close
Scotland's Whisky Regions

Balblair Distillery in the Northern Highlands is among the most picturesque in Scotland.

Scotland's Whisky Regions

January 11, 2023 –––––– David Fleming, Bottle Selections By Jonny McCormick and David Fleming, , ,

Reminders of whisky are never far off in Scotland—swollen fresh rivers, pristine glens, rich peated earth, and the abundant rain that is destined to become tomorrow’s whisky. But so much of whisky’s culture in Scotland historically lay hidden, and was meant to be so. In earlier centuries, its distilleries were tucked away in remote corners of the Highlands and western isles, dodging the tax man. Even as scotch whisky grew to become big business, its prized malt distillers remained mostly unknown to the world at large.

Scotland’s malt whiskies were considered too rustic, too assertive, and too obscure for the world’s cosmopolitan drinkers in the 19th century—or so the thinking went. Blenders, often Scottish grocers who sold whisky in their shops, began mixing these malts with softer grain whiskies, giving rise to the blended scotch category. These palate-friendly blends, bearing names like Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, Bell’s, and Ballantine’s, went on to conquer the world in the 20th century. The great malt whiskies were merely anonymous ingredients in the blender’s cabinet, and their distillers were shrouded in anonymity.

WHISKY ADVOCATE
Whisky Advocate

That has all changed in a matter of several decades—though even today Scotland’s single malts account for just 25% of total scotch whisky sales in the U.S., and an even smaller share in other parts of the world. But in the modern era, the veil has been lifted from Scotland’s whisky countenance. Its distilleries are now world famous, and the entire scotch whisky landscape lies open, ready for us to visit, taste, and experience in every possible way.

Routes to Whisky

Scotland’s Lowlands distilleries are right on the doorstep of the country’s two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Whisky making in the Lowlands fell into decline in the late 20th century, and by 1993 only two distilleries—Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie—were still open. But the region has been reborn, and today boasts 18 distilleries, with more on the way. Just 12 miles northwest of Glasgow is Auchentoshan, while Glasgow Distillers lies at the city’s western perimeter. In the eastern countryside around Edinburgh, the renowned Glenkinchie is just 15 miles southeast of the city. Not far to the north and west lie a string of new or revived distilleries—Inchdairnie, Daftmill, Lindores Abbey, Eden Mill, and Kingsbarns, as well as the most celebrated recent Lowlands reclamation, Rosebank. As we went to press, Rosebank was preparing to fire up its stills for the first time since 1993.

The only far-flung Lowlands distilleries are its two southernmost—the picturesque farm distillery Bladnoch and the equally attractive Annandale, which reopened in 2014 after being shuttered for nearly a century. The route down to Bladnoch from Glasgow passes by Kilmarnock, birthplace of John Walker, which sadly bears little trace of the famous Johnnie Walker legacy except for the founder’s gravesite. Annandale lies further east, just a few miles from the English border.

Into the Highlands

But the challenge for Lowlands distilleries is that its visitors are usually on their way to somewhere else. The Highlands border, which runs roughly from Greenock in the west to Aberdeen in the east, is not far from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. From Edinburgh, a principal route to the Highlands runs up through Cairngorms National Park, passing clusters of notable names—Glenturret, Aberfeldy, Blair Athol, and Dalwhinnie (the highest in Scotland), to name a few—all on the way to Speyside.

From Glasgow, Glengoyne Distillery lies only 13 miles to the north, barely over the Highlands line, while Loch Lomond Distillery is just 25 miles to the northwest. Loch Lomond starts the route up the Western Highlands, and the road north leads to the seaside town of Oban and its eponymous distillery. A short distance away is Glencoe, where the dearth of distilleries is more than compensated for by some of the most stunning vistas in Scotland. For more adventurous travelers, a detour west (including a short ferry ride) leads to the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula, where newcomer Ardnamurchan Distillery has been making top-notch whiskies since 2014. Continuing through the remote west, the scenery continues to dazzle and steal the show until the next great whisky destination, the Northern Highlands.

