What Is The Best Scotch Whisky – Audio

It’s time for the big one! Scotch whisky is the classic whisky. It’s the oldest kind, it’s where whisky-making originated, and some would argue it’s the undisputed best kind of whisky.

However, among the distinguished Scotch whiskies of the world, which ones stand head and shoulders above the rest? Whisky lovers have been asking this question for years, and there is no simple answer. Thankfully, with enough research and personal taste tests we’ve come to a decent approximation of what we consider the best Scotch whiskies.

So if you’re looking to find a new daily drinker at a quick glance, then read on. It’s time to get granular and find the best whisky offerings from the land of the Scots.

Rating the Best Scotch Whiskies

The “best” Scotch whisky will come down to personal preferences. However, some brands are more popular than others – for good reason! Here are some widely acclaimed Scotch whiskies based on different factors.

Guide to top Scotch whiskies with categories and bottles.
Best Scotch Whisky – Best Catagories

What is the Best Affordable Scotch Whisky?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as everyone’s taste in Scotch whisky varies. However, some affordable and famous whiskies that won’t break the bank include the following:

  • Johnnie Walker Black Label 
  • Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Balvenie DoubleWood 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Highland Park 12-Year-Old

What is the Best Scotch Whisky Under $30?

Finding high-quality Scotch whiskies under $30 can be challenging, as many premium brands tend to be priced higher. However, some options that offer good value for money may include the following:

  • Famous Grouse
  • Teacher’s Highland Cream
  • Grants Scotch Whisky
  • Monkey Shoulder
  • Black Bottle

What is the Best Single-Malt Scotch Whisky?

Single-malt whiskies vary in sweetness, fruitiness, smokiness, and peatiness. Some of the best single-malt Scotch whiskies include the following:

  • Balvenie 21-Year-Old PortWood
  • Laphroaig 10-Year-Old
  • Glenfiddich 18-Year-Old

What is the Best Blended Whisky?

Blended whiskies have balanced and consistent flavor profiles that include many elements, such as sweetness, fruitiness, spiciness, and oakiness. These blends cater to a wealth of varied taste preferences, and some of the best brands include the following:

  • Johnnie Walker Blue Label
  • Chivas Regal 18-Year-Old
  • Compass Box The Spice Tree

What are the Best Brands of Scotch?

There are many different Scotch whisky brands, and it is a very subjective topic. Some people prefer the smokiness of a single malt Scotch from Islay, while others might prefer the sweetness of a Speyside whisky. 

Map of Scotland highlighting top Scotch whisky brands.
What is the Best Scotch Whisky – Where Are The Best Brands of Scotch

Johnnie Walker, Glenlivet, Laphroaig, Balvenie, and Aberlour are some of the most well-known Scotch whisky brands. Each distillery’s unique flavor profile and style distinguishes it from other whiskies. 

Is Good Scotch Hard to Find?

It’s not hard to find good Scotch whisky; it’s just hard to find a reasonable price. Scotch is a “premium” liquor that can be pretty pricey. However, many types of Scotch are available, and some are more affordable than others. 

What is the Best Place to Buy Scotch Whisky?

The best way to find a good deal on Scotch is to shop around. Liquor stores, department stores, and even online retailers often have sales throughout the year. In addition, many specialty liquor stores have knowledgeable staff who can provide recommendations and guidance based on your budget and preferences.

The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt are popular online Scotch retailers with competitive pricing and customer reviews.

If you’re a fan of collectible or limited-edition bottles, why not attend a whisky auction? Websites like Whisky Auctioneer and Bonhams host regular auctions where enthusiasts can bid on a wide range of whiskies, from vintage releases to limited editions.

What Makes Scotch Special?

Scotch whisky is made in Scotland, and the climate and soil make it unique. Scotch whisky must originate from malted barley, water, and yeast. Scotch is distilled in pot stills, which gives it its distinctive flavor. It must be aged in oak casks for at least three years to provide a smoky flavor. Thanks to the combination of climate and soil, Scotch has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other whiskies. The peat used to dry the barley gives it a smoky flavor, and the cool weather helps the whisky keep its flavor. 

The Features of Scotch Whisky

If you want a deeper dive, check out our in-depth overview of Scotch Whisky.

If you’ve heard of American, Canadian, and Irish whisky, you may wonder what differentiates Scotch. Here are some common features of Scotch whisky you’ll learn to recognize as you become more familiar with the favored drink.

Informative Scotch whisky features infographic with glass.
What is the Best Scotch Whisky_ – Features of Scotch Whisky

Does Scotch Whisky Have Corn in It?

