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Our Favorite Scotch Whisky At Every Price Point From $30 To $500

We’ve been spending a lot of time calling out our favorite Scotch whiskies at every price point between $30 and $500 this year. Over the course of that journey, we’ve named 130 bottles of scotch that we fully and 100% vouch for. But as drilled down as those lists hope to be, that’s still a lot of scotch to sort through. So to narrow it down even further, we’re picking the single best bottle (in our opinion) at each one of those price points.

The litmus for picking these 13 bottles is very simple. First, each one of these whiskies was in one of our previous price point posts. Second, these are the best-tasting Scotch whiskies in their respective price points that we know of. The bottles we reach for and truly stand behind as the best of the best.

Naturally, there are thousands of bottles that didn’t make this list. That’s not to say those bottles aren’t good and there are still plenty we haven’t tried. But these are our “best in class” picks… for now. If they make you thirsty, click on the prices to try them for yourself. At the very least, you’re going to be expanding your whisky knowledge and palate.

$30-$40 — Chivas Regal 12

Chivas Brothers

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

The Whisky:

This Highland whisky is built around the famed Strathisla Distillery. The whisky is crafted to work as a sipper or mixer, with real complexity built-in. It really shines in both respects.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a matrix of oak, nuts, malts, and fruit up top. The fruitiness leans into orchards in full bloom as a minerality drives the taste towards spicy tobacco with a hint of creamy vanilla. The oak peeks back in with a little more maltiness, as the end slowly fades alongside a mild chewiness.

Bottom Line:

Chivas is the classic “scotch on the rocks” whisky. While we dig it in that format, this is also one of the better highball whiskies out there. In the end, this is quality whisky that’s as easy to find as it’s easy to drink.

$40-$50 — Glenmorangie The Original 10

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $46

The Whisky:

Glenmorangie The Original is the ultimate gateway scotch, especially to the Highland brand’s long list of specialty finished whiskies. This juice spends ten long years resting in ex-bourbon casks before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Peaches swimming in creamy vanilla are countered by a rush of bright lemon zest. The palate really lets the vanilla shine with a mild maltiness next to hints of dried flowers and orange rinds. That orange lightens on the medium-length end as the vanilla fades with a hint of spice and wood, leaving you with a final burst of that bright citrus and creamy peach.

Bottom Line:

This is pretty easy to get into as an “on the rocks” sipper. Where this expression really shines, though, is as a cocktail base. The subtle citrus, vanilla, and spice hold their own in a Penicillin or boulevardier very well.

$50-$60 — Laphroaig 10

Beam Suntory

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $59

The Whisky:

This might be one of the most “classic” Islay smoky whiskies on the shelf. The craft behind this whisky is a blend of the unique Islay peat (used to smoke the malts) and the influence of the sea, which laps at the distillery’s outer walls.

Tasting Notes:

The smoke is what greets you with a hint of fruity wood, creating an almost sweet smoke next to a hint of anise and maybe some Band-Aid scent (not in a bad way!). The palate holds onto the smoke while adding a wet seaweed brininess next to hints of vanilla cream, peppery spice, and soft oak. The end really amps up the smokiness while holding onto the iodine of the sea with a final note of salted toffee.

Bottom Line:

This really is a love/hate whisky. We’d argue that if you let it bloom with a little water or a rock, you’ll find something truly special in the glass — but you have to like smoke. If you’re really not sure about smoky whisky, then this is at least affordable enough that you won’t feel too bad if you don’t end up finishing the bottle.

For us, this really shines in an Edinburgh sour with a nice dose of lime juice, egg white, and simple syrup to balance all that smoky iodine.

