It’s time to stock your bar cart with really good Scotch single malt whisky for New Year’s Eve 2022. I’m not talking about blended malts (a blend of multiple single malts) or blended whiskies (a blend of single malt and single grain whiskies) either. I’m talking about the good stuff made from one single malt whisky that you can use for sipping and mixing all night as you await the ball drop and 2023.
For this list, I’m calling out 10 bottles of Scotch single malt whisky that I’d be totally down to drink neat, on the rocks, in a highball, or in a cocktail this weekend — I’ll indicate which is which in the “Bottom Line” of each entry. Overall, these are whiskies that deliver big flavor notes without breaking the bank.
The best part? They’re all under $100.
Lastly, you should be able to actually find all of these whiskies pretty easily at any given (good) whisky shop. Or just click on the prices to see if you can get them delivered to your region. It’s that easy, folks, so let’s dive right in!
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Average Price: $47
This Highland malt is the cornerstone of the much-beloved Dewar’s Blended Scotch. This whisky is a very accessible single malt that spends 12 years resting in various casks before it’s married and proofed down and bottled.
Nose: The heart of the nose is in the mingling of pear and honey with a hint of Christmas spice, especially nutmeg.
Palate: The palate expands on that with a lush maltiness, creamy vanilla, mild spice, and more of that honey and orchard fruit.
Finish: The end gets slightly nutty and bitter with a little water as the honey, fruit, and spice linger on the senses.
This is a great place to start. Aberfeldy 12 is the perfect cocktail and highball whisky. It shines with good fizzy water and a lemon or orange peel. It also makes one hell of a penicillin cocktail. While you could pour this over some rocks or drink it neat (I’m not going to stop you), you really want to stick to mixing with it.
Average Price: $64
This is one of the most awarded single malts ever. The juice is matured in ex-bourbon casks in Talisker’s warehouse which is literally feet away from the sea. The subtly peated malts take on a real seaside feel as those years tick past, creating a whisky that will not disappoint.
Nose: The nose opens with this soft sense of pitted orchard fruits next to a thin line of beach campfire smoke far off in the distance with a hint of minerality and bright spiced malts.
Palate: The palate has a hint of an oyster shell that leads to dried pears and apricot with a hint of warmth and spice malt next to dry sweetgrass.
Finish: The end is full of lightly smoked plums with a touch of cardamom and cinnamon next to sea salt and a final whiff of that beach campfire way down the beach somewhere.
This is the quintessential single malt with a dash of peated depth. Overall, I like this over the rocks. That said, you can mix this into a nice boulevardier or briny highball with a fresh oyster shooter on the side.
Laphroaig Càirdeas Warehouse 1
Average Price: $90
This year’s Càirdeas release celebrates the Friends of Laphroaig and how they keep the brand going. The whisky in the bottle is made from Laphroaig’s high-phenol peated malt right next to the sea on Islay. The hot spirit was then filled in first-fill limited edition single barrel Maker’s Mark bourbon barrels. The barrels were then stored in the famed four-story Warehouse 1 right next to the crashing sea until they were just right and then bottled as-is after vatting.
Nose: The nose opens with a huge note of smoked grainy malts next to an un-opened box of Band-Aids, peppery smoked brisket with plenty of smoked fat, and smoked sea salt counterpointed by vanilla sheet cake with a honey icing and dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Palate: The palate opens with burnt yet buttery toffee next to white wildflowers, dried fennel, and rich and creamy honey smoothness and sweetness.
Finish: The end gets a little woody with a fatty smoked peppery vibe next to more toffee and a dash of seawater-washed granite.
This is for the peat heads who might be at your NYE party. It’s smoky and earthy AF with a deep medicinal vibe. I don’t drink this stuff — I like my peaties more fruity and BBQ pit forward, not floral and medicinal — but I have deep respect for the incredible quality of this heavily peated malt.
The Balvenie DoubleWood Aged 12 Years
Average Price: $70
This is the whisky that launched the “double aging” trend back in 1982. This unpeated single malt spends 12 years mellowing in ex-bourbon casks before it’s transferred to ex-sherry casks for a final maturation of nine months. Finally, the whisky is vatted in a “tun” where it rests for three to four months before proofing and bottling.
Nose: Soft and floral honey mix with a hint of vanilla extract, sweet red berries, and wine-soaked oak.
Palate: The palate meanders through light touches of marzipan with a hint of cinnamon and fields of plum trees with a whisper of tree bark and leather lurking in the background.
Finish: The finish lets the spicy malt kick in with a dose of hot cinnamon and honey tobacco.
This is a great utility pour. It works wonders in any whisky cocktail that you want to make while also working perfectly well on the rocks or in a highball.
The Dalmore 12
Average Price: $68
This Highland whisky is a gateway whisky that feels like a classic. The juice is aged in ex-bourbon for nearly a decade. The whisky is then transferred to former sherry casks for that crucial finishing touch of maturation for around three years. It’s then proofed down to a very accessible 80 proof.