The North Coast 500

The route around this northernmost tip of mainland Scotland, called the North Coast 500, features a parade of famous distilleries on its eastern side, starting with Teaninich and Dalmore, then north to Glenmorangie and Balblair, whose farm-like setting is among the most beautiful in Scotland—so much so that film director Ken Loach used it as the distillery setting for his 2012 film “The Angels’ Share.” Further along the coast road lies Clynelish Distillery and its neighbor, the recently revived Brora, which reopened to great fanfare last year after a shutdown of 38 years. Near the top of this scenic coastal road is the old fishing town of Wick, home to Pulteney Distillery Co., maker of Old Pulteney whisky. After passing the top of mainland Scotland and the ferry to Orkney at John o’Groats, the last distillery stop is Wolfburn, a smaller player and relative newcomer that has been making whisky since 2012.

Back down from the Northern Highlands and crossing east beyond Inverness brings you to the heart of the matter—Speyside, the undisputed whisky champion of the world, which essentially lies between Inverness and Aberdeen and has more than 50 top-class distilleries to its name. The principal Speyside towns of Elgin, Dufftown, Keith, and Rothes are knit much more closely together, spanning a 15-mile area that is home to some of most famous whisky names in the world, including Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Macallan, Glen Grant, Benriach, and many more.

The reason for Speyside’s remarkable concentration of whiskies can be summed up in one word: water. Soft mountain streams and bounteous rivers and tributaries are everywhere—most importantly River Deveron to the east and River Findhorn to the west, but also Lossie, Spey, Fiddich, and Livet. Other factors have also made Speyside famous, such as its abundant barley and peated soil. The arrival of the railways in the 1860s magnified Speyside’s already huge advantages. The trains brought raw materials to the distilleries, which in turn shipped countless thousands of barrels down the rails to blenders in Perth, Leith, Glasgow, and elsewhere.

Further east is mainland Scotland’s Eastern Highlands. This rich farmland, punctuated by the Garioch (pronounced Geerie) Valley has relatively few distilleries, largely because its rivers are not as numerous or deep. But the distilleries that it does offer—think Glen Garioch, GlenDronach, and Ardmore—are top quality. Even more off the beaten path, down the east coast near Dundee, are Fettercairn, Glencadam, and Arbikie, the last notable for making one of the few Scottish ryes. These represent the final cluster of distilleries to complete the circle back to the Lowlands.

Island Hopping

Scotland’s true outlier is the Western Isles, as well as Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula—the Mull of Kintyre. Campbeltown holds steadfast to its regional identity and mystique even though it has just three distilleries today—Springbank, Glen Scotia, and Glengyle—compared to more than 30 in its heyday of the 19th century. Campbeltown and the Mull of Kintyre jut between two whisky islands. To its east is Arran, which had no distilleries for 150 years until 1995, when Isle of Arran Distillery, now known as Lochranza Distillery, came on-stream. Lochranza opened a second facility in Lagg, on Arran’s south end, in 2019.

To the Kintyre Peninsula’s west is the most famous whisky island of all, Islay. Just 15 miles wide and 25 miles long, it has nine distilleries, a number that will expand to 11 in the next few years. Its whiskies, renowned for their peat and smoke, are by far the most phenolic in Scotland. There are big differences in flavor among the Islay whiskies. Laphroaig, for example, is particularly seaweedy and briny, while the slightly more sheltered Bowmore has a more moderate palate, and Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie, for example, isn’t peated at all. Across the narrow Sound of Islay lies the Isle of Jura, which has only one distillery; predictably, Isle of Jura.

In all, there are more than 100 islands in the Hebrides Archipelago off Scotland’s west coast, only 15 of which are inhabited. But there are 21 distilleries in all. The Isle of Mull has Torbermory, which changes over to produce a peated whisky, Ledaig (led-CHIG), at different times of the year. Well to the north is the Isle of Skye, which for years had just one distillery, Talisker. It now boasts two, as Torabhaig came online three years ago. The nearby Isle of Raasay, meanwhile, launched its first whisky in late 2020. And at the top of Scotland is Orkney, an archipelago of 65 islands, 30 of which are inhabited. The main island, Kirkwall, is home to two distilleries— Highland Park and the lesser-known Scapa.

In all, some 138 whisky distilleries are currently humming along across the Scottish landscape; according to the Scotch Whisky Association, and most are producing at full throttle. Seven of those are grain distilleries— huge, industrial-sized facilities that you will likely never visit, such as Girvan in the south, Cameronbridge above Edinburgh, and Inver-gordon in the Northern Highlands. The Girvan and Cameronbridge campuses are so big that bicycles are recommended for getting around.

