Life

Bartenders Tell Us The One Single Malt Scotch They Could Drink Forever

Picking just one of anything is a difficult task. That’s why picking a spouse is taken so seriously (and why so many folks mess it up!). It’s almost equally thorny when it comes to the world of alcohol. For aficionados, picking only one tequila, rum, rye, bourbon, or single malt Scotch to drink forever is extremely daunting.

Luckily, polyamory between booze brands is encouraged. And with endless options on the market, the whole conversation is purely hypothetical. Still, it’s a fun one to have, because your favorite whisky isn’t always your “desert island whisky” — you’ll want something with enough nuance to keep you coming back for more across decades.

With more than 100 distilleries dotted throughout Scotland, single malt Scotch makes an especially intriguing “one bottle for the rest of your life” topic. So we asked a handful of our favorite bartenders to pick theirs and let chaos ensue. Though many tried to sneak two bottles in, they eventually all landed on a single expression they could live (forever) with.

Keep scrolling to see what these drinks pros selected. Tell us your own picks in the comments!

GlenDronach 15 Revival

GlenDronach

Brendan Pineda, manager and buyer at Plumpjack Wine & Spirits in San Francisco

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $99

Why This Bottle?

GlenDronach 15 Year Revival. This whisky is aged in sherry casks which provide flavors of maraschino cherries, dark chocolate, and figs. Followed by flavors of honey and apricot.

It’s a whisky you can have during summer and spring but it’s also perfect for the colder months.

Oban 14

Oban

Nicholas Karel, director of bars, lounges, and beverages at Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $95

Why This Bottle?

Oban 14 is my desert island single malt scotch whisky. Lightly peated, this Scotch is the perfect balance between sweetness and smoke with exceptional depth and richness.

The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak

The Macallan

Mohamed Khald, food and beverage manager at The Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $350

Why This Bottle?

The Macallan 18, known for its combination of dried fruits, spice, orange, wood smoke, and an exceptionally well-balanced, aromatic finish. A sip will reveal rich, warm flavors of toasted oak with a sweet finish.

Glenfiddich 25 Rare Oak

Glenfiddich

Lauren Parton, general manager of Devereaux in Chicago

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $599

Why This Bottle?

To quote Swingers, “Any Glen will do.” But for me, either Glenrothes or Glenfiddich, 25 and older. Extremely smooth, and with a depth of flavor it’s dessert in a glass. This is especially true for the Glenfiddich 25 Rare Oak.

Ardbeg 10

Ardbeg

Elvyra Cucovic, beverage manager at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel’s The Social Club in Miami

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $59.99

Why This Bottle?

If I were to pick one single malt Scotch to drink for the rest of my life, it would be Ardbeg 10. I love that it is super peaty and you get an intense smoke smell and flavor right off the bat. You also get a lot of sweetness and spice from this Scotch, which offsets the smoke flavor nicely. One great way to enjoy this Scotch is alongside a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea, a smoked black tea. Tasting it with another smoky beverage allows you to taste so much more in this scotch: vanilla, citrus, salt, flowers.

There’s so much going on in Ardbeg 10 without it being too much.

Laphroaig Triple Wood

Laphroaig

Christian Taibi, head mixologist at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, Hawaii

ABV: 48%
Average Price: $75

Why This Bottle?

Laphroaig Triple Wood has the aroma of a beautifully peated Scotch, the body of a delicate bourbon, and the sweet finish of Oloroso sherry. It’s in my opinion the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of single malts.

The Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask

The Balvenie

Alex Barbatsis, head bartender at The Whistler in Chicago

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $99

Why This Bottle?

The Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask single malt Scotch whisky is one of my favorites. It’s finished in a Caribbean rum cask, so some fun banana, ester notes come through. It’s the perfect dram for a cold day when you actually wish you were on a tropical island.

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin

Jess Collins, beverage director at Toups Meatery in New Orleans

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $105

Why This Bottle?

Lagavulin 16 is my all-time favorite single malt Scotch. It has strong salt and pepper notes but is also slightly fruity which I think balances out the peat nicely. It’s great for fall and winter, maybe sitting by the fire wearing your most comfy sweater.

Laphroaig Lore

Laphroaig

Christy Bradley, spirit guide at Virgin Hotels in New Orleans

ABV: 48%
Average Price: $150

Why This Bottle?

Laphroaig Lore. It is really complex. Crafted from all kinds of different barrel aging. You get a lot of that great smoke but also hints of ocean air and sea salt.

Talisker 25

Talisker

Darron Foy, bar manager at The Flatiron Room in New York City

ABV: 45.8%
Average Price: $599

Why This Bottle?

Talisker 25-year single malt. I’ve always loved Talisker and had the good fortune to pick a bottle of this up on a trip to Skye. It delivers on so many levels! Showcasing the character of the island – sea-salted air and pepper hits with subtle peat and red berry notes, the finish is long and deep with licorice, aniseed, and more of that peppery goodness.

A fabulous dram from a fabulous distillery.

Ardbeg Supernova

Ardbeg

Mallory O’Meara, bartender and author of GIRLY DRINKS: A World History of Women and Alcohol

ABV: 54.3%
Average Price: $199

Why This Bottle?

The Ardbeg Supernova, no question. It’s the best Scotch I’ve ever tasted. Anything that Dr. Rachel Barrie creates is superb, but the Supernova is, pun intended, out of this world. It’s a brilliantly balanced combination of spicy, smoky, and fruity, like warming yourself up next to a bonfire while mulling cider.

Absolutely stunning.

The Balvenie Doublewood 12

The Balvenie

Nicholas Bennett, beverage director at Porchlight in New York City

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $70

Why This Bottle?

My desert island scotch is the Balvenie Doublewood 12. This is a wonderfully rich and complex whisky that really exemplifies the best of both worlds. It is first matured in refill American oak casks, so you get some bourbon characteristics like spice and a little vanilla followed by dried fruit and some nuttiness from the European oak Oloroso sherry butts they use to finish the aging.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg

Emily Franchy, bartender at Uffda Hospitality in Louisville, Kentucky

ABV: 54.2%
Average Price: $85

Why This Bottle?

Ardbeg Uigeadail is my one and only single malt Scotch. The sherry cask finish makes it the most perfect blend of honey and smoke on the palate, enjoyable even to those wary of Scotch.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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