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A Whisky Writer Shares His Favorite Non-Chill Filtered Scotches In The $100-$200 Range

Christopher Osburn has spent the past fifteen years in search of “the best” — or at least his very favorite — sips of whisk(e)y on earth. He’s traveled to over 20 countries testing local spirits, visited more than 50 distilleries around the globe, and amassed a collection of bottles that occupies his entire basement.

In this series, he cracks open his worn “tasting diary” and shares its contents with the masses.

There’s a pretty good chance that much of the whisk(e)y you’ve imbibed in your life has been chill-filtered. While all whisk(e)y is filtered prior to bottling in an effort to remove random impurities, chill-filtering is a more elaborate process used by some distilleries. It consists of filtering the whiskey at low temperatures (hence the “chill”), which isolates larger clumps of cloudy chemical compounds and sediment from the barrel-aging process.

This cloudiness, haze, and random sediment mostly only occurs in whisk(e)ys that are less than 46% ABV. Whisk(e)ys above this threshold tend to skip chill filtration.

So why does anyone care whether their favorite whisk(e)y expression is or isn’t chill-filtered? Because the process, on top of removing extra chemical compounds and sediment, also removes a great deal of flavor. “Non-chill filtered” has actually become a whisk(e)y selling point, especially in the single malt Scotch world.

Below, you’ll find eight of our favorite non-chill filtered single malt Scotches between $100-$200.

GlenDronach 18 Allardice

GlenDronach

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $188

The Story:

Named for the founder of GlenDronach (James Allardice), this complex whisky was aged for eighteen years totally in Oloroso sherry casks. First launched in 2009, it’s become one of the most sought-after bottles from the beloved brand.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is totally dominated by fruity sherry scents. After that come aromas of butterscotch, dried cherries, and slight spice. The palate is highlighted by raisins, dried apricots, candied pecans, honey, caramel, and more sweet sherry. The finish is warming, sweet, and fruity.

Bottom Line:

If sherry isn’t your jam, this is definitely not the whisky for you. If you enjoy the sweet, fruity flavor of fortified wine, this may become your new go-to dram.

Springbank 15

Springbank

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $145

The Story:

One of the most well-known Campbeltown distilleries, Springbank has a whole range of flavorful, rich, never chill-filtered expressions. Its 15-year-old single malt features spicy, fruity, nutty, and extremely sippable flavors.

Tasting Notes:

This whisky has a very complex nose. There are aromas of dried raisins, sticky toffee pudding, wood char, brown sugar, and a pleasing fruity scent throughout. Sipping it reveals dried cherries, raisins, buttery caramel, almonds, and pleasing vanilla. It all ends in a crescendo of woody oak and sweet, fruity sherry.

Bottom Line:

While this whisky definitely has flavors that will appeal to sherry-finished whisky drinkers, it’s well-balanced with other flavors to appeal to others as well.

Bunnahabhain 18

Bunnahabhain

ABV: 46.3%
Average Price: $149.99

The Story:

Unlike most of the single malts that come from Islay, this award-winning whisky is un-peated. It’s also non-chill-filtered and matured for eighteen years in sherry casks. Even without the smoke associated with other whiskies from the island, it still has the briny and sweet flavors.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with notes of ripe berries, sweet sherry, and salted caramel, with a touch of spice. On the palate, you’ll find a good deal of sherry sweetness, dried cherries, slight ocean brine, and a gentle, nutty flavor. The last few sips are filled with a combination of sweet sherry, salt, and oaky wood.

Bottom Line:

This sweet, fruity, slightly salty whisky is a respite from some of the potent, rich, peated, and oh-so-smoky whiskies from the sheep-filled island of Islay.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Ardbeg

ABV: 57.1%
Average Price: $100

The Story:

If you enjoy peaty, smoky drams, you’re probably well acquainted with Ardbeg. While you’ll enjoy its 10-year-old expression, where it really shines is with its non-chilled filtered, high ABV Corryvreckan. Named for a nearby whirlpool, this expression is rich, peaty, and deeply memorable.

Tasting Notes:

Breathing in the nose reveals notes of caramel, slight herbal notes, and a lot of peaty smoke. The palate swirls with dried orange peels, toasted vanilla beans, slight peppery spice, toffee, and smoky bacon. The finish is slightly salty, smoky, and sweet.

Bottom Line:

This is a bold, high-proof, potent whisky that is so filled with rich campfire smoke that you’ll need to sip it extra slowly while you unlock all of the flavors.

Aberlour A’bunadh

Aberlour

ABV: 61.5%
Average Price: $110

The Story:

There’s a reason bartenders and whisky aficionados alike obsess over Aberlour A’bunadh. Aged only in Oloroso sherry butts from Spain, this cask-strength single malt is robust, sweet, fruity, and highly memorable.

Tasting Notes:

This is a very sweet nose. Buttery caramel, dried cherries, and a fruity sweetness take center stage. The palate reveals sherry sweetness, raisins, ripe berries, oaky wood, and vanilla beans. It all ends with a nice mixture of pepper and dried fruits.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for an extremely high-proof single malt that still manages to be mellow, sweet, and rich, this is the whisky for you. This is especially true if you love sherry matured whiskies.

Ledaig 18

Ledaig

ABV: 46.3%
Average Price: $150

The Story:

This is an extremely interesting single malt. In many cases, a single malt is either heavily peated or sherried, this whisky is both. This single malt is peated to give it a nice hit of robust smoke and then spends much of its aging process in American oak barrels before being finished in sherry butts.

Tasting Notes:

Complex aromas of smoked bacon, fruity sherry, dried berries, and vanilla are prevalent. The palate is littered with candied orange peels, chocolate fudge, peppery spice, peat, and slight fruit, before ending with campfire smoke and sweet dried cherries.

Bottom Line:

Sherry finished single malt fans looking to get into peat-smoked whiskies should grab a bottle of Ledaig 18. It’s a great combination of the two single malt styles.

Glenfarclas 105

Glenfarclas

ABV: 60%
Average Price: $100

The Story:

Glenfarclas 105 isn’t the type of single malt that Scotch fans are used to seeing. It’s bold, rich, and ridiculously high proof (120). It carries no age statement, but it’s believed to be between 8-10 years old and is aged in both former sherry butts as well as ex-bourbon casks.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of sweet cream, fruity sherry, toffee, chocolate fudge, and a slight nuttiness. The palate is filled with cracked black pepper, candied pecans, dried orange peels, treacle, and just a hint of spice. The finish is a mix of caramel, pepper, and sweet sherry.

Bottom Line:

This single malt is big, bold, and high in alcohol. But it’s not remotely harsh at all. In fact, it’s sublimely mellow, fruity, and sippable.

Deanston 18

Deanston

ABV: 46.3%
Average Price: $129.99

The Story:

If you’ve never strayed away from the big single malt names to try the likes of Deanston, now is the time. This non-chill-filtered expression from the brand is aged for eighteen years in oak casks before being finished in ex-bourbon barrels. It’s known for its slightly spicy, sweet, caramel flavors.

Tasting Notes:

Enjoyable aromas of graham crackers, dried berries, vanilla beans, and fresh hay highlight the nose. The sip brings forth notes of candied orange peels, caramel candy, clover honey, and toffee. The finish is warming, mellow, and has a gentle nutty sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is the non-chill-filtered expression for drinkers who prefer gentle, vanilla-centric single malts without any smoke or extra sherry sweetness.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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