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15 Best Single Malt Scotch Whiskies Ranked (2024 Updated)

Best Single Malt Scotch 

Last Updated on March 15, 2024 by Lydia Martin

To be a true single malt Scotch, a whisky must be distilled with a mash bill of pure malted barley within a single distillery, then aged for at least three years using wooden oak casks. 

The good thing about making whisky to a Scottish standard is that distillers are allowed to explore and follow their preferred number of distillations and type of finishing casks. 

Here we’ll break down the best single malt Scotch whiskies that you shouldn’t miss.  

Top 15 Single Malt Scotch Whiskies You Shouldn’t Miss 

15. Lagavulin 16 Year Old 

Bottle of Lagavulin 16 Year Old 

Average Price: approx. $30/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: If the price doesn’t matter, try Lagavulin 16, which gives a bourbon feel (from the aging in ex-bourbon barrels) but is further enhanced by the notes of black tea, spice, smoke, and softwood (from the aging in sherry cask). 

Overall, this single malt whisky is an excellent sipper (better neat). Despite the peaty character, it’s smooth– perfect for unwinding beside the fire. 

14. Aberlour 16 Year Old 

Close Up Bottle of Aberlour 16 Year Old 

Average Price: approx. $70/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV

Why We Like It: Quite an underrated Scotch whisky is Aberlour 16-Year-Old, which provides dominating flavors of oak, spice, and caramel.

This whisky is aged in bourbon and sherry casks combined for 16 years. 

The hints of vanilla from bourbon barrels, plus the fruit and spices from the sherry cask, create an explosive flavor profile. 

In short, it mixes the best bourbon flavors and sherry cask maturation, providing a range of spices and justifying its price.  

13. Craigellachie 13 Year Old

Craigellachie 13 Year Old Bottle with Canister and a Glass on Table

Average Price: approx. $50/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: Often described by whisky drinkers as “the bad boy of Speyside,” [1] we got curious about Craigellachie, so we tried their 13-year-old single malt whisky. 

The result? Due to the aging process, it gives an interesting blend of tasting notes using French brandy barrels, sherry, and ex-bourbon casks. 

If you’ve tried the Balvenie Carribean Cask, which is also aged in rum casks, there are similarities in their flavors.    

12. The GlenDronach Original

Bottle of The GlenDronach Original

Average Price: approx. $39/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: Unlike other single malt Scotches, Glendronach Original is packed with rich flavors. 

The secret to its excellent profile is aging in Oloroso sherry casks and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. 

This single malt is complex for beginners, but it delivers a good experience, which is already present at the first sip. 

The explosive flavors of baking spices, orange peel, dark chocolate, and raisins are worth the sip.  

11. Auchentoshan American Oak 

Close Up Shot of Auchentoshan American Oak 

Average Price: approx. $21/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Initially matured in first-fill bourbon casks, this vanilla and fruity dram taste great in cocktails.

Its character is comparable to bourbon, actually, but a bit more fruity.  

There’s lemon zest and grassy notes in this Scotch whisky. It’s good as a sipper, but we prefer it as a mixer for cocktails, particularly Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, and Boulevardier.   

10. The Glenrothes 18-Year-Old Speyside Single Malt

Bottle of The Glenrothes 18-Year-Old Speyside Single Malt on Top of Wooden Barrel

Average Price: approx. $170/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: As one of the single malts aged for more than the average, its Glenrothes are complex and deep. 

This 18-year-old single malt is one of the age statement bottles of the brand (with 10, 12, 15, and 25-year-olds). 

Despite the complexity, it’s a good pour that’s smooth and unique.

We noticed new flavors on the palate, like a very small hint of toasted nuts and somewhat buttery caramel. 

This is an interesting one – a must-try, but make sure you have the budget.  

9. Bowmore 30-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch

Man Holding Bottle of Bowmore 30-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch

Average Price: approx. $2,500/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 45.3% ABV 

Why We Like It: Bowmore is one of the best single malts from Islay [2], which uses both bourbon and sherry cask when aging. 

There’s an orange zest and baked apple hint, but it’s more wood and smoke.  

