The Best Scotch Whiskies To Drink In 2022

Each second, 44 bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped to markets around the world. This equates to a staggering 1.3 billion bottles per year (via Scotch Whisky Association). So what makes Scotch whisky so popular? Steeped in tradition and craftsmanship, Scotch whisky features distinct flavors depending on its ingredients, region, and method of production. While the results can be varied on all those fronts, Scotch whisky is renowned for its consistently high quality.

There's a saying that "all Scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskey is Scotch." To qualify as whiskey — or whisky, as they say in Scotland — a pour has to fulfil certain criteria. It has to be at least 80 proof, as well as distilled and matured in oak barrels for at least three years. Scotch whisky also has to be produced in one of the country's five whisky regions — Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside, and Campbeltown (via Taster's Club).

With so many brands out there, navigating the Scotch whisky landscape can be a daunting task. This is where we step in.

How we selected Scotch whiskies

Our quest to provide you with a list of the best Scotch whiskies to drink in 2022 took us to far-flung corners of the internet. From popular websites to more obscure domains, we scoured the web for both expert and community reviews that would help us compile our inventory.

We also took into account a variety of factors. Firstly, we looked at whisky type, the maturation process, and age statements. After all, a single malt whisky aged for a decade will have a very different taste profile from a younger variety that blends different malt and grain whiskies. We also considered geography, since different climates tend to influence both aroma and flavor (via Drinks Feed).

With so many variables, selecting a Scotch whisky that hits the right notes can be a tall order. To simplify the process, here is our list of the best Scotch whiskies to drink in 2022.

Best Scotch whisky overall

Also known as "the king of Islay," the Lagavulin 16 Years Old Scotch Whisky is the distillery's "fiercest and smokiest Scotch." While the single malt might be a little intimidating for newbies, it's hailed as a must-try by all self-respecting whisky connoisseurs. Aged for a minimum of 16 years in oak casks, this whisky's most distinguishing characteristic is its peat smoke flavor, something for which southern Islay is very well-known (via Malts).

Initially released in the 1990s as a limited edition, the Lagavulin 16 Year Old earned its spot in the distillery's Lagavulin range by its overwhelming popularity (via Master of Malt). While adored by many, according to BBC Good Food, the bottle is not for the faint-hearted. According to BBC Good Food, it carries a variety of flavors that aren't shy about making their presence known, including tobacco, vanilla, and sherry. It also boasts a thick mouthfeel and a hint of sherry.

Purchase the Lagavulin 16 Years Old Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $108.

Best single malt Scotch whisky

The GlenAllachie distillery refers to its Speyside Single Malt 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky as the heart of its range and for good reason. Opened in 1967, for decades the distillery only produced whisky for blending. Then, in 2017, the facility was purchased by private investors who created this very unique whisky, propelling the distillery to its current glory.

While some suspect that the 12 year old single malt is matured in a combination of virgin American white oak casks, Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, and first- and second-fill bourbon casks, this hasn't been officially confirmed by the brand (via Scotch Noob). However, we do know that the whisky contains old expressions from when GlenAllachie reopened in 1989, after it was purchased by Invergordon Distillers.

The result is a light mahogany liquor with a nose of dried fruit, demerara sugar, candied orange peel, and nuts. In flavor, the medium-bodied offering features notes of oats, marmalade, oak, and toffee, as well as cinnamon and cloves. The medium finale completes the balanced picture with hints of barley, toasted oak, and white pepper (via Whisky Stories).

Purchase the GlenAllachie Speyside Single Malt 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $70.

Best aged Scotch whisky

Owned by the same family for five generations, the Glenfarclas distillery specializes in producing traditional Highland single malt Scotch whiskies. The Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Scotch whisky is one of the distillery's Speysiders. Aged in first fill Oloroso Sherry casks, this delicately sherried whisky is so rich in flavor that it can easily replace a dessert.

The award-winning amber liquor comes with aromas of marmalade, coffee, honey, sherry, and nuts, as well as hints of oaky tannins. Expect a full-bodied and robust palate that exhibits both notes of sherry and oak. The intense and long finish is dry and malty with a pleasant aftertaste of dark chocolate.

While some have commented that the Glenfarclas 15 Year Old might be a better-value bottle than its 25-year-old counterparts, others have praised the bottle for its exceptional balance, with one reviewer saying that the whisky is "so smooth it can be imbibed without a drop of water" (via Master of Malt).

Purchase the Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $200.

Best Highland Scotch whisky

The largest of Scotland's whisky regions, the Highlands are made up of coastline, mountains, and moors. With such a diverse landscape, it's not surprising that the region's whisky offerings are also quite varied (via Whisky Exchange). The Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or is one of these offerings. Aged in American oak bourbon casks for 10 years and then finished for two years in Sauternes (white dessert wine) casks, the whisky's aroma and flavor bring to mind the sweet offerings of a French patisserie.

