To earn the name, scotch whiskeys have to meet some strict criteria. For one, the spirit must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Furthermore, it needs a bottling strength of at least 40% alcohol by volume. Most importantly, the entire process, from distillation to bottling, must take place in Scotland. If a bottle has met these requirements, you know you’ve got a fine product on your hands. That said, “fine” doesn’t really do justice to the following five scotch whiskeys.
Here are the best Scottish whiskies made in Scotland
This spirit shares its name with a breathtaking Islay beach, locally known as “the Singing Sands.” Traigh Bhan is made in small batches and aged for nineteen years, making bottles of exceptional quality and rarity. To boot, each batch stands out from the last. Arberg touts their latest creation—their third batch to date—as a spicy, yet balanced dram, with prevalent notes of cayenne pepper, lime, and walnut. Whether you’re a collector, or simply in the market for excellent scotch, you can’t go wrong with Traigh Bhan.
Hailing from the Highlands, and named after the town it’s distilled in, Oban is a classic for good reason. A bottle of this fourteen-year-old concoction is an odyssey for the senses. The nose is smoky, with a hint of seaside brine. As for the flavor, it begins fruity—reminiscent of dried figs and citrus—before transforming into a blend of peat, malt, and smoke. A hint of salt caps off the experience, leaving you thirsty for more. Sounds like total bliss, doesn’t it? Well, that bliss can be yours with the purchase of a bottle.
As the name suggests, this single malt scotch is made a little differently. Rather than being aged in a single cask, the spirit has stints in multiple barrels made from four different breeds of oak. This includes American oak – a wood rarely used in scotch whiskey production. This process imbues the final product with notes of stewed fruit and toasted vanilla. Couple these with the smoky, medicinal undertones that characterize Laphroaig products, and you’ve got a wonderfully complex dram on your hands.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a scotch veteran, Monkey Shoulder is a must. Since its debut, this blended malt whiskey has earned a slew of accolades, and become a favorite of industry professionals across the world. Its fruity aroma and smooth taste make it a delightful drink to enjoy neat. That said, where it truly shines is in whiskey cocktails. If you have a favorite, toss in some Monkey Shoulder and taste the difference. And if you don’t, Monkey Shoulder’s website has a host of recipes to choose from.
The Glenlivet site bills this beverage as “indulgence in liquid form.” Between its bright golden hue and summery aroma, we’re inclined to agree. Distillation involves ageing the spirit in old oak barrels for, you guessed it, a dozen years. The resulting dram is well-balanced, with strong notes of pineapple and a creamy finish. To make the most of your bottle, pair it with seared scallops, or simply take it neat. Either way, you’re in for a treat.