That warming amber liquid. The spiced notes that fill the room. The sweet touches of chocolate, vanilla, or fruit. Describing Scotch whisky may not make it sound like a real man’s drink, but it’s an undeniable must for every shelf of liquor.
Finding the best bottle of Scotch can turn into a complex treasure hunt, especially if you’re shopping on a budget. If $100-$200 whiskey is too high of a budget, then look no further than this list of the top 10 Scotch whiskies under $100 you’ll want to keep an eye out for!
Balvenie 15 Year
Aged in a single barrel for 15 years, this Balvenie whisky has a very distinct flavor imbued by the sherry cask. The matured notes give off a sweet and enticing aroma of cake icing and dried fruits which carry over to compliment a slightly bitter palate. A hint of fruitcake and malt loaf are topped off with a touch of spiced cocoa. To ensure a very distinguished taste and a touch of oak, Balvenie carefully selects each cask.
This stout bottle houses within it an amber Highland single malt Scotch whisky that’s both inexpensive and robust with mild notes. The nose offers sherried fruits touched by a hint of smoke while the creamy smooth taste puts off a gentle sweetness. A mild malty peat lingers as the faint citrus finish rounds out each flavorful sip.
Caol Illa 12
From the Scottish region of Islay, Caol Ila distillery puts forth a Scotch whisky that’s imbued with a pleasant aroma of peppermint leaves accentuated by cigar leaves, smoked ham, and hickory. Lemon peels hit the senses the moment the oily liquid touches your lips, followed by smoke and boiled sweets. As you enjoy the warming liquid, you’ll be hit with a finish of spice and peppery smoke.
Oban 14 Year
The lighter color of this single malt Scotch is no indication of a diluted flavor. A rich and smoky nose rises through the neck and is followed by a surprising note of salty water. Seaweed and tarry ropes mix and mingle with cut hay and smoked wood to quell the sweetness to a gentle and pleasing hint. A thick palate is emboldened by a sweet and smooth citrusy taste while a fruit and dry oak finish rounds out each pleasing sip.
This single malt Scotch whisky may hail from an independent distillery, but the 12-year aged clear libation has found a spot with the heavy hitters in the industry. Kilkerran makes good use of Scotland’s resources to distill a whisky with a nose of toasted marshmallows and dried fruit, touched by cherries and marzipan. Each sip starts with citrus notes, an orange peel mixed with vanilla, honeycomb, and butterscotch. The finish is a pleasing one, a velvety smooth lemon meringue overpowering a subtle oiliness and saltiness.
Auchentoshan Three Wood
This reddish-amber Lowland single malt is triple distilled in three different casks – two sherry and one bourbon. The flavor profile shines through, especially in the nose, which boasts an aroma of cooked fruits, toffee, sherry, and even an undertone of rum. When it hits your tongue, you’ll immediately notice its palate of dark chocolate, sherried fruit, and cherries. Finishing it all off is a thick, dark toffee and wooded notes complete with a blend of fruit.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask
From the Scottish region of Islay comes this single malt quarter cask, age for five years before receiving a quarter cask finish for several months. The lighter colored whisky features a surprisingly oily nose touched with toffee, hickory, rum, raisin ice cream, and a zesty nuttiness. The palate is complete with a heavy sweetness backed by a spiced chili heat, syrup, and sweeter cereal. The finish is a simple mix of cigar smoke and a fruity custard.
Ardbeg is a highly revered brand of whisky and the 10-year-old distilled blend is an Isla classic that belongs on the shelf of every single malt whisky fan. Vanilla and peat start off the nose, backed by a touch of sea spray. That vanilla flavoring moves to the palate, balanced with a lemon and lime blend with a touch of smoke. The finish is a lingering taste of sea salted caramel and that easily recognized bonfire smoke aftertaste.
Aged for a decade, the amber libation within this bottle of single malt Scotch whisky hails from the Isle of Skye and earned the praise of Editor’s Choice at Whisky Magazine. The nose is one of pungent smoke backed by seaweed, apple peels, and kippers. The fragrant aroma helps amplify the taste of volcanic smoke and peppery peat, which blend for an intense burst with each sip. The finish is long, leaving behind a recognizable barley and malt flavor.
This highly recommended Islay single malt Scotch whisky is named for the Loch the water is supplied from and is known for an incredible balance of flavors. The nose puts off a scent of dark sugar and espresso beans, a sweet mix that’s followed by a taste of ripe fruits and black forest honey. Malt and smoked barley shine through as the caramel and peat smoke finish off Ardbeg’s award-winning libation.