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The Absolute Best Tasting Scotch Whiskies Between $30-$300

Scotch $30-$300
Shutterstock/UPROXX

The world of Scotch whisky is vast and has a whole lot of variables. So naturally, the really good stuff almost always comes at a high price, especially in the U.S. market. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find some solid-but-cheap Scotch whisky on your local liquor store shelf. You just have to be a little more discerning when buying.

To help you become a more discerning Scotch whisky drinker, we’re calling out the best of the best bottles of Scotch whisky at every price point from $30 to $300 below. This list of whiskies is all about the absolute best bottles at each of those price points. These are the unassailable best picks for any budget.

These whiskies are listed by price from cheapest to most expensive. That creates a quasi-ranking as the whisky gets better and better as the price goes up — that’s just a hard truth of any whisky, folks. Let’s dive in!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months

$20-$30 — Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years

Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky
La Martiniquaise

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $24

The Whisky:

This blended whisky is a throwback to a blend created in 1923. The whisky in the bottle is made from mostly Speyside single malt and single grain whiskies that highlight brightness and light flavor notes reminiscent of the seaside.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose is strikingly deep with a sense of orchard fruits and wild summer flowers next to a sense of honeycomb and a whisper of sea-soaked driftwood.

Palate: Soft vanilla sneaks in early on the palate thanks to old oak before bright orange oils and fresh lemon rinds lead to a rush of fresh tart apples and a hint of wisteria blooms.

Finish: The finish is soft and vibrant with a deep sense of orange oils, lemon-lime pie, and soft buttery vanilla with a light sense of fresh florals on a summer day.

Bottom Line:

Cutty Sark has made a roaring comeback in the last few years. The whisky was a mainstay of “on the rocks” sipping in the mid-20th century and then disappeared for a while. It’s back and it’s a good sipper with a lot of rocks to this day. It’s also a great candidate if you’re looking to make a classic highball with bubbly water and a nice citrus garnish.

$30-$40 — Glenmorangie The Original Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 10 Years

Glenmorangie 10
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $39

The Whisky:

The Glenmorangie is a classic Highlands single malt. The juice is created on the tallest stills in Scotland, which allows more spirit creation along the way as it’s boiled. The whisky then spends ten years mellowing in ex-bourbon barrels. Finally, the whiskey is vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with soft grains next to a rush of dried fruits and supple leather with a floral hint that leans toward dry hibiscus and fresh woodruff.

Palate: The palate is gentle with hints of wet malts next to powdered dark spices, fresh honeycombs, and a thin line of vanilla oils just touched with orange zest and maybe a twinge of grapefruit.

Finish: The end arrives with a soft honeyed sweetness that feels like it’s drizzled over an orange cake with a hint of malted cracker graininess next to an echo of old apple chips.

Bottom Line:

This is the best entry point for unpeated single malt out there. It’s incredibly easy to drink with a nice depth that’ll reward your palate. This one also makes a mean cocktail, especially a sour or smash.

$40-$50 — Glencadam Reserva Andalucía Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Glencadam Reserva Andalucía
Angus Dundee

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $46

The Whisky:

This bespoke whisky is made from special Andalucia sherry casks that are blended with malt aged in ex-bourbon casks. The final product is then finished in fresh Olorosso sherry casks before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Sharp marmalade over scones with a hint of cream drives the nose toward ginger candy and soft vanilla.

Palate: That orange bitters toward chili pepper spice in the creamy malts with a hint of salted caramel and floral honey.

Finish: The sharp spice gets a little woody at the end with a hint more of vanilla and orange rounding things out.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice and very succinct unpeated malt that delivers a great profile. It’s an easy sipper over some rocks, makes a very nice cocktail, and is a good introduction to excellent sherry finishing on malt.

$50-$60 — Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Small Cask

Oban Little Bay
Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $57

The Whisky:

While this is technically a Highland whisky, Oban’s location on the sea sort of bridges it to the Islands and even Islay as a style/region too. The tiny distillery is in the heart of the town and this expression is a love letter to that place. The whisky is aged in small casks for varying times and with a variation of new and used casks in the mix. Once vatted, the final result is a masterclass in refined whisky.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a deep sense of smoked prunes, plums, and dates on the nose before soft creamy malts arrive with a touch of walnut bread smeared with salted butter and a fleeting note of orange saltwater taffy with old seawater-soaked pier planks underneath it all.

Palate: Clove-studded oranges and creamy malted vanilla open the palate toward more of those saltwater taffy chews with a sense of stewed pear mush cut with brandy and dark spiced mulled wine.