Scotch whisky typically does not contain corn as a primary ingredient. The primary grain used in Scotch whisky production is malted barley, which is mashed, fermented, distilled, and then aged in oak barrels. It cannot contain any other cereals. Using other cereals would make the whisky a “blended Scotch whisky,” a different type of spirit.

Where is Scotch Made?

Scotch whisky is made in Scotland. The Highlands and Lowlands are the primary production areas. Speyside is also well known for its whiskies. Scotch whisky must contain water, malted barley, and yeast. It must be distilled to a strength of less than 94.8% ABV (190 US proof) and put into oak casks that may be at most 700 liters (185 gallons) in size. Scotch whisky may not contain any added coloring or flavoring. 

What Does Scotch Whisky Taste Like?

Scotch has a smoky, peaty flavor, unlike any other kind. Some people love the taste of Scotch whisky, while others find it too smoky or harsh. It all comes down to individual preference. If you’ve never tried Scotch whisky, start with a milder variety like Johnny Walker Red Label. That way, you can gauge your taste before moving on to more intense brands. 

Scotch whisky’s smoky flavor comes from the peat smoke used to dry the barley during malting. Peat is a type of coal made from ancient plant matter and has a smoky, earthy taste. Some people love the smoky flavor of Scotch whisky, while others find it too overpowering.  

Is Scotch Whisky Smooth?

Scotch whiskies are typically characterized as “smooth.” The type of Scotch whisky (single malt, blended malt, single grain, or blended grain) and the age of the whisky will also determine how smooth it is.  

Is Scotch Whisky Smoky?

Some people prefer a smoky flavor in their Scotch whisky, while others find it too strong. However, not all Scotch whiskies are smoky. For instance, speysides and lowland whiskies have no smoke in their flavor profiles. Single-malt whiskies from Islay have the most pronounced smoke and peat tastes. Try different types of Scotch whisky to find smoother ones for you.  

Does Scotch Have a Strong Smell?

Scotch whisky does have a strong smell, but it’s not unpleasant. It is known for its smells of smoke and peat, which fans often enjoy. However, the smell can be overpowering for some people, so it’s essential to try the whisky before you buy a bottle. If you don’t like the smell, you won’t like the taste either.  

Is Scotch Whisky a Hard Liquor?

Scotch whisky is typically 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof). It is made from a mix of malted barley and yeast. The whisky is then distilled twice in copper pot stills. The first distillation produces a low-alcohol spirit called “new make,” about 70% alcohol. The second distillation yields the “whisky,” about 40% alcohol by volume. The malted barley used to make Scotch whisky must be dried over peat fires, which gives the whisky its distinctive smoky flavor. Peat fires are created by burning wet heather, gorse, and moss. Some whiskies are also aged in oak casks, which give them their characteristic color and flavor. 

Is Scotch Whisky Flammable?

Scotch whisky is flammable. All distilled spirits can catch fire because they contain a lot of alcohol, which makes them very volatile and easy to ignite. That’s why it’s essential to keep opened liquor bottles in a cool, dark place where they won’t be exposed to heat or flames. 

Does Scotch Go Bad?

Scotch does not “expire.” But like any other alcoholic beverage, it will lose its flavor and character over time if not consumed. The best way to store Scotch is in a cool, dark place. If you store it for an extended period, you can also freeze it to help preserve its flavor.  

Why Is Scotch Whisky So Good?

Scotch whisky is so good because it is made with a carefully crafted process that results in a smooth, flavorful drink. The whisky is then distilled in pot stills and aged in oak casks for at least three years. This careful process results in a smooth, flavorful drink with a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other whiskies. 

What is the Best Way to Drink Scotch Whisky?

For a closer look, check out our comprehensive article on how to drink Scotch whisky.

How you consume Scotch whisky will depend on your preference. However, some traditional, tried-and-tested methods can enhance your tasting experience.

Man with whisky glass, tips for drinking Scotch.
What is the Best Scotch Whisky – What is the Best Way to Drink Scotch Whisky

What Glass Should You Use for Scotch Whisky?

It’s common to serve Scotch neat in a tumbler-shaped glass. The Scotch should be about room temperature or slightly colder.

Can You Mix Scotch Whisky with Ice?

Adding ice to Scotch is a great way to make the drink more refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. However, adding ice can water down the Scotch, so you won’t want to spend too long drinking it.

Can You Water Down Scotch?

While you can water down whisky, connoisseurs don’t often recommend it. Adding water to whisky dulls flavors and makes the drink less alcoholic. 

Should You Add Salt to Scotch?

Salting with Scotch can bring out certain flavors and is often used to balance sweet and sour tastes. It can also bring out the whisky’s smokiness. 