Luckily, we got to try this whisky, though we didn’t expect much. 

Surprisingly, it’s well worth the try and money for its delicious tasting notes, balanced flavor, and smooth finish. 

8. The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old 

The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old Bottle on Top of Wooden Barrel

Average Price: approx. $30/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Glenlivet 12 is a classic whisky initially matured in European oak casks and then finished in American oak barrels. Besides, it’s approachable and affordable, too. 

As expected, the vanilla notes, balanced by the floral notes on the palate, complement the vibrant and tropical fruit notes on the nose. 

This single malt is more on the sweet side with a creamy and smooth finish. 

7. Highland Park 18 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Highland Park 18 Single Malt Scotch Whisky Bottle with Box and Glasses

Average Price: approx. $165/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: Among the Scotch whiskies from this line, we specifically like the Highland Park 18, a single malt Scotch whisky that exudes luxury, smoothness, and well-rounded flavors. 

We like the flavor combo of toffee, apple, honey, and wood overall.

But the finish is the real highlight of this experience– smooth and long-lasting with smoke and espresso notes. 

Quick Fact: Highland Park 18-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky won the Double Gold Medal from the 2017 San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition. 

6. The Dalmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Bottle and a Box of The Dalmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Average Price: approx. $80 to over $100,000 (depending on the expression)

Alcohol Content: 40-47% ABV 

Why We Like It: Dalmore Highland’s single malt Scotch whiskies, particularly the Sherry and Portwood Select, are excellent. 

“If The Dalmore was a Rolls-Royce, the Decades No. 6 Collection is a golden Rolls-Royce.”

— Richard Paterson, Master distiller 

Using ex-sherry casks, which age natural wine expressions, imparts the savory tasting notes of Dalmore whiskies. 

Actually, they offer the Ultra-Luxury Collection [3], including the Decades No. 6 Collection, but of course, it carries an expensive price tag.

5. Ardbeg Uigeadail 

Bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail and a Glasses

Average Price: approx. $60/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 54.2% ABV 

Why We Like It: Best peated whisky, anyone? We highly recommend Ardbeg Uigeadail. This peated whisky is one best Scotch whiskies out there. 

Brown sugar, dried fruit, coffee pods, smoke, and sea salt comprise the profile. 

The burning peat of Ardbeg that stopped the malting process of barley, and infused the grain with smoke, creates a strong peat flavor, which surely satisfies drinkers who like challenging and complex spirits.  

4. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

Close Up Shot of Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

Average Price: approx. $50/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV 

Why We Like It: Bruichladdich, from the Islay distillery, is one the known brands to produce smoky whisky expressions, which is the signature of the Islay region. 

Despite the smoky flavor, we like this single malt for its citrus and sweet notes of honey and vanilla. 

It’s a non-age statement whisky, though; it tastes mature but is definitely a good sipper.    

3. The Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old

The Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old Bottle with Box and a Glass

Average Price: approx. $140/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: This Quinta Ruban 14-Year-Old whisky is from Glenmorangie, embodying the distillery’s character: vintage, sophisticated, and quality. 

Actually, Glenmorangie is one of the few distilleries using “designer” casks to age whiskies, so it’s an edge, providing a distinctive and luxurious sipping experience. 

Luckily, we’re able to try one of their expressions, and this 14-year-old Quinta Ruban is one of the best single malts we’ve tried. 

2. Laphroaig 10-Year-Old

Laphroaig 10-Year-Old on a Top of Wooden Barrel

Average Price: approx. $50/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: If you don’t mind herbal notes, then Laphroaig 10-Year-Old’s tasting notes will leave you wanting more sips.

The hint of sweetness complements the medicinal notes well. 

Though it seems light, this 10-year-old single malt is a peaty whisky, with the peat and smoke dominating the overall flavor profile.

The long and fiery finish is very remarkable. 

If you want an intense experience, we suggest you try this Laproaig 10-year-old and feel it yourself.  

1. Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker 10 Year Old Bottle and a Box

Average Price: approx. $75/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.8% ABV 

Why We Like It: Honestly, we’re surprised with this whisky. We don’t expect much about this Talisker 10-year-old (since we’re not a fan of this brand), but it delivers a great sipping experience.

