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These Bottles Of Scotch Are Absolutely Worth Their $50-100 Price Tags

A quality single malt scotch is always going to set you back more than a well-crafted bourbon. There are a lot of factors at play to create that higher price tag — price differences between corn and barley, malting techniques, international tariffs, etc. — but if you pick the right bottle, the cost can definitely be worth it. Single malt scotch is a refined spirit that still maintains a lot of variation, depending on who’s making it and where their stills and warehouses are located in Scotland.

That makes finding the best bottles of scotch a fun endeavor. An adventure for your palate.

Scottish single malts are simple only in their base parts: local water, yeast, barley, peat, and wood. From there, the stills (some antique, some new), the way the barley is malted, the quality of the water, the specific woods used to age the expression, how those whiskies are married for the final product, and the all-important abilities of the distiller, noser, and blender each add a little something special. While each whisky region of Scotland (Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland, Islands, and Speyside) tend to have a distinct feel, there are still variations therein. If you love scotch, you really just have to go distillery by distillery and find what grabs you.

To help you start your single malt scotch whisky journey, we’re calling out ten bottles that are worth every penny. We’re keeping these call-outs around the $50-$100 mark — which, admittedly, is steep. But these bottles are also “value picks” — marrying great taste and a heightened whisky experience with a fair price.

Check out our ten single malt scotches worth their $50 to $100 price tags below!

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve

ABV: 40%
Distillery: The Glenrothes Distillery, Rothes, UK (Edrington)
Average Price: $50

The Whisky:

This Speyside whisky is a standout bottle. The juice was aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. Due to that process, this is a solid single malt for bourbon fans looking to expand their palates (and whisky knowledge) further afield.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla pods, honey, coconut, and a slight marzipan nose greets you. The bourbon vanilla really pops with a soaked-in-honey vibe as the spice kicks in. The marriage of pepper and cinnamon is counterpointed by a hint of red berries. The woody nature of the dram pops late as a flourish of orange helps close out the sip.

Bottom Line:

This is a great highball base and feels like a whisky that could easily be in the $75 range.

Auchentoshan The Bartender’s Malt

ABV: 47%
Distillery: Auchentoshan Distillery, Dalmuir, UK (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $50

The Whisky:

This Lowland whisky is a one-of-a-kind, devised especially by 12 international bartenders who make a living working and drinking the stuff. The juice is a blend of single malts aged in ex-Laphroaig casks, rum casks, red wine barriques, German oak casks, and American oak casks.

Master blender Rachel Barrie assisted the bartenders in selecting casks, some of which were up to 40 years old.

Tasting Notes:

Fresh pipe tobacco dances with a note of milky chocolate, honeycomb, and dried stone fruit. The sip edges towards wildflowers while a sharp fresh ginger spiciness balances an almost croissant level of buttery malt, spiked with vanilla. The warmth from the ginger and sweetness of the honey linger the longest as this dram slowly fades away.

Bottom Line:

This is a great workhorse single malt for cocktails, highballs, and on the rocks.

Talisker Distiller’s Edition

ABV: 45.8%
Distillery: Talisker Distillery, Isle of Skye, UK (Diageo)
Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

This Island whisky from the Isle of Skye is damn near perfect. The whisky is rendered by the masters at Talisker and then double matured — first in Olorosso sherry casks and then finished in the subtler Amoroso sherry casks.

Tasting Notes:

The sea and smoke meet on this one with a hint of berry. There’s a mild spiciness that leads to a smoked fat feel from an old smoker with a splash of seawater smoothness, mild bitterness, and toffee. The sip doesn’t overstay its welcome and instead beckons you back for more.

Bottom Line:

Worth every penny and then some. Check out our full review here.

Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Caol Ila Distillery, Islay, UK (Diageo)
Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

Down in Islay, this small whisky operation is one you may not have heard of but will fall in love with on the first sip. Caol Ila is also renowned for its refinement and accessibility compared to the bigger peat-monsters of Islay. This particular dram ebbs into that subtly by aging in Moscatel sherry casks to really smooth the juice out.

Tasting Notes:

Oysters, beach campfire smoke, dry cedar bark, and vanilla custard lead the way. The peat is clearly present but offset by a maple sweetness and a spicy stone fruit jam feel. That stone fruit, smoke, and mild brine all combine on the end with a subtle push towards orange zest and oak with a final rush of minty tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This was love at first sip for me. I’d buy it by the case if I could, and drink it with a single rock all day.