In the lists of scotches that accompany this article, we offer nearly 60 different whiskies to get a taste of Scotland. Of course, it just scratches the surface of what Scotland has to offer, but that makes it no less enjoyable.

Bladnoch Distillery SOUTH WEST IMAGES SCOTLAND / ALAMY
Bladnoch Distillery. Photo by South West Images Scotland/Alamy

Lowlands

88 Auchentoshan Three Wood 43% • $87

Located just 10 miles up the River Clyde from Glasgow, Auchentoshan triple distills its whiskies in the classic Lowlands style.

TASTES LIKE Orange peel, dried apricots, milk chocolate, fresh-sawn oak, toffee, and wood spice

88 Bladnoch 10 year old 46.7% • $65

A farm-based distillery that was shuttered in 2014, and then rescued and restored by Australian entrepreneur David Prior.

TASTES LIKE Citrus, wood spices, nutty toffee, green apple, and milk chocolate

87 Glenkinchie 12 year old 43% • $70

A Lowlands gem just 15 miles east of Edinburgh, where a major makeover of the visitor center was completed in 2020.

TASTES LIKE Floral, citrus fruit, spicy vanilla, walnuts, toffee apples, and herbs

90 Glasgow 1770 Peated 46% • $65

An “urban distiller” on the western side of Glasgow, opened in 2014 to become the city’s first single malt maker in a century.

TASTES LIKE Rich chocolate, bourbon biscuit, plum pudding, dark vanilla, and cigar smoke

Speyside

94 Benriach The Smoky Twelve 46% • $65

A producer of peated and unpeated whiskies, this peated expression finished at No. 3 in Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 two years ago.

TASTES LIKE Sweet fruits, vanilla, toasted almond, chocolate, blueberry, and backyard bonfires

93 Aberlour A’bunadh Alba Cask Strength • 57.1% • $90

Aged entirely in bourbon casks, as opposed to the intense sherry cask maturation of most expressions from this distillery.

TASTES LIKE Black-and-white cookies, vanilla, caramel topping, jasmine, poached pear, and lemon curd

93 Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength 60% • $90

A hefty offering with no age statement, matured in sherry and bourbon casks for around 8 to 10 years.

TASTES LIKE Boston cream pie, baked orange tart, raisin, pepper, and rich chocolate desserts

93 Macallan 15 year old Double Cask 43% • $150

From the renowned maker of lush sherried single malts, this one marries whiskies aged in sherry-seasoned American and European oak.

TASTES LIKE Dried apple, prune, cocktail cherries, chewy oak, raisins, and spicy ginger

92 Benromach 10 year old 43% • $60

Lightly peated, and aged for 9 years in 80% bourbon and 20% sherry casks before finishing for a year in sherry casks.

TASTES LIKE Sweet smoke, malt, dry sherry, apple, toffee, and ginger

92 Glen Grant 15 year old Batch Strength • 50% • $78

Aged entirely in first-fill bourbon barrels, resulting in a light golden hay color and loads of vanilla charm.

TASTES LIKE Green apple, melon, almond cream, vanilla, fresh ginger, toasted coconut, and savory oak

91 Glenallachie 12 year old Port Wood Finish • 48% • $120

Notably ruby red in color from 3 years of finishing in port pipes after more than 9 years in bourbon barrels.

TASTES LIKE Pleasant oiliness, nutmeg, black tea, orange peel, dark chocolate, and raspberry

Tomintoul Distillery
Tomintoul Distillery

91 Mortlach 16 year old Distiller’s Dram • 43.4% • $115

An oft-forgotten Speyside star located next door to more famous Dufftown neighbors like Glenfiddich and Balvenie, this was fully aged in sherry casks

TASTES LIKE Gingersnaps, savory notes, toffee apple, gammon, old leather, and canned peaches

91 Tomintoul Cigar Malt Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish • 43% • $81

A lush, creamy sherry-finished expression with a lightly peated profile, succeeding in its aim of pairing with fine cigars.

TASTES LIKE Yogurt-covered raisins, melon, banana pudding, vanilla ice cream, Quaker Cinnamon Life cereal, and peppery smoke

90 Glen Moray 15 year old 40% • $60

Aged near the banks of the River Lossie.

