Best Scotch to Drink in 2023

Best Scotch to Drink in 2023

It doesn’t matter if you’re an old Scotch hound or a total novice; there’s always something new to discover and learn.
 
Scotch continues to find new audiences, and whether you already know your Speysides from your Islays or still find Scotch an acquired taste you’ve yet to actually acquire, we’re here to introduce you to our best-rated bottle-by-bottle guide that put Scotland on the lips of the great, the good and the grand all around the world. So grab your quaich and drink to the good stuff.
 

Best Scotch under $50

With 50 bucks to spend, you should be able to buy yourself a nice Scotch. To help you with the decision, we've compiled a list of the best reasonably-priced Scotch Whiskies under $50, according to the Flaviar community.
 

 

The Glenrothes 12 Year Old

The Glenrothes 12YO expression is a nod to the process of sun-drying grapes in Jerez for Sherry production, so it's no surprise this bottle is all about Sherry richness. The banana and vanilla aromas working together with rich flavors of lemon and cinnamon are the epitome of the Glenrothes distillery style, and it shows the true character of its makers. 

The Glenrothes 12 Year Old

“First time I have tasted Glenrothes. Vanilla, melon, and cinnamon. I usually sip Chevas 12 0r 18-year-old single malt. In their order, the cinnamon, then melon, and finally a very light hint of vanilla. I am sold. I have a new sipper in the house. I am a new Glenrothes fan.”  - Ron
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH UNDER $50:
Aberlour 12 Year Old
• Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend
• BenRiach 10 Year Old
• Arran 10 Year Old Whisky

 

Best Scotch under $100

In case you want to broadcast your allegiance to excellence, these Scotch bottles all stay on the friendlier side of 100 bucks.



And with a $100 budget, the Scotch Whiskyworld opens up widely for you to explore. Most of the blended Whiskies and many (many!) exceptional Single Malts will be in this price range.
 

Caol Ila 12 Year Old 

Caol Ila 12 Year Old is a malt that takes you back to the coastal shores from where it comes. This is a smoky and sweet expression hailing from Islay, a classic combination that Caol Ila 12 nails perfectly. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just like every other smoked Islay malt. The Caol Ila 12 Year Old has a lot more to offer than just peat.

Caol Ila 12 Year Old

“This is my favorite Islay whiskey. The peat and smoke are there, but it is complex and rewarding with citrus, vanilla, and spice. Delicious!”  - Matthew


 
Try before you buy. All Peatheads and soon-to-be Peatheads can try Caol Ila 12 Year Old in this peat-themed Tasting Box. Only good Spirits are captured inside, plus a concrete coaster and some useful info.
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH UNDER $100:
• The Balvenie The Week of Peat 14 Year Old 
• Lagavulin Distillers Edition 
• Ardbeg Uigeadail 
• Mortlach 12 Year Old "The Wee Witchie"

 

Discover Unique Scotch

One of the best reasons to be a Flaviarista is access to Spirits that are made only for Members – and sometimes by Members. Meet Flaviar’s private bottlings.
 

Son of a Peat Batch 03 The Redeemer

The Smoky Redemption Is Here: Behold, Son of a Peat Batch 03!
 
The twelve Whiskies in this blend come from Islay, Speyside, the Islands, and the Highlands. They were aged in hogsheads, Sherry butt casks, and ex-Bourbon barrels for up to 20 years.
Son of a Peat Batch 03 The Redeemer

If your bucket list has “forget smoothness as a defining quality of great Whisky,” cross it out now. Son of a Peat Batch 03 comes with big guns ablaze and a desire to punch you (in a good way).

Cask strength, peaty as hell, and no-nonsense character. It's as authentic as they come. No fake-ass color; it’s non-chill-filtered, hand-blended, hand-bottled, hand-sealed, and hand-labeled. 

Not only is Member's favorite, but it also won a Gold medal at San Francisco World Spirit Competition 2021. 
 
“I love anything peat, and this being non-chill and natural color really makes it that much better. It really is a blend of all the peated expression from islay, the islands, and peat from the mainlands. So glad I bought 4 bottles to make up for missing out on the first 2 batches.” - Michael
 
MORE RARE BOTTLES: The holy mission of Flaviar has always been finding you something new to try. Our scope is beyond the already existing Spirits, so we create new offerings.

Dear, Bear & Moose range is absolutely adored and top rated by Flaviar members. These are members’ only very limited and special Whiskies that we source and bottle in very small batches in order to make great, inaccessible Scotch Whisky available to our members. Learn more about private bottlings from different categories with a story to tell.
 

