Naturally, we feel there is no finer drink in the world than single malt scotch whisky.
Here’s a quick run-down of the top ten favorites of independent UK whisky critics. Any of these are ideal for a Burns Supper, or any time you want to relax and savor a moment, with kinfolk, or blissfully alone by the fire.
See if you agree!
The ratings are based on nose (scent), palate (initial taste) and finish (aftertaste). The whiskies are ranked from 10 to 1; from the simple to the superlative, according to the reviewers. Realistically, any of these makes for fine sipping. You can’t go wrong. It’s worth trying a few just to compare the various flavors and savor the unique experience offered by each.
The Ardmore Legacy
“Ardmore Legacy attempts to encapsulate a mystical Scottish landscape. The nose will remind you of frostbitten meadows with touches of peat. The palate further brings out the peaty tones combining smokiness with vanilla notes and a subtle undercurrent of spice. The finish is dry and citrusy.” 40% ABV
Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Whisky
“Hailing from the Islay region, the famous land of peaty scotch, this single malt is matured in sherry casks, which lends the nose sherry aromas hovering above a melange of exotic spice. A rich and thick palate of butterscotch and caramel accents glows in the mouth. The finish recaptures the spice and sherry of the nose.” 43% ABV
Glen Garioch 12 Year Old
“One of the finest 12-year-olds available, Glen Garioch 12 is a strong contender from Speyside. Dark chocolate and honey aromas dominate the nose. The palate is peppery and oaky, yet still retains the honey sensation of the nose. The finish is long and satisfying full of more oakiness. that was suggested in the nose and palate. For a 12-year-old, this whisky holds enticing complexity and maturity.” 48% ABV
Glen Scotia Victoriana
“Distilled in the Campbeltown region, this offering is characterised by a deep oakiness with touches of sugar and fruit in the nose. A smooth palate is infused with dark fruits. The finish, with its subtle cocoa tone, is equally smooth. Despite the strong ABV, this is a very easy whisky to drink.” 51.5% ABV
Talisker 10 Year Old
“If #7 above is easy-going, this 10-year is its polar opposite and everything you’d expect from an Islay offering — peaty. The nose is dominated by gusts of thick smoke and a sea-side breeze, but softened slightly by suggestions of fruit. The palate delivers on the nose’s promise with powerful smoke punctuated by shots of crisp pepper. The finish is the release — long and satisfying. Over all, very satisfying and relaxing, but not for those new to scotch or afraid of a little zing.” 45.8% ABV
Aberlour 18 Year Old
“Only available to the French market before its general release in 2008, this delicate and creamy expression from Speyside was well worth the wait. The nose teases with soft vanilla and orange notes which the palate delivers in a delightful burst along with hints of caramel and apple. The finish offers a contrast — bittersweet chocolate. This is an exceptionally smooth and refined whisky.” 43% ABV
Glen Grant 18 Year Old
“Named Scotch of the Year for 2017 by Jim Murray, Glen Grant 18 also held second place worldwide for that year. The warm nose may be described as oaky tones mixed with hints of spice, but this falls short. Vanilla and caramel blend evening in a sweet palate. The finish is quite long and soothing, mixing the sweetness of the palate with the spicy nose. For as fine as this offering is, it is a very fair price.” 43% ABV
“Glenmorangie Signet has an allure of class and decadence, like an old leather-bound book and a full pipe. The nose offers a punch of burnt citrus peels and deep cocoa. The palate is thick on the tongue with sweet, indulgent notes. Cinnamon and cocoa are most evident, but supported by wisps of orange and more exotic fruits. The finish is fruity as well, but dry. Overall, this whisky will remind you of warm Yuletide evenings around a crackling fire.” 46% ABV
Bruichladdich Black Art 5.1 1992 24-Year-Old
“This offering is the latest from the Black Art series by Bruichladdich. It is a premium whisky by definition, but the closely guarded secret recipes used in this series add a special feel of exclusivity. The nose seduces one’s senses with an sweet earthiness comprised of citrus and vanilla. On the palate, one discovers complex fruit flavors brushed over with a subtle but distinct smokiness. The long, creamy finish allows one to bask in the afterglow. The price is well warranted and can be paid with confidence.” 48.4% ABV
Lagavulin 16 Year Old
“It may be no surprise to some, but our number one whisky comes from the world famous distillery and queen of the the island of Islay, Lagavulin. Islay’s whiskies are acknowledged as some of the most peaty which lends them that deliciously unique smoky spine. This 16-year-old expression is a perfect example. Its deep amber hue is a hint. The nose comes on boldly with a rush of smoke and bacon under a slim hint of sea air. The symphony is carried on by the palate which blends the smoky bacon with a dark flavor which has been described lovingly as “like charcoal.” The tones of citrus and fruit add just the right tenor. “Charcoal” may seem an odd word to describe something pleasant. The word only gets used because the flavor of this single-malt is otherwise so unique and delicious language fails. 43% ABV