Bartenders Tell Us Which Single Malt Scotches Over $70 Are Worth The Splurge

If you like Scotch whisky even a little bit, you probably know that starting a single malt scotch collection isn’t easy. Long matured, high-quality bottles of scotch typically come with a pretty hefty price tag — and yes, the difference is notable. The temptation is to stock your shelves with lower quality (and price) bottles, but what purpose does that really serve?

Better to build your collection slowly, over time. A $50 bottle here. A $250 expression there (hopefully these come as gifts!). Just try not to drink it as fast as you buy it.

To ensure that you don’t waste your hard-earned money, we asked a few bartenders for the bottles they think are worth the cash. Specifically, we asked them to name their favorite bottles of single malt Scotch whisky over $70 that they’re happy to splurge on. Check their answers below!

Lagavulin 12

Chris Johnson, beverage director at Oaxaca Taqueria in New York City

Lagavulin 16 is one of my true loves, but if you can get your hands on the Lagavulin 12 it just may change your definition of aged Scotch. Classic Islay brine and peat, but in a cask strength offering. The increased proof lends a bit more of an evolving oily texture that lets the peat develop on the palate.

If you can find some, let me know where.

Average Price: $149.99

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Gavin Humes, bartender at Scratch|Bar & Kitchen in Encino, California

There are a few great ones out there, but I’ll have to say the Ardbeg Uigeadail. While it can be tricky to pronounce, it’s a real delight on the palate. It’s got a bit of fruitiness, with a strong kick of that smoke from the peat.

Since it’s finished in ex-sherry casks, it features a gorgeous sweetness to it that I enjoy.

Average Price: $74.99

Aberlour A’bunadh

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Aberlour A’bunadh comes through with excellent sherry notes that help to round out the cask strength heat. Perfect for the fall and winter season sippers.

Average Price: $87.99

The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Nicholas Wyatt, bartender at Teddy’s Bourbon Bar in Prattville, Alabama

The Dalmore Cigar Malt is well worth the price tag. It’s unbelievably rich and packed with delightful sherry notes. You can’t help but feel good sipping it.

Average Price: $149.99

The Balvenie Port Wood

Benjamin Pozar, bartender at Red Brick Craft Distillery in Philadelphia

The Balvenie Port Wood has always been a go-to when someone else is buying. It’s hard to get a flavor that rich without going super oily and peaty. I like a little peat, not a kick in the face.

Average Price: $219.99

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or

Alex Clark, bartender at Square 1682 in Philadelphia

Nectar d’Or from Glenmorangie. This single malt is first aged in American bourbon casks, then switched over to wine casks from a sweeter wine-growing region in France. The use of two different barrels in the aging process brings a whole new profile to this scotch. You will get citrus on the nose and get flavors such as spices, nuts, and lemons.

This is a Scotch I could drink any time of the year.

Average Price: $73.99

The Macallan Rare Cask

Pablo Guerrero, food and beverage manager at Azabu in Miami

The Macallan Rare Cask. After being aged for up to 21 years, this Highland malt has so much to offer. It has many layers of spices, citrus, flavors, fruit and nuts, chocolate, and vanilla. The complexity and delicacy make this single malt worth its price.

Average Price: $369.99

The Glenrothes 18

Roberto Berdecia, bartender at La Factoria in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Glenrothes 18. They use a unique combination of American and European casks and finished in sherry butts. The complexity of the flavors is amazing — with hints of dried cherries, vanilla, and honey.

Average Price: $159.99

Talisker 18

Can Coskunkal, director of operations for Street Guys Hospitality in Washington, DC

Talisker 18 is always underrated. It’s my favorite. It’s very complex and ultimately smoky. The flavors of oriental tea and tobacco are the most noticeable and attractive flavors in the mix.

Average Price: $179.99

Writer’s Pick:

Highland Park 18

Hailing from the northern island of Orkney, this well-balanced whisky has hints of vanilla, caramel, dried fruits, all tempered with a subtle smoky finish.

It’s crazy to say, with such an expensive expression, but I see this as a value buy.

Average Price: $159.99