Amazing & Affordable Single Malt Scotch

With so many expensive whiskies coming to market these days, it's important to remember all of the delicious drams out there that won't put you in the poor house!
May 17, 2016
  • 10
    Highland Park is renowned for the peat they use and for their exclusive use of ex-Sherry casks. The climate on the Orkney Islands is quite windy and sea swept creating a dismal environment for trees. As such, the Orcadian peat bogs have more heather, grass, and plants than those on Islay. Highland Park 12, first released in 1979, uses about 20% 1st-fill sherry casks. Name change and bottle update in 2017.
  • 9
    This dram is a fine example of the different elements one can typically find in maritime whiskies. One of only a handful of distilleries that still do floor maltings of their barley, it is certainly worth paying them a visit to see how it's done.
  • 8
    Smokehead is shrouded in mystery. It's released by Ian Macleod Distillers, a family-owned company that owns Glengoyne, Tamdhu and offers several expressions of undisclosed origin, like this one. We can tell you that it's an 86-proof Islay single malt aged largely in hogshead barrels for around eight years and it aims to be the choice for the hair metal, race car-obsessed set (see the website). For everything else, your guess is as good as ours.
  • 7
    Caol Ila, pronounced as “Cull Ee-la” is a small Islay distillery founded in 1846 nestled in a hidden cove near Port Askaig overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura. Caol Ila is readily known as one of the lighter, more nuanced and delicate of the Islay single malts with the 12 year as their entry level offering originally debuting in the summer of 2002. It is bottled at a modest 86 proof.
  • 6
    Bowmore Tempest is released in batches and is bottled at cask strength. There have been five different batches that have been released with the abv hovering between 55-56%. The whisky is aged in 1st fill bourbon barrels for 10 years in their No. 1 vault. Tempest has been replaced with Dorus Mor, but there are Tempest bottles still waiting to be found.
  • 5
    Bowmore is Islay's oldest distillery going back to 1779. Legend is their youngest whisky produced with no age statement listed. Aged in predominantly American casks, this is an agreeable whisky to explore as an introduction to what Scotch has to offer.
  • 4
    Ardmore had, up until very recently, been utilized as a primary malt for Teacher's blended whiskies. Their malt is peated at about a 15 ppm level with peat from the mainland rather than the islands. This Traditional Cask bottling is aged for 6-13 years in American oak before being transferred to smaller Quarter Casks to finish the aging process for another year.
  • 3
    First launched in 2003, Ardbeg Uigeadail [Oog-a-dal] is a marriage of some young and some very old oloroso sherry aged single malt along with Ardbeg aged in ex-bourbon barrels. The name Uigeadail means "a dark, mysterious place." Fun to say and even more fun to drink. It is also the name of the loch from which Ardbeg gets its water. Bottled at cask strength with no age statement.
  • 2
    This is a triple distilled, Lowland single malt and is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels. Auchentoshan Classic is the entry level whisky for the brand; or at least it was until the middle of 2014 when it was replaced with Auchentoshan American Oak.
  • 1
    Ben Nevis is a lesser-known distillery on the Scottish Westcoast. The washbacks are wooden, and brewer's yeast is used. Distillation is slow and steady. A testament to the old-school way Ben Nevis has always operated. The Ben Nevis 10 Year has been around since 1996, and since then has slowly made a name for itself, but can still be considered a hidden gem.