We have all heard about the whisky drink. With so many selections in the market, which is the best scotch whisky and how do you decide which to try first? Here’s our list of the 21 best scotch whisky for the year 2021.
What is Scotch Whisky?
First of all, we have to know what scotch whisky is. Often known as either scotch or whisky, scotch whisky is a type of malt or grain whisky that is produced in Scotland. One thing that makes this whisky pop amongst the others is its manufacturing process. There is a specified way of producing Scotch whisky specified by the law itself, which means that it can only be made according to certain steps.
For distillers to name their products as Scotch, it must be produced in Scotland or it can’t take on the name. As stated by The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, there are only 5 types of Scotch whisky, which are Single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended Scotch whisky, Blended malt Scotch whisky and blended grain Scotch whisky.
21 Best Scotch Whiskey
Scotch whisky can be known as one of the more interesting categories to get involved in because of its complexity. With the various incarnations it possesses, it is very difficult to determine which is the best unless you try it out for yourself. The topic in discussion will cover 21 types of scotch whisky that are not to be overlooked.
This approximately RM500 bottle of Scotch whisky is not one to be trifled with, as it is one of the more aggressive Scotch available. Although Bruichladdich is famous for unpeated Scotch, Port Charlotte is so strongly peated that the room will smell entirely of alcohol after pouring a dram.
Originally produced with a no-age-statement offering, it is now being bottled after 10 years of staying in a mixture of first- and second-fill bourbon casks, and second-fill French wine casks.
This bottle is perhaps the best one available for crowd pleasing purposes. Brought into the light via the famous American sitcom Parks and Recreation, the Lagavulin is mixed with peat and campfire smoke. It is often referred to as brisket on a hot summer day, as it contains aggressive flavours that give off the same feeling.
If you are looking for a beginner, entry-level Scotch from Islay, look no further. Serving as the Islay’s largest distillery, Caol IIa produces some of the top scotch Scotch in the region. The one thing that distinguishes it from other editions is that this whisky was particularly finished amongst barrels that once held Moscatel sherry wine. This resulted in a product that balances the smoke and peat extremely well, creating an astonishingly sweet barrel.
- Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength
This Scotch possesses a strong smell, and is widely available across different bars and wineries. It is an interestingly complex bottle, and the Laphroaig’s Càirdeas series are sold in the market every summer. The 10-year expression bottled at cask strength is unadulterated Laphroaig and the best regular bottle in its lineup.
The Corryvreckan whisky is the winner of The World’s Best Single Malt in 2010 by the World Whiskies Awards. Living up to its intensity, it was named after the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay. It provides a non-chill-filtered experience of peat and pepper aged in virgin French Limousin oak, giving it a refreshing taste.
Premiering in 1979, the distillery faced rebranding and added 18 and 25 years to the lineup in 2006. The 18 is also known as the perfect bottle, having been upgraded from 40% to 46.3% ABV and bottled un-chillfiltered; it blends ex-sherry cask and ex-bourbon cask notes, with much, much less peat than other Islay examples.
- Signatory Cask Strength Laphroaig
This bottle is considered one of the rarest Scotch whiskeys to ever exist. It is one of the best blends for serious Scotch fans as it was produced by independent distillers. This is a 17-year-old Laphroaig juice blended in a limited run by Signatory, but they aren’t distilling anything to their name.
This bottle might never hit the shelves if it’s distiller, Glengyle wasn’t reopened in 2004. The distillery first produced its new flagship models in August 2016, and Kilkerran 12 has since proved a worthy torchbearer, with light peat working off bright sherry and bourbon casks.
Back in 2010, Springbank, the distillery for this bottle released a 12 year expression, blending juice aged in bourbon and sherry cask, semi-annually at cask strength. The distillery is one of the few independent ones that are on par with giants like Diageo, so it is definitely worth grabbing a bottle when they are released.
