ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Best Scotch Whiskey

Updated on July 18, 2011

What the best Scotch whiskey? It's all a matter of taste, of course. Hard core aficionados often prefer the strong, smoky tasting whiskeys associated with the distilleries on the Isle of Islay. Others like a smoother Scotch, sometimes achieved by aging the whiskey in oak barrels that once contained sherry.

To state my own bias, I like it strong. To me, a good Scotch whiskey has some bite in it. The taste should be redolent of smoke, peat, and sea air. Nothing against the smoother varieties, which are often very good indeed, but a strong Islay Scotch is my idea of single malt heaven.

To be considered for the list below, a whiskey must (a) be distilled in Scotland, and (b) be of the single malt variety. No blended Scotches allowed.

  1. Ardbeg (10 year) - Smooth, smoky, well-rounded, maybe as close to a perfect Scotch as can be found. The smoothest and most approachable of the smoky/peaty Scotches from the isle of Islay. Very strong overtones of peat, but by no means overwhelming. Some might care for something a bit stronger, but considering its overall quality and accessibility to non-hardcore Scotch drinkers, I think it deserves to place on top.
  2. Macallan (18 year) Macallan is aged in sherry casks, which gives it a slightly sweet taste and removes any hint of bite. There's not even the barest bit of harshness here, which makes it perfect for an after dinner nightcap (served neat, of course); but it can be a bit cloying when taken more than a single glass at a time. There are better values out there, but if money is not object, why not? It's a great Scotch.
  3. Lagavulin Scotch (16 year) - A glass of Lagavulin is like a trip to the bottom of a peat bog. Not a drink for wimps, the smoke and peat are strong and omnipresent. The non-hardcore will want to take it with a drop or two of water to dilute the strength of flavor, but a glass taken neat will make the hair on your chest grow an inch or two.
  4. Laphraoig (10 year) - Smoke, peat, brine, sea air - yes, Laphraoig is a strong Scotch. Novices may find it too harsh, but more seasoned drinkers will be delighted by the power of its flavors. A glass of Laphraoig will transport you to a windswept bay in the north of Scotland in a driving rain, but you'll be too warm to care about the weather.
  5. Highland Park (12 year) - Great value for money at under $40 a bottle. It's a solidly smooth, neutral-tasting Scotch, very approachable to the novice. Lacks the hearty smoke and peat flavor that most enthusiasts consider the hallmark of a great Scotch, but, snobbery aside, this is a very smooth and tasty bottle that won't break your budget.
  6. Balvenie Doublewood (12 year) - A smooth and sweet Scotch aged in oak Sherry barrels. If you hate Laphraoig, you'll probably love Balvenie Doublewood, and vice versa. Those that like a smooth, velvety Scotch with hints of sweetness will love the richness and complexity of this excellent single malt. Comparable to the Macallen - maybe not quite as good, but a much better value.
  7. Bowmore (18 year) - Another Islay Scotch, and that means smoke and peat in abundance. Bowmore tends to be smother and easier on the pallet than some of its island cousins, making it a more approachable malt for non-enthusiasts. The Bowmores represent very solid value and are a good entry into the world of distinctive Isle of Islay Scotches.
  8. Glenlivet (12 year) - Just because you can find it in every liquor store in America doesn't mean it's not a good Scotch. Glenlivit is a solid starter Scotch with a neutral taste that's neither too smokey nor too sweet. For value and accessibility, it's a very decent single malt.
  9. Oban (14 year) - Oban,like the omnipresent Glenlivet, is a solid overall Scotch that lacks a strong personality. I've only had one bottle of the stuff, but it left no particular impression (and didn't make me want to run out for another bottle). In short, it's a very decent Scotch for people who like single malts, but don't like the varieties with stronger personalities.
  10. Glenmorangie (10 year) - Well, its the best-selling Scotch in Scotland, and that has to count for something, right? Smooth, light, perhaps even a bit fruity, it's a Scotch for those who don't like too much bite. Overall, it's a perfectly fine single malt to serve to visiting relatives who don't care for strong flavors, while you pour yourself a glass of Laphraoig.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Some great whiskeys on here JohnnyComeLately! I've started using whiskey auctions to buy whiskey. I found quite a lot on here x

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Why doesnt your article have any mention of "The Dalmore" or "Jura". These are arguably some of the finest single malts around today.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)