The Best Bottles Of Scotch Whisky Between $150-$200, Ranked

Good whisky costs good money. That’s especially true if you’re talking Scotch or Japanese whisky. The best stuff takes time and effort to make and that cost is built into the price you pay on the shelf. When it comes to great bottles of scotch (which is what we’re talking about today), paying $200 for a bottle isn’t that out of the ordinary. In fact, this price point is the high-end of the middle of the road, cost-wise. We’re not even into the classic 20-year-old and over bottles yet.

The ten Scotch whiskies below are all special bottles, even if they’re all under 20 years old. I’m diving deep into my tasting notes to pull out ten scotches I think are actually worth paying between $150 and $200 for. And while most of these are simple and delicious sippers, there are a few that might have a small collectibility factor, due to being one-off special releases.

Either way you slice it, all ten whiskies below are worth seeking out. That said, I did rank these according to taste. For the most part, I’d pay these prices for the top seven simply for the pleasure of drinking them. Numbers 7-10 are all great sippers too, but don’t quite grab my attention in the same way. Of course, all palates differ — so read those tasting notes and find your own path into the high-end world of Scotch whisky.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months

10. Bowmore 18

Bowmore
Beam Suntory

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $185

The Whisky:

Islay’s Bowmore has one of the lowest peated levels of any whisky from the famed island. This whisky spends 18 long years maturing in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks before those barrels are blended, proofed down with Islay’s soft groundwater, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of creamy toffee candies bespeckled with dried fruits — think cherry, grapes, plums, currants — that leads towards a light sense of bourbon vanilla next to an echo of smoked cherries and apricots with a hint of smoked candied almonds. The palate luxuriates in soft and almost creamy milk chocolate malts that form a foundation for spicy oatmeal raisin cookies, a whisper of dried roses, and a touch of dry wicker. The finish takes its time and cycles back through the chocolate and oatmeal cookie spice, leaving you with a sense of dried wicker that’s just been singed by flame.

Bottom Line:

This is ranked ten, sure. But this is stellar juice. That said, I generally use this more for a subtle Manhattan variation or Sazerac than a sipper. But that’s just me, because this is a very easy sipper — especially for a peated whisky.

9. The Macallan Double Cask 15

Edrington Group

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $169

The Whisky:

The “Double Cask” of this The Macallan release is a sherry-seasoned American oak cask and a sherry-seasoned European oak cask. Both casks mature the whisky for 15 years before they’re married and that batch is brought down to a very drinkable 86 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a smooth vanilla that feels a bit like it’s cut with honey, a touch of butter toffee, and a hint of stewed apple on the nose. The palate, on the other hand, has a deep dried fruit sweetness and dryness (think sultanas and prunes) next to a bit more of that honey, a whisper of dry cedar, and a spritz of orange oils. The end holds onto that orange and brings the vanilla cream back as it slowly fades away, leaving you with an almost caramel maltiness.

Bottom Line:

This has a lovely balance of dry and creamy with plenty of fruit and honey. It’s really easy to drink all around. That said, this is a bit of a crowd-pleaser that doesn’t quite hit the depths of some of the other whiskies on this list.

8. Craigellachie Aged 17 Years

Bacardi

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $179

The Whisky:

Craigellachie is the other whisky that helps make Dewar’s (the other main base spirit being Aberfeldy). This expression is made with old-school stills and stored in old-school warehouses. The juice is aged in ex-bourbon casks for 17 years and vatted to highlight the uniqueness of the brand.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in by that familiar and deep vanilla note with some apple pie in there next to a dried and salted pineapple candy, a touch of smoked oats, and a savory fruit (almost a honeydew melon). That pineapple note holds on and intensifies to a pineapple and vanilla pudding on the palate as dry and woody spices arrive next to a hint of dry tobacco, cedar, and a billow of dry smoke. The end embraces the smoke through the filter of that pineapple pudding as it slowly fades out.

Bottom Line:

Like the Bowmore above, this is a solid sipper that works wonders in a cocktail. This makes for a great boulevardier or Sazerac base thanks to the boldness of the flavor profile.

