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The Best Bottles Of Scotch Whisky Between $125-$150

Whereas bourbon is close to maxing out at this price point (before expressions hit the aftermarket), we’re only just now entering the elite-range when it comes to Scotch whisky. Yes, it’s all “damn good stuff,” but the top tier is yet to come. We still haven’t hit the 20-year-old expressions yet (one of the most coveted sweet spots in all of scotch production), much less the one-offs.

What we are talking about are bottles that can help you expand your scotch knowledge, gain awareness of various regions, and educate your palate about interesting barrelling techniques. We tried to cast a wide net to include a solid selection from the smoky and sweet side of scotch production, but beyond that, these are just our favorite drams between $125 and $150. Click the prices to order the expressions that look best to you!

Glenmorangie A Tale Of Cake

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $125

The Whisky:

Released late last year, this expression aims to bring a dessert vibe to Glenmorangie’s deep line of expressions. The juice is first aged in ex-bourbon casks. Then it’s vatted and transferred to ex-Tokaji wine casks (a Hungarian dessert wine) for final maturation. The idea is to imbue the whisky with a pineapple cake feel that accentuates the whisky in the glass.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with classic Glenmorangie notes of fresh honey and nuts with a touch of chocolate that leads towards a rush of tropical and stone fruits — almost like a hazy NEIPA. The taste holds onto those base Glenmorangie notes while adding in ripe pear next to vanilla cream, a touch of sweet orange cake, and a whisper of mint. The end circles back to the honey, nuts, and chocolate notes as it (fairly quickly) fades away.

Bottom Line:

This really does feel like a great dessert sipper. There’s a nice sweetness that’s never cloying but very fruity, edging towards buttery. Pour a dram after a big meal and let it work its magic.

Aberfeldy 18 Limited Edition

Bacardi

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $130

The Whisky:

This release from late last year is a masterclass in finishing a whisky. The juice is first aged for 18 years in refill bourbon and sherry casks. Then the whisky is transferred to first-fill red wine casks from Pauillac, Bordeaux. The whisky is then proofed with the soft water from a local, gold-flecked river to a very accessible 86 proof.

Tasting Notes:

That beautiful creamy honey and vanilla of Aberfeldy greets you with notes of blackberries, soft cedar, and a hint of marzipan and rose water. The palate creates this bowl of vanilla sauce over ripe red berries (blackberry and raspberry especially) that’s drizzled with fresh honey next to soft and dry cedar leading to dry grass. The end embraces the fruit and takes on a fermented apricot (not quite a schnapps) vibe, as the honeyed sweetness and nuttiness slowly fade out.

Bottom Line:

Full disclosure, this is my favorite expression from Aberfeldy, so maybe I’m biased. But I’m telling you — this is phenomenal with a single rock in a Glencairn. The berries, honey, almond, cedar all hit just the right balance to be something that’s impossible not to enjoy.

Jura 18

Whyte & Mackay

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $132

The Whisky:

This Island whisky from Jura is a fairly new expression from the old-school distillery. The juice is matured for 18 long years in ex-bourbon. It’s then vatted and finished in Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux barrels for a finishing touch. As a final touch, it’s proofed down with spring water to a very sippable 88 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mix of cinnamon, clove, pineapple, and citrus on the nose that reminds you of a tropical cocktail you can’t quite put your finger on. The bourbon comes through with a rich vanilla underbelly, supporting very distant sprays from the sea next to dried red berries covered in bitter dark chocolate. The end holds onto the bitter, edging towards coffee beans while the fruit gets drier with a final briny note arriving late.

Bottom Line:

This is a really interesting whisky. It’s squarely in the sweet scotch category but carries a lovely and light note of the seaside — bringing something new to the mix. A rock in the Glencairn might even bring about a light smoky cedar note, while amping up the chocolate and dried berries.

Mortlach 16 The Distiller’s Dram

Diageo

ABV: 43.4%

Average Price: $135

The Whisky:

This tiny and iconic Dufftown distillery is the whisky aficionado’s distillery. The whisky in this bottle is distilled almost three times (2.81 times to be exact) through various types of pot stills. The juice is then aged for 16 years in sherry casks before it’s, vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

You’re met with a bowl full of stewed plums with anise, clove, and cinnamon in the mix, next to a slight sense of dry moss. The taste has a faint vanilla edge next to velvety honey, sharp spice, old leather-bound books, and a touch of bruised apricot. The end is very long, holds onto the spice and fruit, and leaves you with a sense of creamy vanilla honey.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those scotches that you either know about and love or have probably never heard of. I’ve yet to have a dram from this shingle that’s not been superb-to-straight-up-stunning. This expression isn’t their very best, but it’s definitely special.

Oban Distiller’s Edition

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $140

The Whisky:

Last year’s Distiller’s Edition is all about a unique finishing. The small seaside distillery vats their iconic whisky and then transfers that into Montilla Fino sherry casks for a final maturation by the sea. The end results are batched, proofed, and bottled at a very crushable 86 proof.