Just like Sauternes, the Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or has a deep golden color — there's a good reason why Nectar d'Or translates to golden nectar. The whisky features the aromas of honey, vanilla, raisins, and lime with subtle notes of cinnamon. Meanwhile, the bold and sweet flavor evokes hints of caramel, raisins, gingerbread, and creme on the middle palate, orange zest on the roof of the mouth, and cinnamon and sugar-covered almonds at the back of the palate. Finally, the medium finish balances the notes of apple blossom, honey, lemon, and caramel (via Whiskey Consensus).

Purchase the Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $80.

Best Lowland Scotch whisky

South of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland's Lowlands deliver smooth malts that are light enough to be enjoyed before dinner (via Scotch Whisky Association). Fresh, fruity, and smooth, the Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whisky is no exception. One Drizly reviewer notes that the pour's gentle profile makes a great starter whisky, saying, "I'm a newbie to Scotch but out of everything I've tried over the last year and a half this is the best. Very smooth especially when the ice melts just a tiny bit."

As its name suggests, the Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whisky gets its characteristics from three different types of casks, namely those carrying American bourbon, Spanish Oloroso Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez Sherry. While the whisky doesn't come with an age statement, the Scotch Noob suggests that it spends around 10 years in bourbon casks, then the next two years in the two sherry casks. The triple distillation process is somewhat unusual for Scotland, where whisky is usually only distilled twice (via Bourbon Banter).

So what is the end result? On the nose, the Auchentoshan Three Wood is all about sherry with hints of dried fruit, cranberry, and caramelized sugar. On the palate, the full-bodied pour features notes of figs, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and balsamic reduction. Finally, the short finish is nutty with flavors of tarry molasses, plums, dried fruit, and mint.

Purchase the Auchentoshan Three Wood Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $82.

Best Islay Scotch whisky

Well-known for its fiery, peated whiskies, the small island of Islay is home to 3,000 residents and nine distilleries, the latter of which includes the seemingly impossible to pronounce Bruichladdich. The distillers there are the masterminds behind Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 (via Liquor.com). Committed to making its whisky "as Islay as possible," the distillery not only sources all its malt and peat on the island but also uses Islay spring water in the production process. While many other Islay distillers outsource some tasks to facilities on the mainland, Bruichladdich still distills, matures, and bottles its whiskies on the island (via On Better Living).

Named after a town on Islay, the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 scores high on the peat level with a phenol measurement of 40 PPM (anything above 30 PPM is classified as heavily peated). Nevertheless, the pour doesn't taste as peaty as the numbers would indicate. Instead, the smokiness presents as quite subtle. While the smoke is discernible, it's well-balanced with sweetness drawn from the oak barrels used during the distillation process.

Purchase the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $75.

Best grain Scotch whisky

Unlike most other Scotch whiskies, the Compass Box Hedonism isn't made with any malt. Instead, it's a blended grain whisky that combines long-aged, single-grain whiskies from reputable distilleries such as Cameron Bridge and Cambus (via Drizly). However, Scotch Noob notes that this doesn't mean you should pass judgement just yet, even if this is a technique that's more notoriously used for lower-shelf whiskies.

Since the Compass Box Hedonism is produced once or twice per year out of different combinations and quantities of whiskies, every batch is bound to be at least slightly different. While you can just about always expect quality, there are no batch numbers on the bottles to tell you exactly what you are drinking. What you can expect, however, is a whisky that's lighter and creamier than most single malts and features notes of vanilla, caramel, and fruit.

Purchase the Compass Box Hedonism Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $120.

Best Scotch whisky under $50

Priced at around $40, the Deanston Virgin Oak is smooth, sweet, and generally easy-going. Befitting its affordable price, the tipple is a young whisky. While the age — or lack thereof — doesn't necessarily show with each sip, it's not a bad thing when it does, with a surprisingly fresh and well-balanced finish (via Whisky Rant).

Aged in bourbon casks from Kentucky and refined in virgin oak, the Deanston Virgin Oak is a simple whisky with a nose of wood spices, nutmeg, vanilla caramel, banana, honey, and leather. The full-bodied flavor is both sweet and subtly spicy with hints of fruit, nuts, vanilla, and cotton candy. Meanwhile, the finale is accented by nuts, cereal, and smoke (via Whisky Art). According to the Whisky Jug, the Deanston Virgin Oak gains a lot during the oxidation process, so it pays to let the whisky sit for a couple of weeks after opening.

Purchase the Deanston Virgin Oak Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $38.

Best organic Scotch whisky

The Nc'Nean Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky is not just certified organic, but also comes with a minimal carbon footprint, making it great for both the taste buds and the environmentally conscious soul. What's more, the liquor is produced in a carbon-neutral distillery and packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled glass. The cork stoppers combine natural cork and wood, the tamper is made from renewable-sourced wood pulp extracts, and the cardboard gift tube is 90% recyclable. Last but not least, the Nc'Nean distillery is powered by renewable energy (via Whiskey Wash).

