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These Bottles Of Scotch Whisky Under $100 Are Perfect For Christmas

With two holidays coming up back to back, it feels like it’s time to break out the whisky. In fact, we think it’s high time for a stiff drink or two of the good stuff. In this case, the “good stuff” is scotch whisky. Single malt, pure malt, blended… it’s all good this time of year.

We’re not ranking anything or blind tasting scotch for this. This is a simple list of 15 whiskies we like to drink across a pretty broad spectrum of flavors. There are a couple of blends, a few sweet single malts, and the requisite smoke monsters, all standing together. We also tried to keep the price range at $100 or less (with one exception).

Let’s stop with the preamble and get to the scotch!

Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $65

The Whisky:

Johnnie Walker’s Green Label is a solidly crafted whisky that highlights Diageo’s fine stable of distilleries across Scotland. The juice is a pure malt or blended malt, meaning that only single malt whisky is in the mix (and no grain whisky). In this case, the primary whiskies are a minimum of 15-year-olds from Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

Soft notes of cedar dance with hints of black pepper, vanilla pods, and bright fruit with a wisp of green grass in the background. The palate really delivers on that soft cedar woodiness while edging towards a spice-laden tropical fruit brightness. The finish is dialed-in with hints of cedar, spice, and fruit leading towards a briny billow of smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This happens to be our favorite bottle of Johnnie Walker around these parts. It’s a hell of a sipper and a great highball base.

Auchentoshan American Oak

Auchentoshan

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $41

The Whisky:

Auchentoshan American Oak is a stepping stone for bourbon drinkers looking to get into scotch. The juice is aged in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels only. Those fresh barrels help imbue bourbon-iness into the single malt while it matures.

Tasting Notes:

Bourbon vanilla and caramel greet you with a note of woody spice. That vanilla and spice carry through with a nod towards lemony citrus and cinnamon-dusted caramel apples. The wood, spice, fruit, and vanilla all shine on the medium-length finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a fairly accessible dram. Try it on its own first, then open it up with some rocks or in a highball to get the full experience.

Laphroaig Select

Laphroaig

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $55

The Whisky:

Master Distiller John Campbell created this whisky to highlight the diversity of the casking process behind Laphroaig’s classic expressions. The juice is a blend of four casks. Their quarter, Pedro Ximénez, triple wood, and ten-year-old casks are married to create a deeply satisfying bottle of whisky.

Tasting Notes:

The whisky draws you in with hints of red fruit, plums, nuts, and a bit of maltiness. The fruit leads the way on the palate while the wood leans mildly spicy with a bit of warmth and more of that malt. The end lingers as the fruit and wood come together with an ever-so-distant wisp of smoke.

Bottom Line:

This is a super-easy drinking whisky that works well as a cocktail base or in a highball.

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or Sauternes Cask Finish

Glenmorangie

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

This whisky from Glenmorangie is hard to deny. The juice is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for several years before being transferred into French Sauternes casks for a finishing touch. The French dessert wine casks don’t really sweeten the whisky so much as it refines it to the point of deliciousness.

Tasting Notes:

Bourbon vanilla and fresh honey combine on the nose with a dose of orange zest and pears. The palate delivers while adding salted caramel with a more spicy stewed pear vibe next to that vanilla, honey, and oakiness. The end is long, full of brightness, and has real roundness to the mouthfeel.

Bottom Line:

This is another sipper that you need to take your time with. Add a little water or a rock to really let it bloom and then enjoy it slowly.

BenRiach The Smoky Twelve

BenRiach

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $72

The Whisky:

This well-crafted whisky utilizes unique casking and blending to create a solid sipper. The juice is a blend of both peated and unpeated whisky that’s aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-Marsala wine casks.

After 12 years of maturation, the casks are blended, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This is sherry meets bourbon on the nose with hints of vanilla, almonds, and fruit with a minor note of smoke way in the background. The taste embraces the vanilla while playfully hitting notes of peppery spice, worn leather, and plummy sweet wine. The end brings about a thin line of campfire smoke that just accents the overall palate.

Bottom Line:

This is the “smoky” whisky for folks who don’t like smoky whisky. The smoke is there but it’s a minor part of a very sippable whole.

Aberlour A’Bunadh

Aberlour

ABV: 59.6%
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This much-beloved expression from Aberlour focuses on one thing: its cask. The juice is aged exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks. The whisky is then bottled at cask strength with no meddling whatsoever. The result is Aberlour in its purest form.

Tasting Notes:

Since this is cask strength, there will be slight variation in each batch. Expect plummy sherry next to a Christmas cake brimming with nuts, candied fruits, and plenty of molasses sweetness. The palate will carry on that Christmas cake route while getting spicier and a little woody. The end really amps up with water as notes of dark chocolate covered marzipan mingle with a hint of grassiness.

Bottom Line:

This is a splendid sipper. Just make sure to add little water or a rock to really let it shine.

Oban 14

Diageo

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

This gateway to Oban’s beautifully built whiskies is a charmer. The whisky is made in one of Scotland’s smallest seaside distilleries and that atmosphere leaks into every single drop.

Tasting Notes:

The sea meets fruit orchards, bales of straw, malts, and wisps of seaside campfire smoke. The body of the dram is silken and carries notes of sweet pears, summer florals, and very dialed back smokiness. The end is long-ish with a focus on the sweet fruits and sea brine leading towards a warm embrace.

Bottom Line:

This is a killer highball mixer. It also works really well as a casual, everyday sipper.

Lagavulin 16

Diageo

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This whisky is a salute to the smoked malts of Islay’s Port Ellen. The whisky takes its time with a long fermentation, distillation, and maturation process. After 16 long years resting in oak, the juice is proofed and bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

Creamy vanilla meets green tea, sweet paprika, and plummy sherry with a concentrated dose of smoke. The palate of sherry fruitiness and nuttiness has more of that creamy vanilla leading towards a very iodine-heavy peatiness. The end is long and kind of like meandering through a smokehouse full of orchard fruits, vanilla trees, a dark spices.

