Our Favorite Maritime Scotch Single Malts

These maritime whiskies have flavors of the sea. Go all in and pair them with oysters for a feast worthy of Poseidon.
Jan 03, 2019
  • 10
    10 Caol Ila 12 Year
    87
    Full Bodied & Rich
    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. The history of Caol Ila is a little rough going as it changed hands multiple times over the years, shuttered during WWII due to barley restrictions and finally seeing the entire distilling facility demolished in 1972. Shortly thereafter in 1974, production resumed before finally becoming a part of Diageo and taking the place as the largest distillery in Islay both in size and production. 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.
  • 9
    9 Old Pulteney Navigator
    88
    Sweet & Rich
    Navigator is a limited edition Scotch from Old Pulteney distillery that pays homage to its seafaring past. The distillery is situated in Wick, a fishing village in the northern Highlands, which in the old days, relied heavily on sea trade for its economy and food supplies, including the barley for the distillery. Navigator is a blend of single malt whiskies, some of which aged in ex-bourbon casks, some in ex-sherry, brought together for bottling in packaging illustrated with nautical themes.
  • 8
    8 Talisker Storm
    88
    Smoky & Rich
    Released at the end of 2013, Talisker Storm is aged in a mix of used barrels and rejuvenated casks. The latter have been de-charred before being re-charred. Like its older brother, the 10 year, it is bottled at 91.6 proof. This peated whisky from the Isle of Skye is a moderate level on the peat scale, but the charred barrels kicks up the smoke a couple of notches.
  • 7
    7 Oban Little Bay
    91
    Fruity & Floral
    Hailing from Scotland's Western Highlands, this is a no age statement offering of Oban and is matured in a variety of casks including refill barrels with new oak ends, European oak and refill hogsheads. The whisky is then transferred to finish aging in small casks, much like Laphroaig Quarter Cask. This product was released in early 2015. As Oban is Gaelic for “Little Bay”, so this whisky is really named Little Bay Little Bay.
  • 6
    6 Bowmore 12 Year
    91
    Sweet & Fruity
    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.
  • 5
    5 Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011
    90
    Peaty & Rich
    Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011 is made using barley grown on three Islay farms: Dunlossit, Kilchiaran, and Sunderland. In addition, it is made from two different barley varieties, Oxbridge & Publican. Distilled in 2011, the barley is malted and peated to a level of 40ppm. The single malt matures in a combination of casks: 75% in 1st fill American whiskey casks and 25% in 2nd fill wine casks. Bottled at 50% ABV.
  • 4
    4 Kilchoman 100% Islay 7th Edition
    92
    Briny & Peaty
    Released May 2017, this is the seventh edition of 100% Islay Malt from Kilchoman. As is the case with all of these bottlings, the barley is grown on Islay and is malted at the distillery. The peat level is slightly lower than the rest of their portfolio. The whisky is aged in a combination of first-fill and refill ex-bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace. The barrels were filled in 2010 and bottled in 2017. The single malt is sold at 50% ABV.
  • 3
    3 Springbank 10 Year
    92
    Fruity & Rich
    The Scots are no strangers to hard work, but the lads at Springbank take it to the nth degree. 100% of their production is handled on site including floor malting the barley, aging, and bottling. Distilling 2.5 times is quite unexpected to say the least. In keeping this maverick theme, they also have never chill-filtered or added natural color to their whisky.
  • 2
    2 Ardbeg Corryvreckan
    93
    Peaty & Full Bodied
    Cauldron of the speckled sea (aka Corryvreckan) is a whirlpool, the 2nd largest in the world, located between the Isles of Islay and Jura. It is also the name of this whisky. Here are some more facts for you, kid. It is, at its base, Ardbeg 10 with whisky added that spent its life exclusively in French Limousin Virgin Casks. At least it did until it was married with the 10 year old and into your bottle.
  • 1
    1 Laphroaig 10 Year
    96
    Peaty & Vanilla
    Far from a shrinking violet, Laphroaig 10 Year is loud and proud, get used to it. They have managed to produce a whisky showcasing 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. NOTE: This is sold at 40% abv or 43% abv depending on your market.