The Most Underrated Scotch Whiskies, According To Bartenders

Nobody wants to be called overrated or over-hyped. It doesn’t pay off in the long run and the backlash is harsh. But we’re all very down to be thought of as underrated. It means you’re accomplished but still haven’t reached your full potential. Folks are sleeping on you when they absolutely shouldn’t. You’re on the come up.

As well as this works for actors, artists, and writers, it also works for scotch whisky. And though we’re always down to call out “overrated/ over-hyped” bottles, this article is all about the lesser-known and the not-respected-enough expressions. We’re talking about the most underrated scotch whiskies to drink this summer.

Below, you’ll see what bartenders had to say when we asked them to pick the most underrated scotches. Note that one bottle from the overrated list also appear here — the ultimate reminder that whiskey, like so many things in live, is a matter of personal tastes, preferences, and perceptions.

Lagavulin 16

Reggie Maharaj, beverage manager at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in Los Angeles

My favorite underrated Scotch whisky is Lagavulin 16. It’s peaty with a rich taste, beautiful smell, and goes down smooth with a couple drops of water. It’s one of my favorites.

The Balvenie 12

Nestor Marchand, director of food and beverage at Plunge Beach Resort in Lauderdale, Florida

The Balvenie 12. It’s an excellent, smooth tasting single malt scotch. It’s not as well-known as The Macallan 12, but it’s very similar in quality.

HM The King

Shawn Brown, general manager of Wine World in Miramar Beach, Florida

Sometimes drinkers shy away from blended scotches. If they do, they’re missing out on some gems. HM The King is a very underrated offering. It’s an enjoyable, inexpensive blended scotch.

Monkey Shoulder is another underrated and very good inexpensive blended scotch.

J & B Rare

Reniel Garcia, bar director of Havana 1957 in Miami

J&B Rare is a back-bar favorite blended scotch whisky. J&B Rare has long been a go-to for whisky fans across the globe, particularly in Europe. Following the end of Prohibition in the USA, J&B Rare was created by Justerini & Brooks to appeal to the American palate, hitting shelves in 1933. The blend itself is made with a combination of 42 Scotch single malts and grains, with a generous portion of Speyside whisky at the expression’s core.

Perfect for using in mixed drinks and cocktails. Cheap on the price and yet to be discovered by many.

Glenfarclas 12

Mohammed Rahman, bar director at Kata Robata in Houston

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Glenfarclas 12 gets my vote any day of the week. This is what the Scottish drink in Scotland and for good reason. With skyrocketing scotch prices, Glenfarclas 12 is great quality for what it costs. It’s definitely an everyday drinking scotch that is also great for special occasions.

Talisker 10

Seamus Gleason, bartender at Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

My go-to underrated scotch whisky is Talisker 10 year. Why isn’t everyone drinking this? It’s perfectly balanced and crisp. A great smooth sipping whisky.

Lagavulin 12

Cory Richardson, bar manager at Hook & Barrel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The most underrated scotch to me would be Lagavulin 12 (for a traditional Scotch whisky). It has amazingly complex smokey notes and rich undertones that rock my socks off.

GlenDronach Allardice 18

Robert Swain Jr., ownwer of On the Rox Bartending Service in the British Virgin Islands

GlenDronach Allardice 18 year old. So rich and intense, I once heard someone call it ‘cake in a glass’, not for its sweetness, but more like the feeling you get when you taste that first slice of your birthday cake.

Glen Grant 10

Kurt Bellon, general manager and beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis

Glen Grant 10 year is a great beginner’s Scotch and is a solid value. Produced in tall stills and aged in ex-bourbon barrels, its light and malty and great in warmer weather

Highland Queen 12

Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director of Retreat Gastropub in St. Louis

Highland Queen 12 year. I love the balance of fruit and spice and wood on this Scotch. I rarely see it on shelves, and I don’t know many people who really love it, but I think it’s a banger.