Underrated Speyside Single Malts

With over half of all single malt distilleries hailing from the Speyside region in Scotland, chances are you’ve tried brands like The Balvenie, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. But there are dozens more to explore. Give these underrated Speyside single malts a try.
May 04, 2019
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    11 Tormore 13 Year Discovery (Gordon & Macphail)
    85
    Fruity & Tart
    In an effort to modernize, the 122-year-old company Gordon & MacPhail overhauled all its ranges in April 2018. Its new Discovery range emphasises taste profiles over distillery provenance, and this 13 year old Tormore is meant to showcase the kinds of flavors that bourbon casks can provide.
  • 10
    10 Cragganmore 12 Year
    86
    Fruity & Tart
    Cragganmore is a Speyside whisky built in Ballindalloch, a site chosen not only for its proximity to the River Spey, but also to the Strathspey railway line. Aged in 2nd fill bourbon barrels, the whisky is slightly peated and is a component for blending in Johnnie Walker, White Horse, and Old Parr whiskies.
  • 9
    9 Tomintoul 10 Year
    86
    Tart & Fruity
    Located within the Glendive Estate in Speyside, Tomintoul (Tom-in-towel) is named after a nearby village, the highest village in the highlands and usually the first to be closed off by snow. Tomintoul was established in 1965 by Hay McLeod Ltd and W. & S. Strong, and was the third distillery established after the Second World War In 1973 the distillery was bought out by investors, with ownership changing to Whyte & McKay in 1995 before being sold to Angus Dundee in 2000 (who also acquired the Glencadam distillery on 2003) where it remains to this day. This 10 year bottling is aged in ex-bourbon casks.
  • 8
    8 Glen Grant 12 Year
    87
    Rich
    Glen Grant 12 debuted in a handful of U.S. markets in June 2016, with a nationwide release slated for 2017. The release was made partially in honor of the 55 years that master distiller Dennis Malcolm has 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 is being rolled out as well, along with revamped labeling and logos for the entire portfolio.
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    7 The GlenAllachie 18 Year
    87
    Full Bodied
    Prior to 2017, when the distillery was acquired by a consortium led by master distiller Billy Walker, GlenAllachie was rarely seen as a single malt whisky. The much anticipated core range of the GlenAllachie distillery from Speyside was finally launched in July 2018. This 18 Year expression features whisky matured in Pedro Ximénez sherry, oloroso sherry and American oak casks.
  • 6
    6 Mortlach 12 Year "The Wee Witchie"
    88
    Fruity & Sweet
    Announced in July 2018, Mortlach 12 Year "The Wee Witchie" is one of three new core whiskies for Mortlach replacing Rare Old, Special Strength, 18 Year and 25 Year which were introduced in 2014. Morlach is known for producing meaty, sulphury whiskies with its distillation process in a method called "The Way". They boast a 2.81 times distillation process invented in 1896 using a variety of shapes and sizes of pot stills which is far too difficult to explain here. This single malt aged in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks and is bottled at 43.4% ABV.
  • 5
    5 Glenglassaugh Revival
    88
    Sweet & Rich
    Glenglassaugh first opened in 1875 in the Sardend Bay overlooking the North Sea. In 2013 it was purchased by Billy Walker and the BenRiach Whisky Company. The Revival is one of the releases from the new guard at the company. This expression is non-chill filtered and aged in red wine and ex-bourbon barrels before a 6 month finish in Oloroso sherry casks.
  • 4
    4 Tamdhu 10 Year
    89
    Sweet & Rich
    Tamdhu distillery, one of Speyside's pioneering facilities, founded in 1897, was shut down between 2010 - 2013. They were previously known for producing malts that were destined for blending (Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark), but under new ownership with Ian MacLeod Distillers, is now released as a single malt. Sandy Coutts, formerly of Glenrothes, overseas operations. This release predates the distillery's shutdown. NOTE: The export version is 86 proof, UK version is all sherry cask and 80 proof. Check the label to see which one you are sipping. This review is for the 86 proof.
  • 3
    3 Aultmore 12 Year
    90
    Vanilla
    This 12 year single malt Scotch whisky from Aultmore emphasizes the pristine water from the Auchinderran burn and unique malts of Speyside. Aultmore is owned by Dewar's, a Bacardi subsidiary and usually produces whisky for blends. They've released a range of single malts that includes this 12 year old, along with a 21 year old (available as a Travel Retail Exclusive) and 25 year old expression. This non-chill-filtered whiskey is bottled at 46% abv.
  • 2
    2 Benromach 15 Year
    91
    Rich & Full Bodied
    This is a new addition to Benromach's portfolio. Released in May of 2015, this 15 Year is made with slightly-peated barley, something not common in most current Speyside releases, but something quite common prior to the 1960's. The whisky is aged in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks; only 1st-fill casks are used at the distillery. It is bottled at 86 proof.
  • 1
    1 BenRiach Curiositas 10 Year
    92
    Peaty & Rich
    BenRiach has a large range of styles of whiskies to choose from. As the name suggests, this is from their Peated Malt collection. Peat from the mainland is quite different from the islands with more earth and grassy notes. BenRiach has had such a storied past but thankfully have survived to produce such a collection.