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10 Best Smoky Whiskey Bottles To Drink Now (2023 Edition)

Best Smoky Whiskey 

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

The warming characteristics of smoky whiskies are just perfect for the cold months. If you enjoy sipping expressive and strong flavors, then you need to opt for smoky whisky.

You can enjoy a wide range of styles– from light to crisp to intense and heavy. If you’re not a peated whisky fan, you may haven’t tried the right one yet. 

So here are the best smoky whisky bottles and our longstanding favorites that will keep you coming back for more.   

Top 10 Smoky Whiskies To Try 

10. Ardbeg Uigeadail

A Hand Holding Bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail Bottle

Average Price: roughly $83/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 54.2% ABV 

Why We Like It: Ardbed Uigeadail, one of the Islay whiskies, is a heavily peated whisky.

The extreme smoky flavor, which Islay Distillery is known for, is evident in this spirit. 

There is dried fruit and smoky notes with a bit of sweetness, which results from aging in Sherry butts. 

For whisky drinkers looking for a challenging sip, Ardbeg Uigeadail surely fits the standard.

This is a much more desirable expression if you’ve tried the Compass Box Peat Monster.    

9. Stauning Smoke

Stauning Smoke Bottle and a Glasses

Average Price: roughly $100/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV 

Why We Like It: This is a lightly peated whisky. This peated single malt uses locally-sourced ingredients, which results in a soft, sweet, and refined smoky flavor. 

This isn’t your typical spirit from the Speyside region of Islay Island; this is a Danish whisky that boasts smoke of the contemporary style– a great example of a thoroughbred terroir whisky. 

8. Mackmyra Svensk Rök

man holding Mackmyra Svensk Rök Bottle

Average Price: roughly $69/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46.1% ABV 

Why We Like It: This Swedish single malt conveys that impressive smoky whisky isn’t just from Scotland.

The peat used in this expression is burnt, along with the local juniper twigs, creating a herbal and peaty smokiness. 

The style of their malting process makes Mackmyra Svensk Rok an interesting whisky, especially for those looking for a bit quirky and unique expression to add to their liquor shelf.  

7. Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve

Man Drinking Hakushu Distiller's Reserve

Average Price: roughly $89/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV

Why We Like It: Honestly, we didn’t expect to find one of the excellent peated whiskies from a Japanese brand.

But this Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve is unique, which turns out to be one of the Hibiki Blends from the House of Suntory [1]. 

The herbal and peat smoke flavors bring out sophistication, and its luxurious refinement makes it an impressive spirit. 

If you’re looking for a temporary shift beyond the peated spirit from the Scottish Island, we bet on this one. However, be ready for its price.    

6. Ardmore Legacy

Ardmore Legacy Bottle and a glasses on top of wooden barrel

Average Price: roughly $35/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: The distillery located in the east Highland of Scotland, at the highest point of an intermedia line between Inverness and Aberdeen, is known as Ardmore. 

This is your unusual single malt Scotch whisky, and we use this to make the famous Teacher’s Blend experience the “delicate smoke” goodness.

Ardmore Legacy, which uses local peat that gives the soft and sweet smoky notes, is a great bargain for its price point.  

5. Sabertooth “Smoky” Rye Whisky

Sabertooth "Smoky" Rye Whisky Bottle and Glass

Average Price: roughly $25/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Why We Like It: This Canadian whisky surely fits anyone’s preference, especially for those looking for smoky whisky with the spice of rye. 

Crafted from 100% Canadian rye and aged using next-generation aging techniques, this whisky provides an outstanding smoky profile. 

The classic flavors of the Canadian Rye, mixed with the peat-like smoke, give a smooth finish with hints of butterscotch.    

4. Benriach The Smoky Twelve Whisky

Benriach The Smoky Twelve Whisky Bottle on a box

Average Price: roughly $64.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV

Why We Like It: This Benriach Smoky Twelve is a nice blend of fruit, malted barley, and oak, made from a combo of unpeated and peated malt and different casks matured in ex-sherry casks, bourbon barrels, and Marsala wine casks. 

“Longer maturation brings more aromatic layers to our distinctive smoky style. For me it’s baked orange in a wonderful cake, fired over an open fire, with dark chocolate flavour.”

— Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

The resulting blend is creamy and smooth, with notes of sweet and spicy fruit and peat oak spice.

We like the rich smoke level, enhanced further by the orange-smoked finish. 

