When it comes to whiskey, there are a lot of preconceptions out there. Single malt scotch, for example, may get critical acclaim, but many people still see it as a rare and serious beverage. When it comes to popularity, blended scotch is the obvious victor, with sales exceeding those of single malt. Even while a mix is often less costly than a single malt, price isn’t the only consideration. Single malt whiskey is preferred by many whisky connoisseurs because it reveals the unique qualities of the distillery where it was produced.
Following is a brief breakdown of the key differences between these various approaches: The term “single malt” refers to a whiskey that is produced only at a single distillery using only malted barley. Since there are several hundred different barrels in a single bottle of Glenfiddich 12, the 12-year-old age statement only applies to the youngest whiskey in the blend. Malt and grain whiskies are often used in blended scotch, which is a mix of whiskies from several distilleries around Scotland. Blended malt, on the other hand, is a collection of only malt whiskies.
With over 130 distilleries to select from, here are few of the top single malt scotch whiskies being produced today.
Even though BenRiach is not the most well-known scotch distillery, its history and the quality of its whiskey make it worth checking out. Aside from that, it is one of the few remaining breweries that uses on-site floor maltings to germinate and dry the barley prior to distillation, even if only on rare occasions. After Brown Forman purchased BenRiach a few years ago and rebuilt the main product with new bottle shapes, names and expressions, it was renamed and relaunched.
The Original Ten and The Twelve are the most widely available and reasonably priced whiskies. One of the two is peated, the other is not. In addition, there is a wide variety of barrels used to mature these exceptional single malts, including former, sherry, port and virgin oak, as well as rum. Malting Season, BenRiach’s first in-house malted barley whiskey in a century, and Smoke Season, the distillery’s most strongly peated whisky to date, were just released. These delicate and delicious whiskies, which are sophisticated enough for experienced drinkers but yet suited for newbies to scotch, are not coloured.
A few characteristics set Highland Park apart from other Scotch distilleries, including its devotion to Viking culture and its isolated Orkney location, making it Scotland’s northernmost. Most of the whiskey is aged in sherry-seasoned casks, although some are also finished in bourbon barrels.
In the United States, the most popular whiskies are those that are 10, 12, and 18 years old, all of which have a good blend of smoky notes and rich dried fruit tastes. Viking Heart was introduced last year, a 15-year-old expression contained in an eye-catching ceramic bottle, with the whiskey matured in a blend of first-fill American and European sherry-seasoned oak barrels and a few refill casks. The Cask Strong expression is another tasty addition to the family.
Located on the west coast of Scotland, this little distillery is sometimes neglected by whiskey connoisseurs, but the quality of the whisky produced there is worth the effort. With just two stills, this whiskey is full-bodied and delicious with barely a hint of smoke, compared to its Islay counterparts to the south. Four whiskies dominate the main line-up: a 14-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a non-age-statement whiskey called Little Bay, which has been aged in a variety of casks.
The Distillers Edition, a selection of limited-edition dbl whiskies culled from Diageo’s several distilleries, is also released every year as part of the collection. The core 14-year-old Single malt Irish whiskey was finished in Montilla Fino barrels for the 2021 release.
Peaty scotch is a contentious topic among whiskey connoisseurs. There are many who like the smokey, earthy sensation that fills them from nose to tail, while others find it irritating. There are, of course, varying degrees of peat. There are 45 parts per million (ppm) of peat in this Scotch, which makes Laphroaig from the Islay area a peat-forward whiskey. Most pubs and liquor shops have the 10-year-old, which is a reliable pick with seaweed, and grill smoke tastes. Try Batch 12 of the keg version of this classic, which may be proofed down to your desired strength.
For those who can afford it, the extra-aged versions are when the whiskey truly begins to take on a new character. After 25 years, Laphroaig continues to deliver the smoke, but a whole new set of flavours emerge that aren’t immediately apparent in younger expressions.