Scotch whisky is often thought of in the context of region, but for those looking to taste beyond borders, the country’s coastline offers a guide. Taste the varying flavors of the sea with these 6 whiskies, all from distilleries less than 1,000 meters from the coast.
Ardbeg An Oa—93 points, $60
A French Oak marrying vat helps integrate smoky Ardbeg matured in a variety of cask types: charred virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez, and first-fill bourbon. Dark chocolate, peat, aniseed, black tea, clove, and pepper make this a dynamic Ardbeg.
Oban Little Bay—92 points, $75
Features dried fruits, chocolate orange, a touch of salt, and clove. Combining mature Oban from European oak sherry casks, refill casks with new heads, and refill hogsheads to marry in small oak casks achieves a rich, rounded style.
Springbank 15 year old—92 points, $120
The oloroso sherry influence brings out soft leather, dried fruits, black tea, brine, peat, spicy tannins, raisins, and Brazil nut, leaving an appealing smoke trail in its wake. A contemplative digestif or good choice with a cigar.
Talisker Storm—89 points, $61
Even among Talisker expressions, Storm whips up greater maritime characteristics than most. Smart wood choices of rejuvenated casks and refill oak help to develop the flavors of sea spray, wood smoke, dark berries, and Talisker’s trademark peppery volcanic eruption.
Old Pulteney Navigator—88 points, $65
Navigator celebrates the seafaring men and women of the distillery’s town of Wick. The combination of bourbon and sherry casks delivers a wave of honey, apple, dried fruit, ginger, cocoa, and spicy orange, with a lasting salty taste of the sea.
Scapa Glansa—87 points, $72
Scapa’s flavor profile shares more traits with Speyside malts than its fellow island whiskies, thanks to the unpeated malt and soft honeyed fruitiness. Here, a peated whisky-cask finish brings out a darker side of rich fruits, dark vanilla, and gentle smoke.