Life

The Best Bottles Of High-End Scotch Whisky Between $300-$500

Most people will look at a $500 price tag for a bottle of booze — yes, even whisk(e)y — and laugh. Even when you’re very wealthy, spending $300-$500 for a single bottle of Scotch whisky is a big ask. The liquid encased in glass can’t just represent a series of pours, it has to create experiences. Something special.

The ten bottles of very expensive Scotch whisky below are, at the very least, fitting of that “special” designation. They each come with a story, complex flavors, new layers of nuance, and a whole lot of craft. They’ll help you take your whisky journey to the next level — maybe even shoot you into the stratosphere.

If you do want to give one of these Scotch whiskies a shot, click on the price links.

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46.2%

Average Price: $320

The Whisky:

This is Ardbeg’s yearly release of special batches of 19-year-old peaty malt. The whisky is Ardbeg’s signature peated whisky that’s bottled during a “haar.” That’s a thick and briny foggy morning on Islay, which imparts that x-factor into the whisky as it goes into the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in with a super subtle waft of soft smoke with hints of sour cream, fennel, and cold-smoked salmon on a pine cutting board that’s been washed in the sea. The palate holds onto that briny seaside vibe as it veers towards sea salt-laden dark bricks of fudge bespeckled with dried orange zest and lavender. The end circles back around to a sooty smoke that feels like a warm granite rock that’s been dipped in the sea and then rolled around in the dying embers of a fire.

Bottom Line:

I don’t even like heavily peated whisky and I love this. So, maybe I do like big peated whiskies now. That’s how good this stuff is — it will make you question what you thought you knew about your own palate.

Mortlach 18

Diageo

ABV: 43.4%

Average Price: $330

The Whisky:

This Speyside distillery is the aficionado’s label. This Mortlach expression spent 18 long years aging in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels before getting vatted, proofed down with that soft Speyside water, and bottled in a very art-deco decanter.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in with this sense of a wicker holiday basket brimming with sweet apples and pears mingling with shelled nuts, dried fruits, and sweet toffee candies all wrapped up in golden cellophane. The palate holds onto those sweet, nutty, and buttery notes while it dips into marzipan, salted caramel, and cherry tobacco. That tobacco holds on as the finish slowly fades away, leaving you with a final note of dark chocolate and orange oils.

Bottom Line:

There’s a pang in your heart when you drink this. It’s that sort of pain of realizing you’ve found one of your favorite whiskies (in any category) of all time that is just out of reach price-wise to be your favorite bottle. Still, that makes this an amazing celebratory bottle to have on your shelf for when you really need something beautiful in a glass.

The Macallan Sherry Oak Cask 18 Year

The Edrington Group

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $350

The Whisky:

This version of Macallan is all about the sherry oak aging. The whiskies are aged in hand-selected sherry-seasoned barrels for 18 years before they’re vatted, proofed, and bottled into this classic expression.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with this mix of ginger candies, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks with a touch of sultanas and dates. The palate builds on the spice with handfuls of clove, nutmeg, and allspice as cedar kindling mingles with a bright orange zest. That zest drives the finish as the ginger, dried fruit, and spice return, leaving you with this sense of spicy and sweet holiday candies.

Bottom Line:

If you love Macallan, you’re going to love this. The flavors are ultra-refined with a smoothness that few other whiskies possess. This is one of those “smooth” whiskies that you can use as an example of what “smooth” means when describing whisky. It’s really that easy drinking.

Chivas Regal 25

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $362

The Whisky:

This expression from Chivas is what the brand used to be back in the early 1900s before Prohibition struck everything down in the U.S. The 25-year-old blend was the high-water mark whisky of that era. Then it was gone. In 2007, Chivas decided to bring the iconic bottle of blended whisky back and we’re all better for it.

Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you in with orange-flavored marzipan, hints of dried fruits, and a subtle flourish of ripe peach skins with a malty underbelly. The palate holds onto that orange-marzipan vibe as layers of rich and dark chocolate arrive with silken vanilla and fruity/sweet woods. The finish on this one is long, bringing along a sense of creamy vanilla next to that sweet-yet-bright almond paste with orange oils.

Bottom Line:

This feels like the holidays in a glass. The vibe is very much like sneaking one too many sweets at Christmas. A nostalgia-activating, silken gem.

Highland Park 21

The Edrington Group

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $370

The Whisky:

This special release from 2019 is also sort of like a Scotch small batch. The whisky is a marrying of whiskies aged in nine first-fill sherry casks, eight bourbon casks, and nine refill barrels. Those whiskies are then vatted and brought down to proof on the windswept Orkney Islands.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of grilled tropical fruits drizzled with sweet and thick balsamic next to hints of shelled nuts and fresh ginger. The ginger spice persists as saffron-stewed pears mingle with vanilla husks, raisins, and pecans baked into pancake syrup. The end lingers for a while and warms towards the spicier end of the ginger as an earthy, almost mossy, peaty smoke dances through your senses.

