The Best Scotch Brands in the World

The options are endless when you’re looking for the best bottle of Scotch.

You’ll find plenty of top-shelf options, one more expensive than the next. But what you won’t find a guide to really help you break down and understand which brand of Scotch you never knew you wanted.

This is that guide.

Scotch Might not be your first choice for an on-the-rocks sipper.

But on this list, you’ll find absolutely divine flavors, and you will learn to enjoy Scotch like you never have before.

And of course, if you prefer a nice cocktail instead, our recommendations will work brilliantly with all your favorite mixes.

Below, you’ll find our list for the top brands in the world and a buyer’s guide to Scotch, as well as answers to how it’s made and what types are there.

Finally, we’ll round off this article with tips on how to drink and really enjoy Scotch, as well as the key tasting notes and vocabulary you’ll need to become a true aficionado.

The 11 Best Scotch Brands you can buy

Before we introduce the best Scotch brands you can try this year, let us list the top 5 brands that are ranked based on:

RankBrandBest for
1Lagavulin 16 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch WhiskeyBest Overall
2Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch WhiskeyBest High-End Option
3Ardbeg 10 Year OldBest Value
4Johnnie Walker Gold Label ReserveBest for Brand Prestige
5Monkey Shoulder Blended ScotchMost Easy To Drink

Now, let us introduce the 11 best Scotch brands in the world:

Ardbeg 10 Year Old

Ardbeg 10 Year Old is a popular single malt whisky Scotch from Scotland. This popular Scotch is produced in Ardbeg distillery that was founded in 1815 and is owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. Ardbeg 10 Year Old was launched in 2000 and became a pretty popular choice right after. In fact, this bottle of Scotch is one of those few Scotches that once topped the list and never looked down.

Ardbeg 10 Year Old has an ABV of 46% and comes in a deep golden color. The taste of this drink will most likely give off the tastes of toffee, toasted marshmallows, cinnamon, peat, and cappuccino. In addition, you can expect black pepper with smoked fish, crispy bacon, menthol, and smoky fruits with some lemon as of its aroma.

This single malt whisky has also won some of the prestigious awards, including the World Whisky of the Year – 2008 by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, First Rank in Best Single Malt Scotch 10 Years by  2015 International Whisky Competition, Silver medals in International Spirits Challenge 2017 and 2019, a Gold in The Scotch Whisky Masters in 2013, and many more.

Overall, Ardbeg 10 Year Old is an affordable yet classy bottle of Scotch that you can enjoy with your friends.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve comes from Johnnie Walker, a well-known Scotch brand that has widely spread its products all around the world since the last few decades. Johnnie Walker is a brand established by a grocer named John Walker. The brand’s official whisky blends were introduced in 1865, and today almost over 223.7 million bottles of Johnnie Walker 700ml are sold all over the globe per year.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, one of this brand’s popular bottles, was introduced back in 2013 as a replacement for Johnnie Walker Gold Label. It is a blended Scotch whisky produced with grain whiskies and single malts in Scotland.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve has no age statement and comes with an ABV of 40%. It is beautifully honey-like in terms of color and smells like salted caramel, kettle corn, malt, and oak. As for its taste, you can expect sweet, buttered corn, charred oak, and sweet vanilla. You can also feel subtle crispiness on your first few sips that will give off a smoky finish. 

This 80 US Proof Scotch whisky has won several awards, including Gold at The Scotch Whisky Masters in the Blended,  a Silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2017, and a Gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2014. 

Oban 14 Years Old

If you are looking for a true classic bottle of Scotch, Oban 14 Years Old is one of the best choices for you. Oban distillery, which was founded by John and Hugh Stevenson in 1794, is the sole producer of this masterpiece. This distillery is mainly known for Oban 14 Years Old that had been marketed under the “classic malt selection” bottle range and gained quite a popularity. This bottle was released in 1988 and is also available under the “Distiller’s Edition’’ range. 

As the name already suggests, Oban 14 Years Old is a 14 years old, beautifully packaged whisky Scotch with one of the most fantastic tastes of all time. It is an 80 Proof, single malt Scotch with sweet aromas of pudding, toffee, subtle smoke, along with tropical fruits along with lychee, orange, pineapple, etc. As for its taste, you can expect a buttercream frosting like feeling on your tastebuds, followed by fruity pineapple, orange, and lychee. You will also experience the sweetness of caramel, with salty and almond like flavors. It surely is one of the greatest choices for an exclusive family dinner.

Oban 14 Years Old has also won several awards, including a Bronze medal in the New York International Spirits Competition, a Gold medal from SIP Awards, 14 Year Single Malt of the Year by the New York International Spirits Competition, and 90 Points by the New York International Spirits Competition.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a popular Islay single malt Scotch distilled by Laphroaig distillery. Donald founded this distillery and Alexander Johnston in 1815, however, it is currently under the ownership of  Beam Suntory. Apart from Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, the brand also offers other popular mature choices like Laphroaig  25, 27, 30, 32, and 40 year old Scotch whiskey.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt is not just known for its medicinal malts, but it is an exceptional Scotch with an ABV of 40%. It is aged 10 years and gives off smoky, spicy, classic notes on the nose. As of its taste, you will experience sweet vanilla ice cream with smoky spices that eventually taste like black pepper, chili, or cardamom. It surely has a tough and rich flavor the Scotch lovers would like to enjoy.

