Single malt Scotch whisky, renowned for its rich history and complex flavors, has captivated the palates of many enthusiasts for centuries. However, it is often unfairly characterized as "expensive" or "fancy" when in reality, it isn't. While some exceptional bottles may command astronomical prices and set you back hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars, there are still many remarkable single malt Scotch whiskies that offer an outstanding experience without breaking the bank.
In this article, we've curated a list of the best single malt Scotch whiskies under $100. From the valleys of Speyside to the landscapes of Islay, these gems have a wide range of captivating flavors and aromas, proving that the world of single malts is not reserved for rich people only.
1. Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Select Oak Casks
If you were to ask whisky experts to tell you the best single malt Scotch whisky, there's a good chance most of them will point you toward Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Select.
Embodying the traditional Islay style, this whisky offers a bold and peaty flavor that sets it apart from other single malts. The nose reveals robust notes of seaweed, peat smoke, and hints of medicinal undertones, making for a distinctive experience. On the palate, a complex interplay of brine, smoky peat, and a touch of sweetness satisfies the senses and is followed by a long smoky finish. To top it all, a bottle of this remarkable single malt Scotch whisky is only $49.99.
2. Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one of the most widely recognized and accessible single malts globally. It is a celebrated offering from the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. One of the most appealing aspects of this spirit is its affordability. Despite being aged for 12 years, a single bottle will only cost you an average of $39.99, making it an attractive option for single malt enthusiasts seeking a high-quality drink without the hefty price tag.
Additionally, this Scotch whisky has an approachable and balanced flavor profile with delicate notes of fresh pear, butterscotch, cream, malt, and hints of oak. The finish is also long-lasting and mellow, delivering an excellent drinking experience.
3. Aberlour 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Aberlour 12 Year is a delightful and well-regarded single malt whisky you shouldn't miss out on. It is renowned for its sherry cask maturation which gives it its distinctive flavor profile. On the nose, you can expect inviting fruity notes of red apple. The palate offers a fine Sherried character and fruity aromas perfectly balanced with rich chocolate, and the finish is satisfyingly long, leaving a warm and lingering embrace of flavors. You can purchase a single Aberlour 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky bottle for $59.99.
4. Oban 14 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Oban, one of Scotland's oldest and smallest distilleries, is well-known for crafting exceptional whiskies. While the brand has several affordable expressions, the 14 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the best. This whisky presents a complex and well-balanced flavor profile that captivates enthusiasts. It offers enticing aromas of malt, fruit, and a gentle waft of sea salt, reflecting its coastal origins. A bottle of the Oban 14 will cost you $99.99.
5. Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky 10 Year
When it comes to smoky single malt whiskies, you can't do much better than Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky 10 Year. The whisky offers a robust smoky and peaty taste followed by a trace of seaweed and an unexpected sweetness. This flavorful version acts as the base for all Laphroaig expressions and comes with a lingering finish. That said, this exceptional Scotch whisky is not only highly regarded for its unique taste but also its affordability, as it can be enjoyed for only $59.99.
6. The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky 14 Year Cognac Cask Selection
The Glenlivet 14 Year isn’t one of your typical single malt. This ground-breaking whisky is aged for 14 years in bourbon and sherry casks before being refined in the finest quality ex-cognac casks for about 6 months. This finish adds a rich and strong flavor to The Glenlivet's iconic flowery and fruity style. The price of this single malt whisky is a staggering $54.99.
7. The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask
The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask is an exceptional single malt Scotch whisky crafted by one of Scotland's most esteemed distilleries, The Macallan. This spirit is aged for 12 years in a combination of American oak and European oak sherry-seasoned casks, creating a harmoniously balanced and rich drink. The American oak provides sweet, vanilla, and citrus notes, while the sherry-seasoned European oak enhances depth with spices, dried fruits, and a hint of nuttiness. The result is a smooth and sophisticated beverage that demonstrates The Macallan's commitment to craftsmanship and quality. A bottle of The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask goes for $89.99.
8. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Not everyone enjoys peated Scotch whisky, so if you're looking for an unpeated but flavorful option, consider Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie. It is made from Scottish barley and is classified as a multi-vintage Cuvee. The prominent aromas are the fresh paned wood, salt, cinnamon, sweet apple, and lemon juice. It lacks a peat scent and palate but has a well-balanced and dry oak finish. A bottle of this exceptional single malt whisky will cost you around $54.99.
9. Ardbeg 10 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Any list of the best single malt Scotch whiskies would be incomplete without Ardbeg. The distillery offers a few exceptional and affordable bottles under $100, but it is impossible not to immediately buy a bottle of their 10-year-old flagship expression. Ardbeg Ten Years Old is regarded as the smokiest and peatiest single malt of them all. However, it does not exaggerate the peat; instead, it allows the natural sweetness of the malt to shine through, resulting in a perfectly balanced spirit. A bottle of this whisky will cost you approximately $69.99.
10. GlenDronach 12 Year Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Several distilleries have made a name for themselves by incorporating sherry flavors into their single malts, and GlenDronach is one of them. Its 12 year expression is aged in a blend of Oloroso sherry casks and Spanish Pedro Ximénez. As a result, the whisky is sweet, warming, and complex, with notes of raisins, sticky toffee pudding, vanilla beans, hazelnuts, candied orange peels, and dried cherries. A bottle of this single malt whisky goes for $64.99.
11. The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old Scotch Whisky
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old is a luxurious and unique single malt Scotch whisky from the esteemed Balvenie distillery. This expression is aged for 14 years in traditional oak casks and then finished in Caribbean rum casks, which imparts a delightful tropical twist to the whisky. Expect to savor the flavors of tropical fruits, vanilla, creamy toffee, and a hint of warm spices. A single bottle of the Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old Single Bottle is approximately $89.99.
12. Bladnoch 11 Year Old Single Malt Scotch
Bladnoch 11 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is an exceptional whisky hailing from the southernmost distillery in Scotland, Bladnoch Distillery. Aged for 11 years, this expression offers gentle floral and fruity notes, hints of honeyed sweetness, and a subtle touch of oak and spice. Expect to pay around $64.99 for a bottle of this single malt whisky.
13. Tomatin 12 Year Old Single Malt
Tomatin 12 Year Old Single Malt is a delightful whisky from the Tomatin Distillery in the Scottish Highlands. It is aged for a minimum of 12 years and exhibits a fruity and mellow character with notes of orchard fruits such as pears and apples, along with a touch of citrus and a subtle sweetness of honey. The average price of Tomatin 12 Year Old Single Malt is $39.99.
The above list showcases the diversity and artistry that single malts have to offer. It is also proof that the price tag does not always dictate the quality of a single malt Scotch whisky. There are many affordable expressions that stand shoulder to shoulder with their expensive counterparts, meaning that everyone – regardless of their budget – can enjoy exceptional craftsmanship when it comes to single malt Scotch whiskies.
Are Single Malt Scotch Whiskies Healthy?
Yes, single malt Scotch whiskies are healthy. They offer health benefits like stress relievers, immunity boosters, and heart disease prevention. However, just like every other type of alcoholic beverage, it is advisable to drink them responsibly.
What Makes Single Malt Whiskies So Unique?
Single malt whiskies are considered unique because they have established a reputation for being higher quality than blended ones. They are also distinct in that they are produced at a single distillery, unlike blended whiskies, which combine whiskies from multiple distilleries. Single malt whiskies are often praised for their complex, smooth, and rich flavors, making them a favorite among many connoisseurs.
Is Single Malt Whisky More Expensive Than Blended Whiskey?
Single malt whisky costs more than blended whiskey because it's made entirely from a single grain, typically barley, while blended whiskey usually contains various grains.
How Do I Store Single Malt Scotch Whisky?
Store the spirit in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to preserve the quality. Additionally, once you open your bottle, drink it within a reasonable timeframe to prevent oxidation.