If you’re looking for a good drink, I recommend starting with the best single malt scotch whiskies.
They have far more flavor than options like vodka, while also doing best in small glasses far apart from meals. Some spirits are best with food, and I appreciate having a drink that’s good the rest of the time.
Below, we’re going to look at some of the best single malt scotch whiskies currently on the market.
I’m evaluating these mainly by quality, so the price is only a minor factor. That said, great drinks tend to be more expensive, so few of these are cheap choices.
Remember, serving drinks well is key to enjoying them. For scotch, I suggest having your first sip or two with no changes, then adding a little water to taste, and serving in a tulip-shaped glass.
Avoid refrigerating it, as that will negatively affect your drink’s flavor. Single malt scotch is always better at room temperature.
Check out our favorite single malt Scotch bottles below for a high quality drink.
Aberlour 16 Year Old
Aberlour’s 16-year-old whiskies are well aged and double-casked for a little added flavor – this is a fruity and floral option, with a flavor that lingers on the tongue longer than many other whiskies I’ve tried.
It’s a little on the delicate side, but I don’t find that to be a bad thing for scotch.
Expect a nose of hazelnut and sugar cookies, with a bit of toffee for good measure.
Smelling whisky before drinking is part of the experience, so make sure you don’t skip that step.
These bottles commonly retail around $90, which is a fair price for the volume and quality.
Glenmorangie is more creative than many other whisky manufacturers, and few of their products are more creative than the Signet bottles.
It has a distinctive mocha flavor, coming from a chocolate malt base they make annually.
It ages in bourbon, sherry, and charred oak casks, with some of the oldest whisky in stock serving as the base.
I enjoy creative and unusual flavors, so these bottles are particularly close to my heart. Because I keep three of them in one of the closest spots on my main shelf.
Signet is a scotch whisky worth trying and do so at a time when you can focus and enjoy its full potential.
Lagavulin 16 Year Old
Lagavulin is one of the older distilleries in Scotland, with its location on Islay providing a distinctive kick to each of its bottles.
There’s peat on land and in the water that comes to the distillery, which helps create the intensely smoky flavor that distinguishes these bottles.
The 16-year-old bottles are rich and dry, with a bolder flavor than many other options on this list.
Some people may find it to be too bold, so this is a case where a little bit of purified room-temperature water may be better than drinking it neat.
Highland Park has an excellent selection of single malt scotch, though I recommend people start with their Viking Honour 12 Year Old line.
Matured in sherry casks, this bottle offers a spicy and rousing flavor that mixes with fruit and honey notes.
Unlike most whiskies, this bottle also goes quite well with dinner.
For extra fun, consider trying this drink with sushi and wasabi.
That may not be the first thought for a pairing with whisky, but Japan likes these drinks, too, and the pairing is quite effective.
The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
The Glenlivet makes some excellent lighter whiskies. Their 12-year-old bottle has a lighter color and a friendly, summer-like smell.
It also has a strong pineapple taste, which I haven’t seen in too many whiskies.
If you’re unfamiliar with scotch, this is an excellent place to start drinking.
Don’t expect too much smoke or peat flavor in this bottle. Whether that’s good or not is subjective.
I enjoy drinks either way, but strong flavors can drown out everything else, so I appreciate having variety with this bottle.
Try spelling this one three times fast. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail is a company favorite, full of scents that bring Christmas to mind.
The initial taste is a burst of sweetness, which quickly passes for a lingering smoky tone with some hints of chocolate.
The deeper and denser flavors of Uigeadail may be tough for people who aren’t used to whisky, so this isn’t a good place to start if you’ve never had scotch before.
That said, it’s excellent on a winter day in front of a fireplace, and I heartily recommend it if you want to relax.
The GlenDronach Original
GlenDronach’s Original is a scotch aged twelve years in Spanish casks, some of which depart from the regular sherry casks to provide new flavors.
I always love finding new and unusual drinks, so I snatched up one of these as soon as I saw it.
The color of this bottle is a little redder than many other scotch options, and the drink tastes a little creamy.
The sherry and oak flavors are notable, but you can also expect a strong note of raisins and other fruit.
The lingering flavor is quite long, so give it time to settle and consider sipping a refresher between each bit of this whisky.
Bowmore 25 Year Old
This drink is one of the most-aged options on our list. Twelve to sixteen years is more common at most companies, but Bowmore waits an entire quarter of a century for this drink.
It’s lighter than you might expect for such a well-aged drink, with a strong taste of toffee and hazelnuts as the highlight on your tongue.
The smokiness is mild here, so this is a newcomer-friendly choice.
The finishing flavor is quite mellow and gentle, too, so you don’t need to do much to cleanse your palate to keep enjoying it.
Like every company I recommend, Oban has an excellent lineup, and it’s hard to settle on just one.
That said, their 14-year-old scotch is a great place to start. It’s a full-bodied drink with a light color, plus flavors of orange peel and honey.
Those aren’t unusual in scotch, but this bottle also has a noticeable sea salt flavor that you don’t find in many other whiskies.
Salt is something most people either love or hate in a drink, so there are probably going to be more disagreements on this bottle than almost anything else on the list.
However, Oban’s been perfecting its recipes for centuries, and I think it’s worth a try if you want something a little different.
Bruichladdich is another experienced Scottish distillery, operating since 1881 on the Isle of Islay.
Their entire lineup is good, but I recommend starting with the Classic Laddie. This drink changes from year to year, so finding different bottles can lead to a much more interesting range of flavors.
The Classic Laddie tends toward stronger fruit, floral, and vanilla flavors, with lower amounts of nuts and citrus.
It’s much less smoky and spicy than many other single malt scotches, so I think it’s a good option for people who aren’t as used to those flavors.
These are small-batch drinks aged in some particularly rare casks, which gives them a distinct flavor.
These are best for experienced whisky drinkers who can notice the differences, rather than anyone trying scotch for the first time.
Balvenie also ages their drinks longer than many other distilleries, with some of their options sitting in casks for as long as forty years.
That’s considerably more than the competition and a major point in their favor if you’re looking for a high-quality drink.
The Macallan focuses more on wood than some other distilleries, which helps provide a distinctive flavor.
Like The Balvenie, The Macallan has some rare cask releases, often with 50 or fewer barrels for each release.
Their overall lineup ranges from pale gold to red, without the darker releases of some other distilleries.
Flavors trend lighter here, with strong notes of vanilla, apple, and citrus alongside chocolate and oak.
Their regular lineup is more affordable though, and a perfectly good choice if you’re looking for a high-quality drink.
Jura 10 Year Old
Age matters when you’re making whisky, and I don’t often recommend something that spends less than twelve years in a cask.
Jura’s 10-year-old is an exception, with an interesting mix of coffee, almond, ginger, and fruit in its flavor.
At 40% ABV, this is relatively light for whisky, though all scotch is significantly more alcoholic than alternatives like wine or beer.
The extra-durable bottles are a nice touch, and the touch of black pepper in its smell is an interesting and unusual variation.
Jura’s whisky is good and different from most, which makes it a winner on my shelf.