Affordable Single Malt Scotch: Great Picks Each $50 or LessBy Stephanie Moreno
Splurging to buy a nice bottle of scotch is certainly something that we encourage for everyone. You only live once, so we heartily approve of breaking the bank now and then. But for the daily drams, it’s good to stick to your budget. There are some great picks out there that come in around $50 (and sometimes even less). And to prove that age statement whiskies haven’t completely gone away in this price range, you’ll notice nary a no-age-statement brand listed. Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, these affordable single malt scotch picks are worthy of any home collection.
You might be surprised to learn that the Glendullan Distillery produces almost 4 million liters of whisky per year. Most of the whisky is used in blends such as Old Parr and up until 2007, when it was reintroduced as a single malt by Diageo, that was the distillery’s only function. The distilleries used for The Singleton will vary throughout the world so if you order a Singleton in Asia, you’ll get whisky from Glen Ord and in Europe, you’ll be poured Dufftown.
Glenmorangie, founded in 1843, is home to the tallest stills in Scotland. Aged 10 years in American oak barrels, The Original serves as the flagship bottling for the distillery. The casks used for the single malt are only ever used twice. The Original also serves as the base for the brand’s Extra Matured whiskies. Each spends two or more years in a variety of wine barrels such as Sauternes and Port.
Glenfiddich is a family owned distillery, and despite its 10 million liters produced annually, all whisky is warehoused on site. Additionally, the brand has its own cooperage along with a bottling plant for the distinctive three-cornered bottles. The 12 Year Old is a benchmark, not only for Glenfiddich, but for Speyside whiskies in general. The affordable single malt ages in both American oak and European oak sherry casks.
Far from a shrinking violet, Laphroaig 10 Year is loud and proud. The distillery has managed to produce a whisky that showcases the sights and aromas of the island. The peat, burned to dry the malt, is abundantly clear, as is the seaweed found lapping the shores just steps from the distillery. That sweet salty sea air found on Islay is woven throughout their whiskies.
Glen Grant 12 debuted in a handful of U.S. markets in June 2016, with a nationwide release in 2017. The release was made partially in honor of the 55 years that master distiller Dennis Malcolm had spent in the industry. It’s also said to show off the unique-to-Speyside Glen Grant process, with water-cooling purifiers used on both of the distillation runs, allowing only the lightest vapors through. An 18-year-old was rolled out as well, along with revamped labeling and logos for the entire portfolio.
Pulteney Distillery is located in the far north of the Scottish mainland in a town called Wick—an area rich in maritime history, once known for its herring fisheries. The distillery has long been known as The Maritime Malt due to the proximity of its dunnage warehouses to the North Sea. This affordable single malt matured entirely in American oak ex-bourbon barrels, mostly second-fill. The 12-year-old bottling is a part of the brand’s core range of whiskies which received an updated look in August 2018 along with three new expressions.
Introduced in September 2018, this affordable single malt is from the Scotch brand’s Soleo Collection. This collection ages entirely in sherry-seasoned oak and is 100% natural color. Named for the process of drying grapes when making some sherry styles like Pedro Ximenez, this collection replaces all existing Glenrothes expressions. Bottled at 80 proof.
When The Glenlivet was first established (legally, that is) in 1824, the distillery produced only 200 liters per week. That sum has grown to a whopping 10.5 million liters annually. It is safe to say that you’ve at least seen the bottle behind most bars you’ve been to around the world, if not consumed it. This flagship bottling ages for 12 years in European and American oak barrels. Please note: the brand updated its bottle in 2019 and added the name Double Oak to its label. The single malt remains the same classic whisky as before.
Tomatin is located in the Highlands about 15 miles southeast of Inverness in Northern Scotland. The distillery has had a long history. In 1986 it became the first Scottish distillery to be purchased by a Japanese company. This 12 year bottling is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in oloroso sherry for the last 6-9 months of maturation.
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