But what about the whisky itself? Aged for a minimum of three years, the Nc'Nean Organic Single Malt Whisky gets its flavor from bourbon casks and treated STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) red wine barrels. On the nose, the pour is rich in lemon oil, nectarines, and fudge. The creamy palate is packed with spice and hints of lemon, ginger, peach, coconut, and rye. The experience ends with a medium spicy finish with a subtle mint prickle.

Purchase the Nc'Nean Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the brand's site starting at $70.

Best Scotch whisky for a splurge

Retailing at around $240, Glenmorangie Signet Scotch whisky is one of those varieties you might wish to hold onto for special occasions. Nevertheless, if you are happy to spend over $200 on a bottle of whisky, this is your bottle. Distilled once a year in the tallest malt whisky stills in the country, the pour has no age statement. However, according to Ape to Gentleman, it's matured for around 21 years. For that time, the Highlands whisky is housed in a variety of casks including bourbon casks for creaminess, sherry for sweetness, and virgin charred oak for spiciness.

Glenmorangie Signet delivers an explosion of flavors inspired by Italian coffee bars. Expect notes of mocha, spice, and dark chocolate, all balanced by velvety butterscotch. The full-bodied whisky features a long, fruity finish with hints of cocoa, roasted malt, and powdered sugar (via Whiskey Jug). So how does Glenmorangie Signet measure up with whisky quaffers? Perhaps one Drizly reviewer sums things up best, saying that it's a "fantastic dram."

Purchase the Glenmorangie Signet Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $240.

Best high-proof Scotch whisky

While whisky is typically bottled at either 40 or 43% ABV, this is by no means a requirement. In fact, it's not unusual for Scotch whisky to reach heights such as 57% (via Whisky.com). The Ardbeg Corryvreckan is one such whisky. At 57.1% ABV, or 114.2 proof, the rich amber pour is one of the strongest Scotch whiskies on the market. Named after a whirlpool in the north of Islay, Ardbeg Corryvreckan is described by the distillery as "not for the faint-hearted."

While we know that Ardbeg Corryvreckan is high proof, its composition remains a mystery. The distillery hasn't disclosed the whisky's age statement or the type of casks it has matured in (via Meade Mule). According to Whiskey Watch, however, the pour is likely aged in bourbon oak casks and French oak casks, though this is an educated guess.

Bold and big, Ardbeg Corryvreckan's dense nose is characterized by peat smoke, lemon, peach, oak, tar, and seaweed. The whisky's multi-layered flavor is also rich in earthy peat smoke, as well as chocolate malt, oak, orange, peach, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The long and powerful fade exudes dark chocolate, peat smoke, dried fruit, wood shavings, and cinnamon.

Purchase the Ardbeg Corryvreckan Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $100.

Best bourbon barrel-aged Scotch whisky

Aged in American bourbon oak casks, the maturation process of the Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old Scotch Whisky is finished in charred new American oak barrels from the Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. The result is a smooth single malt with a distinct "sweet kick of Kentucky." As pointed out by 31 Whiskey, this production method blends both Scottish and American whisky traditions. While American bourbon must be matured in fresh barrels, Scottish distilleries typically age whisky in old bourbon barrels. The Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve completes the maturation process in new American barrels, a practice reminiscent of American bourbon production.

Although brief, the time Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve spends in new oak barrels adds an element of sweetness to the bourbon-forward whisky (via One More Dram). On the nose, the amber liquor is rich in notes of vanilla with hints of cinnamon, citrus, and brown sugar. The mouthful is complex and sweet with flavors of creamy toffee, candied orange, spices, and toasted oak. Meanwhile, the long finale is characterized by a lingering sweetness.

Purchase the Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $61.

Best blended Scotch whisky

One of the biggest names in the industry, the first Chivas Regal blend was released way back in 1909. The 25-year-old whisky quickly became a hit with well-heeled whisky lovers. Hampered by Prohibition, Chivas Regal made a comeback with its 12-year-old blend in 1938 (via Chivas). 

Adding to the historic collection, the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky was released in 1997. The pour blends 20 malt and grain whiskies to deliver 85 unique flavors. The star of the show is a Speyside malt from Strathisla, a distillery purchased by the Chivas Brothers in 1950. The malt is produced specifically for this whisky (via The Spruce Eats).

Deep and complex, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old is both a smooth sipper and a great addition to cocktails. Once poured, expect rich aromas of dried fruit, dark chocolate, and buttery toffee. The multi-layered palate exhibits dark chocolate with floral and smoky notes. Finally, the whisky's finish is both long and warm. One impressed Drizly reviewer even credits the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old whisky with facilitating her transition from an occasional sipper to a full-blown professional quaffer.

Purchase the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky from Drizly starting at $85.