Should You Stir Scotch Whisky?

It is generally unnecessary to stir a dram of Scotch unless the whisky has been “nosed” and found too strong. In that case, a gentle stir with a clean, cold teaspoon can help release more aromas. However, if you are enjoying your drink neat or on the rocks, it is best to leave it be. 

The exception is sherry cask whiskies, which may benefit from a light stir.

Mixing Scotch Into Cocktails

You can generally mix Scotch with other spirits, though it may only provide an enjoyable experience sometimes. Standard mixers include gin, vodka, and bourbon.

Can You Use Scotch in a Negroni?

A Negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. High-quality blended Scotch whisky and a dash of orange bitters make a spectacular Negroni.

Does Scotch Whisky Taste Good with Coke?

Coke is a popular soda that often goes hand-in-hand with Scotch because it balances sweetness and smokiness. It also created a complex and exciting taste. 

Does Scotch Taste Good in a Manhattan Cocktail?

A Manhattan is made with whisky (usually rye), sweet vermouth, and bitters. Whichever type of whisky you use will affect the flavor of the drink. Using a sweeter whisky, like Scotch, will pair well with the sweet vermouth and give the drink a richer flavor. 

Can You Mix Scotch with Sweet Things?

Besides Coke and other dark sodas like Pepsi, you can mix Scotch with sweet drinks like certain juices or liquors. Mixers typically add sweet ingredients to make popular cocktails like Scotch Sours, Blood and Sand, Rob Roys, and Rusty Nails. 

Pairing Scotch with Food

There are many different types of Scotch whisky, so it’s difficult to give a general answer. However, a peaty Scotch whisky would go well with smoked meats such as ham or bacon, while a sweet Scotch whisky would be great with desserts such as crème brûlée or cheesecake.  

Scotch pairing with ham, cheese, beef, and lamb.
What is the Best Scotch Whisky – Scotch and Food Pairings

Does Scotch Go Well with Cheese and Meat?

It’s also common to pair Scotch with cheese and meat. A smoky Scotch would pair well with smoked Gouda cheese or smoked ham. A sweet Scotch would pair well with brie or apricots. As for pairing meats, bolder meats such as beef or lamb would pair well with a bolder Scotch, while milder meats such as pork or poultry would pair well with a milder Scotch.

How Much Scotch Should You Cook With?

It’s essential to match the Scotch you cook with to the dish you’re making. For example, if you’re preparing a delicate fish dish, you’ll want to use a light Scotch like Glenlivet or Glenfiddich. If, on the other hand, you’re cooking a hearty beef stew, you might want to reach for something with more flavor, like Laphroaig or Lagavulin. No matter which Scotch you choose, it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. You don’t need to add much Scotch to your dish for great flavor. Start with just a teaspoon and work your way up from there until you achieve the desired flavor profile.  

Comparing Scotch to Other Spirits

Some avid Scotch drinkers liken this whisky to other spirits like rye and bourbon. See how Scotch compares to these two popular spirits.

Scotch, Rye, Bourbon comparison chart.
What is the Best Scotch Whisky – Comparing Scotch to Other Spirits

Is Scotch Similar to Rye?

Scotch is similar to rye in that they are both types of whisky. However, they are made from different grains and have distinct flavor profiles. Scotch is made from malted barley, while rye is made from grain. Scotch has a spicy flavor, whereas rye has a smokier flavor. Both whiskies are aged in oak barrels, contributing to their unique flavors. 

Does Scotch Taste Like Bourbon?

Scotch is made from malted barley, while bourbon is made from corn. Scotch has a smokier flavor, while bourbon is sweeter. Also, Scotch is usually aged for a long time in oak casks, while bourbon ages for a shorter time, affecting the flavor profile of each spirit.  

Is Scotch Whisky Healthy?

Scotch whisky is made from natural ingredients and has some health benefits. Like red wine, it contains antioxidants that protect your cells against damage. Scotch whisky may also help improve heart health by lowering the amount of bad cholesterol and raising the amount of good cholesterol. However, it’s important to drink in moderation because too much alcohol can have harmful effects on your health. 

How Much Scotch is Safe to Drink?

Generally, men can drink more than women before feeling the effects of alcohol. Smaller people will feel the effects of alcohol sooner than heavier people. Other factors include weight, age, diabetes, and other health conditions. In general, it’s safest to drink in moderation. That means no more than one or two drinks per day for men and no more than one for women. And it’s best not to drink at all if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. 


Which Scotch whisky is the best? This question has no definitive answer, as everyone’s taste buds differ. Personal preferences will influence what you consider the best affordable, single-malt, and blended whisky.