TASTES LIKE Sherry, orange, toffee, milk chocolate, spicy dried fruits, and wood spice

90 Glenlivet 14 year old Cognac Cask Selection • 40% • $65

From the originator of the Speyside style, this one received 6 months of finishing in cognac casks to add complexity.

TASTES LIKE Spicy red wine, vanilla, cinnamon, sweet tangerine, dried fruit, and liqueur-filled chocolates

90 Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut 48.8% • $80

The no age-statement offering within the Glenrothes Soleo Collection, which also includes 10, 12, 18, and 25 year old expressions. Matured in first-fill seasoned oak casks.

TASTES LIKE Rich fruits, milk chocolate, new leather, vanilla, blackcurrants, and treacle

90 Tamdhu 15 year old • 46% • $150

This distillery has no visitor center, instead letting the whisky do the talking with its viscous, sherry-rich expressions.

TASTES LIKE Molasses, orange peel, sweet sherry, Turkish delight, cinnamon, and drying oak

89 Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Rum Cask • 43% • $75

Created by malt master David Stewart, one of the modern pioneers of wood management in scotch whisky.

TASTES LIKE Honey, vanilla fudge, nougat, rich toffee, dried spice, and a hint of tropical fruit

89 Glenfiddich 12 year old 40% • $40

A go-to Speyside whisky and perennial global bestseller, matured in a combination of American and Spanish oak casks

TASTES LIKE Green apple, creamy vanilla, clove, chocolate, dried fruit, and citrus peel

Highlands

93 Balblair 15 year old • 46% • $120

An oft-overlooked Northern Highlands gem, just a few miles up the road from neighboring Glenmorangie.

TASTES LIKE Lemon, orange marmalade, dried fig, golden raisin, leather, and coffee bean

93 Deanston 12 year old 46.3% • $80

A relatively young distillery founded in 1966 in a former textile mill in the village of Doune, Deanston single malts offer excellent value.

TASTES LIKE Caramel, praline, grape jelly, marmalade, pecan, and tobacco

93 Loch Lomond 18 year old 46% • $90

One of the southernmost distilleries of the Highlands, just 25 miles from Glasgow, producing a multiplicity of styles, peated and non-peated.

TASTES LIKE Dark caramel, raisins, ground ginger, tropical fruits, pistachio, and chocolate

92 GlenDronach Port Wood 46% • $90

Best known for its sherry cask expressions, here GlenDronach deploys an extra layer of fruit with 3 years of finishing in ruby and tawny port casks.

TASTES LIKE Fig, dried cherries, glazed banana chips, Christmas cake, cocoa, and gingersnaps

92 Glengoyne 21 year old 43% • $250

One of Scotland’s most underrated single malts, delivering excellent value for the money. Macallan-esque without the hefty price tag.

TASTES LIKE Toffee, baked sultana, bread-and-butter pudding, red apple, baking spices, red currant, and aniseed

92 Glencadam 15 year old 46% • $80

Tucked away in a southeastern corner of the Highlands, just 10 miles from the North Sea coast.

TASTES LIKE Malt, butterscotch, green apple, ginger, chocolate, and pipe tobacco

92 Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 year old • 46% • $60

Successor to the 12 year old version, adding two additional years of finishing in port casks.

TASTES LIKE Marzipan, orchard fruit, milk chocolate, candied ginger, praline, and soft gingerbread

92 Oban Distillers Edition 2021 43% • $100

Made in the seaside town of Oban in 2007 and finished in mantilla sherry casks for up to 6 months.

TASTES LIKE Rose petal, raspberry, fig jam, candied grapefruit peel, green apple candy, and elegant smoke

91 Aberfeldy 21 year old 40% • $190

Built at the turn of the 20th century to supply malt whisky to the Dewar’s blend, but also with its own credentials as a single malt.

TASTES LIKE Honeyed granola, almond, waxy mouthfeel, citrus, dried apricot, and cinnamon

Aberfeldy Distillery
Aberfeldy Distillery

91 Dalmore 12 year old Sherry Cask Select • 43% • $80

An early stop on the North Coast 500 up the Northern Highlands, just over 20 miles north of Inverness, famed for its sherry- bomb whiskies.