This bottle has also won several medals, including a Gold in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible for Liquid Gold Award – 2019, in International Wine & Spirit Competition for Scotch Single Malt – Islay – 2019, and in Scottish Whisky Awards for Single Malt Under 12 Year Old – 2019, Third Prize in International Whisky Competition for Best Single Malt Scotch 10 Years – 2015, and so many more.

Arran Robert Burns Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Arran Robert Burns Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is an infamous product by the Arran distillery that is located in the Isle of Arran. This distillery was founded in 1995, and it sources its water for production from Loch na Davie.

Arran Robert Burns Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a delightful Scotch with an ABV of 43%. In fact, the taste of Arran Robert Burns Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is precisely why the bottle has owned prestigious awards, including a Silver medal by International Wine & Spirit Competition for the Scotch Single Malt – Island – 2013. The bottle was released in the year 1998 as a tribute to Robert Burns, who is a famous Scottish poet.

This single malt Scotch is aged for 6 years in Sherry casks and is gorgeously golden in color. It has the perfect combo of sweet vanilla notes and pure malt. You will also experience the fruity tastes of pears and apples along with woody and spicy notes. The finish of this drink lasts long, is bitter, but quickly gives off the sweetness of milk chocolate, hazelnut, and vanilla. As for its aroma, you should expect rich honey, sweet, chocolatey, spicy caramel, and barley.

It surely is one of the best-selling, flavorful bottles of Scotch people around the world love to enjoy.

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whiskey

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whiskey is a 17 years old blended Scotch whisky produced by one of the most famous whisky brands, Ballantine’s. Ballantine’s is a popular range of blended Scotch whisky that was first introduced to the market in 1827 by George Ballantine. However, in current years, Pernod Richard is the prime manufacturer. Therefore, the brand offers a wide range of exclusive Scotch whiskies like 12-year-old Pure Malt, 17-year-old blended, 21-year-old blended, 30-year-old blended, and 40-year-old: blended Scotch whisky.

On the other hand, Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whiskey is the #1 choice when it comes to the best Scotch whisky in Europe and holds the position of #2 globally. This blended Scotch is a combination of both grain whisky and malt whisky that are produced in different distilleries. It comes with an ABV of 40% and is light golden in color. It is a smooth Scotch whiskey with a slight taste of sweet vanilla with a tint of spices. It has a warm, sweet, and long-lasting finish. As of its aroma, you will not only enjoy the sweet smell of spice but also a part of peat.

This bottle of Ballantine’s has also won several prestigious awards, including the International Spirits Challenge, and the International Wine and Spirit Competition. It surely is a great choice to enjoy with friends and family.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch

If you are looking for a Scotch whisky that will fulfill your thirst for enjoying the best Scotch cocktails, Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch is the best choice for you. In fact, it said that this bottle is meant to be enjoyed as a mixed drink, gracefully created with other fresh ingredients.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch is a budget-friendly option that was first introduced in 2005 by the famous William Grant and Sons. Interestingly, this brand was created with such a motive that people all around the world are able to experience its excellent taste, and in fact, in current days, Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch is really one of the popular Scotches available in some of the best restaurants and bars around the world. Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch is a perfect blend of three malts and comes with an ABV of 40%.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch is a creamy, malty-tasting Scotch that also gives off the fresh tastes of toasted barley, butterScotch, honey, cloves, berry fruits, and dried apricot. The finish does not last for very long, but its medium-ranged finish gives off the taste of spicy oak and peppermint taste. In addition, you can expect vanilla, cocoa, and winter spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg as of its aroma.

This bottle also owns prestigious awards like a Gold medal in the International Spirits Challenge, 2017 International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2015 The Scotch Whisky Masters, and The Scotch Whisky Masters.

Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a production of the infamous Glenlivet distillery that was established in 1824 by George Smith. However, in recent years, Pernod Richard has owned the distillery. Like other authentic Scotch producing brands, the company also offers different aged Scotches, including the 12 year, 14 year, 15 year, 16 year, 18 year, 21, and 25 year old Glenlivet Scotch.

However, Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is known to be one of the top-shelf Scotch. The bottle was reintroduced in 2018 and is aged in their old bourbon European and American oak barrels. It indeed is the best Speyside single malt Scotch that looks and tastes elegant. This 80 Proof 12 year old single malt Scotch whiskey is gorgeously light golden and smells like citrus with vanilla and honeysuckle. When you sip it, your tongue will feel the hints of toffee with some sweet vanilla and candied nut. The finish is as perfect as you would want it to be; sweet with a tint of vanilla and lemon zest.

Thanks to George Smith’s self-designed copper stills, Glenlivet, along with the rest of the ranges, have gained popularity as one of the best bottles of Scotch ever. In fact, this bottle also proudly owns a Gold medal by International Spirits Challenge under Distillers’ Single Malt 12 years and under choice 2020.

Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years

Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years is an authentic Scotch produced by the Chivas Brothers under the brand name Chivas Regal. The company was first introduced in 1801 and has been producing Chivas Regal aged 12, 15, 18, and 25 years old Scotch whiskies. In fact, the brand is known to be the 4th best seller blended Scotch whisky brand in the world.

Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years, however, is one of the best-selling products with an ABV of 40% and is produced with grain and malted barley. This Scotch is aged for 12 years in ex-sherry casks and ex-bourbon casks. Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years has a beautiful light golden appearance and smells like butterscotch with lemon undertones, hay, and honey. As of its taste, you will feel the barley flour, with white pepper and walnut. However, the finish will give you the sensation of citrus peel, maybe some jasmine, and flint rock.

Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years is an excellent value for money and is apparently known as ‘ the blend for grown-ups.’ However, it tastes more than just delicious when you add a platter of seafood to it. Chivas Regal Aged 12 Years also proudly owns Gold medals from the International Spirits Challenge, The Scotch Whisky Masters 2015 and 2018, and Silver medals from the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014,  2017, and 2019.

Lagavulin 16 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Lagavulin 16 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a popular Scotch produced by the Lagavulin distillery. Lagavulin distillery was established in 1816 on the southern part of Islay island. The brand offers a wide range of Lagavulin aged Scotches, including the 8 year, 12 year, 16 year, 21 year, 25 year, 30 year, 37 year, and an 11 year old Offerman edition of Lagavulin Scotch.

Lagavulin 16 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (ABV of 43%) is the flagship expression of the distillery and officially the best bottle of single malt Scotch. When you taste it, you will feel a very rich and thick sip with sweet, fruity sweetness and a robust taste of oak and peat. The finish lasts with spicy, vanilla-like dates and a smoky peak aftertaste. But, on the other hand, the aroma is all about the smoke, spices, and mature sherry flavors. It truly is a widely loved masterpiece.

This classy bottle has also earned popular tags, including Best Single Malt Scotch 13-17 Years – 2015, Best Peated Whisky – 2015, Best Single Malt Whisky – 2015, etc.

The Beginners Buyer’s Guide to Scotch

Scotch itself is an authentic drink that is not only elegant but is almost the perfect type of alcohol that will suit you. But if you are taking baby steps towards trying Scotch for the recent times, here is a mini-guide that will tell you everything you must know about Scotch.

  1. Scotland is the only place on earth that is home to at least, or rather more than just 20 million aging Scotch barrels. In fact, as of the barrels, Scotch does not age in single barrels. Instead, they age in other ex barrels available in the distillery.
  2. Scotch whiskies are typically stored in cellars because the cellars provide a room temperature of 15 degrees to 18 degrees Celcius. In addition, they protect the whiskies by offering a minimum amount of sunlight.
  3. Since Scotch whisky matures in barrels, you cannot age them in a bottle. So the alcohol inside will remain of the same age as you bought it, even after 100 years.
  4. The best ways to enjoy a glass of Scotch whisky are:
  • Raw: experience the real, authentic taste of the matured Scotch whisky.
  • On the rocks: add an ice cube or two to your glass.
  • Then, add a little bit of water.
  • Cocktails: get creative and add your Scotch with other ingredients.

How is it made

Here is how the experts produce your favorite Scotch whiskies:

  1. Malting
    This process mixes barley with natural water, which later helps to begin the process of germination.
  2. Drying
    This is an important step that helps the Scotch to have a greater taste. During this process, the sprouts from barley malt are heated with peat.
  3. Maceration
    The malts and grains get milled, and the sugar starts forming in order, to begin the process of fermentation. Once the milling is done, the malts and grains get distilled with hot water.
  4. Fermentation
    Once the must is created and the temperature rises to 70 degrees celsius, they add yeast to begin the fermentation. During this process, the sugar will convert into alcohol.
  5. Distillation
    Once the impurities are removed from the fermented product, they will be distilled twice.
  6. Aging
    After the distillation process ends, the liquid is then transferred into barrels for aging. It takes at least eight years for Scotch to develop properly.

The Most Expensive bottle of Scotch in the world

The most expensive bottle of Scotch in the world is the Isabella’s Islay that is worth $6.2 million. This super-premium bottle was first launched in 2010 by the Uk-based Luxury Beverage Company. It comes with 8,500 diamonds and at least 300 rubies attached to the bottle. Pretty sparkling, isn’t it? It is a single malt Scotch whisky with very little or almost no information about its taste and other vital details.

Glossary of terms. What you need to know for Scotch

Apart from everything else, here are the top 3 terms you must know about:

  • Scotch whisky: Scotch whisky is just the whisky produced or distilled in Scotland.
  • Malt whisky: it is the whisky that is produced only with malted barley.
  • Blended Scotch: it means to be a blend of different whiskies.

Methodology, how we select the best Scotch brands

Here is how we choose the best Scotch brands for you:

  1. The brands offer matured Scotch whiskies that have a minimum age of 8.
  2. They are the top-selling Scotch whiskies acknowledged by experts and the world.
  3. They taste, smell, and give the best aftertaste no matter how to sip it.

They are the best choices for expert drinkers as well as beginners.

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