Highland Park Aged 15 Years

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Highland Park Distillery, Orkney, UK (Edrington)
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This one is going to be a little tough to source in all markets, but it’s worth the hunt. The juice is aged in American oak from the Ozarks that is sent to Spain to air dry for two years and then holds Olrosso sherry for a couple of more years before heading to Scotland’s Orkney Islands to age this whisky.

Tasting Notes:

Well oiled leather, fatty nuts, marzipan, and burnt brush greet you. The sip embraces the nuts and smoke as an apple and pear orchard arrives with a cinnamon and honey flourish and plenty of that Ozark, sherry-soaked oak. The sweetness holds as the toasted oak really shines through on the long end.

Bottom Line:

Given the depth of work that goes into the barrels alone, this could cost twice as much, and the taste of this dram matches that.

The Balvenie Aged 14 Years Caribbean Cask

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown, UK (William Grant & Sons)
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

This is a classic all around. The whisky is aged in former rum casks that The Balvenie uses to age their own blend of West Indies rums. After those rums age, the barrels are emptied and the whisky goes in for its own rest. The results are a much-beloved expression from this Speyside distillery.

Tasting Notes:

This isn’t rum-flavored whisky. It’s more a whisky that reminds the sipper that rum exists and is delicious — by leaning into tropical fruit notes next to orange and creamy vanilla pudding. The fruits, toffee, vanilla, spice, and a mild wisp of smoke all balance perfectly as the sip slowly dissipates through your senses.

Bottom Line:

If this dram doesn’t wow you, we’re not sure what will. It’s also excellent in a highball.

Lagavulin Aged 16 Years

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Lagavulin Distillery, Islay, UK (Diageo)
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This is probably the most “classic” expression on this list and likely one of the most well-known. This whisky is crafted to represent the wonders of deep peatiness associated with Islay whiskies.

Tasting Notes:

The Port Ellen peaty malts are the star of the show but in no way overpower the dram. Creamy vanilla custard sits next to a black tea bitterness with a spice matrix and sweetness pulled from the sherry. It’s malty, smoky, sweet, rich, creamy, spicy, briny, and… just f*cking good.

The finish embraces the peat smoke, spice, and vanilla as it fades at exactly the right speed.

Bottom Line:

If you can find this for less than $100, buy all of it you can. Also, don’t sleep on the illustrious and devilishly simple Smoky Cokey, especially if you have some Jarritos Mexican Cola on hand.

Oban Little Bay

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Oban Distillery, Oban, UK (Diageo)
Average Price: $75

The Whisky:

While this is technically a Highland whisky, Oban’s location beside the sea sort of bridges it to the Islands and Islay, too.

The tiny distillery is in the heart of the town and this expression is a love letter to that place. The juice is aged in various sized barrels for varying times and with a variation of new and used casks in the mix. The final result is a masterclass in refined whisky.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a fruitiness that welcomes you up top. The sip edges into malts, apple orchards, butterscotch, orange zest, and sharp clove on the tongue. All of that combines to create a sort of spiced apple cake with a buttery crumble as it slowly meanders away while warming you up.

Bottom Line:

A great bargain for a unique expression. Check out our full review here.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

ABV: 54.2%
Distillery: Ardbeg Distillery, Islay, UK (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy)
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

Ardbeg is the quintessential peaty Islay single malt. Their Uigeadail expression — pronounced “Oog-A-Dal” — is named after the local lake where the distillery pulls its water for making their whisky. The ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casking are classic measures taken to enrich the already deeply flavorful spirit.

Tasting Notes:

Smoky fruits, wildflowers, and Christmas spices dominate up front, with a fleeting sense of banana. The fruit and smoke dominate the palate with hints of spice and oak adding a nice warmth as the leisurely finish slowly ebbs.

Bottom Line:

This is just a solid bottle of booze all around and a great example of a place and style. Also, check out our full review here.

Dalmore Port Wood Reserve

ABV: 46.5%
Distillery: The Dalmore Distillery, Alness, UK (Emperador Inc.)
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This is another expression that puts on a lot of miles while aging. The juice is initially aged in American oak. Then it’s transferred to tawny Port casks from Portugal. Finally, the two are married and bottled when the juice hits the exact right moment.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of light white cake covered in fresh, tart berries and sugar with a rush of orange and clove lurking in the background. The dram then veers into the world of honey, fresh ginger, black pepper, dried fruits, and dark chocolate bitterness. In the end, a sense of roasted nuts and pipe tobacco pop up as the sip fades.

Bottom Line:

This is a great gift or special occasion bottle that’s worth the extra cash. Make sure to add a few drops of water to really open it up.

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