Bottom Line:

This feels like it bridges the world of sweet and smoky scotch. The smoke is there, for sure, but it’s an accent for the fruitier and nuttier aspects of the sip. That makes this the perfect dram for anyone looking for the best of both worlds.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare Port Ellen

Diageo

ABV: 43.8%

Average Price: $375

The Whisky:

This rare limited release from Johnnie Walker has a backbone from a “ghost” — or permanently closed — distillery, the famed Port Ellen. There’s more. The blend also includes juice from two other shuttered distilleries, Carsebridge and Caledonian. That means this blend is not going to be seen again, ever. If you need more convincing, the whisky also has Mortlach, Oban, Blair Athol, Cragganmore, and Dailuaine whiskies layered in there, too.

Tasting Notes:

This has a vibe of oaty soda bread smeared with salted farm-churned butter with a hint of lemon curd, orange oils, and smoked pear. The taste moves the smoke away from the fruit and towards lavender as wet tea leaves mingle with vanilla-heavy cream soda and sea spray. The peatiness kicks up a subtle notch, bringing this vibe of a thick paper bag that once held BBQ charcoal next to more smoked pears, plums, and ginger.

Bottom Line:

This is smokier than a lot of Johnnie Walkers out there thanks to that Port Ellen foundation. Still, this is so unique and full of whiskies we’ll never see again … it feels like you have to try it at least once.

BenRiach The Twenty Five Speyside Four Cask Matured

Brown-Forman

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $400

The Whisky:

This is a very special mix of BenRiach whiskies. The juices are peated and unpeated whiskies that spend 25 years in sherry casks, bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, and Madeira casks before their brought together. The end result is proofed with Speyside water and bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s this feeling of hazelnut by way of a shot of espresso that merges with smoked stone fruits and dark chocolate on the nose. The taste then drives towards a rich eggnog creaminess and spiciness with more smoked stone fruits, salted honey-roasted almonds, and a woody apple tobacco chewiness. The end doesn’t overstay its welcome and leaves you with that tobacco chew and plenty of subtly smoked fruit.

Bottom Line:

You could argue that you’re not paying for one 25-year-old whisky with this bottle but four 25-year-old whiskies. That’s 100 years of whisky maturation in one bottle of booze. We’ll just leave you with that thought.

The Glenlivet XXV

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $456

The Whisky:

This masterpiece from Glenlivet is their iconic whisky that’s left to mature for 25 years. That whisky is then finished in an Olorosso sherry cask for that final chef’s kiss of perfection before going in the bottle at an incredibly accessible 86 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Imagine the best, most bespoke dark chocolate-covered raisins from a ridiculously expensive chocolate shop and you’ll be on the right track. Those sweets are the foundation for burnt orange peels, Almond Roca candies, and sweet caramel malts with zero edges. The finish is so long that you might still be thinking about it on your death bed thanks to an orange/spice/nutty matrix of silky whisky smoothness.

Bottom Line:

If we were going to spend nearly $500 on a bottle of whisky, this is probably the one we’d pull that trigger on. It’s really that good.

The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch No. 6

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 50.4%

Average Price: $480

The Whisky:

These special limited editions from Balvenie are all about highlighting very special barrels in small batches. In this case, the batch was drawn from 21 carefully chosen barrels to highlight the best of the best from the distillery. The whiskies were aged in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-sherry that already held whisky. Those whiskies were then vatted in Tun 1509 where they rested and mingled for three more months before bottling as is.

Tasting Notes:

This draws you in with a flourish of floral summer honey notes next to bright orange oils, wet brown sugar, and a touch of freshly squeezed ginger juice. Those orange oils turn candied orange as a dose of super high-quality maple syrup (that feels like it was just boiled after being pulled from the tree) ties everything together. A dusting of dark holiday spices cuts through the sweetness as a salted caramel maltiness ushers in the long-winded finish.

Bottom Line:

Once these bottles are gone, they’re gone. These drops are pretty much the best example of what small batching special barrels of scotch can achieve, making the high price all the more palatable.

Tomatin Single Malt 30

Takara Shuzo Corp.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $499

The Whisky:

This Highland whisky spent 30 years aging in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. If you score a bottle that was released last year, that means that that juice went into those barrels in 1990. That, in turn, means that the grains for that juice were grown in 1989. Michael Keaton was Batman in 1989. The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and Cheers were the top-rated T.V. shows. Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much was the longest-running number-one single that year.

This is all to say, that you’d be drinking a whiskey from a different time entirely.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of wildflowers and honey up front that leads towards a very soft and almost wet leather with a hint of creamy milk chocolate. The taste veers towards bright and almost acidic tropical fruits in a rich vanilla pudding with plenty of cinnamon spice and a touch of candied ginger. The floral-honey vibe returns and melds with the spicy vanilla pudding as an oatmeal raisin cookie butteriness and sugariness lingers on your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is worth grabbing just to taste something that was born in the 1980s. Back before the whisky boom, whisky was made a lot more slowly (and deliberately) and that’s what you’re paying for in this bottle.


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

×