Nothing ends a day better than a cold glass of whiskey. Well, maybe two cold glasses… or three or, well, you get the point. When you’re winding down for the evening or just need a break from the monotony of daily life, it’s always good to have a good bottle of scotch whiskey to turn to; but how much should you be paying for that bottle?
Sure, you’d think some of the best would run you an unreasonable amount, but when you do a little digging into some of the best single malt scotch whiskeys out there, you’ll find that you can keep at least your arm. Or your leg. Heck, maybe even both!
It’s not easy finding the right bottle of scotch whiskies under $100 because, yes, there are some duds out there. So take a look at this list of 20 and pick one of those. They’re the best of the best, offering an affordable price with a smooth, rich taste.
Glenfiddich 18 Year
Ah, a malt scotch whiskey at its prime, old enough to drive, vote, and provide you with a great melding of flavor notes. Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks were used in maturing this 18-year-old blend, a mix that ended with a fruitier punch with a hint of grapefruit, baked toffee, apples, and cinnamon. If there were a single malt scotch whiskey made specifically for autumn, we think Glenfiddich’s 18 Year was it.
Tomatin 18 Year Sherry Cask
This stubby bottle contains a liquid within it so golden and amber that you know you’re in for a flavorful treat. Feel warmth during the colder months or reminisce about the frigid air in the hotter months with this cinnamon and vanilla-fused cask. Rounding off a subtle list of flavors includes chocolate, orange, and cocoa, making this a sweet treat at the end of the day.
Highland Park 12 Year
Expect to drop less than $50 on this Orkney Islands malt, a flavorful blend of sweet notes that wash down your throat in a smooth and refreshing sip. Buckwheat honey rises to the occasion as an oaky spice and smoky finish linger on the back of your tongue. If it’s something smooth and sweet you’re looking for, look no further than this 12-year scotch whiskey.
Bowmore 12 Year
Light floral nights and citrus round off the flavor profile of this medium-peated Islay Scotch. From a land known for its salty air from the nearby seas, that saltiness is infused in this popular single malt, balancing out a sweetness that, if left unchecked, could be a little too much.
Good thing you don’t need to know how to pronounce it to enjoy it! This smooth Scottish whiskey, the only triple-distilled single malt to be found in Scotland, isn’t afraid to supplement its smooth, rich flavor with a bit of a kick. That kick being an alcohol volume of just over 57%! Auchentoshan Valinch, named for the tool used to taste whiskey from a barrel, isn’t shy with its flavors and is sure to deliver robust notes that linger.
Laphroaig 10 Year
Hidden from the world for 10 years, Laphraoig is an Islay Scotch that plays off the salted spray of the region with a hint of sweet and smoky tones. Peat steps up as the focus flavor, however, and is strong enough to push the other notes to the back, as if added as an afterthought. Not your traditional single malt scotch whiskey, Laphroaig may be an acquired taste, especially for those used to a smoother, sweeter sip.
Glen Scotia Double Cask
Altering how whiskies are typically finished, Glen Scotia is finished for a balance of flavors, using first-fill bourbon and sweeter sherry casks to round out the hint of oaky spice. Vanilla and fruit play a big role in Glen Scotia’s whiskey, helping level out a mingling of flavors that should appease many palates.
Bladnoch 11 Year
For 11 years this golden scotch is aged, letting the fragrance of fruit fully embed itself for a pleasant aroma. With each sip, you can taste the Scottish influences, from the cereal grains to the lemon and flora notes that strike your senses the moment you open the bottle. Beneath all of those subtle flavors of this Lowland whisk is the perfect hint of sherry.
Lagavulin 16 Year
If you need a reason to choose this 16-year scotch whiskey, consider that people who drink scotch as if it were a hobby often land on Lagavulin. Whether it’s the fruitiness that brings a hint of sweetness to it or the lingering smokiness that will hook you is just a matter of taste, but the general consensus is that, together, it’s the perfect blend for the ideal golden amber, smooth drink.
