the Isle of Jura’s largest standing stone, Camas an Staca.
The spirit is first aged in American white oak casks, then spends the last three years in Gonzalez Byass Oloroso sherry butts, which add an immense concentration of flavors and aromas. A sensory collage of orange sherry and dark berry jam on the nose leads to a surprising display of vanilla topped by floral, citrus, chocolate and spice notes forming a uniquely seductive bouquet.
The Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Macallan brand is synonymous with top-tier single malt Scotch, and the unsung hero of the distillery’s portfolio is its Cask Strength.
This malt hails from the Easter Elchies House of Macallan overlooking the River Spey. Like The Macallan 18-Year-Old, the Cask Strength has a sherried finish that makes it bright, rich and accessible. This offering explodes with caramel, brown sugar, toffee and vanilla flavors so complex and intertwined that it drinks like a dessert.
Old Pulteney Navigator Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Price: $50 for 750 ml.
The Navigator celebrates Old Pulteney’s historic ties to the high seas.
Located in the remote northern town of Wick, Old Pulteney was only accessible by boat when it was founded in 1826. The seaside locale tends to imbue the whiskies with a salty character, and has resulted in the whisky being dubbed the “maritime malt.” The Navigator doesn’t disappoint, offering up a briny finish. The Scotch also boasts nuanced notes of orange, apple, honey and chocolate. Aging in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks ensures further complexity. The Navigator was released in 2013 to commemorate the distillery’s participation in the prestigious Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Speyburn Arranta Casks Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Many Scotches look to the Gaelic language for inspiration and Speyburn Arranta Casks shares this proclivity, taking its name from a word that means “intrepid and daring.”
Speyburn hails from Speyside, a region known for its sweeter, almost delicate, malts. The golden hue of Speyburn Arranta Casks hints at aromas of toffee, honey and spice. Vanilla is present on the palate, along with bright citrus notes. The use of first-fill former bourbon casks creates a bold flavor profile. This limited release is for the United States market only.