Best Single Malt Scotch 

Single Malt is one of the most talked-about categories of Scotch Whisky. And although Single Malts make up just a small percentage of the entire Whisky market, they've managed to achieve something of a cult status over the past few decades.
 

Highland Park Viking Pride 18 Year Old

Perhaps the most famous Whisky connoisseur of all time — journalist Michael James Jackson — called Highland Park, “The greatest all-rounder in the world of Malt Whisky.” 
 
Named  “the Best Spirit in the World” not once, but twice by Michael James Jackson Highland Park Viking Pride 18 Year Old has a big name to live up to, and it certainly does just that. The secret of its success is attention to detail, where even the exact location of the peat used to dry the malt is specified, not to mention the origin of the ex-Sherry casks which are used to age for this bottled perfection. 

This eighteen-year-old Single Malt will delight the taster with a floral and complex nose with cherry juice, warm toffee, and peat smoke. On the tongue, a creamy texture opens to a variety of flavors, from deep stewed fruits, espresso, citrus zest, toffee, and a delicate spice blend. The finish is long and rounds everything nicely with herbal and sweet notes and a hint of peat.
 
Highland Park Viking Pride 18 Year Old

“For those desperately trying to enjoy Lagavulin (because it’s the best!) but can’t get through the smoke and the power, this is the glorious solution. Layers of character that feature Islay-like peat smoke but also some sweet, delicate notes. Like Iron Mike Tyson with his quiet voice. A first time drinker won’t have the experience to fully appreciate what has been accomplished here, but who cares?! It’s an absolute pleasure.” - Cesar

OTHER BEST SINGLE MALT SCOTCH:
• Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength 
• The Glenlivet 18 Year Old 
• Glen Scotia 15 Year Old 
• The Macallan Edition No. 6

Best Blended Scotch

Blended Whiskies make for 95% of Whisky sales but are often overlooked. There are great blend brands around & making them is more challenging than you'd think.

Every good home bar needs a good blend. This can be used in countless cocktails or enjoyed neat, depending on how creative you feel. Blends are consistent in flavor and are richly complex.
 

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Of course, the best-selling blend is the world-renowned Johnnie Walker, and it’s always good to have a popular brand at hand. 
 
Johnnie Walker Blue Label is formulated to recreate the character of the original and is regarded as one of the best blends available.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

This should come as no surprise, as only the finest Scotch Whiskies make it into the blend - only one in every ten thousand casks, to be exact. In fact, Johnnie Walker Blue Label is so top-of-the-line that insiders often refer to it by its nickname: “Max Walker.” 
 
It’s adored for its smoky character, hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and ginger flavor notes.

“This is the whisky that started it all for me. Ever since trying this one, I have been interested in learning and trying more whisk(e)y. Worth every penny!”  - Theodore
 
OTHER BEST BLENDED SCOTCH:
• Naked Malt Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
• Dewar's 18 Year Ol
Chivas Regal 18YO
Mackinlay's Shackleton Rare Old

Best Scotch By Region

There are five Whisky regions in Scotland. Islands are sometimes mentioned as the sixth region but are not officially recognized. Since they’ve been around so long, many Whisky purists regard them as important features to consider when buying any Scotch.

Let’s take a look at Flaviar member’s favorites. It will be like taking a mini trip to Scotland from behind your desk, minus those little snack packs of airline pretzels. Which is kind of a damn shame.
 
ISLAY: Lagavulin 16 Year Old
• SPEYSIDE: The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak
• HIGHLANDS: Tullibardine 500 Sherry Cask Finish
• CAMPBELLTON: Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength
• LOWLAND: Glenkinchie 12 Year Old
• ISLANDS: Talisker 10 Year Old

 

Best Scotch For Beginners

Scotch is a pretty versatile drink and caters to many tastes. When you're new to it, the Scotch world can seem like a maze with so many different brands and expressions out there. To give some direction to all Scotch newbies, here are some best-rated members’ suggestions for those looking to discover their first dram.
 

Craigellachie 13 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Besides its impossibly hard name to pronounce (Craig-el-Achy), it is a great offering from the people at Dewar’s.
 
Craigellachie is one of the last distilleries to use worm tail condensation in the distillation process. This creates longer contact on copper as the spirit condenses and makes for a cleaner spirit. It is then aged in Bourbon Barrels for 13 years to give it a warm vanilla feel.
 
For anyone who is just discovering Single Malt Whisky, this is a great next step into the realms of Speyside.

