Life

The Best Scotch Whiskies For Summer Sipping, All Under $100

While it might not conjure quite the same cooling image as an ice cold glass of beer or a fizzy cocktail, a nice whisky on a hot day is never a bad idea. The juice from Scotland is full of summer vibes, with flavors evoking bright apple orchards with plenty of summery floral notes to backyard smokers full of sweet billows of smoke and pepper-fatty meats. There’s a little summer in every bottle of Scotch whisky if you know where to look.

That’s where I come in. Below, I’m calling out 10 bottles of Scotch whisky that are full of summer vibes. I’m not ranking these bottles per se, just splitting up this list into three categories with three options in each: Blended whisky, Peated Single Malt, and Unpeated Single malt, with a wild card at the end. I’ll rank a top three of sorts for each category. This way you can grab a bottle that speaks to you without getting lost in a big list of everything all mashed up.

The best part? These are all under $100 per bottle and should be pretty easily findable at most good liquor stores. My suggestion, find a flavor profile that suits your palate and go from there. You won’t be disappointed by any of these picks.

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

Blended Whisky

3. Chivas Regal Mizunara

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

The Whisky:

Chivas is renowned for its iconic blended whisky. This expression — originally created for the Japanese market and released in the U.S. in 2019 — adds a unique dimension to the classic blend. A portion of the whisky is finished in Japanese Mizunara casks, adding a layer of nuanced flavors to the standard Chivas.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel and dark dried fruits mingle with tasty pears, soft orange zest, a touch of leather, fresh and floral honey, and maybe some old oak staves on the nose. The palate has a dash or two of winter spice next to walnuts and honey-soaked raisins with a hint of sun-burnt heather and wildflowers. The finish lets the spiciness warm the palate as pear and leather fade through the end.

Bottom Line:

This is a great place to start. This whisky is light and damn near airy. The honey and pear vibe is bright and helps carry the sip to a soft and silky end. All of that said, I do think this is best enjoyed over a few rocks, especially on the hotter days.

2. Compass Box Orchard House

Compass Box Orchard House
Compass Box

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $58

The Whisky:

This blended malt leans into apples as a predominant flavor note of sweet Scotch whisky. The juice in the bottle is a blend of 39% Linkwood single malt aged in ex-bourbon barrels, 20% Clynelish single malt also aged in ex-bourbon barrels, and Benrinnes single malt from ex-bourbon barrels. The next 8% is a single malt from a distillery in the town of Aberlour (not the distillery) that aged in ex-sherry butts with two percent from a Highland malt blend that aged in custom-built and toasted French oak barrels, and the final 2% from a peated malt from Caol Ila that matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Tasting Notes:

Naturally, apples burst forth on the nose with tart, sweet, and juicy notes next to a soft pear vibe, lemon and lime zest, a touch of sweet pineapple, and a soft echo of dry but fragrant Earl Grey tea leaves. The palate leans into fresh ginger soaking in a pot of floral honey next to minor notes of fresh strawberry shortcake with a soft vanilla sponge cake, fresh berries, and a dollop of vanilla-laced whipped cream. The finish leans into a light white floral note while the pear and apple return with a ripeness that feels like they’re fresh off the vine and a final note of lightly spiced malts with a whisper of applewood smoke.

Bottom Line:

This is a summer and slightly tropical fruit bomb that screams “summer sipping.” The overall feel is bright and sweet with a hint of spice to keep you on your toes. Again, this works wonders over the rocks or in a refreshing and ice-cold highball.

1. Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $75

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 (no grain whisky). In this case, the primary whiskies are a minimum of 15 years old, 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 is a great pairing for grilled salmon with plenty of lemon oils eaten while sitting on the grass in the backyard. Throw in a few rocks and a splash of fizzy water and you’re set.

Peated Single Malt

3. Bunnahabhain 12

Bunnahabhain 12
Distell Group Limited

ABV: 46.3%

Average Price: $55

The Whisky:

This Islay peated malt is another great gateway whisky, especially since this is an extremely lightly peated malt. This expression is made from 12-year-old barrels that once held bourbon or sherry. Those barrels are vatted and the whisky is proofed down and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this opens with mild notes of smoked cherry next to burnt candle wax, tart apples, and salted caramels laced with orange oils. The taste mellows with a creamy vanilla pudding base with notes of Black Forest Cake and plenty of brandied cherries and dark cacao and a faint hint of cherry wood smoke way back in the background. The finish leans into that dry and fruity wood and leaves you with a touch more vanilla silkiness and singed cherry wood.

Bottom Line:

This is super light for a peated malt. The fruit is center stage with an echo of smoke that’s more like sitting next to a BBQ while pineapple and peaches are grilled and you’re popping salted sour cherries while sipping — on the rocks of course.

2. Longrow Peated

Longrow Peated
J&A Mitchell & Company

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $82

The Whisky:

This Campbeltown whisky is distilled at the iconic Springbank Distillery. The whisky is a no-age-statement release that leans into the peatier end of the Springbank offerings. The whisky is bottled with a bit of water added to cut the proof down but without filtration or added color.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla pudding mingles with a line of smoke from a smoldering backyard firepit while a savory herb garden grows nearby and then the nose veers toward singed marshmallows and burning fruitwood. The palate leans into that burning fruity wood before creamy vanilla leads to a brand new Ace Bandage. That medicinal note gives way to a wet clay with a nice minerality before the sweet and fruity smoke kicks back in and layers together vanilla, winter spice, and leather on the finish.