It’s a classic malt whisky; we like the right intensity of spice and peat.

The malt flavors dominate the overall profile, much like from a single-grain whisky, which is the edge of this spirit. 

It has the right proof (not low, but not too high), and the body, richness, smokiness, and sweetness are excellently balanced. But no wonder it’s from Diageo.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is single-malt Scotch whisky a good investment?

Yes. Single-malt Scotch whisky is a good investment. Some rare bottles sell for more or less hundreds of dollars each, like the Macallan Fine and Rare 1926 and Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection. 

Which is smoother, single malt or blended Scotch whisky?

Blended Scotches are smoother and lighter than single malts.

Some blended malt expression made from the combination of grains and spirits creates a lighter and softer feel to the palate, unlike pure single malt expressions that can be too complex and intense. 

What is the best age for single-malt Scotch?

The best age for single-malt Scotches is between 5 to 10 years old.

During those periods, the spirit absorbed the flavors from the cask, creating a smooth and balanced whisky.  

How do you drink a single malt scotch?

You can drink single malt Scotch, usually with spring water or over ice [4]. But still, it depends on your style and preference. 

What is the best single malt Scotch whiskey?

Determining the “best” single malt Scotch whiskey is subjective and highly dependent on individual taste preferences. Scotch whiskey aficionados often consider factors such as flavor profile, age, distillery reputation, and personal preferences when selecting the best single malt.
Some iconic options frequently mentioned among connoisseurs include Macallan, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Highland Park, known for their distinct characteristics ranging from rich sherry notes to peaty smokiness.

What is the best single malt scotch for the money?

Finding the best value single malt Scotch involves balancing quality with affordability.

Several options offer excellent quality at reasonable prices. Brands like Glenlivet 12 Year Old, Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, and Aberlour 12 Year Old often receive praise for providing good value with their balanced flavors and smooth finishes.

Additionally, expressions from distilleries such as Glenmorangie, Talisker, and Laphroaig offer a range of affordable yet flavorful single malts appreciated by both novices and seasoned drinkers alike.

Which single malt whisky is smoothest?

Smoothness in single malt whisky can be attributed to various factors, including aging, distillation techniques, and flavor profile.

Whiskies with smooth textures typically have well-integrated flavors and a soft finish that lacks harshness or excessive alcohol burn.

Options like Glenmorangie 10 Year Old, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old, and Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old are often lauded for their smooth and approachable profiles, appealing to those seeking a gentle introduction to the world of single malts.

What is the smoothest Scotch?

Similar to single malt whiskies, the smoothest Scotch is subjective and can vary based on personal taste preferences. Smoothness in Scotch often correlates with factors such as aging, blending techniques, and the presence of certain flavor profiles.

Some blended Scotch whiskies renowned for their smooth character include Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, and Dewar’s 18 Year Old.

These blends typically offer a harmonious balance of flavors and a velvety texture that glides effortlessly across the palate.

Is Chivas a single malt scotch?

No, Chivas Regal is not a single malt Scotch but rather a blended Scotch whisky. Blended Scotch whiskies like Chivas Regal are crafted by blending malt whisky from multiple distilleries with grain whisky.

Chivas Regal, known for its smooth and rich profile, combines various malt and grain whiskies to achieve its distinctive flavor profile.

While Chivas Regal does not qualify as a single malt Scotch, it remains a popular choice among whisky enthusiasts worldwide for its complexity and approachability.

Final Thoughts for Best Single Malt Scotch

Overall, the best single malt Scotch is the Talisker 10-Year-Old. It has the right smokiness, and sweetness, along the rich body. 

The proof is just right, with no strange flavors from the nose to the finish.

The price is higher than the standard range, but considering the overall character and profile, this is a great bottle to splurge on.    


  1. This Bad Boy Whisky Just Got a Whole Lot Badder
  2. Bowmore’s Latest Whiskey Release Is a Collector-Worthy 30-Year-Old Single Malt
  3. Here’s how you can take home the ultra-rare The Dalmore Decades No 6. Collection
  4. How to drink Malt whisky
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