Our Must-Try Highland Single Malts

The Highlands encompass most of Scotland with single malts varying in both style and flavor. Typically, peat smoke is not a huge factor, but there are exceptions. Here are a few must-try single malts to get you acquainted with the region!
May 14, 2019
  • 12
    12 Oban Distillers Edition
    86
    Sweet & Rich
    Montilla wines are produced similar to their neighbors in Jerez where Sherry wines are made, but instead of using mostly Palomino grapes, they typically use Pedro Ximenez. A Fino is the style of wine in use here which represent some of the driest wines made in the world and are generally delicate, nutty, and tangy. This is the type of cask that the Oban Distillers Edition is finished in.
  • 11
    11 Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12 Year
    Single malts that have aged at least 12 years in American bourbon, re-fill, and re-charred oak barrels are expertly married together to produce this Inchmurrin bottling. It's produced at Loch Lomond Distillery in the Highlands, named after a nearby lake and the distillery's main water source. Inchmurrin 12 Year is part of the Loch Lomond Island Collection, along with their Medeira Wood Finish and 18 Year expressions. Non-chill-filtered, it's been bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 10
    10 Glengoyne 12 Year
    88
    Sweet & Rich
    Glengoyne distillery prides itself on having the "slowest distillation process in Scotland," with 6 years of seasoning their own oak casks before aging. They also completely air dry their own barley instead of using peat. The name "Glen Guin" translates to "herd of wild geese," referring to the distillery's surroundings. Non chill-filtered.
  • 9
    9 Tomatin 18 Year Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
    88
    Floral & Fruity
    Tomatin 18 Year Sherry Cask Finish is initially matured in refill American oak barrels. Then it is placed in oloroso sherry butts for a time prior to bottling. In total, the single malt ages for at least 18 years. Tomatin has 12 working stills and produces five million liters annually making it one of the largest single malt producers in Scotland.
  • 8
    8 Glen Garioch 12 Year
    89
    Fruity & Sweet
    Located in the Highlands, Glen Garioch is the most easterly distillery in Scotland. Formerly a tannery and then a brewery before converting to a distillery in 1797, this is a boutique distillery producing about 100 casks per week. Glen Garioch was used in blends such as Vat 69, Bell's, and in the liqueur Drambuie before being released as a single malt in 1972. Note: Pronounced [glen gee-ree]
  • 7
    7 Glenmorangie Allta
    89
    Spicy
    Glenmorangie Allta -- "wild" in Scots Gaelic -- was created using a wild yeast (Saccharomyces diaemath) that was discovered on the Cadboll barley grown near the distillery. Using this yeast in the whisky making process, it was then aged in ex-bourbon barrels, many second-fill. Bottled unchillfiltered at 51.2% ABV. This is the 10th bottling in the Private Edition series. Available February 2019.
  • 6
    6 Clynelish 14 Year
    89
    Fruity & Sweet
    An oft overlooked gem in the Diageo "Classic Malt Whiskies" collection, this Highland malt is produced on the northeast coast of Scotland in the town of Brora. Brora is also the name of a now closed distillery, which, incidentally, was formally the location of the original Clynelish Distillery. This is a peated whisky, but far less so than the Brora bottlings.
  • 5
    5 Glencadam The Re-Awakening 13 Year
    90
    Briny
    This was released in July 2017 from the Angus Dundee Distillers group as a limited edition bottling from the Glencadam Distillery. This Highland distillery was mothballed (fell dormant) in 2000 and re-opened three years later. This bottling is a result of the distillery's "reawakening". As is standard with their releases, this single malt is not chill-filtered and has no added coloring. 6000 bottles were produced and are individually numbered.
  • 4
    4 Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve
    90
    Fruity & Sweet
    The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve is an aromatic, full-bodied expression intended to be paired with fine cigars. It is produced at the centuries old Dalmore Distillery located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty, deep in the Scottish Highlands. Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve is a beautiful marriage of single malt stocks aged in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrique before being bottled at 88 proof.
  • 3
    3 Royal Brackla 16 Year
    90
    Floral
    Royal Brackla 16 is the middle child of three Royal Brackla single malts released in 2015. The distillery's famed heritage includes receiving a Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1835 from King William IV. Production includes a lengthy fermentation period of 80 hours, tall stills set to run slowly, and after initial oak maturation finishes its aging in oloroso sherry butts.
  • 2
    2 Dalwhinnie 15 Year
    91
    Sweet & Rich
    Located in the Highlands where it is quite remote and windy, the Dalwhinnie Distillery is a distillery that doesn't quite get the press it deserves. It is a whisky that displays classic Highland malt qualities of honey and heather. This is one of the original six distilleries in Diageo's Classic Malts range and they release very few distillery bottlings.
  • 1
    1 GlenDronach Original 12 Year
    91
    Fruity & Vanilla
    As the color likely gave away, this whisky is matured in ex-sherry casks; in this case, it is a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez (aka PX) sherry. In 2005, this distillery finally changed from heating the stills with direct coal fire to an indirect heat source (steam). Direct fire creates hot spots and tends to provide a toffee/caramel roasted quality to the whisky. We await the results of the change in future bottlings.