Bottom Line:

This is all about sitting outside in the summer. The backyard firepit peatiness and savory herb garden are big notes to key into during the summer. That said, this does have a big medicinal note that can be pretty off-putting to the uninitiated.

1. Ardbeg An Oa

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46.6%

Average Price: $65

The Whisky:

This is a quintessential Islay peaty whisky. The juice is aged in a combo of Pedro Ximénez, charred virgin oak, and ex-bourbon casks before being married and rested again in Ardbeg’s bespoke oak “Gathering Vat,” allowing the whiskies to really meld into a cohesive dram.

Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you in with smoked peaches next to a smoldering chunk of cherrywood with singed sage and rosemary leading towards an echo of smoked brisket fat covered in a lot of black pepper. There’s a burnt toffee sweetness that leads to soft nutmeg, green herbs after a rainstorm, and sweet potting soil. Then an ashen vibe — kind of like a campfire the morning after — kicks in on the mid-palate and gives this away. That ash leads to walnut shells, old black tea bags, sweet black licorice whips, and a touch more of that smoky brisket fat.

Bottom Line:

“Smoky brisket fat” is about as summer as it gets. Plus, this whisky is so well refined that you can’t help but want to pour one once the weather heats up.

Unpeated Single Malt

3. The Balvenie Caribbean Cask

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $86

The Whisky:

The Balvenie is renowned for doing everything in-house, from growing grains to making their own barrels, while also being the distillery that spearheaded the whole “finishing whisky in a different cask” movement. In this case, the juice spends 14 years maturing in ex-bourbon barrels. The whisky is then batched and transferred to barrels that The Balvenie aged their own blend of West Indies rum in.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a welcoming rush of buttery toffee up top with hints of brown spices, bright red berries, and a touch of sweet malts. The palate brings around creamy vanilla dotted with those sweet and slightly tart red berries next to a very soft and sweet oakiness. The finish is medium-length and full of soft wood, vanilla cream, and a touch of that brown spice.

Bottom Line:

A rummy whisky feels very summery, especially with a good dose of bright berries in the flavor profile. This whisky has all of that with a good, malty base that shines the brightness on the rocks or in a highball with a few tart red berries as garnish.

2. Speyburn 15

Speyburn 15
InterBev

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $59

The Whisky:

Speyburn is an old-school Speyside whisky that was huge in the time of Queen Victoria and still wins awards to this day. That long-lasting quality is due to slow whisky making just off the River Spey, where everything moves a little slower from the fermentation to the stills to the aging. The juice spends 15 years aging in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks before vatting, proofing, and bottling without any filtration.

Tasting Notes:

Interesting. This opens with a pinch of Kosher salt next to dried grass husks with soft leather and a hint of carambola on the nose. The palate sweetens toward a pear candy with a touch of passionfruit tartness next to grapefruit oils, nutmeg and allspice, and honey candies. The finish rides that bright and fresh fruit toward a soft landing in a pillow of malts and subtle winter spices filtered through a vanilla cake.

Bottom Line:

This is bright and deep with big citrus notes next to almost juicy fruitiness. That’s all tempered by a bright and floral honey vibe that makes this feel like a summer refresher in a Glencairn. Add a little ice and this might well be your drink of the summer.

1. Glendronach 15 Revival

Brown-Forman

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $79

The Whisky:

Revival 15 takes its sherried nature very seriously. The juice is aged in a combination of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks for 15 long years. Those casks are married and this whisky is brought down to a very easy-drinking 92 proof with that soft Highland water.

Tasting Notes:

Dark berry brambles with tart and sweet fruit, stems, thorns, and even a little black dirt draw you in on the nose with a hint of walnut shell and cherry pie. The palate is a creamy-yet-bitter dark chocolate orange that leads toward a semi-savory fig countered by ripe apricot. The chocolate comes back with cinnamon spice and more dark berries and walnut on the end.

Bottom Line:

This is good any time of the year (all of these are at the end of the day) but really hits a nice, deep note in the summer. Bright stonefruit and dark chocolate feel right on the palate here and a single rock really helps this one bloom in the glass to find those deeper notes.

Wild Card

Oban 14

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $69

The Whisky:

This is a great gateway to both Oban and scotch, in general, to have on hand. The juice is classically made and then matured in the Oban storehouses for 14 long years — all within a stone’s throw of the sea. The whisky barrels are then blended and proofed by Oban’s tiny distillery team (only seven people work there) before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Citrus, salt, and a billow of peat smoke open this one up in classic fashion on the nose. That citrus carries on as a foundation for mild spices on the palate as a note of honey, hints of pears, and plummy dried fruits mingle on the tongue. The oak spice and extremely mild peat smoke meet on the end with a slight malty sweetness as the sip fades.

Bottom Line:

This feels like another great pairing for eating grilled salmon or prawns while sitting on fresh green grass in the backyard — maybe there are a few smoked oysters going around too. The citrus and honey really help this one pop as a summer sipper, especially on the rocks.

×