Nose: Oranges studded with cloves mingle with a deep dark chocolate foundation and a hint of eggnog creaminess and spiciness.
Palate: The palate goes even deeper on the orange and spice as heavy vanilla arrives — the husks, seeds, and oils are all present.
Finish: The end is fairly succinct and touches back on the chocolate with a bitter mocha-coffee vibe and more vanilla.
This feels like winter in glass (it’s not the only whisky on this list to achieve that), meaning it’s the perfect seasonal pairing whisky. That aside, I’d lean toward either mixing this into a simple highball or good soda water and a twist of orange peel or just sipping it neat by the fire.
Glendronach 15 Revival
Average Price: $79
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.
Nose: 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.
Palate: The palate is a creamy-yet-bitter dark chocolate orange that leads toward a semi-savory fig countered by ripe apricot.
Finish: The chocolate comes back with cinnamon spice and more dark berries and walnut at the end.
Yet another wintry classic, this really is a great neat sipper. That said, I do prefer this poured over one large ice cube in a rocks glass. It just shines when sipped that way.
Average Price: $95
A’bunadh (ah-boon-arh) means “the original” in Gaelic and the whisky in this Highland bottle represents that for Aberlour. The whisky is matured in old Oloroso sherry casks exclusively. The whisky then goes into the bottle at cask strength, unfussed with.
Nose: 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.
Palate: The taste shines with notes of dark, ripe cherries, prunes, more bright orange zest, dark chocolate, and a good measure of svelte vanilla.
Finish: The slow finish leaves you with a creamy mouthfeel next to bitter chocolate next to sweet cherries and plums, all of which lead towards a warming spice on the tongue at the end.
This is the last of the super holiday-driven pours. It’s perfect in a neat Glencairn glass — you’ll be in for a long and rewarding nosing and tasting experience. It also works really well over a big rock thanks to the high ABVs. Lastly, replace your bourbon or rye with this in a Manhattan (a Rob Roy, really) for a killer NYE cocktail.
Average Price: $61
The Beast of Dufftown hails from a tiny yet beloved Speyside distillery. The actual whisky is also made on their smallest still, nicknamed “Wee Witchie.” That juice then goes into ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for 12 years. Finally, those whiskies are married, proofed, and bottled.
Nose: This is subtle yet engaging with a nose of almost burnt toffee next to bright red berries, mild spice, hints of oak, and a bit of cedar.
Palate: The palate leans into the berries by becoming jammy with more of that toffee and a mild sense of spicy tobacco arriving late.
Finish: The end is long-ish with a plummy chew next to that tobacco and malty spice.
The Mortlach is what you break out and drink neat with the true whisky lovers in your crew. This is a niche brand that makes delectable whisky for true believer Scotch whisky drinkers.
Ardbeg An Oa
Average Price: $73
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 pour.
Nose: Slow-smoked peaches mingle with soft cherrywood and a bundle of smoky savory herbs — sage, rosemary, ramps — on the nose.
Palate: The palate is soft and buttery with a sweet burnt toffee vibe next to nutmeg, walnut, Earl Grey, and maybe a touch of woody maple syrup.
Finish: The end takes its time and meanders through salted black licorice, wild florals, more singed savory herbs, and a hint of black-pepper-covered brisket fat that’s been heavily smoked over sea-soaked driftwood.
This is the perfect pairing whisky for a big holiday meal, smoked joint of meat, and buffet of holiday desserts. It’s peated — sure — but that ashy peatiness is more tied to smoked and roasted meats and dark fruits than Band-Aids and ashtrays. This is especially good over some ice with a dash of Angostura bitters.
Lagavulin Offerman Charred Oak Cask Aged 11 Years
Average Price: $85
This brand-new release is the third collaboration between Lagavulin and Nick Offerman. This time around, the team at Lagavulin took 11-year-old malt and finished it in heavily charred casks that used to hold bourbon and red wine. Those barrels were then batched and built around flavor notes that pair perfectly with a steak dinner.
Nose: The nose opens with a rich peatiness that’s tied to pecan chocolate clusters and dried cranberries with a dusting of sea salt, burnt orange zest, and fine nutmeg.
Palate: The palate dips those red tart berries in dark salted chocolate with cinnamon bark and clove buds next to espresso cream and a whisper of malty vanilla wafers with fresh honey in between.
Finish: The end has this enigmatic mix of smoked toffee, salted black licorice, and brandied cherries wrapped in cinnamon-laced tobacco and folded into an old cedar box.
This pull is part conversation starter — surely there will be some Nick Offerman fans in your crew — and a part solid sipper. The easy-going peated Islay whisky is built toward American palates that know bourbon but want more earthy depth and less sweetness. Pour it over some rocks, grill up that on-the-bone steak, and bake a pecan pie. You’ll be set for a long night with good food, whisky, and conversation.