Our Favorite Islay Whiskies Under $100

The Isle of Islay comprises just over 200 square miles, but its whiskies are worldwide sensations. Here are some of our favorites which will each cost you under $100.
May 24, 2017
  • 8
    8 Port Charlotte 10 Year Second Edition
    90
    Herbal & Smoky
    This is an 18,000-bottle release for the second edition of Port Charlotte 10 Year Old. Port Charlotte is Bruichladdich's Heavily Peated line and this whisky clocks in at 40 PPM. The whisky was matured in first-fill bourbon, sherry, tempranillo and French wine casks.
  • 7
    7 Caol Ila Distillers Edition
    90
    Fruity & Rich
    Not to bore you with the technical data of Moscatel sherry wine, but what is important to note is the taste profile of the wine so you can have an idea of why your beloved Caol Ila is showing you a softer, more delicate side. Moscatel is sweet, honeyed, and often showing tastes of peaches, apricots, and oranges and is rarely bottled on its own.
  • 6
    6 Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach
    90
    Smoky & Sweet
    The barley used to make Bunnahabhain Scotch has not been peat-dried since 1963 (any effects of peat flavor come from the local water used to make it, which naturally runs through the peat bogs on its journey to the distillery). Ceòbanach, which is Scots Gaelic for "smoky mist" is the first release to be made with Islay-grown, peat-dried barley since the 1960s. Fun fact: the stills used to process it are kept separate from the other stills at Bunnahabhain so as not to affect the other releases. Though without a formal age statement, it is the product of 10 years of work from Master Distiller Ian MacMillan, released un-chill filtered.
  • 5
    5 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.
  • 4
    4 Kilchoman Sanaig 2016
    92
    Smoky & Peaty
    First released in March 2016, the Sanaig is a no-age-statement single malt from the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. Along with the Machir Bay, it's part of the Kilchoman core range of continuously available expressions. Both are made from a marriage of malts matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. While the Machir Bay has more bourbon-barrel aged whisky, the Sanaig is predominantly Oloroso sherry cask influenced. Bottled at 46% ABV, it is non-chill-filtered without added coloring.
  • 3
    3 Lagavulin 16 Year
    92
    Full Bodied & Peaty
    Though not officially (read, legally) established until 1816, there are records that date distillation here going back to 1742. Malted barley produced just a hop, skip, and a jump away at neighboring Port Ellen is utilized. Everything is long at this distillery: fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Good things do indeed come to those that wait. Bottled at 43% ABV after 16 years in oak barrels.
  • 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 Cask Strength
    94
    Peaty & Briny
    The Cask Strength bottling will vary per batch, but will be somewhere in the 114-117 proof range. Aged in used barrels for 10 years, the whisky is barrier filtered, meaning just large chunks of char are removed leaving the whisky to shine on its own. As it is minimally filtered, adding water or changes in temperature will create a haze in the whisky.