$60-$70 — Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $66

The Whisky:

The blend is a “pure malt” blended whisky, meaning that it’s made only with single malts (usually blended scotch is made with both grain and malt whisky). In this case, the juice is pulled from all over Scotland with a focus on Speyside, Highland, Lowland, and Island malts, including a minimum of 15-year-old Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

This sip draws you in with the smells of an old, soft cedar box that’s held black pepper, sweet fruits, and oily vanilla pods next to a hint of green grass. The taste really holds onto the cedar as the fruits lean tropical with a hint of dried roses pinging in the background. The end builds on that by adding a note of spicy tobacco, a splash of sea spray, and a distant billow of campfire smoke.

Bottom Line:

A lot of people love this bottle (us included). If you can find it, it makes one of the best highballs you’ll ever taste while also working perfectly well as a sipper on the rocks or a cocktail base.

$70-$80 — Oban Little Bay

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $78

The Whisky:

This expression from the tiny-yet-legendary Oban distillery is a highwater mark in whisky-making. The single malt is a blend of whisky matured in American and European oak barrels touched by sherry. The juice is then batched and instead of being vatted in a big tun, then it’s re-barreled in small-format barrels for a final maturation before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a spicy, fruity, and nutty Christmas cake next to bright pops of red berries, pear, and apricot. The candied orange from the Christmas cake rises to the surface on the taste, next to ripe pears, and the feel and taste of salted dark chocolate just touched by mint.

The finish is slow and so mild — with that salted chocolate vibe carrying on towards a final touch of that Christmas cake in all its glory.

Bottom Line:

We’re pretty big fans of Oban around these parts and this dram is a great example of why. It’s smooth with a capital “S” and only gets better and more unique as you take your time nosing and tasting over and over again (just don’t forget the drops of water).

$80-$90 — Ardbeg Uigeadail

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 54.2%

Average Price: $84

The Whisky:

Oog-a-dal!” This dram, also from Islay, is a blend of old and young single malts aged in ex-sherry casks with ones aged in ex-bourbon casks. The final product is a single malt that’s deeply flavored yet still approachable.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a definite peat smoke on the nose but it’s kissed with sea brine and counterpointed by notes of holiday cake stuffed with candied orange, fatty nuts, dried fruit, and plenty of dark spice. Those spices marry to the smoke as the palate sweetens with toffee and becomes almost like silk with a rich choco-tobacco chew arriving late, bringing a buzz to the tongue. The end really embraces that chew as notes of toffee, dried fruit, and spice lurk behind the billows of briny smoke.

Bottom Line:

Peat aficionados who need more balance than a pure peat bomb will appreciate the touch of sea brine alongside the smoke. Still, this is a bold smoky whisky that’s simply not for everyone.

$90-$100 — Aberlour A’bunadh

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 56.2% (varies)

Average Price: $95

The Whisky:

A’bunadh (ah-boon-arh) means “the original” in Gaelic and the juice in this Highland bottle represents that for Aberlour. The whisky is matured in old Olorosso sherry casks exclusively. The juice then goes into the bottle at cask strength, unfussed with.

Tasting Notes:

That sherry plumminess is evident right up top, with hints of bright orange oils, clumps of dark chocolate, honey, and nuts, and a hint of oak. The taste shines with notes of dark, ripe cherries, prunes, more bright orange zest, dark chocolate, and a good measure of svelte vanilla. The slow finish leaves you with a creamy mouthfeel next to bitter chocolate next to sweet cherries and plums, all of which leads towards a warming spice on the tongue at the end.

Bottom Line:

This is a damn-fine sipper. A little ice or few drops of water really helps to open up the deeper bitter chocolate and vanilla edges while holding onto all those fruits. Price aside, this also makes a killer cocktail.