Since 1973, Longrow has been distilling Islay-style single malt at Springbreak. These bottles are also rare in the market, hence its high price tag, but are worth the price for the experience of peated Scotch. The bottle is double-distilled and aged in bourbon and sherry barrels before finishing on production.
The Balvenie is one of the great distilleries available, because every phase of whisky production is carried out there. If you are looking for something produced by them, this approximately RM360 bottle will satisfy your palates easily. Their core lineup is diverse enough to cater to most consumers, with bottles showcasing sherry, bourbon, port, and rum, and peat week releases that crank the smoke.
- The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish
The Glenlivet is a famous name among Scotch Whisky. Winner of Double Gold at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition the Nàdurra line is named for the fact that it’s released non chill-filtered and at cask strength, or “natural.”
The Glenfarclas line is great for their value because they are packaged without fuss or frills. The 17 year bottle has just the right amount of bottling which gets the entire flavours correct. Matured exclusively in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, the Scotch is produced with big butterscotch and sherried fruit, while mixed with a little peat smoke for elevation.
- Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old
This bottle is the newest permanent release of the Glenfiddich distillery. As the name suggests, it is aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to first-fill, heavily-charred American oak barrels from Louisville, bringing more wood. It also comes with 43% ABV instead of their normal 40%, which improves on the wateriness to serve as the go-to bottle.
- Aberlour 18 Year Old
Aberlour isn’t as complex as the rest, as their core whisky only consists of bottles that are aged at 10, 16 and 18 years. Among these available selections, they sometimes release 12 or 15 year old Scotches to spice things up a bit. As for the 18, it is one of the best available for an occasional dram.
The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 is undoubtedly a great Scotch, but its luxurious setting means that it is overpriced as well. Designed to be the perfect Scotch for non-Scotch drinkers, it is the doorway for consumers to experience the difference in the years taken to produce it. Despite its great features, it isn’t enough for the adventurous, but can be seen as a great gift for others.
The 12 year old expression is the grand winner of the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which is more than enough to portray its quality and value. Meant for satiating local fishing villages, the bottles are aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels, which brings out a sweet and briny taste.
This particular bottle of Scotch is a product of the Tobermory distillery, and is only made in small batches, increasing its rarity. Although they often produce single malts, this whisky is heavily peated, and possesses a great price at that. Compared to the distillers more premium Ledaig 18, the un-chillfiltered bottle is a better valued Scotch when it comes to quality and pricing.
Glenmorangie is one of the best selling single malt Scotch across the world since 1983. Among all the products, the Nectar D’Or and the 18 year expressions are the best of them available to the public. The Nectar d’Or is Glenmorangie Original finished in Sauternes casks, a white dessert wine from Bordeaux, for an incredibly smooth and fruity Scotch at a great price.
Releases after summer 2019 marks the end of an era, as all future releases are swapped to a “no age statement” release. This causes the bottles with age statements to remain as an absolute gem which is a must grab if you ever come across one.
This bottle is one of the best among Talisker’s whiskeys. For consumers who are interested in a bit more sherry sweetness, this is the way to go as it has spent the finishing months in Amoroso casks.
Among all whiskeys, this is probably one of the more memorable ones because it has too many awards under its name. Apart from being named as the Best Spirit in the World in Spirit Journal twice, this whisky sits in sherry seasoned European oak casks and ages in the extremely mild climate of the islands, for a gentle maturation that hits its stride at 18 years. This 18 year old expression is definitely one of the top choices if you ever come across Highland Park whiskeys.
How to Drink Scotch Whisky?
Enjoying your best scotch is all that matters. There is no right or wrong way to drink it. However, there are certain things that can improve your drinking experience.
Everyone is different so preferences vary from one individual to the next. Only you will know what you like so you can try different glasses, different temperatures, adding water, adding a mixer or tasting the scotch by itself.
There is a whole range of different Scotch Whisky to try. The best scotch whisky depends on what you are in the mood for on that day and even what your taste preferences are. Drink a glass with a friend today. Cheers!