Bottom Line:

This is a touchstone bottle of booze. It’s, of course, a great sipper with a little water. It’s also amazing with cola (especially Coke), in the famed Smoky Cokey.

The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

The Balvenie

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

This whisky from The Balvenie is a delicious outlier on this list. The juice is aged for 14 long years in ex-bourbon casks. It’s then transferred to Caribbean rum casks that held rum specifically made for seasoning the barrels which then finish this whisky specifically. It’s very dialed and very f*cking tasty.

Tasting Notes:

Buttery toffee, pineapple, banana, and malts greet you. The taste amps up the creaminess with plenty of vanilla, molasses, and more fruit leaning towards stewed apple and pears. The end embraces the vanilla and warmth of the wood as it slowly fades away.

Bottom Line:

This really blooms in technicolor rays of light with a little water or ice. Take your time, take it all in, and enjoy this well-made dram.

Highland Park 12

Highland Park

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $56

The Whisky:

This whiskey from the far north of Scotland’s Orkney Islands remains enticingly distinct. The peat used to smoke the malts all comes from the grass on the wind-swept isles. This, combined with the brisk sea brine in the air and the sherry-cask-only maturation, makes for a complex drinking experience.

Tasting Notes:

It’s light, floral, and full of honey next to creamy lemon curd with a hint of that grass. The palate edges the citrus more into orange oil territory as the malts bring about a green tea earthiness with plenty of sweet berry fruit underneath it all. The end warms you with long rushes of dark spice and cedar leading towards a pleasant note of tobacco smoke.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid mixing whisky. Give it a shot in a Manhattan (Rob Roy) or boulevardier the next time you’re mixing up drinks.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg

ABV: 54.2%
Average Price: $82

The Whisky:

Pronounced “Oog-A-Dal,” this whisky is Islay’s peat in a bottle. The juice is crafted to be sweet and savory in the sense of the sea meeting the peat bogs on the land. The actual bottle is a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry matured whiskies that go in the bottle at cask strength, adding a serious kick.

Tasting Notes:

Christmas spices meet smoked plums and apricots with a distant hint of banana. The smokiness is very fruited with a malty underbelly leading towards more Christmas spice, creamy toffee, and dark espresso beans with a little water. The end is very long and full of peaty smoke, sea spray, dark fruit, and more of that Christmas spice.

Bottom Line:

If you dig peaty smoke monsters, this is the whisky for you. It really does explode with more flavors with the addition of a small amount of water or a rock.

Chivas Regal 18

Chivas Regal

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $82

The Whisky:

This blended scotch is designed to be sipped. The whisky is a blend of 20 single malts from around Scotland, representing the entire country in the bottle. The result is a highly sippable and award-winning blend.

Tasting Notes:

There’s an eggnog essence at play with both a creaminess and a real sense of nutmeg next to malts and orange marmalade. The taste delivers with a Christmas cake spice body, plenty of orange oils, and a dusting of dark chocolate (when water is added). The finish lingers for just the right amount of time with plenty of oak and spice remaining on your senses.

Bottom Line:

Add a little water and sit back and enjoy the ride on this one.

The Dalmore Port Wood Reserve

Dalmore

ABV: 46.5%
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This Highland whisky is all about that finishing maturation. The juice initially matures in white oak barrels from the U.S. It’s then transferred to Port pipes for a final touch of aging before being only slightly brought down to proof and then bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mulled wine feel to this dram with a focus on clove, orange, and plums. The whisky then goes full Christmas cake with plenty of molasses sweetness, dried and candied fruits, fatty nuts, and full-bodied cake mouthfeel. The end slows way down, as hints of spice and oak marry with rich pipe tobacco and a final note ginger spice.

Bottom Line:

This feels like $100 in every sip. It’s so easy to drink, really leans into the X-mas vibes, and is a wonderful gift bottle to boot.

Glenfiddich Project XX

Glenfiddich

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

This is a fascinating entry into Glenfiddich’s Experimental series. The distillery invited 20 malt masters to chose 20 barrels from their warehouses to create this whisky. Once the barrels were selected, Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman married the juices to create this expression.

Tasting Notes:

Big notes of cedar, orange oils, and buttery toffee draw you into the dram. The palate holds onto that cedar while Christmas spices mingle with creamy vanilla pudding and a note of milk chocolate buried deep within the sip. The end really lasts, especially when water is added, by amping up the milk chocolate to dark chocolate and bitter espresso with all that wood, spice, and creamy vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid workhorse bottle. Yes, it’s a fine sipper that’ll satisfy. It also really works in cocktails. Try this in an old fashioned or nog and you won’t be disappointed.

Talisker 18

Diageo

ABV: 45.8%
Average Price: $170

The Whisky:

This whiskey from the Isle of Skye remains one of balance between the mountains and seas. The juice is aged for 18 long years in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry wood before it’s blended to create a single malt that truly embraces the beauty of Skye in every drop.

Yes, we know it exceeds our price parameters, but this one is worth it.

Tasting Notes:

This is amazingly smooth with hints of apple brandy, sweet tobacco, aged wood, and a whisper of rosewater on the nose. The body is pure velvet cradling notes of smoky fireplaces, peppery spice, and bitter black coffee next to a slight fruit and malt underbelly. The end amps up the spice to Christmas cake territory while the smoke lurks in the background with a bit of salted citrus coming in late.

Bottom Line:

One rock. One pour. One happy customer. This is a great sipper that is worth the price of admission every single time. It also pairs amazingly well with smoked salmon and/or oysters.

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