7. Aberlour 18 Years Old

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $168

The Whisky:

The expression from Speyside’s Aberlour also uses old bourbon for its primary maturation and ex-sherry for its finishing maturation. Finally, it’s proofed down with soft Speyside water and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in with a note of hard butterscotch candies next to a touch of chinotto (bittersweet Italian orange), butter toffee, and the slightest wisp of peach pits. The taste builds out from that peach pit layer with a note of ripe peach flesh and fuzzy skin while jammy blackberry leads towards a soft cedar. The finish really takes its time and leaves you with a silken texture next to a honeyed sweetness and a final roundness of vanilla cream.

Bottom Line:

This is where things get interesting. I really adore this as an end-of-the-day sipper with a single rock. That addition of water lets this one really bloom in the glass, releasing those deeper stone fruit, buttery, and jammy characteristics.

6. Lagavulin 12 The Lion’s Fire

Lagavulin 12 Lion's Share
Diageo

ABV: 56.5%

Average Price: $200

The Whisky:

This is the younger of two special releases from Diageo last year. The whisky is built from juice aged in refill bourbon casks, meaning that the casks had already aged bourbon and then aged single malts at least once before this whisky was filled into them and left for 12 years. That whisky was then vatted and bottled at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with notes of air-dried sea salt mingling with nori wetted with sushi rice and a clear sense of green tea with a hint of dried florals that lead toward dry cacao powder, salted lemon peels, and a very distant line of sea-spray laced campfire smoke with wet sand lurking underneath. The palate takes that sea salt, nori, and lemon and tosses them together for a sharp yet dry and briny mouthfeel that leads back to now-sweetened tea with a hint of waxy saltwater taffy. The mid-palate rushes towards a big billow of dry driftwood smoke that’s emboldened by a handful of smoked and dried ancho chilis.

Bottom Line:

This is just straight-up delicious. It’s so complex, alluring, and different while still making sense from nose to finish. You really need to take your time with this one though and add a little water or a rock to plumb its depths.

5. Mortlach 13 The Moonlit Beast

Mortlach
Diageo

ABV: 55.9%

Average Price: $176

The Whisky:

This special edition Mortlach leans into the “beast of Dufftown” moniker the brand has earned by being bold and unique. The whisky in the bottle is a spirit that spent 13 years aging in both refill bourbon casks and new oak. Those barrels were vatted to create this beast of a whisky and it was bottled at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

This starts off very unexpectedly with a nose full of Thanksgiving dinner. The roasted turkey with sage, thyme, and rosemary leads towards a bowl of cranberry sauce cut with holiday spices and a touch of sweetness next to the bold tartness of the berries while candied fruits, floral honey, and varnished cedar round out the nose. The palate builds on that vibe and adds in a vanilla-chili note that attaches to a dry cedar box full of fruity and sticky tobacco. That spice really leans into freshly cracked black pepper as the fruitier notes from the nose return to mellow everything out on the long finish.

Bottom Line:

This is like a dose of nostalgia in whisky form. This whisky will take you home again. It’s powerful and deep while feeling like you’re being comforted in a warm blanket next to a crackling fire.

4. Oban 18

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $175

The Whisky:

Oban is a tiny distillery that makes some of the world’s best whisky. This expression starts off like all Oban by going through their small, lantern-shaped stills twice before the juice is filled into used oak for an 18-year maturation. The best barrels are vatted and proofed down to a very sippable 86 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mild whiff of beach campfire smoke that leads towards a fruit salad full of pear, peach, plum, and something more tropical (not quite a banana, not quite a pineapple). The palate embraces the fruit to the point where it feels like a smoked fruit saltwater taffy next to a hint of mild eggnog spices. The end stays light as those spices kick up alongside a smoked salted caramel sweetness leading towards a final billow of that beach campfire smoldering a few camps down the beach.

Bottom Line:

Sometimes simple is all that you want. And by “simple,” I do not mean basic. This is a damn-near-perfect whisky that knows what it is and hits every note beautifully. This is a great slow sipper that pairs wonderfully with a full plate of raw oysters or a pile of prawns.