Tasting Notes:

The nose pulls you in with an orange-flavored saltwater taffy wrapped in wax paper next to a whisper of sea brine-filled smoke. The palate mixes a soft malty grain beside a mild orange zest, salted peanut shells, and oyster liquor with a hint of the shell. The end is very subtle, with hints of salted dark chocolate leading towards a mild bitter coffee bean vibe on the slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect seafood pairing whisky. Grab a plate of fresh oysters, a bucket of steamed clams, or a hearty seafood chowder and enjoy the nuance of this seafoam-whipped whisky.

Deanston 18

Distell Group Limited

ABV: 46.3%

Average Price: $140

The Whisky:

This whisky switches up the aging process a bit. The juice is first aged for 18 years in old sherry hogshead casks. Then the whisky is finished in first-fill bourbon casks for the final maturation. Finally, the whisky is proofed with water from just outside the distillery’s walls and bottled without any other fussing.

Tasting Notes:

The nose isn’t that bourbon forward. Instead, you’re greeted with a mix of dried florals, malts, straw, and honey that leads towards a bourbon vanilla pod note. The palate bursts with orange oils, peppery spice, and honeyed sweetness with a touch of ginger juice and oak. The end embraces the honey and spice as it slowly fades out, leaving you with a final (mild) touch of vanilla and oak.

Bottom Line:

There’s an interesting base to this dram that’s rooted in a sweet scotch through and through. The bourbon notes feel like a final flourish instead of a part of the dram’s core — it’s very dialed back and easy to miss.

Still, it’s interesting to try a whisky that treats bourbon the way that other expressions use sherry in the finishing process.

Laphroaig Lore

Beam Suntory

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $145

The Whisky:

This is the culmination of all of Laphroaig’s 200-year history in a single expression. The juice is a mix of whiskies aged in first-fill sherry, first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon, and sherry hogshead casks. The ages range from seven to 21 years. The whisky is then vatted and proofed down to 96 proof with soft Islay water before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of black smoke and ash on the nose next to a cut of bitter dark chocolate and slight hints of sea brine. The palate embraces the heavier notes of peaty ash with a dry edge next to dark chocolate touched with chili spice and a hint of nuttiness. The end is surprisingly short and leaves you with a sense of sea salt, cold ash, and a dose of honey-roasted almond.

Bottom Line:

Personally speaking, this isn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the craft. There’s a clear complexity that unabashedly embraces the beauty of peaty Islay whisky heritage in every sip.

If you’re a true peat-lover, this is going to be your jam.

Highland Park 18

Edrington Group

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $148

The Whisky:

This Viking whisky from high up in the Orkneys takes barreling one step further. Their 18-year expression is matured in casks made from American and European oak specifically for Highland. Those bespoke vessels are sent to Jerez, Spain to age sherry for three years. The same barrels are then sent back to Orkney to age this whisky for all 18 of its years.

Tasting Notes:

This really feels like a classic scotch at every step. You’re greeted with notes of marzipan, dark berries, honey, and light lines of smoke on the nose. Those notes hold on as buttery toffee arrives with a dark chocolate counterpoint, leading towards ripe red cherries and floral honey. The end embraces distant billows of sweet smoke with a dry and earthy undertow on the slow, sweet, and berry-filled fade.

Bottom Line:

This feels like the best of all worlds when it comes to scotch. It’s mildly smoky without being a peat-monster. At the same time, it really holds onto the berry and honey sweetness of a sweet scotch without overpowering the peat.

It’s a great balance and a fine sipper.

The Glenlivet Enigma

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 60.6%

Average Price: $149

The Whisky:

This is a whisky with a gimmick. The game that’s afoot with this dram is that it was released with no information about what it is: No age statement, maturation notes, or even tasting notes. It was kind of like the perfect blind tasting exercise from a major brand and we’re here for it!

Tasting Notes:

The dram opens with warm notes of stewed apple with a lot of cinnamon in a buttery and crumbly pie crust with a touch of orange zest in the mix. The palate adds in notes of dried fruits, ripe cherry, and more of a tart apple than a stewed one while holding onto the dark spices. The end is very long and holds onto the spice and fruit the longest, with a hint of dried grapes (sultanas really) and wet oak.

Bottom Line:

SPOILER ALERT:

Turns out this was aged in American oak and finished in Cognac casks. That aside, this is a fun dram for any tasting. No one can glean anything from the bottle and you really are going in blind (as long as you don’t spoil the ending).

The Arran 18

Isle of Arran Distillers, Ltd.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $150

The Whisky:

This is classic, old-school whisky making. The juice is aged in a mix of sherry casks for 18 years before it’s vatted, proofed, and bottled without filtration or any other fussing.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a nice mix of maple syrup with blueberries that almost feels like blueberry pancakes with a mug of cinnamon-spiked apple cider to wash it down. The palate holds onto that warmth with spicy grilled peaches dripping in more syrup with notes of orange zest brightening things up. That’s paired with a touch of wet oak. The end really holds onto the cooked peaches, spice, and orange as it fades out fairly slowly towards a mild yet dry tobacco chewiness.

Bottom Line:

This whisky might be a little harder to find, but it’s worth it. It’s a fine, fruity whisky that goes deeper the more you nose and taste it. Take your time and let all the bright fruit flavors develop.


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