It’s time to turn your focus to scotch again. The single malt whisky world has seen a lot of new challengers in recent years, from Japan and India to Australia and Taiwan. Some great bottles have come out of all of these countries to be sure. But it’s hard to argue with the breadth, diversity, and quality of Scotland’s whisky.
The best part about Scotland’s whisky? Great bottles at every price point. From under $100 to tens of thousands, there’s something delicious for every budget; this year alone is already seeing some amazing bottles. We picked the 10 best new ones on the market for you to try… if you can find them.
1. Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish
IPA lovers may question whether their beloved hops belong in a good single malt, but Glenfiddich has put those concerns to rest as far as we’re concerned. The experimental bottle is finished in locally sourced IPA casks (so no, there aren’t actually hops in the whisky), and creates, “whisky imbued with zesty citrus and tangy hops from the oak casks that had previously held a bold Speyside IPA custom brewed for Glenfiddich.” If nothing else, it narrows down your boilermaker pairings. ($70)
2. Bruichladdich Black Art 5
Black Art has a long history of being mysterious as hell when it comes to this delicious whisky. Since Bruichladdich (pronounced Brook-laddie) never shares information about what goes into these black bottles, we can’t tell you much about what’s inside. What we do know is that for the fifth release (fourth pictured here), they used fewer wine casks, and still managed a creamy, fruit-laden spirit with toffee and honey notes. I guess it’s not really important what’s in the glass, so long as you’ve got a full one. ($350)
3. Balvenie Tun 1509
The infamous Tun 1509 is a special aging technique: a Manhattan apartment-sized barrel holding an entire batch of whisky, long enough for it to marry to perfection. If Batch 3 is judged by its predecessors, this sequel might be the best in the series. Cinnamon spice, with citrus and toffee notes, and just a hint of smoke make this one of the most complex whiskeys on the market under $1,000. ($450)
4. Highland Park Valkyrie
Highland Park has been putting out oddball bottles for the last few years, but with a slight change of course, we’re being treated to some great new whisky as they restructure their portfolio. The core line remains the same, but the newest line of Norse-themed bottles starts with Valkyrie, a bourbon-and-sherry-cask finished version of their standard 12-year-old, with an extra kick of peat to deepen the smokey, heather flavors of this unique single malt. Will it replace your favorite? Pour us another and we’ll help you decide. ($80)
5. Bowmore 1961 50 Year Old
Whisky so old Don Draper wasn’t even a partner yet, this Bowmore bottling is all that’s left of whisky first put in a cask in 1961. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the last of the 200 bottles will be hard to get your hands on, but the liquid inside is said to be incredible, with “ bursts of ripe fruit intermingled with black truffles and gentle smoke.” We’re confident there will be more 50-year-old Bowmore in the future, but you might have to wait a while. ($23,000)
6. Macallan Edition No. 2
As a whisky franchise, Macallan’s bench is deep, with bottles fetching tens of thousands of dollars at retail. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot for a great bottle. Take Edition No. 2: it’s a non-age statement blend of seven cask types, meant to yield a perfect (and affordable) balanced dram. Dried fruit and vanilla are balanced by toffee notes and a bit of spice. Endlessly drinkable. ($80)
7. Glenmorangie Bacalta
With a notoriously light and bright spirit quality, Glenmorangie might be mistaken for an entry-level single malt, but the special releases are bold and flavorful in a way that can excite even the most hardened scotch drinker. Case in point: Bacalata: this year’s newest special release, which plays up its big bold madeira cask finish for intense, rich syrupy flavor. ($100)
8. Glen Grant 18
Glen Grant’s name will become more and more recognizable in the U.S. over the next few years, so it’s best to get in on the ground floor. Countless awards already adorn their portfolio, which is well known abroad. Our favorite is the 18-year-old, an oaky whisky with hints of vanilla, raisin, and baking spices. The rest of the world is ahead of us on this one, but not for long. ($120)
9. Dalmore 50
Dalmore’s staggeringly old, top tier scotch is a collaborative effort—experts from around the world gathered to fine tune this bottle, whose dominant wood notes and long finish find few rivals. Rounding out the total package is a Baccarat decanter and a presentation case from Linley. That should explain the equally staggering price point. ($60,000)
10. Craigellachie 31
Crowned one of the best single malts in the world this year, Craigellachie (pronounced Craig-ella-key) 31 is a gem bottle within a gem brand. Oil-kilned barley produces unique flavors including a pleasing hint of sulfur, and at 31, three decades of age allow the tropical fruit flavors to marry into something worth any whisky lover’s time. ($1,200)
This post was first published on June 14, 2017.