3. Ardbeg Fermutation

Ardbeg
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 49.4%

Average Price: $200 (Limited)

The Whisky:

Ardbeg’s boilers breaking down led to this whisky. Instead of throwing out the mash until the boilers were fixed, Dr. Bill Lumsden (the mad-scientist distiller behind Ardbeg) decided to see what would happen if they let it be. The washback lids were opened and the mash was allowed to ferment with the sea-kissed Islay air for three more weeks. To put that in perspective, Ardbeg (and most whiskies) usually ferment for 72 hours before distillation. Once the boilers were back up and running, the whisky was distilled and then barreled in first-fill and re-fill bourbon casks. 13 years later, Dr. Bill decided it was ready.

Tasting Notes:

The nose starts off with this burst of fresh green grass just after the rain that melts into a summer herb garden (mint heavy), grapefruit seeds, and smoked butter with sweet lemon candy and orange trees that are underpinned with a dark and rich soil that’s been turned with manure. Going deeper on the nose, you get fresh tires, mossy fir bark, and maybe a hint of fennel-heavy focaccia. The palate starts off incredibly soft with a toffee note before veering into burnt scones, hints of absinthe, turmeric, and finally Marlboro Red cigarette ash. That ashiness builds on the palate as a slight Windex note pops in next to a hint of mint candy and some more mild toffee. The finish lets that sweetness stay while the cigarette ash builds towards a crescendo and leaves your senses feeling like you’ve licked an ashtray with a hint of minty toffee candies.

Bottom Line:

This is the wild child of the list. As with a lot of Ardbeg special releases, you’ll either love it or hate it with the passion of all the fires of hell. This is so outside the box and unique that I can’t help but love it. That said, you’re going to want to open this up with some water or a rock.

2. The Singleton of Glendullan 19 The Siren’s Song

The Singleton
Diageo

ABV: 54.6%

Average Price: $177

The Whisky:

This Speyside malt — which is getting pushed pretty hard on the U.S. market right now — is all about the honeyed and heather notes of the region. This expression rested in former bourbon barrels for nearly two decades before it was transferred to a cognac cask. After that final maturation, the whisky was bottled at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this is one of the fruitiest out there with strong notes of apricot next to dried figs, orange oils, old raisins, and candied fruits that lead towards a rummy fruitcake with a tube of marzipan running through it and a light flourish of fresh heather flowers. The palate really holds onto the fruit with the candied fruits and citrus rinds leading the way as apple cores and stems veer the taste towards a woodier note of cedar with a slight echo of white grape juice. The mid-palate holds onto the sweetness of that juice as the malts kick in with a slight tobacco spice that’s just touched with a hint of dried and candied ginger.

Bottom Line:

Floral, fruity, and honey-hued, this whisky rules. It’s so soft and inviting while delivering deep flavor notes that feel like summer in a glass. This is a stellar sip of whisky that’ll have you hankering for more the moment your glass is empty.

1. Glendronach 18 Allardice

GlenDronach 18 Alladrice
Brown-Forman

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $190

The Whisky:

This Highland whisky is a local tradition of sorts, dating back to the brand’s origins in the 1820s. The whisky in the bottles is hewn from barrels of at least 18-year-old whiskies. The maturation is done exclusively in hand-picked Olorosso sherry casks from Spain.

Tasting Notes:

Old orchard wood, soft leather, dried orange peels, raspberry jam, and creamy dark chocolate gently mingle on the nose. That jam leans into a spiced cherry compote as stewed plums with plenty of allspice and clove lead to soft walnut cake with a malty backbone. The mid-palate takes that walnut and sweetness and moves the taste toward velvety malts and soft and sweet orchard wood, a dusting more of that dark chocolate, and dark berry silkiness.

Bottom Line:

This unpeated whisky is perfect. If you buy only one, let it be this one. The perfection of this one transcends styles. I’d drink this before I’d drink another bourbon, especially at this price point. It’s just that good.

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