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Unpeated Single Malts To Drink This Fall, Chosen By Bartenders

Single malt Scotch whisky beginners might not realize just how different whiskies from the various regions can be. If you’ve only tried one or two and they’ve both been from the Highland region, there’s a decent chance you’ve tasted flavors like heather, honey, and gentle smoke. Most whiskies from Islay, on the other hand, are known for their campfire-like, robust, briny, peat-smoked notes. These “peat bombs” are for an experienced palate and (even after years of drinking) aren’t for everyone.

That’s why, today, we’re going to highlight Scotch whiskies from various regions (even Islay) that aren’t peaty, smoky, medicinal, or otherwise ridiculously bold in flavor. Instead, we’re talking about single malts that are unpeated yet flavorful enough to grab your interest.

To find these expressions, we turned to the professionals for help. We asked a few of our favorite bartenders to name their go-to unpeated single malts that they’ll be sipping from now until spring.

Check them all out below!

Glenmorangie Signet

Glenmorangie

Joan Percival, bartender at Proof Whiskey Bar in Omaha, Nebraska

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $234

Why This Bottle?

If you’re celebrating, no matter if you’re with experienced Scotch drinkers or newbies, there’s no better widely available non-peated dram than Glenmorangie Signet. The Signet has a depth of flavor that will impress literally anyone with its chocolatey intensity. It’s a NAS [no age statement], but the care that has gone into crafting this masterpiece is evident. Along with the centerpiece chocolate decadence, is oak, but very subtly, along with a golden brown baked pie crust and just a hint of red fruit.

GlenKinchie 12

GlenKinchie

Eric Heinel, certified sommelier and beverage director for David Burke in New York City

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $71

Why This Bottle?

The standard answer here is The Macallan. That would be the big name that consistently delivers a high-quality product. If you are looking to be more adventurous, I love to enjoy Glenkinchie 12 single malt Scotch. It’s rich, sweet, flavorful, and warming on a cool fall evening.

Aberlour A’bunadh

Aberlour

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

ABV: 59.9%
Average Price: $100

Why This Bottle?

Aberlour A’bunadh. It’s an absolute sherry bomb. Sherry makes everything sexy. It’s also cask strength, bold, and un-filtered. Yet it remains sweet and filled with notes of caramel, sherry, and dried fruits.

The Balvenie Doublewood 12

The Balvenie

Rachel Stidham, bartender at Paul’s Landing in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $69.99

Why This Bottle?

For me, it’s The Balvenie Doublewood 12. It’s a really smooth Scotch smoked in an oak barrel, great for sipping to savor the cherry and vanilla flavors combined with a nutty sweetness and cinnamon spice.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Port Cask Finish

Glenmorangie

Robbie Robinson, sommelier and mixologist at The Ballantyne in Charlotte, North Carolina

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $59.99

Why This Bottle?

I love Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Port Cask Finish. It is a 14-year-old non-peated scotch, finished in Ruby port casks. It’s medium-bodied and has notes of cinnamon, jelly, and hints of cocoa nibs.

Glenfiddich 12

Glenfiddich

Joshua Duncan, beverage manager at Adrift Tiki Bar in Denver, Colorado

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $49.99

Why This Bottle?

I personally love Glenfiddich. While I generally enjoy my Scotches heavily peated, there is so much variety and beauty in the depth of a good single malt scotch; peated or not. I truly appreciate everything that Glenfiddich makes from the 12-year to the 25-year, but for the price, the Glenfiddich 12-year is an absolute gem. Most notably for its bright smoothness and distinctive fruity pear note, this whisky sips easily and offers a bit of complexity on the back end from its aging in sherry casks.

Auchentoshan 18

Auchentoshan

Jessica King, master mixologist at Brother Wolf in Knoxville, Tennessee

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $148

Why This Bottle?

Although it’s a bit pricy, the Auchentoshan 18 year is a favorite. While I generally prefer a peated malt whisky, the delicate chocolate and warm, toasty vanilla notes would be surrendered to smoke in this expression.

GlenGoyne Cask Strength

Glengoyne

Emily Lawson, bartender and owner of Foxhole Public House in Bentonville, Arkansas

ABV: 59.1%
Average Price: $79.99

Why This Bottle?

GlenGoyne Cask Strength is a delicious, sherry cask Scotch. It’s buttery and peppery without the deep peat stink. It’s a terrific warmer for those cool autumn nights.

Glenfiddich 15

Glenfiddich

Stephen George, director of outlets and bartender at 20 | Twenty Grill in Carlsbad, California

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $75

Why This Bottle?

There are so many good non-peated single malts out there, but I would probably go with Glenfiddich 15-year. This is a unique Solera style approach, combining the aging cask character of sherry, new oak, and bourbon barrels. I chose this because I do prefer peated single malts, but the subtle flavors and layers of this whisky would be lost in a peated whisky.

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

Bruichladdich

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender of The Dorsey at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $59.99

Why This Bottle?

Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie comes in at 50% ABV, 6-7 years in age, and offers a great non-peated style not typical of the Islay region. You’ll notice flavors of vanilla, green apples, and honey amongst other layers of complexity. Definitely a bottle to have at home. If you like peated Scotch, explore their other expressions too.

GlenDronach 18 Allardice

GlenDronach

Darron Foy, bartender at The Flatiron Room in New York City

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $188

Why This Bottle?

In my personal opinion, of course, I would never say no to a Glendronach 18 Allardice. I always have a bottle in the house. In any bar I’m in — if they have it — it’s in my glass. Glendronach doesn’t do bad whisky. The 18 is 100% matured in oloroso sherry casks and time and time again proves why Glendronach is sherry heaven.

Chewy and viscous, with notes of dark chocolate, raisin, Xmas cake, and cherry, beautifully rich and elegant. A real beauty.

The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel

The Balvenie

Jeremy Williams, head mixologist at MDRD atop the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $124

Why This Bottle?

Without getting too far up in years, I enjoy The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel. This expression from Balvenie spends time in ex-sherry casks that help contribute that rich, dry fruit and nutty characters. The color of this whiskey is special too. It’s a rich amber mahogany.

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

The Glenrothes

Frederic Yarm, bartender at The Smoke Shop BBQ in Boston

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $49

Why This Bottle?

Glenrothes Vintages are some of my favorites with the oldest one in my collection being the 1991. With a sherry cask finish, there are a bounty of fruity notes including apricots, apples, pears, and stone fruits. And this is balanced by baking spices, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate from the barley to be a rather engaging and pleasing dram.


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

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