TASTES LIKE New leather, sultana, furniture polish, mandarin oranges, milky coffee, and licorice

90 Glen Garioch 12 year old 48% • $75

Far off the beaten path as the easternmost distillery in the Highlands, this often overlooked distillery has an ardent following

TASTES LIKE Jaffa orange, sherry, malt, honey, ginger, and toasted oak

89 Old Pulteney 18 year old 46% • $95

The warehouses face the salty air in the Northern Highlands seaside town of Wick. Is there terroir in this whisky? You decide.

TASTES LIKE Dark chocolate, ripe pears, crème brûlée

Campbeltown

93 Kilkerran 12 year old • 46% • $100

Produced at Campbeltown’s Glengyle Distillery, but bottled under the name Kilkerran.

TASTES LIKE Orange peel, lime, watermelon, lemon curd, toffee, sherbert, then peat smoke, orange fondant, red apple, and gingerbread

92 Longrow 18 year old • 46% • $270

This heavily peated expression is named for a lost Campbeltown distillery that once stood next to Springbank, which now owns and makes it.

TASTES LIKE Honey, vanilla, smoked haddock, charcuterie, and peat

92 Springbank 15 year old 46% • $165

A small distillery, independently owned and managed for five generations. This medium-peated whisky has one of the most passionate followings of all scotch whiskies.

TASTES LIKE Tropical fruits, sherry, caramel, pipe tobacco, woodsmoke, and spicy tannins

90 Glen Scotia Victoriana 54.2% • $90

Lower profile than neighboring Springbank, this less peated whisky is every bit its equal, with a robust oily profile.

TASTES LIKE Cask char, pineapple, wood polish, black currant, sea salt, and crème brûlée

86 Hazelburn 10 year old 46% • $100

Another one that takes its name from a lost Campbeltown distillery, produced at owner Springbank since 1997.

TASTES LIKE Cream, orchard fruits, cinnamon, and sea salt

Ardbeg Distillery ALLAN WRIGHT / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Ardbeg Distillery. Photo by Allan Wright/Alamy Stock Photo

Islay

94 Ardbeg 5 year old Wee Beastie 47.4% • $50

One of the Kildalton distilleries, along with Lagavulin and Laphroaig, that are next door neighbors on the south coast of the island.

TASTES LIKE Seaweed, sweet peat, vanilla, nuts, brown-sugar bacon, and salty oak

94 Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2021 Edition • 46% • $120

An Islay farm distiller that began production in 2005 as the first distillery to be built on the island in nearly 125 years.

TASTES LIKE Peat smoke, rope tar, lime, milk chocolate, espresso, and blackberry

93 Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2012 • 50% • $75

Shuttered and abandoned, but reopened in 2001 in one of the great whisky comeback stories; producer of the ultra-peated Octomore.

TASTES LIKE Tropical fruits, fresh hay, sea salt, honey, stone fruits, and espresso

93 Lagavulin 16 year old • 43% • $90

Winner of our 2021 Whisky of the Year honor for its Lagavulin Offerman Edition 11 year old Guinness Cask Finish.

TASTES LIKE Iodine, rich peat, brine, black tea, Seville orange, and smoked fish

93 Laphroaig Càirdeas Pedro Ximénez Cask • 58.9% • $100

Among the boldest taste profiles of all the peated Islay whiskies, distinguished by a stylish but powerful smokiness and maritime flavor.

TASTES LIKE Antique furniture, cinnamon toast, wax paper, mahogany, Red Hots, and barbecue smoke

93 Port Charlotte 10 year old 50% • $75

Bruichladdich’s core peated expression was a limited release for years, until supply caught up and it finally became permanent in 2017.

TASTES LIKE Caramel, smoky coconut, orchard fruits, maritime notes, lemon juice, and muted peat notes

92 Bowmore 15 year old 43% • $100

The dean of Islay distilleries is the oldest on the island, fittingly, with perhaps the most classic Islay profile of them all.

TASTES LIKE Smoky caramel, citrus fruits, dry sherry, dark chocolate, rich malt, and dry oak

90 Bunnahabhain 12 year old 46.3% • $85

Tucked far away into a remote, almost forbidding northeast corner of the island, made friendlier by a recent visitor center revamp.

TASTES LIKE Sea salt, tangerines, vanilla, sultanas, hazelnut, and woodsmoke

90 Caol Ila 12 year old • 43% • $75

A relatively obscure Islay distillery used mainly to make malted whisky for Johnnie Walker, but a new visitor center this year will raise its profile.