Finish: All of that combines to create a sort of spiced nutty apple cake with a buttery crumble on the finish as you slowly meander away along that damp old wooden pier.

Bottom Line:

You cannot go wrong getting into Oban. The mildly peated seaside whisky is magically delicious and supple. Pour this one neat and then take your time enjoying all the depth built into the malt. Then make your favorite whisky-forward cocktail with it.

$60-$70 — Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 14 Years

Glenmorangie 14
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $69

The Whisky:

Glenmorangie’s 14-year expression spends 10 years resting in used American oak casks. Those barrels are vatted and the whisky is re-barreled into Quinta Ruban port wine casks from Portugal for another four years of mellowing before batching, proofing, and bottling as-is.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose draws you in with a sense of burnt orange layered into dark chocolate and then melted over a singed marshmallow with a hint of malted vanilla cookie tying it all together.

Palate: That dark chocolate drives the palate with a hint of waxiness and woody winter spice next to whole black peppercorns, fresh tangerine, and a whisper of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Finish: The dark chocolate, woody spice, bright orange, and sharp spearmint all collide on the finish with a sense of soft malted sweetness and faint old oak staves.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best sippers on the list at a great price. This is a fantastic unpeated Scotch that delivers a killer palate. It’s also a great bridge for American whiskey fans looking for a deep malt with familiar flavor notes.

$70-$80 — Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 15 Years

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $79

The Whisky:

Johnnie Walker’s Green Label is a solidly crafted whisky that highlights Diageo’s fine stable of distilleries across Scotland. The whisky is a pure malt or blended malt, meaning that only single malt whisky is in the mix (no grain whisky). In this case, the primary whiskies are a minimum of 15 years old, from Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Soft notes of cedar dance with hints of black pepper, vanilla pods, and bright fruit — think red berries, fresh pear, and nectarines — with a wisp of singed green grass in the background.

Palate: The palate delivers on that soft cedar woodiness while edging towards a spice-laden tropical fruit brightness with grilled peaches covered in salted caramel, honey malt biscuits, and bitter yet sweet marmalade with a dash of winter spiciness.

Finish: The finish is dialed in with hints of soft cedar bark, singed wild sage, bark-forward winter spice, and stewed stonefruit leading toward a briny billow of smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

I’ll die on this hill — this is the best Johnnie Walker money can buy. This blended malt is simply fantastic. It’s so deep and nuanced with just the right level of fruit, smoke, and woody spice. You can sip this all day and you’ll never get bored.

$80-$90 — Highland Park Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The Edrington Group

ABV: 63.3%

Average Price: $85

The Whisky:

This yearly drop is part of a new line from the Orkney Island’s distillery. The whisky is a blend of single malts that are aged exclusively in old American oak that previously held sherry. The barrels are married and bottled as is, to assure you’re getting all the nuance and flavor of their malts meeting that oak.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a light sense of wildflowers on the nose with a rich vanilla husk that leads towards a touch of peat.

Palate: The taste is surprisingly silken (for a cask strength) with rich and buttery toffee next to honeysuckle, eggnog spices and creaminess, and a small dose of orange zest as a counterpoint.

Finish: The end holds onto the creaminess and spices as the peat just edges in with a whisper of resinous pine smoke.

Bottom Line:

This is a great cask-strength peated Scotch. It has hints of American oak — deep vanilla and spice — that just work with the seaside peatiness and deep maltiness. This is a great option for sipping over a big rock or in an old fashioned.

$90-$100 — Ardbeg Uigeadail Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail
LVMH

ABV: 54.2%

Average Price: $93

The Whisky:

The mix of peated malts, yeast, and that inky lake water from Islay creates a spirit that’s already full of flavors before it goes into the barrel. That hot juice is aged in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. When the whisky in the barrel is just right, they’re blended into this single malt expression, proofed with local spring water, and bottled without any filtration.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose is a matrix of smoked plums next to lush Christmas cakes full of dried and candied fruit and citrus with plenty of fatty nuts, dark and wintry spice, and buttery caramel drizzle hit with plenty of sea salt next to a whisper of dried lavender and overripe, almost woody plantains.

Palate: The palate balances sweet berries and pear candy with smoky salmon fat and dark chocolate malts.

Finish: The mid-palate adds a hint of dried chili heat while fading towards a finish full of smoked fat, dried fruit, and a buttery dark chocolate sauce bespeckled with flakes of smoked pink sea salt and cedar chips.

Bottom Line:

Ardbeg is not for the light of heart. This is peated whisky at its best. It’s dark and dank with a deep sense of Islay peated malt filtered through the sea, American bourbon oak, and dark fruit. It’s delightfully brash and warming. Try it neat and then add some water to get to into the creamy depths below the surface.