Dark and mysterious. That’s one of the greatest traits of any single malt scotch whisky out there, and for Ardbeg Uigeadial, it’s right there in the name as Uigeadial means “dark and mysterious place.” This unique whiskey banks on hints of peat, espresso beans, and dark sugar to bring its rich flavor to life. Underneath those heavier notes, you’ll catch sweet fruits, malt, caramel, a smokiness, and black forest honey.
Old Pulteney 17 Year
There are few scotches that best round out a meal than Old Pulteney’s 17-Year single malt. Matured in sherry casks from Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso Spanish, this whiskey appeases all senses with hints of pears and apples and the rich sweetness of butterscotch. Vanilla and floral aromas draws you in time and time again, making it far-too-easy to go through a bottle without noticing.
Aberlour 12 Year
It may be relatively young compared to some of the older scotches out there, but Aberlour is ready to stand up to the big wigs in the whiskey industry. Rich fruit and smooth and buttery hints of toffee and vanilla bring this light amber scotch to life. Adding a kick are hints of cinnamon and a spicy oak that helps balance the whole experience.
Ardbeg 10 Year
The green bottle of this 10-year scotch whiskey may be hiding its amber color, but don’t let that fool you. Everything you’d expect from Scotland is there – the light salinity, the bitter hint of coffee beans, light notes of cocoa. Spice and sweetness balance one another out, ensuring that this 10-year drink isn’t too bitter.
Bunnahabhain 8 Year Heavily Peated
As if the name didn’t warn you already, this golden scotch is heavy with peat and is one of the lighter whiskeys from Islay. Though its color may be more subdued than other whiskeys, its flavor most certainly is not. Infused with honey apricot and hints of vanilla, there’s also a touch of saltiness that’s too be expected from an Islay scotch.
Macallan 12 Year
Thought to be one of the purest scotches to come from the Highlands, Macallan is the perfect drink to appeal to all kinds of whiskey drinkers. Vanilla and sweet cream come from being distilled in Spanish sherry casks while refreshing touches of apple blossom, tropical fruits, and syrup give this 12-year smooth scotch a balanced flavor that any sweet tooth should be able to enjoy.
Ignoring the fact that this bottle is stubby enough to fit into a suitcase and small enough to drink straight from the bottle without feeling awkward, Aberfeldy 12 is a flavorful mix of sweet and smokiness that will help soothe the woes of the day. Fruit and a very subtle smokiness fill this amber scotch with a flavor and aroma that’s easy to enjoy.
Balvenie 15 Year
A light color to this whiskey is no indication of its flavor as it boasts a robust mix of sweetness and spice that goes down smooth. Maybe the most attractive element of Balvenie’s 15 Year is the very fragrant aroma, which offers a recognizable mix of vanilla, heather, and honey for an inviting pour. Each batch of 350 hand-numbered bottles is unique, ensuring a surprising experience with each one.
Tamdhu 10 Year
This bottle of amber delights with light fruit and spice rounded off by something a bit richer mixed with toffee and a small touch of smokiness. When opened, expect to be hit with an aromatic pleasure of spice, toffee, and citrus. Though Tamdhu closed its doors in 2010 despite being open since the 19th century, it returned with a force in 2013 with this 10-year whiskey.
Oban 14 Year
Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, Oban boasts two centuries of experience, all bottled within this long-necked glass container. As you could expect from an old-timey scotch whiskey, Oban’s 14 Year boasts a rich flavor with an underlying smokiness and medicinal notes. Beneath it all lies a sweetness that helps keep the aged wood smoke aroma and flavors from being too overpowering.
Glenkinchie 12 Year
Not quite a teenage, but no longer an adolescent, the 12 Year from Glenkinchie is like the awkward age that it boasts – except instead of being awkward, it’s delicious and comes highly regarded. Glenkinchie focuses heavily on more earthy tones like nuts and barley to boost this light golden whiskey’s aromatic characteristics. When it touches your tongue, expect a hint of fruitiness with a very subtle finishing of fresh grass from the Lowlands it hails from.