TASTES LIKE Fresh fish wrapped in bacon, lemon juice, floral notes, allspice, pineapple, and peppery peat

Torabhaig Distillery SKULLY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Torabhaig Distillery. Photo by Skully/Alamy Stock Photo

Islands

93 Torabhaig Allt Gleann Legacy Series • 46% • $70

Talisker was the sole distillery on the Isle of Skye for 190 years until this new player became operational in 2017.

TASTES LIKE Coastal peat, pine tar, lime, vanilla, coconut, dark chocolate

92 Arran Barrel Reserve 43% • $60

Opened in 1995 as Isle of Arran’s first-ever legal distiller, best known for its many cask-finished expressions.

TASTES LIKE Bread dough, shelled almonds, sweet berries, clover honey, chocolate, and bittersweet oak

92 Highland Park Viking Honour 43% • $55

The better known of two distilleries from Orkney (the other being Scapa) and also Scotland’s northernmost whisky maker.

TASTES LIKE Seashells, beach bonfire, tropical fruits, baked apple, graham cracker, and espresso bean

88 Jura 12 year old • 40% • $50

The lone scotch whisky distillery on the Isle of Jura, which lies across the Sound of Islay, the narrow strait that separates it from Islay.

TASTES LIKE Stewed plums, raspberry pastilles, honeysuckle, vanilla fudge, chocolate, and baking spices

88 Tobermory 12 year old 46.3% • $110

This lone distillery on the Isle of Mull produces two whiskies: the lighter, fruitier Torbermory and the peated, smoky Ledaig.

TASTES LIKE Honeycomb, vanilla fudge, orange blossom, apricots, cinnamon, and clove

Blends

**94 Dewar’s 21 year old Double Double • 46% • $100/375ml **

This aged Dewar’s expression finished a close second in our 2019 Top 20 rankings. An unusual half-bottle size brings it to a wider audience.

TASTES LIKE Chocolate-dipped raspberries, gingersnaps, and bold sherry fruit.

93 Compass Box The Peat Monster • 46% • $65

A longtime fan favorite, first introduced in 2003 and then given a new recipe a few years ago, a change good enough to earn the No.-9 spot in our Top 20 of 2020.

TASTES LIKE Malt, tar, boat docks, brine, smoked olive, seaweed, kiln ash, cracked peppercorn, mustard seed, and citrus

92 Chivas Regal 18 year old 40% • $115

Still a standard bearer in blended scotch, the Chivas range consistently scores above 90 points in our Buying Guide.

TASTES LIKE Malt, dark fudge, leather, raisin, tobacco, wood spices, oak, and chocolate

91 Buchanan’s Red Seal

40% • $160

The highest-end expression in the portfolio of this blended scotch label, and the oldest at 21 years of age.

TASTES LIKE Honey, smoke, charred peaks of a lemon meringue pie, iced coffee, and milk chocolate

91 Johnnie Walker 18 year old 40% • $90

Formerly called Johnnie Walker Platinum, it was rebranded as Johnnie Walker 18 year old in 2017.

TASTES LIKE Golden syrup pancakes, vanilla fudge, candied apricot, orange peel, Quaker oats, gingerbread, pepper, and smoke

91 Sheep Dip • 40% • $45

The blended Islay malt finished at No. 13 on Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 list in 2017 thanks to its approachable profile and affordable price.

TASTES LIKE Honey, orange, mango, vanilla, candy, and spice

90 Shackleton • 40% • $35

A no age statement blended malt from Whyte & Mackay; the name was inspired by the whisky left behind by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1907.

TASTES LIKE Green melon, light honey, vanilla, cinnamon, cooked apple, and gooseberry

89 Ballantine’s 17 year old 40% • $100

A rare sighting in the U.S., but Ballantine’s is still the world’s second largest-selling scotch by volume behind Johnnie Walker, sold mainly in Asia and southern Europe.

TASTES LIKE Lime jelly, root ginger, honey, caramelized fruits, toffee, and cocoa

89 Famous Grouse • 40% • $30

This blend has a certain cachet derived from its ownership by Edrington, the maker of Macallan and Highland Park.

TASTES LIKE Citrus, toffee, caramel, vanilla, ground ginger, star anise, and lemon peel