$100-$125 — The Dalmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 14 Years

The Dalmore 14
The Dalmore

ABV: 43.8%

Average Price: $114

The Whisky:

This Highland single malt is a classic malted whisky from The Dalmore that spends 14 years mellowing. Then The Dalmore’s Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass hand-selects specific barrels for vatting and re-barreling in very rare Pedro Ximénez casks from the House of Gonzalez Byass in Spain. Once Glass deems those barrels just right, they’re vatted, proofed, and bottled exclusively for the U.S. market.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with a sense of subtle citrus — almost bitter orange and lemon — next to salted black licorice, caramel malted ice cream, toffee candies, and marzipan cake covered with poppy seeds and vanilla wafers.

Palate: The palate is pure sticky toffee pudding fresh out of the oven with a little bit of orange zest and flaked salt next to black-tea-soaked dates, sweet cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, rum-soaked caramel sauce, and a dollop of brandy butter with a twist of dark chocolate nibs.

Finish: The end leans into the dates and marzipan with a touch of spiced fig jam and prunes dipped in creamy yet very dark salted chocolate.

Bottom Line:

The Dalmore always slaps. Their 14-year expression is the perfect sweet spot in that it’s amazingly high-quality unpeated malt at a price point that’s still attainable (it gets very expensive after this). Pour this one neat or over a single big ice cube and let it take you on a journey of delights.

$125-$150 — Aberfeldy Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 18 Years Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Casks Napa Valley Limited Edition

Aberfeldy Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 18 Years Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Casks
Bacardi

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $139

The Whisky:

This whisky was made with Aberfeldy’s iconic and very honey-forward 17-year-old Highland unpeated malt. That whisky was then re-casked into old Cabernet Sauv casks from Napa Valley for an additional 15 months of aging. Finally, those barrels were vatted and the whisky was proofed for bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Floral honey drives the nose toward cranberry sauce with a hint of spice oak layered with caramel apples and toffee candies rolled in dark chocolate.

Palate: Those caramel apples lead on the palate with a lush vanilla foundation next to bitter orange marmalade, apple pie filling, and a cup of regular drip coffee.

Finish: The honey arrives on the finish with a honeycomb earthiness before fresh and very sweet raspberry drives the taste back toward old oak with a hint of mince pies and mulled wine sneaking in at the very end.

Bottom Line:

Aberfeldy’s strength lies in amazing finishes on their subtle unpeated malt. This whisky is just a delight to sip, pair with big meals, and enjoy on slow days.

$150-$200 — Oban 2023 Distillers Edition Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Oban Distillers Edition
Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $162

The Whisky:

This expression is a love letter to the tiny town of Oban on the western coast of Scotland. The whisky is standard Oban that’s finished in Montilla Fino sherry casks to add an extra dimension to the already finely crafted whisky from the distillery. Those casks are then vatted and proofed before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: A small billow of smoke greets you on the nose next to notes of sea brine, orange zest, and a hint of vinous fruit that feels a little like saltwater taffy and a little like old Fruit Roll-Ups with a sense of soft winter spices lurking under it all.

Palate: Sweet caramel malts form on the silky palate as stewed pear and apple mingle with salted toffee and a light sense of oyster shell and toasted seaweed barely breakthrough on the back end.

Finish: That hint of the sea fades on the finish as you’re left with soft caramel maltiness and even softer stewed pear just kissed with saffron, clove, and anise next to a whisper of plum pudding.

Bottom Line:

Yes, we’re adding another Oban. This is an essential addition to any whiskey bar. This whiskey is perfectly attuned to slow sipping with a deep sense of spice, sea, and nostalgia. It runs deep. And it’s goddamn delicious.

$200-$300 — Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 18 Years

Talisker 18
Diageo

ABV: 45.8%

Average Price: $252

The Whisky:

This is a classic single malt that also happens to hold the title of “Best Single Malt Whisky in the World” from the World Whiskies Awards. The iconic whisky is rendered in Talisker’s bespoke stills and then spends nearly two decades resting in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels, like most of the true classic single malts.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose has a light yet clear sense of ripe plums, orange oils, buttery toffee, and an almost sour apple next to a distant whiff of briny campfire smoke from one beach over.

Palate: The orange oils remain on the palate as eggnog spices peek in gently, with hints of that butter toffee driving a rich silkiness.

Finish: The smoke remains in the distance as the spices warm your senses and the meaty fruit takes the edge off on the slow and satisfying fade.

Bottom Line:

Talisker 18 is a masterpiece. Buy a case.

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