$100-$125 — Lagavulin 16

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $120

The Whisky:

This is an “essential” scotch for any whisk(e)y drinker. The Islay expression harnesses local Port Ellen peated malts to create their smoky whisky. But it’s more than that. Aging on the sea and masterful barreling and blending brings about an Islay whisky that’s about much more than just smoke.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a clear billow of smoke similar to an alder-fueled smoker (placed on a beach), dripping with brisket and salmon fats as it smokes those meats along with all the brown sugar, salts, and spices those meats were brined in. The palate holds onto those notes while drying out, a touch — with mild vanilla and fruit in the background. In the end, the sea salt, fatty smoked beef and salmon, and soft dry woods dominate the palate as this one fades slowly away.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect barbecue or smoked fish pairing whisky. Yes, it’s peaty and smoky but those billows ride along with the richer notes of all that brown sugar, sea salt, and fat. They never overpower the whisky or everything else that’s going on.

Plus, you can’t make a Smoky Cokey without this. The mix of Classic Coca-Cola and Lagavulin 16 in a highball is one of life’s best “this shouldn’t work but it sure as hell does” drinks that you’ll fall in love with from the first sip.

$125-$150 — 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 overripe 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.

$150-$200 — The Balvenie DoubleWood Aged 17 Years

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $155

The Whisky:

The Balvenie continually hits it out of the park with their lineup. This expression spends 17 long years maturing in old American oak before it’s transferred to old sherry casks for about a year more of maturation. The results are then proofed with that soft Speyside water and bottled in the brand’s iconic, stubby bottle.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a clear sense of Granny Smith apple peels that are still fresh, next to oily vanilla, fresh honey, and a slight touch of cedar. The taste indulges in the vanilla, creating a creaminess, while a deep Christmas cake vibe of dried and candied fruits, almonds, dark spice, and orange arrives. The end is long and luxurious with more of that spicy, nutty, and fruity holiday cake dancing through your senses on the slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is a crazy easy sipper (as with most of The Balvenie’s roster). Add in an ice cube and really take your time letting this bloom in your nose and on your tongue. It’s the sort of bottle that feels like a celebration dram (though we wish it could be our everyday dram!).

$200-$250 — Talisker 18

Diageo

ABV: 45.8%

Average Price: $248

The Whisky:

This is a classic single malt that also happens to hold the title of “Best Single Malt Whisky in the World” from the World Whiskies Awards. The iconic juice is rendered in Talisker’s bespoke stills and then spends nearly two decades resting in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels, like most of the true classic single malts.

Tasting Notes:

This is subtle. The nose has a light yet clear sense of ripe plums, orange oils, buttery toffee, and an almost sour apple next to a distant whiff of briny campfire smoke from one beach over. The orange oils remain on the palate as eggnog spices peek in gently, with hints of that butter toffee driving a rich silkiness. The smoke remains in the distance as the spices warm your senses and the meaty fruit takes the edge off on the slow and satisfying fade.

Bottom Line:

This is a masterpiece. It’s not overly smoky or overly sweet. Instead, you get a perfect balance of everything Scotland has to offer, from both poles of the Scotch whisky experience. From the first sip, it’ll become obvious why this continually wins top whisky awards and has taken home the title of “world’s best whisky.”

$250-$300 — The GlenDronach Parliament Aged 21 Years

Brown-Forman

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $260

The Whisky:

Don’t let the name fool you. The “parliament” in this case is the collective noun for rooks — a type of European crow that nests above the distillery. That dark essence is rendered in the whisky through 21 long years of maturation in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks exclusively.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lot going on with this nose, starting with blackberry brambles hanging heavy with ripe fruit leading towards a well-spiced oatmeal cookie vibe and cut with hints of orange zest and vanilla. A sticky toffee pudding sweetness arrives (heavy on the dates) with flourishes of bitter dark chocolate notes and a sharp holiday spice matrix. The end is very long but very velvety with hints of dark fruits and spices warming your body as it fades away.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those “ah-ha!” whiskies where you might finally “get” what all the fuss is about when it comes to pricey scotch. This is a phenomenal dram that needs a little time to really open up. So add some good water. Re-nose. Re-taste. Take your time and find the depths within this one.

You won’t be disappointed.

$300-$500 — 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.


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

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