3. Langs Full & Smoky Blended Scotch 

Langs Full & Smoky Blended Scotch Bottle with cocktail drink and jigger

Average Price: roughly $15/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV

Why We Like It: In a sniff, you won’t think this is a bold, smoky whisky as it starts with a flowery and mild smoke on the nose. 

But as soon it develops in your tongue, you’ll get the heather and peat flavors that are bold and deep.

This will surely surprise you, especially if you’re not accustomed to heavy peat flavors.

Imagine it blends the Highland Park and Islay peat, so what can you expect from its character? — a real smoky whisky, indeed.   

2. Caol Ila 12 Years Old

Man Holding Caol Ila 12 Year Scotch Bottle copy

Average Price: roughly $84/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: Another great whisky from the Scottish Island of Islay is this Caol Ila 12.   

We like how this single malt gives the malty and ashy notes of cookie oats, combined with an earthy flavor, bonfire embers, and honey notes. (We prefer this over Port Charlotte.)

This is simply fabulous yet underrated. Actually, this is one best smoky whiskies we’ve ever tried.   

1. The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Scotch Whisky

The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Scotch Whisky Bottle on a table

Average Price: roughly $29/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Why We Like It: Our top favorite is this Smoky Black from The Famous Grouse, which is expertly blended to create a savory, sweet, yet smoky whisky. 

Aromatic. Peaty. Smooth. That’s three words to describe this spirit. The finish is long-lasting with sweet and smoky notes.     

If you want a really complex blend, this is it. But it’s very approachable, though. So beginners to these whiskies won’t be “that much” intimidated. 

Note: Other must-try whiskies that didn’t get on the list include:

  • Compass Box Peat Monster
  • Port Charlotte 10 Years Old
  • Laphroaig Lore 
  • Laphroaig 10 Years Old Sherry Cask Islay Malt 
  • Johnnie Walker Double Black
  • Teeling Blackpitts

What’s A Smoky Whisky?

A whisky that’s “smoky” is anything combustible. The main ingredient that makes a whisky smoky is “peat.”

After drying the malted barley with peat, the grains are laid on a mesh floor with a fire underneath.

As the smoke rises, it kills the grains and creates compounds locked into the barley, such as phenol, that we smell and taste in whisky. 

Is Peated Whisky Smoky?

Peated whisky is smoky due to the compound released by peat fires used to dry the barley. 

How long a spirit is exposed to peat smoke, and the characteristic of peat determines its flavor strength. 

Islay distillery, Highland Park distillery, and Speyside distillery are known to produce peat whiskies, usually matured in Sherry butts [2]. 

What’s the Difference Between Peaty & Smoky Whisky?

The difference between smoky and peaty whisky is their characteristics. 

Just an overview, peat is a fossil fuel [3]. It is made up of decayed organic matter, which burns well and is used to dry grains. Coming from the ground, peaty is more soil-like, with grassy and earthy tones.

Smoky whisky [4], on the other hand, gives a bonfire-like smoke– very ashy and thick. Also, it has a slight drying quality.  

Are There Smoky Whiskies Other Than Scotch?

Yes, there are other smoky whiskies other than Scotch. This include: 

  • Japan – Hakushu Distillery produces smoky malts like the Hukushu Distiller’s Reserve.
  • Ireland – Irish whiskeys like Redbreast Pure Pot Still and Connemara Cask Strength Peated are samples of refined smoked whiskeys.

FAQs 

Are all Scotch whiskies smoky?

No. Scotch whiskies aren’t all smoky. The lowland and Speyside whiskies are quite gentle and have little to no smoke in their flavor or nose. 

What’s the best smoky whisky for beginners?

The best smoky whiskey for beginners is The Famous Grouse Smoky Black due to its very approachable character. Second to that is the Stauning Smoke, a Danish lightly peated expression. 

In Summary

Not all the best smoky whiskies are found in Scotland– there are Canada, Denmark, and Japan. 

If you’re looking for a challenging sipper or a great mix for cocktails, this list will be useful. 

These spirits aren’t just good bottles to sit on your shelf but excellent expressions to enjoy, regardless of the occasion. 

References:

  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-house-of-suntory-introduces-hibiki-blossom-harmony-a-limited-edition-blended-whisky-and-hibiki-30-year-old-in-the-us-301640304.html 
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/sherry 
  3. https://www.britannica.com/technology/peat
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/scotch-whisky
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