Single Malt Whisky - 6 Must Try Drams

A mix refinement, elegance, and blue-collar grit are all tied up in the history of single malt whisky that got its start in Scotland but has since spread the world over. While the alcohol market has exploded with literally thousands of different types of spirits, blended mixes, and everything else you can think of, the simplicity and sophistication of a traditional tumbler of whisky is certainly hard to beat. There is something intimately exceptional that comes with sitting down at home after a long day work with a glass (or two) of single malt whisky. Below, we take a quick look at what defines this singular drink before offering our advice for the best single malt whisky on the market today.

What Defines a Single Malt Whisky?

Before we jump into recommending some of the best whisky available on the market, it is important to clear up a few common misconceptions. Firstly, scotch and whiskey are not necessarily the same thing. Scotch is generally considered to be a whisky that is made in Scotland and that is distilled from malted barley as the main ingredient. Bourbon, on the other hand, is a type of whiskey from the United States (Kentucky and Tennessee are the two main states) that is distilled from corn. Thus, when talking about single malt whiskies, we are mostly referring to those made in Scotland or those that include barley as one of the main ingredients. Furthermore, single malt whisky does not necessarily mean that barley is the only ingredient in these whiskies. Rather, the word “single” indicates that the whiskey is a product of a single distillery and not “blended” with other whiskies. A quality single malt whisky could contain barley along with wheat or corn but must be made at a single distillery to get this distinction.

1. Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Lagavulin produces one of the best single malt whiskies in the market. Their 16 year old scotch malt won the runner-up award in 2014 for the TWE Whiskey of the Year. It is characteristically deep and dry, and is certainly a pungent whiskey. The nose flavour will bring to mind a touch of smoky bacon, while hints of citrus fruit play through your taste buds. The deep amber colour is also a pleasure to look at while sitting in your glass. You can buy Lagavulin 16 Year Old here.

2. Bowmore 15 Year Old

If you prefer darker spirits, Bowmore produces a fantastic 15 Year single malt whisky. This scotch is matured in both bourbon and sherry casks. The final three years of aging are spent in Oloroso sherry casks, which gives this drink its characteristic deep colour and earnest finish. The experienced connoisseur will pick up on raisin and dark chocolate aromas that complement the smokiness that defines all of the Bowmore range. You can buy Bowmore 15 Year Old here.

3. Highland Park Fire Edition

This 15- year-old scotch whisky marks the first time Highland Park has offered a single malt with this sort of aging involved. It comes with an intensely balanced, palate-pleasing flavour of sweet dried red fruits, redcurrants, honey, and vanilla. This combines beautifully with the intoxicating cinnamon and oak wood spices and the sharpness of damsons, making it a standout whisky to enjoy. It comes in a cradle-shaped, crimson-red bottle that is presented in refill port wood casks. The 28,000 bottles of Fire Edition was intended as the third and final release in a limited series with the former being the Ice Edition. It is made up of 100% malted barley and is bottled at 45.2% ABV that enchants and entices your taste buds. You can buy Highland Park Fire here (providing there are still any left).

4. Glen Scotia Double Cask

The Glen Scotia Double Cask is a unique single malt spirit that is aged in first fill bourbon barrels before being carefully transferred to Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for the final year of aging. This whisky is renowned for its unique blend of flavours that will remind you of spicy fruits, vanilla oak, and a light sea spray. The initial taste of sweetness will remind you of toffee and caramelised fruit sugars before giving way to a powerful dryness that carries a sizeable mid-palate weight. You can buy Glen Scotia Double Cask here.

5. Ardbeg Uigeadial

This whisky might have a name that is close to impossible to pronounce but doesn’t let that stop you from trying it. The Ardbeg Uigeadial won the title of “world whisky of the year” bestowed by Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. This unique single malt whiskey has a strong raisin tone to it that is mellowed by the deep smoky flavours. At 54.2% ABV, it also packs a quite a punch. You can buy Ardbeg Uigeadial here.

6. Aberlour 12 Year Old

Lastly, we come to the Aberlour 12 Year Single Malt Whisky. The unique citrus character of this whisky certainly stand out but is subtly tempered by the double cask maturation process. What truly sets this whisky apart from the rest, however, is the splendidly warm finishing that will leave your palate sweetened and slightly spicy. The golden amber colour also has hints of ruby that goes well with the soft notes of apple flavour on the nose. You can buy Aberlour 12 Year Old here. If you are looking to add a touch of sophistication and style to your liquor cabinet, any of these six single malt scotch whiskies are certainly well worth your while.