Craigellachie 13 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Modestly priced but excellent and complex, apples, a hint of smoke and a hint of tropical fruit after the first dram. Really enjoyed.”  - John
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH FOR BEGINNERS:

• Aberlour A'bunadh
Auchentoshan American Oak
Glenmorangie Tùsail Private Edition Scotch Whisky

 

Best Peated Scotch 

Peated Scotch is an acquired taste, but it’s one hell of a taste, to be honest. Peat may not be for everyone, but it’s true: once you go peat, you always go neat.
 

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg Uigeadail won a Double Gold medal at San Francisco World Spirit Competition 2017, and it was named the Whisky of The Year 2009 by Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.

The Uigeadail is named for the Loch from where Ardbeg draws its waters, and in Gaelic stands for Dark and Mysterious Place. The Uigeadail is a marriage of Ardbeg's Whisky aged in Bourbon barrels and Sherry butts. It’s bottled at cask strength for maximum flavor impact. Oo-Yeah.

Craigellachie 13 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
 
“How can this be so smooth and yet so packed with flavor? It tastes like barbecue, without the meat. Smoke and sweetness and salt. And yet it goes down so smooth, a perfect post-dinner whiskey.”  - Jackson
OTHER BEST PEATED SCOTCH:
Port Askaig 110° Proof
Compass Box The Peat Monster
Kilchoman Sanaig
Try before you buy! Before you commit to buying a full-size bottle, you can find all three bottles featured in this Peat It, Peat It! Vol.2 tasting box. If you would like to join fellow Spirits aficionados and a tasting expert in exploring the box, there’s an ongoing Flaviar series of guided tastings called Unboxing Flavors.

Scotch tasting box


Best Scotch for Cocktails

We all have friends who love to bartend and make drinks, whether they do it for a living or the amateur mixologist who is just shaking up drinks in his or her kitchen.

If you ever hear people expounding on the beauty of a Manhattan or the Sazerac, this is great Whisky for them to try their hand with to make Scotch cocktails.
 

Glenfarclas 105

Glenfarclas is one the few family-owned distilleries in Scotland and makes some of the best value Whisky on the market; there is no expression they make that we would not drink on a daily basis.
 
When it comes to making cocktails, using cask strength Whisky always makes for more exciting and more full-flavored drinks, and this offering from Glenfarclas is one of the all-time greats. It has a big full flavor of dark stone fruits and baking spices. And it was the winner of the Flaviar Community Award 2017 in its respective category! 

ardbeg uigeadail
 
“This is one of the better scotches I've had in a while, and I have a ton of high-end scotches in my collection.” - Michael
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH FOR COCKTAILS:
Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
• The GlenDronach 12 Year Old Original
• Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old
• Dewar's 12 Year Old

 

Best Scotch to Sip On 

If you want to try Scotch that not only can be mixed to make great long drinks and cocktails but which are fabulous to sip, read on.
 

The Glendronach 15 Year Old Revival

The Glendronach 15 Year old Revival celebrates the revitalization of Glendronach after it was bought by The BenRiach Distillery in 2008. This Scotch is aged 15 years exclusively in Olorosso Sherry casks, making it wonderfully raisiny, savory, and fruity. It’s a favorite among Scotch enthusiasts, sitting right in-between the 18YO and 12YO Glendronach, quite possibly the best in their whole range.

the glendronach 15 year old revival

 
“Delightful! It is full, rich, and complex with flavors that just keep coming.” - Winston
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH TO SIP ON: 
• Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest
• Glenfarclas 25 Year Old
• Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old

 

Best Scotch for Food Pairing

Voltaire once said, “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”  While drinking Scotch may not be incredibly essential to survival, it is definitely a great pleasure, and enjoying food with it makes that pleasure all the better.
 

Ballantines 17 Year Old

In 2011 it swept aside all Single Malt rivals to take the prestigious Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible Award. That's saying a lot.  It has subtle notes of smoke, with hints of bitter coffee and sweet vanilla. A slightly sugary note comes through on the palate, but the earthiness sets this malt apart.

Ballantines 17 Year Old
 
“One of my favorites!! Hands Down!!” - James
 
OTHER BEST SCOTCH FOR FOOD PAIRING:
• The Balvenie 17 Year Old Doublewood
• Oban 14 Year Old
Highland Park 12 Year Old

 

Best Scotch Experience

If you still cannot decide on your next favorite, we suggest joining a club of Spirits connoisseurs. Flaviar Members get access to the world's best Spirits, exclusive releases,  and rare gems. 
 
Flaviar Tasting box

 
 
If you want a full ride then with only $50 a year you can upgrade your subscription to PRIMO Membership and get free shipping on qualified orders, Membership discounts & pricing,  access to Flaviar Originals, free tickets to events (40 per year in 25 cities),  access to the Vault and much more! 
 
There's only one thing left to say: Sláinte!
 
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