If you’re looking for “the real deal” and don’t want to spend more than $250, you’ll want to keep your eye out for these Scotch whiskeys, each of which capture the essence of old school distillation for a classic flavor.
From the Islay region of Scotland hails this 18-year-old bottle of scotch. Bottled without any added coloring, what you see in this darkened Scotch is what you get. A nose of salted caramel and toffee pudding gives way to hints of nutmeg and a surprising touch of leather. The dark libation is rich and the promise of sherried notes backed by roasted chestnuts and subtle spices makes for a pleasing sip. The finish is long with a mix of spice and saltiness that warms you to the core.
Though the name be intimidating, this 21-year-old Highland Scotch whiskey is everything you’d expect from a classically distilled whiskey. Aged in Oloroso and sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, the Parliament 21 comes out with a sweeter, more vibrant flavor. The nose is one of smoke and cedar wood topped off with lemon, apple, and date and walnut cake. Each sip leads with a syrupy consistency with notes of peach, cherry blossom, cocoa, and raisins. The finish of chocolate and fruit has an unexpected touch of sulphur and pepper.
Within this secretive bottle is a distillate that’s known for using the world’s most heavily peated barley. This is certainly no beginner’s whiskey as the nose and flavor profiles are strong but absolutely pleasing. Bottled at cask strength, Bruichladdich’s sixth edition experimental Octomore is heavily smoked with a memorable, peated taste. The finish leaves drinkers with a strong, rich, and leathery treat.
The light coloring of this 18-year-old distillate is very indicative of the experience it puts forth. Light and aromatic, Macallan’s single malt Scotch delivers a sweet and fruit nose and a palate of green tea, chocolate orange, toffee, and just enough fresh ginger to shine through. The oak and grassy finish lingers on your tongue for a pleasing conclusion to a fine drink.
This delicate distillate spent 21 years aging into a fine Scotch whiskey in the region of Speyside. Each of those years helped develop a revered palate of red fruit and reasons with a white grape edge and floral hints. The aroma finds a way to mingle fruit and smoke into a pleasing touch while the finish, bitter as it fades, is a fine bite of cocoa.
Aged for 25 years, you can bet that this amber bottle of Glenfarclas sherried whiskey will have a predominant flavor profile and aroma to separate it from the competition. Breaking the seal on this Speyside libation introduces your nose to a quick burst of menthol. As it subsides, those Sherry notes you’ve come to love shine through. Enjoy each sip with a tanginess that’s followed up by creamy barley, a nutty chocolate, and gingerbread notes. Enjoy the rich and long finish of oak and smoke as buttery cocoa lingers for a pleasing experience.
Don’t let the price fool you, this 12-year-old single malt is as every bit a contender with the big dogs as a higher priced bottle of top high end scotch. As a top rated whiskey Light in color, this Speyside Scotch is imbued with a flora and fruit salad nose and a palate of almonds, chestnuts, and walnuts. Beneath the nuttiness is touches of stone fruits, berries, and honey. The finish lingers with a peppered and spiced smoke. The Cragganmore 12 year top scotch would be the best whiskey for the price.
Awarded the Silver Outstanding award for the 2017 International Wine & Spirit Competition, this Lowland whiskey is a hefty competitor for others in its region. Pushing it to the top is a nose of dry grass and citrus boosted by a floral honey. The palate is a bit on the oilier side, rounded off with sugared peels and a predominant nuttiness. Expect apricot and citrus notes as the libation enters into a lengthy finish.
Twenty-one years is a good amount of time for a distillate to be finished off in Caribbean Rum casks. It’s enough time to let the distinct flavor of rum permeate throughout, leaving an aroma of barley sugar, dark brown sugar, marmalade, chocolate, and malt. The palate is a combination of buttery vanilla, malt, oak, a fruitcake, topped off with spices. A long finish leaves a lingering taste of mochaccino and marmalade.
With a clean nose of fruit and spice, Talisker’s 18-year-old, Gold Awarding-winning Island whiskey is a must, especially for those looking to stay under $100. The lighter color is a bit deceptive as each sip is thick and rich, offering peppery oak, espresso beans, and smoked wood. The palate is full-bodied and finishes off long with a hint of peppery oak.
When it comes to classic whiskey, few stand out more than Johnnie Walker. The Blue label is another premium blend from the well-known distillery. Johnnie Walker legend states that only one in ten thousand casks were deemed suitable for the Blue Label, and the rich nose of oak, spice, pastries, and berries touched with citrus and cedar helps to validate that lore. Each sip is a robust hit of toffee backed by hints of smoke, grass, and malt. A floral finish compliments a chocolatey taste, accentuated by dried fruit, spice, and honey.
Pushing that $250 budget pretty close, BenRiach’s 25-year-old Speyside malt is worth every penny. It’s a complex distillate with a nose of tropical fruits like pineapple and a very subtle oily smoke and malt. A rich and fruit palate shifts into peat smoke and dried herbs, leading off to a diverse flavor of pepper, honey, cedar wood, and blossom. If it’s a fruity finish you’re looking for, the 25-year-old offers a long and well-rounded conclusion.
This Campbelltown whiskey is a fine mingling of sherry and spice with a nose that’s rich with caramel, pineapple, and passion fruit. Beneath the sweeter notes is a hint of leather and toffee. A full and rich palate delivers on even more fruitiness with a creamy fruit salad that pops with a hint of spice. The finish isn’t entirely long, but it’s warm and soothing.
Another affordable option for those not looking to spend too much can turn to Ardbeg An Oa, a matured Scotch whiskey from is Islay region. It’s sweet and creamy, giving way to a touch of butterscotch, tobacco leaf, and hints of mint and menthol. The palate is robust, though smooth, and carries with it cigars and syrup along with hints of chocolate limes. A lingering finish of smoky treacle eventually gives way to familiar peanut brittle.
It’s the chocolatey nose and touches of cocoa on the palate that have helped differentiate the Glenmorangie Signet from other Scotches. During distillation, malt and a heavily roasted malted barley were mixed together, creating the perfect mix of chocolate and citrus. Chocolate raisins and the aroma of classic, sweet cocktails are followed up by a syrupy palate of cinnamon and lychees. The finish ditches chocolate for a lingering fruitiness.